PROFILE: Cincinnatus Scholar Will Greet New Competitors Feb. 14

Come Valentine’s Day, Rebecca Poland will be one of the first people that hundreds of high school students and their parents will meet when they arrive at the University of Cincinnati for the Cincinnatus VIII Scholarship Competition. Poland, a sophomore chemical engineering major, Honors Scholar and full Cincinnatus Scholarship recipient, will be volunteering her Saturday at the scholarship contest to assist with registration and to serve as a student moderator at some of the parent sessions.

High school seniors from around the nation will be competing at UC for more than $12 million in scholarship money in problem-solving and essay contests. Poland is one of around 300 UC students who will be assisting the campus visitors. Lucinda Cohen, interim director of the Cincinnatus Scholarship competition, says that in addition to the student volunteers, 175 faculty and staff will serve as assessors at the event. She adds that 1,900 high school seniors will be competing for the awards this year. The majority of those students will participate on Feb. 14. Others will compete at two other make up dates.

Poland is familiar with all the excitement of the event – first, through her own experience when she competed for a scholarship in 2002, but also because she volunteered service when the Cincinnatus Scholars in UC’s current freshman class competed for scholarships last February. “I had a really good time at the competition myself, and I saw all of the benefits, so I wanted to help influence other students to come to UC and help make the competition fun for them.”

Rebecca Poland works in Baldwin Hall's quiet room

Rebecca Poland works in Baldwin Hall's quiet room

The Delhi resident and St. Ursula Academy graduate says it was UC’s engineering program that first influenced her decision to attend UC. “I really wanted to stay in town, and the fact that the engineering program was so strong, that was a bonus.” After registering for UC her senior year in high school, she qualified and was invited to compete for a Cincinnatus scholarship. Everyone who competes goes home a winner, but Poland was one of only nine students in the 2002 freshman class who was awarded a full scholarship to pay for tuition, books, room and board.

As part of her scholarship commitment, Poland volunteers at least 30 hours of community service each year. Her role in this year’s Cincinnatus Competition is part of her service. Her dedication to community service, however, was a commitment that was evident before she became part of the UC community. During high school, she assisted the staff at Mother Margaret Hall, a nursing home for Sisters of Charity.

“Community service is something that’s very fulfilling to me,” Poland says. “First, it really makes you feel good to volunteer. Also, I’ve met so many people, so it has helped me to become more outgoing. Plus, it’s through service that you become thankful for what you have, and you want to help those who have less.” Poland is a member of the Cincinnatus Activities Committee, which organizes social and community service activities for Cincinnatus Scholars.

A casual study session in Baldwin Hall.

A casual study session in Baldwin Hall.

She is presently gaining real-world experience toward her future career in engineering by working in a student co-op position in the engineering department of Patheon Pharmaceuticals in Cincinnati.

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