The Wells Scholars Program welcomes 19 new students this fall, including 17 incoming freshmen, and a junior and a senior who are currently enrolled at IU Bloomington, selected through an internal competition. The new students comprise the 31st class of Scholars since the inception of the prestigious program in 1990 and will join a community of almost 700 current and alumni Scholars across the globe. Wells Scholars can pursue any degree program offered by IUB, and the interests of the newest cohort range from anthropology and computer science to international studies, non-profit management, and pre-med science tracks.
This year’s freshman class includes the Program’s second group of Scholars to receive a scholarship offer through the special international nomination process in partnership with the Office of International Services, and these two students represent the countries of Turkmenistan and Zambia. Both internal award recipients are Indiana residents, as are 11 of the freshmen. The remaining freshmen represent the neighboring states of Illinois, Michigan, and Kentucky, and additionally North Carolina.
Wells Scholars Program Director and Provost Professor of English Christoph Irmscher: “This has been an incredibly unusual year for the Wells Scholars Program, as it was for everyone else in the world, of course. We couldn’t rely on any in-person recruitment to show prospective Scholars all that we have to offer. Nevertheless, we were able to invite an outstanding group of freshmen to join our program, testimony also to the tireless efforts of our faculty, who made themselves available to a fault, chatting with interested students and advising the Wells staff when we needed it the most. We couldn’t have pulled this off without their support. The range of interests and talents in this new cohort is dizzying, and I am so excited to welcome these students as the newest members of our Wells family. I have said this before, but this year I really came to understand why being the Wells director is the best gig in the world.”
The Program’s traditional Welcome Reception to honor the new Scholars and their families was moved to a virtual format this year. Students, staff, and faculty attended a celebration over Zoom on Sunday, August 16, with words of welcome from both Director Irmscher and Acting Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Kurt Zorn. In a message that was shared with incoming Scholars, Professor Zorn welcomed the new Scholars and wrote that he was looking forward to working with them, “and the talented Wells Scholars staff to strengthen what is an already outstanding community of scholars at Indiana University Bloomington.”
Despite a challenging spring recruitment season with no ability to tour campus, WSP faculty and staff worked hard to pivot to the virtual space, offering one-on-one meetings through video conferencing or over the phone, and allowing prospective Scholars to attend Wells freshman and senior seminar meetings through Zoom. Late spring interviews for the internal awards were also held virtually. The upcoming fall semester will also look a little different for the program this year. Freshman seminar will be taught online, allowing the international students to engage with their cohort even from their home countries. Extracurricular activities, both social and academic, will also be conducted online for all current Scholars this fall. Program staff and faculty look forward to engaging with students and continuing to foster a sense of community despite the challenges created by restricted face-to-face gatherings. All new Scholars have already been matched with a current Scholar mentor to strengthen the interpersonal relationships between cohorts.
The 17 incoming freshman Scholars and their hometowns are:
Adebowale “Ade” Adelekan, Indianapolis, Ind.
Zoe Bardon, Indianapolis, Ind.
Esteban Becerra, Washington, Ind.
Stella Behforouz, Carmel, Ind.
Peyton Eaton, Washington, Ind.
Amangul Hydyrova, Balkanabat, Turkmenistan
Joelle Jackson, Bloomington, Ind.
Maia Law, Glencoe, Ill.
Agness Lungu, Lusaka, Zambia
Mustafaa Munir, Fishers, Ind.
Madelyn “Maddie” Mustaine, Plymouth, Mich.
Savannah Price, Shepherdsville, Ky.
Ethan Roos, Santa Claus, Ind.
Rose Schnabel, Zionsville, Ind.
Cooper Sykes, Cary, N.C.
Emma Uber, Carmel, Ind.
Garrett Williams, Loogootee, Ind.
The Internal Scholars are:
Nina Castro-Sauer, Bloomington, Ind.
Kathryn Petersen, Indianapolis, Ind.
Freshman Wells Scholars are nominated by their high schools or through the IU Office of Admissions and are selected for having demonstrated exceptional qualities of character, leadership and distinction both inside and outside the classroom. Internal Wells Scholars are nominated by IU Bloomington faculty and selected for similar qualities.
The competitive award was created to honor the late IU Chancellor Herman B Wells and guarantees the full cost of attendance for up to four years of undergraduate study on the Bloomington campus. Other benefits include generous support for overseas study, close interaction with faculty and distinguished guests, special seminars and academic opportunities, alumni networking, and grant support for a summer project. Scholars are also involved in a roster of extracurricular events and activities including opportunities for public service.