Stephenson accepted into Blount Scholars Program

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Greenville High School 2002 graduate Beth Stephenson will begin her education at the University of Alabama this year as a Blount Scholar.

The Blount program is an honors program which provides smaller classes and a special dormitory just for Blount Scholars. Stephenson learned at the end of her senior year at GHS that she had been one of only 110 students from across the United States to be selected to participate in the program.

The degree she will receive at the end of her education at the University of Alabama will be a Blount degree. Stephenson said she will major in English and hopes to focus on public relations. The program requires that the students minor in arts and sciences and certain courses are required for the program.

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She said she applied for the program when she was preparing for her college education and she filled out three pages of questions, including questions such as "What is your favorite book and why?" and "What project from your senior year do you feel had the biggest impact on your life and why?"

Stephenson said she thought she did really well on the application but she was assured when she was contacted and invited to the interview at Alabama. She said the interview was more like a class as there were ten individuals in the room answering questions about literature.

She said the instructor would give "out-there topics" and the students would have to discuss those topics and then were rated on their discussion and participation skills. "It's so hard to find your voice when you're in there with 10 other people who are trying for the same thing," Stephenson said. "It was kind-of intimidating but our class went really well."

She found out she had gotten into the program at the end of her senior year and said she was very excited to learn she had been accepted. Beth's big sister, Lauren, is also a Blount Scholar at the University of Alabama and Beth said that her sister was a big influence on her decision to apply for the program.

"My sister Lauren really was excited and she really wanted me to make it," Stephenson said. "My sister is a huge influence on me. She got me to come to Alabama and check things out. We're so similar that I knew if she liked it, I would like it."

She said that the program is a bit different than a regular honors program in that students are not required to have a 27 or above ACT score. It is more focused on culture and getting students more adapted to other cultures and educate them about the origins of those cultures.

"The point is to make you more aware of other cultures and your surroundings," Stephenson said.

For the first year of her education at the University, Stephenson and the other Blount Scholars will be required to live in the Blount Living Learning Center. Many classes are held in the co-ed dormitory and the students learn how to interact well with the other scholars by living in the same building.

"It's more of a closed atmosphere," Stephenson said. "Several buildings on campus are only accessible to Blount students."

She said the program is relatively new and this year's Blount Scholar class will be the first class to complete four years in the program. She said the program has gained a lot of publicity and that "you can always tell who the Blount Scholars are because they stick out in classes and on campus by sitting at the front and being more outspoken in classes."

Stephenson said she is planning to major in English, although that is "subject to change." She said the English courses will prepare her for a career in public relations. "I think it's going to really help me become more thoughtful and sharpen my English skills."

She said she knows the program will prepare her well for the business world. "Businesses and corporations want well-spoken people who get their points across well," she said. "I would like to work for some kind of advertising firm and somewhere I can work with the public. There are so many things I am not exposed to right now. Those degrees can be used for so many professions."

Stephenson said she was really excited to learn that she had been excepted into the program and that many of her teachers had been waiting anxiously to hear the news as well. "I think some of my teachers were more excited than I was!"

Stephenson said she "really, really wanted" to get into the program and she said the interview experience was great. "Everything we did was so good," she said. "The mock class went especially well."

She said there are many people who have contributed to preparing her for college and she is thankful for all those people. She said her English teacher, Virginia Stallings, "prepared me 100 times if not more for the interview."

She said her parents, Allen and Gina Stephenson, have always been very supportive and encouraging in her education and the decisions she has made about college. She said it will also be comforting to know her sister is there as well. "I'm really excited that she'll be there," she said. "It's always good to know you have a back-up there."

Stephenson said that, while in her first year at Alabama, she plans to "find what I love to do and go from there. By the time my sophomore year comes around, I will be more ready to decide what I want to do."

She received several college scholarships including the W. O. Parmer Scholarship, the University of Alabama Capstone Scholarship, the Luckie Scholarship and the Wallace-Skinner Scholarship given by Greenville First Baptist Church.

"All the scholarships are such a blessing," Stephenson said. "God really prepared my family in getting ready for this. My parents have been such an influence on me."

Stephenson said she is ready to begin her education and she is excited to be attending the University of Alabama.