Three students receive Act Six scholarships
March 14, 2019 – Three Brooklyn Center High School STEAM students were named recipients of the Act Six full-tuition scholarships. An initiative of Urban Ventures, Act Six is a leadership development and college scholarship program that brings together diverse, multicultural cadres of emerging urban leaders who want to use their college education to make a difference on campus and in their communities at home. Each scholarship is valued up to $200,000 each.
“The legacy of Act Six at our high school is due to the personality of our students,” said BCS Get Ready coordinator Matt Kiefer. “Brooklyn Center is the most diverse community in Minnesota and students are prepared to talk about diversity and how it’s integrated in their lives. They’ve been part of diversity since day one and the community they live in helps prepare them for this moment.”
Seniors who received the scholarship:
- Samantha Dougan, Augsburg University
- Justin Lo, Bethany Lutheran College
- Yamada Yang, Bethany Lutheran College
They were three of only 52 students to receive Act Six scholarships this year. To receive the scholarships, it was a five-month process that started with 462 students around the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. Augsburg was the most competitive school, as only seven students were selected of the 407 who applied for a scholarship at the college.
“The other people who applied for the scholarship were really talented,” Yang said. “The group was very selective throughout the process. You have to present yourself, not just your GPA, and articulate what you want to change in your community.”
Jackie Hayden, college readiness coordinator at BCS, said the process helps students discover who they are and even if they don’t receive a scholarship, it’s helpful to find your strengths and learn to be confident with who you are.
“Many students grew their understanding of what a leader is,” Hayden said. “So many people think ‘I’m not a leader.’ Act Six finds students who aren’t the traditional leaders but want to bring other people together to transform a college community.”
The process starts in class with students completing a personality inventory. Kiefer and Hayden then work with students to identify their strengths and areas of growth. Students critique each other and participate in self-reflection. An application that includes four essay questions, including how the applicant plans to change their community, was submitted in November. From the 462 students who submit an application, only half of those students were asked to participate in a half-day event where judges critique every interaction.
Kiefer said that what makes this day most nerve wracking is someone is watching each student during the whole event. But students are prepared for the day. Kiefer said students simulated activities that would take place at the all-day event and encouraged students to be themselves, and be their best while being scrutinized.
“Our staff put us at ease,” Dougan said. “The anticipation leading up to the event was more stressful than the event itself. Everyone grew into a better version of themselves and our peers were really supportive of us three.”
Dougan, Lo and Yang all participated in clubs and activities on campus and held leadership roles. They also all take PSEO courses at North Hennepin Community College. Looking to the future, they have varied dreams but they all want to help their community.
“I want to earn a PhD in biology and be a role model in Brooklyn Center and in the Hmong community,” Lo said. “I hope to motivate young students to pursue their dreams and realize their potential.”
Yang is excited for the opportunity to serve in a different type of a community than where she grew up.
“The community at Bethany is lacking in diversity,” Yang said. “I’m excited to educate students about different cultures, expand the World Club, plan events with food and music, and grow the students of color population.”