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Rapoport Service Scholars Retreat

12 Freshmen selected at the end of each year

$10,000 scholarship per year for three years

MacBook Pro Computer

“Leadership, Ethics and Society” course

“Civic Engagement and Civic Responsibility” course

Provide 200 hours of service each of the three summers in the program

…these are some of the benefits and requirements on writing of being a Rapoport Service Scholar. The Rapoport Service Scholars Program a program of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation, which graciously provides scholarships to students who have completed 24 credit hours and are enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts. In Spring of 2007, my freshman year, I was very hesitant to apply for the program, always thinking, “I am probably not what they are looking for” until I received one of the few most important phone calls I have ever received to notify me that I had been selected. The scholarship for $10,000 each year certainly was the reason I personally was able to return to UT after my freshman year. As part of the program, my first summer after freshman year and this past summer I volunteered at the Hispanic College Fund in Washington, D.C., 20 minutes away from home- Alexandria, V.A.

But really, the Rapoport Service Scholars Program goes beyond it being just another scholarship program. Yes, the money has been a blessing and the computer, a luxury that would have been out of reach for me otherwise. It goes beyond that, it has allowed me to find the true meaning in serving others and through serving others, I have started to discover where and what my passions are. Dedicating each of my summers to reaching out to my community has had a tremendous impact in my character and life. Community service to me, has gone to a whole new level ever since I was accepted into the program. The meaning of service has gone beyond simply volunteering for a few hours on a Saturday and then return to my daily routine. Rather, I have started to reflect beyond the x number of hours I volunteer, and reflect about how I can make a difference as I go through life.

Mr. and Mrs. Rapoport really are a true inspiration to me. They way that they care for the community and how they have devoted their lives to serving others is admirable. On a personal note, they are really the ones who are truly making my college education possible–again, if it wasn’t for their support, I could not have returned to UT and I would not be on the path to becoming the first in my family to attend and graduate from college.

The Rapoport Service Scholars Program has given me a FAMILY. The weekend of September 27-28, I attended our annual Rapoport Retreat at Balcones Springs in Marble Falls, Texas. I was sadly the only member of my junior class at the Retreat so I wasn’t sure what to expect, although this was my second year attending.

And so it begins: From 6:45AM (still dark and cold!) when I met up with Stacey, a Scholar in the Sophomore class to join the rest of the Scholars at the Turtle Pond (behind the UT Tower and our official carpooling/meeting point!) I realized the weekend was off to a good start and that I had much to look forward to. I came to realize that there is just something special about my fellow Scholars and that connects us all, and it goes beyond just being scholarship recipients.

Ivonne, Elizabeth, and I- Rapoport Scholars Waiting by the Turtle Pond

Ivonne, Elizabeth, and I- Rapoport Scholars Waiting by the Turtle Pond

On our way: At 8AM (yes, more than an hour later) started our trip to Balcones Springs. Our driver: Eleana and her aviator glasses. Elizabeth, coloring a children’s book for her lesson plan. Zaid, attempting to select good music for the trip, which he finally succeeded at when he chose: Coldplay- Viva La Vida , which is always at the top of the list when we get together. As for me, I was trying not to get car sick on winding roads while singing along to Coldplay!

Team building and Leadership: We got to Balcones Springs, had breakfast and participated in team building activities that really brought us closer. In the afternoon we did some rock climbing, and had a special visit from Dean Richard Flores and Jessica Englin (Alumni of the program). Then the brave ones went on to zip lining…I….helped with the rope!

"Saving the World" ... in 14 seconds

"Saving the World" ... in 14 seconds

Getting ready for the ... "don't drawn in the hot chocolate" activity!

Getting ready for the ... "don't drawn in the hot chocolate" activity!

Eleana trying to make me eat a strawberry!

After dinner, where Eleana tried but failed in her attempts to make me eat a strawberry (remember, I am fruit-phobic?) we started a bonfire and s’mores where we really bonded! All the things that we did, allowed us to get to know each other more and strengthen the family that was built when we all entered the program.

Reflection: Very rarely do we take the time to reflect and thank someone, tell them how important they are to us, or how they have impacted our life. Before we left the retreat, we each wrote a few words about each other on our personal plates. It was really touching to read what each of us had to say. My plate now hangs on my bulletin board in my room to remind me of this experience and of each of my fellow scholars.

Writting on Elizabeth's plate.

It is amazing how in just less than two days, we can learn so much about each other and grow so close to one another.

Thank you Stacey, Swetha, Hon, Bruce, Pablo, Edilsa, Berenice, Tamilla, Elizabeth, Yuliana, and Ivonne- each of them have left an impact on me this weekend, because of who they are, what they do, and why they do what you do! I really am blessed to have them in my life.

With Stacey, who has become like a little sister to me now!

With Stacey who has become like a little sister to me now!

Lifting up Zaid during team building activity

Zaid and Eleana…words are not enough to express how much I have learned from them this past year, if it wasn’t for the Rapoport Service Scholars Program, our paths may not have ever crossed and I would not be able to call them FRIENDS today. If there is a reason why I don’t want May 2009 to come too soon, it has got to be them, graduating.

And last but not least, my junior class, although I was disappointed that they weren’t with me at the Retreat, and I am still mad at them for that because I miss(ed) them, they each have really enriched my life tremendously.

Each class took a group picture, this is mine!

Each class took a group picture, this is mine!

On Sunday when we left the Retreat, I wished it could have lasted indefinitely.

I went not knowing what to expect to gain and I came back with the siblings I never had, a FAMILY:

Rapoport Service Scholars at Retreat

Rapoport Service Scholars at Retreat

——

If you are a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts, please consider applying for the Rapoport Service Scholars Program. Applications become available in the Spring. Stay tuned to my blog and you will get all of the details!

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October 10, 2008 | | Comments are closed for this post

3 Comments to Rapoport Service Scholars Retreat

Retreat was AMAZING, and I’m totally with you on the “one of the few most important calls” because it definitely was:)

October 10, 2008
— Berenice Medellin
 

outstanding post, Cecilia! Your passion for this program is clear, I hope incoming freshman take your words to heart : )

October 10, 2008
— Archana
 

1… strawberries = awesome…

2… i was planning on applying for this already, but now i really really want to get it… as opposed to just really wanting to get it…

3… thanks for the comment/compliment

4… keep pushing LEAP, im sure it will turn out to be awesome, and i wouldn’t mind being a part of it

5… there really isn’t a 5, 4 just seems awkward to leave out there by itself. 3, maybe… 4, definitely not

October 10, 2008
— Van
 
photo of Cecilia