Drumroll, Please: Meet The NASE Scholarship Winners!

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Drumroll, Please: Meet The NASE Scholarship Winners!

Aug 29, 2011

Counter-clockwise, from bottom-left: Diana Thomson (Johns Hopkins), Aaron Burns (Virginia Tech), Alexander Vining (Bucknell), Brendan Langford (Drury), and Kelly Gwiner (Trine). Not pictured: Taylor Demeter (Virginia).

Posted by Sung Yoo - The NASE has awarded $52,000 in college scholarships this year. Our NASE Future Entrepreneurship Award went to Benjamin Seidel of Missouri, who you will learn more about in the October issue of SelfInformed. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at six of ten NASE Scholarship recipients who are busy preparing for a new semester:

What did you do this summer?

Diana: I learned how to card at the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial. I learned how to hit a hammer (and thus a nail) upside down. Most importantly, I learned how to fit everything I will need for my first year in college (including bedding, clothes, and electronics) into a Prius.

Aaron: I worked all summer cutting grass and landscaping.  Having fifteen regular clients takes a lot of time to cut on top of all the side landscaping jobs.  I did set aside some time on the fourth of July to go to an ATV park to go riding for the weekend down in North Carolina.

Taylor: I Interned in Dallas, Texas, with the Strategic Sourcing group at Celanese, an advanced intermediate chemical manufacturing company. I worked in process and collaborative improvement projects and scheduled meetings with various executives and managers while visiting plants and meeting engineers.

Alexander: I spent eight extra weeks at school conducting research with my animal behavior professor.  Specifically I conducted a study evaluating the ability of macaques to make absolute numerosity judgments, and also taught tufted capuchins to barter in the hopes

Kelly: This summer I was an engineering intern at Crown Battery in Fremont, Ohio. The company produces SLI and industrial batteries. I learned so much about batteries. While at Crown Battery I was given the opportunity to learn about formation programs and test a formation process that I wrote. I also assisted in the tear down of a couple batteries which was very interesting.

What are you most excited about this semester?

Diana: Johns Hopkins University is known for its academic excellence, and I am looking forward to studying from professors who care about and understand the material they are presenting, studying with students who are seeking to enrich their knowledge database, and making new, life-long friends.

Aaron: I'm really excited about having a fresh start this first semester with my academics. It will be great being able to have new classes and making new friends.

Taylor: Inspired by my internship this past summer I am seeking resources to expand my knowledge of catalysis. I realized the importance of catalyst technology while interning this past summer and I want to know what goes into catalysis research.

Alexander: I was able to spend eight weeks over the summer conducting research with several species of monkeys at Bucknell, and I am super excited to continue that research.  My experiences over the summer prepared me to design and run some of my own projects which I plan to start this semester.  In the same vein, I am thrilled that I will get to use my experiments to help introduce new students to the lab as they explore the same opportunities I have had.

Brendan: My human anatomy class seems to spark my interest the greatest. Also, I am excited about the business course I am taking this semester. I hope to gain monumental knowledge on how to run a successful business.

Kelly: I'm most excited about starting my chemical engineering classes. This year is when I will start getting into the chemical engineering classes.

What’s the worst job you've ever had?

Diana: Two of my jobs were manual labor. One was cutting grass, trimming, blowing off, picking up litter, cleaning up after storms, etc. The other one was "custodian." This involved sweeping, vacuuming, taking out trash, and generally cleaning the building; however, it also included cleaning the bathrooms... the toilets are included in that. If you have never cleaned a men's public restroom, it is a life experience.

Aaron: The worst job I have had was a weeding job.  One of my customers has a huge flower bed and she let the weeds take over the bed and she wanted me to remove all the weeds.  This job took me two days straight to complete.

Taylor: I have never had a job that I didn’t like. No matter what I was doing I made sure to get as much as possible out of it.

Alexander: As far as employment, I have only ever had two jobs.  First I volunteered at a local vet clinic starting when I was thirteen, which eventually led to paid work until I graduated high school.  At school I receive work study for my work in the lab.  Both of these jobs have been fun, interesting, and incredibly helpful in pursuing my education, so if I were to list a worst job it would probably be doing the dishes at home.

Brendan: The worst job I have ever had was working at a pizza place. The workers were not committed to their tasks and it was not a fun environment.

Kelly: In high school I was a kennel worker at the local veterinarian. I had to shovel the feces and scrub cages. It was fun to interact and learn about the animals though.

What’s one mistake you've made, and what did you learn from it?

Diana: Summer is known for its fresh produce. In fact, I was growing a garden this summer that included tomatoes, squash, and, most importantly, cucumbers. On a sunny, hot, and humid day in Alabama, I was slicing cucumbers on a vegetable slicer (also known as a mandolin) in preparation for lunch. I easily became distracted by such a repetitive task and looked out the window at the squirrel walking the tightrope known as a power line. As the squirrel reached the relative safety of the power pole, I experienced a searing pain in my thumb. I immediately looked down and saw that my entire thumb was covered in a bright red flowing liquid (blood). I quickly realized I had sliced part of my thumb off. Wonderful. College is starting in three weeks. How am I going to write with half a thumb?! Fortunately, I had only sliced off a tiny sliver (despite the fact that my thumb would not stop bleeding for ten hours!); however, I did learn that even the most mundane of tasks carry dangers and that attention is key.

Aaron: A mistake I've made in the past would have to be taking easy classes my freshman year of high school to try and have an easy year and I learned that it is always best to challenge yourself every chance given.  It helps improve your work ethic.

Taylor: During my internship I didn’t make a great effort to spend time outside the office with fellow interns. The time I did spend with them was always interesting and they all had a number of different experiences. I learned that not only do those you look up to have experiences, but so too do your peers have experiences worth learning from.

Alexander: When I was ten I was having trouble dealing with our move across the country, and in my frustration I tore my room apart.  Upon realizing how much I cared for some of the things I had broken I learned a fair amount about proper ways to deal with stress and frustration, and the consequences of losing control.

Brendan: During my freshman year, I forgot to set an alarm for an 8 a.m. class and arrived late. I learned from my mistake and have not been late to a class ever since. I now have four alarms that I set every night to ensure it does not happen again.

What does entrepreneurship mean to you?

Diana: A young college student sees an inordinate amount of waste generated by his college's kitchen and decides to start a program to eliminate some of that waste either by giving to the community or redesigning the way the kitchen operates. An older lady has been troubled by an empty lot in her neighborhood and takes action by starting a community garden and inviting every one to pitch in so that the children are engaged in a learning experience and the elderly are engaged in a social and physical program. An entrepreneur is one who sees a need in his community, his environment, or this world and designs a way to alter its effect.

Aaron: Entrepreneurship to me means going out and working hard to earn a living or to earn a prize.

Taylor: Taking a problem that has either been driving you or someone you know crazy and figuring out a solution to that problem then marketing your solution to a much larger group. It’s also  having the perseverance and will to stick with a project as it matures.

Alexander: To me entrepreneurship means having the creativity to envision new and original ideas, the motivation and willpower to carry through with these ideas, and the leadership to capitalize on the benefits of ingenuity.

Brendan: The act of individuals organizing and acting on ideas and talents, in effort to create a successful business.

Kelly: Entrepreneurship to me is having the freedom to lead your business in the best direction available. It is being able to set a goal of where you want to see your business and moving in the direction.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Diana: My last piano recital, I was playing a concertato with my mother. I had performed this piece for judges and received the highest rating; I had practiced it countless times; I had performed it perfectly in the first recital that day. During the second recital though, I blanked half-way through the piece. My fingers simply could not move. Eventually, I managed to pick the piece back up at a later place in the piece, but only after quite the embarrassing pause.

Aaron: My most embarrassing moment was when I was laughing in class because of a joke during my freshman year and the teacher asked for my name and I said my name while laughing and my voice cracked and everyone laughed.

Taylor: I recently took a brief introductory zumba class not really knowing what it was only to find out that I was the only guy accompanied by around 35 girls.

Alexander: In one of my high school classes, one of my teachers caught me doodling on my PowerPoint notes and as punishment showed by scribbles to the entire class.  I am a terrible artist and was mortified that not only was I caught not paying attention, but that my scribbles were being mocked in the process.

Brendan: I do not know if I have a "most embarrassing moment," but I have had a few minute ones. The greatest would probably be tripping while walking up a staircase on the way to class.

Kelly: I worked at a Dairy Queen where the front had large glass windows. Sometimes something would spill on the floor and you had to be careful. During a busy where there was a line that wouldn't go down, someone had cleaned up a spill. I forgot it was wet and was walking fast. I slid into the glass window where all of the customers could see. A few customers asked if I was okay when I took their order a few minutes later.  

What was your reaction when you found out you got the NASE Scholarship?

Diana: It was mixture of excitement and relief, expressed through speechlessness.

Aaron: When I found out I got the NASE Scholarship, I was completely shocked. I have applied for other entrepreneur scholarships and didn't get those so I assumed there were bigger businesses out there better than mine.  I felt extremely accomplished and proud of all the hard work I had done throughout my life.

Taylor: I was surprised then relieved that I now had a little more independence and could unburden both myself and my parents in part for academic endeavors.

Alexander: I was alone when I found out, so I immediately called my parents and as many other people that might care to tell them the good news.

Brendan: I was ecstatic! I am very grateful to receive this wonderful scholarship.

Kelly: I was very excited! It is such an honor to receive this scholarship. It means very much to me. I am very grateful to receive the NASE Scholarship. Thank you!

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

Diana: Horses carry a certain grace about them that mystifies me. They are trusting, loyal, and devoted, while at the same time independent and free.

Aaron: If I was an animal, I would want to be a horse.  I really enjoy horses and just being able to run free through an open field would be amazing.

Taylor: I would be a giraffe. Not only because I sort of resemble a tall and skinny giraffe but like a giraffe who can see far out across the plains similarly I would like to see the big picture and how many elements assemble to make a successful environment.

Alexander: Without a doubt, I would be a dolphin.  I have always loved the water, and to have the freedom in the water of a dolphin would be absolutely incredible.  Not to mention dolphins are incredibly intelligent and social animals.

Brendan: My favorite animals are dolphins. They are very intelligent and glide through the water gracefully. Therefore, if I was an animal, I believe I would enjoy the life of a dolphin.

Kelly: I would be a pygmy goat. They are playful and spunky.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who should play the leading role?

Diana: I would be honored if either Nicole Kidman or Natalie Portman played the leading role. They are both beautiful (inside and out). They are both involved in various charities and believe in the importance of family

Aaron: George Clooney would play the leading role.  I think he's a great actor and that he would do a fabulous job.

Taylor: Steve Carell would play me since like me, Steve possesses a comedic flair that gets people's attention but also has the flexibility to keep an audience with a number of different people.

Alexander: The actor would definitely have to be quirky with a hint of nerd, but also very enthusiastic and outgoing.  I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be a good choice.

Brendan: Christian Bale. Bale's role as Bruce Wayne in the Batman movies is meritorious and outstanding. I would be honored to have an excellent actor, like Bale, play the lead role in a movie based on my life.

Kelly:  Reese Witherspoon.


Clock-wise, from top-left: Lindsey Maxon (Texas), Russell Stockman (Texas A&M), Andrea Hansen (Penn. State), and Michael Langford (Incarnate World).

A total of ten $4,000 scholarships were awarded. Lindsey Maxon (Texas), Russell Stockman (Texas A&M), Andrea Hansen (Penn. State), and Michael Langford (Incarnate World) were the other four recipients not featured in this blog post.

NASE Scholarships are awarded based on a competitive application process that is open to dependents of NASE Members. Consideration is based on leadership abilities, academic performance, recommendations, and other criteria. More information can be found here.

The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

Courtesy of NASE.org