Parliament. The United Nations. Google. Apple. Peace Corps. Harvard. Johns Hopkins. Being in the presence of exceptional individuals with such distinguished experiences could make any high achiever nervous, let alone a college freshman. And those are not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Levine Scholars Program alumni. My senior year of high school, as soon as I received the news that I had been awarded the Levine scholarship, I spent hours scouring the LSP website, trying to learn all I could about the program. I recall reading all of the alumni bios where they described teaching English in Nepal on the Fulbright fellowship, conducting full operas, and funding beehives for the local science museum to promote honey bee conservation. At the time, the Levine alumni seemed otherworldly and untouchable, a breed of superhumans to which a lowly incoming freshman could never belong.
As I progressed through my college years, I gradually came into contact with more Levine alumni, whether through Ronald McDonald House volunteer meals, performing arts events, or Finalist Weekend. To my surprise, aside from being wildly accomplished, the alumni were also incredibly kind. They took the time to share advice on how to navigate internship interviews, semesters abroad, and college life in general. Additionally, I found it easy to converse with them about our shared love of food, music, or TV, proving that the alumni are not nearly as unrelatable as I previously believed. Now, I am fully confident that if I were to reach out to any alum in the program, I would be welcomed with open arms.
This year, I had the honor to be selected as the scholar liaison for the inaugural Levine Alumni Council. The council is comprised of ten alumni representing all six graduated cohorts, each chosen by their respective peers. My role is to provide input from a current scholar’s point of view and assist communication between the council and the Levine Scholars Program. Once a quarter, council members volunteer their personal time to participate in a virtual meeting, some calling in from as far as Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. Our purpose is to facilitate many aspects of the Levine Scholars Program, including alumni-student connections, regular alumni communications, fundraising, Finalist Weekend programming, and community service collaborations. With COVID-19 impacting the lives of both current and former Levine scholars, the council is also deliberating means through which alumni and scholars can support one another during this difficult time. Proposed methods vary from virtual social events, such as a trivia night, to a method in whihc to help alumni and scholars who have been affected by the pandemic-fueled economic recession find employment opportunities.
I do not believe there will ever come a day where I will not be in awe of the Levine alumni. However, the Levine Alumni Council is a significant step towards breaking down the barriers between alumni and scholars so that we can encourage and aid one another as we forge our own unique and incredible experiences.