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Cincinnatus Scholar Keeps It All in the Family

UC freshman Mark Schutte continues a family tradition of Bearcats, but says it was quality and affordability that sealed his decision to earn a degree at UC.

Date: 2/2/2009
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Mark Schutte of Mason, Ohio, is one of the University of Cincinnati’s 525 Cincinnatus scholarship recipients who will be volunteering at the 13th annual Cincinnatus Scholarship Competition on Feb. 7.
Mark Schutte
Mark Schutte

These student volunteers will be guiding thousands of high school seniors in a day of essay and leadership exercises on campus, with top prizes of 10, four-year scholarship awards of $80,000 to pay for tuition, books, room and board and fees.

Schutte, a UC freshman who’s majoring in civil and environmental engineering, is one of 14 UC freshmen who were awarded the full scholarship as they entered UC last fall.

A graduate of St. Xavier High School, Schutte is the last of three brothers to attend UC and the son of two UC alumni. Oldest brother Kyle graduated from UC last December with a degree in accounting and management. Ben Schutte is a fourth-year graphic design major. His mother, Kathryn, earned a bachelor’s degree in social work, and his father, Lawrence, earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

But when it was finally time to decide on a college, Mark found himself at a crossroads – should he follow the family tradition or strike out for new adventures? “I had applied to seven schools, but when it came time for my college visit to UC, I was really impressed,” he says. A dynamic campus, a challenging academic program and tuition paid in full – it was an offer he says he could not let slip by and he says he has been happy with his decision ever since.

Mark Schutte
Engineering Library

Schutte says he was also looking for a university that had an Engineers Without Borders student organization – an organization that finds sustainable solutions for improving quality of life issues – which he also found at UC. “I’ve gone to almost all of the meetings,” he says.

“Right now, we’re working on a project to reconstruct a dilapidated schoolhouse in Burere in Northern Africa. They have to hold classes outside the school, because the building is so unsafe,” he says. “We’re looking at a way to make the bricks to rebuild the school right there on site, and the group is planning a trip to begin construction and to teach the villagers how to complete the project,” Schutte says.

Schutte exemplifies the Cincinnatus emphasis on service as well as leadership and academics. Every student who earns one of the four levels of Cincinnatus scholarships is required to perform 30 hours of community service each year as part of their scholarship commitment. He currently volunteers at St. Francis Soup Kitchen. “Every now and then, someone comes up to me and tells me how much they appreciate my being there, and that’s what makes service worthwhile to me – both the served and those who serve benefit from the experience.”

Mark Schutte

His dedication to service led him on a four-week mission trip in Peru one summer. He has also volunteered for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and for a project to renovate homes in Sedamsville. During high school, he was a peer math tutor, a tutor for Winton Place Elementary and was a St. Susanna Life youth group leader. Schutte’s the recipient of his high school’s prestigious Dr. Charles Farrell Leadership Award, an honor for Christian leadership.

Schutte is also in the UC Honors program for academically talented students, which emphasizes experiential learning in and out of the classroom, here at UC and around the world. For example, Schutte’s current service-learning Honors course about Appalachian culture and intercultural communication will culminate in a spring break trip to the Appalachian region of Kentucky to assist an organization that helps Appalachian families rebuild or rehabilitate their homes.

Schutte says cooperative education, which was founded at UC, also solidified his decision to attend a top university located close to home. Like many students of his generation, he’s interested in sustainability initiatives that he can apply toward his future career.

But for the immediate future, Schutte and hundreds of other UC volunteers will be guiding 1,400 high-school seniors attending the Cincinnatus Scholarship Competition – the competitors represent 31 states. Only 10 full-ride scholarships are up for grabs, and Schutte says his own full scholarship was truly a surprise.

“Going into the competition, I was amazed at the number of people I saw at registration,” he recalls. “I really wasn’t expecting to go as far as I did, so I’m looking forward to meeting these competitors so that I can pass along that if I can do it, they can do it, too.”

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