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WellsLink Program to celebrate successes of 2006 students, welcome 2007 cohort in Sept. 17 transition ceremony
WellsLink Program to celebrate successes of 2006 students, welcome 2007 cohort in Sept. 17 transition ceremonySeptember 17, 2007Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
The Syracuse University and Central New York communities will celebrate the success of the 2006 class of the WellsLink Leadership Program and will welcome the 2007 WellsLink Scholars during the WellsLink Transitions Ceremony, to be held on Monday, Sept. 17, at 5 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel. The ceremony is one of the key annual events of this SU initiative, which exemplifies Scholarship in Action by building academic development and leadership excellence into the first-year experience for students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.
The keynote speaker for the free, public event is Ben Carson, renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and author of “Think Big” (Zondervan, 1996) and “Gifted Hands” (Zondervan, 1996). Carson directs pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, where, at age 33, he became the youngest-ever physician to head a major division of Johns Hopkins. He is also professor of neurosurgery, plastic surgery, oncology and pediatrics; and operates on more than 300 children each year. With his wife, Candy Carson, he co-founded and operates the Carson Scholars Fund, Inc., which provides scholarships to students who demonstrate academic excellence and community leadership.
Carson, the keynote speaker for the ceremony, is a native of Detroit. He was raised by a single mother who found strength through the teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. It was the church that eventually persuaded Carson to pursue medicine. Struggling at the bottom of his predominantly white elementary school class, two events — a pair of prescription eyeglasses and his mother’s mandate to turn off the TV and read and report on two books a week — inspired Carson to work toward his full potential. After successfully dealing with anger and his temper, he traveled a successful road through school and won a scholarship to Yale University. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology in 1973, and graduated from the University of Michigan School of Medicine in 1977. In 1980, he was one of two students accepted into the neurosurgery residency program at Johns Hopkins, and was named the youngest ever director of pediatric neurosurgery at Hopkins in 1984. Today, Carson is sought out around the world for his expertise in separating conjoined twins and conducting brain surgery to control seizures.
“Dr. Ben Carson’s inspiring story of success cuts across many boundaries, marking him as a distinguished leader in the worlds of medicine, family and community-building,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “He is a powerful example of the benefits created for individuals and the community when a student strives not just for academic and social survival, but for a position of leadership excellence.”
The WellsLink Leadership Program, now in its fifth year, is among the University’s premier initiatives for enhancing scholarly excellence and support for students. It is an initiative for first-year students of color, and focuses on academic and social mentoring, teaching life skills and connecting students with a variety of successful leaders. Students are eligible for WellsLink if they are not served by any other state-or federally funded programs or by the Athletic Department’s academic support services. The WellsLink Leadership Program was honored this spring as the winner of a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Excellence Award — Silver, marking it as the second-best program of its kind in the nation.
The transition ceremony honors WellsLink scholars who successfully completed their first year at SU; 60 of the 62 WellsLink scholars who made up the 2006 cohort have persisted to their second year, a typical result for a program that has maintained retention rates of 95 percent or more from the first to second year in each year of its existence. More than 100 students have applied for membership in the 2007 cohort — a record high level of interest — and more than 75 are expected to participate, marking the program’s largest cohort during a period of rapid growth that has continued since it piloted in 2003.
WellsLink is named in honor of Wells and the contributions he has made to student success and achievement at SU for more than 30 years. WellsLink is administered by the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) with support from the Center for Career Services and Academic Affairs, as well as several other academic and administrative units.
Among the key components of the WellsLink Program for students are:
- the Leadership Capital series, which brings together current and past WellsLink students for in-depth presentations by experts on topics such as financial aid, budgeting, internships and avoiding student debt;
- social and academic events aimed at networking among first-year students and their peers, faculty, staff and upper-division students;
- staff support from Paul M. Buckley, associate director of OMA, Tae-Sun Kim, associate director of OMA, and a graduate assistant who aids in academic and personal counseling;
- the support of peer leaders, the upper-division students who are matched with each WellsLink scholar to serve as mentors throughout the first-year experience and help students become successfully acclimated, academically and culturally;
- OMA-sponsored tutoring; and
- faculty mentors, who serve as resources to WellsLink students in their sophomore years.
For more information about the WellsLink Leadership Program or the ceremony, contact Buckley at 443-9676.