The top three winners who won full tuition were Allison Dooley from Papua New Guinea; Chloe Smith from Bennington, Nebraska; and Dana Palmer from Stark City, Missouri.
Participants were required to write a 1,000 word essay and put together a portfolio which included two letters of recommendation from either a teacher, principal, or other authority figure. In addition, a résumé had to be put together which included any extracurricular activities that they were involved in. Participants then came on campus to do a 30-minute interview with two professors including at least one in their area of study.
Derry Ebert, the Associate Vice President and Dean for Traditional Enrollment, said that this is the first year that MidAmerica has done something like this. Every participant in the challenge received some amount of scholarship money in addition to their academic award.
“The top three were given full tuition and the next seven were given $2,000 added onto what they already earned for their academic scholarship,” Ebert said. “The other 12 were given $1,000 for coming and going through the competition.”
Ebert said MidAmerica did everything in their power to make sure that everything was graded fairly for these students.
“Every essay was graded by two different people blindly; they didn’t know whose essay they were grading,” Ebert said. “All the portfolios were graded by two different people and then the interviews were graded by two separate faculty members. After that we took all those scores and added them all up to see the winners.”
The final committee was made up of the academic deans. They took the scores from the essay, portfolio and interview and used those results to identify the winners.
Chloe Smith, one of the winners, said that she knew the minute she stepped on MNU’s campus that she was meant to be here. Smith said she loves the people, the environment and the community that you feel on campus.
“Everyone said, ‘when you step on campus of the school you’re supposed to go to, you’ll get the feeling,’ and I totally got that feeling with MidAmerica,” Smith said.
Smith said she was shocked when she got the call telling her that she had won. She said she started screaming, and when she told her parents, they started jumping up and down and her mom started crying.
“I was super surprised to win and I feel super blessed that I did. It was a total God thing,” Smith said. “ I had prayed about it for a while and I had a lot of people praying for me so I think that definitely helped.”
Dana Palmer, another winner, said that she thought that the hardest part of the challenge was the interview.
“Going into the interview, it was scary because you only have one shot at it and after it happens you can’t go back on your computer and fix the typos,” Palmer said. “But once I got in there it was a lot more relaxed than I thought it was going to be. The professors were really nice about it and I felt really confident when I talked to them.”
She said she appreciated how MNU’s teachers are truly invested in making sure the students are doing what they need to be doing to go along in their relationships with Christ. She was blown away when she observed Bo Cassell’s Introduction to Sociology class.
“He said that he was going to start out the class with a devotion that he had that morning but then the devotion ended up taking up a large portion of the actual class,” Palmer said. “It was really nice because I think I learned more from that devotion than I would have from his lecture. It was really fun.”
Since Allison Dooley, the third winner, lives in Paupa New Guinea, she had to Skype in for the interview and sent her portfolio through mail. She could not be reached for comment after winning the award.
All in all the competition brought 22 talented individuals together on campus who may or may not have looked into MidAmerica otherwise.