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Spring 2019
The Ripple Effect: Highlights from the National Convention

In early April, hundreds of Stamps Scholars representing 41 partner institutions across the nation came together for the fifth biennial Stamps Scholars National Convention. The convention aims to inspire global leaders and change makers and provide a platform for networking and collaboration amongst the brightest minds and greatest thinkers from schools throughout the U.S.

Fourteen Illinois scholars, together with program director, Sarah Watson, traveled to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta for a three-day program that many shared was one of their most meaningful and memorable Stamps experiences to date.

Before the event even officially began, Illinois already had significant representation in the proceedings with Maxwell Chan (Industrial Design, 2022), named winner of the 2019 logo competition!  He says, "I was really surprised initially, mostly because the Stamps Scholars are such a talented group of people that I was stunned that my design was chosen. It was great to be recognized at the convention for that, and I made a few friends through it too!"

In addition to themed programming (or "threads") and service challenges, scholars took part in panels, talks, and symposiums and heard from former NFL coach-turned-lecturer, Daron K. Roberts as well as retired Navy Admiral and S.A.F.E.Project co-founder, James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld, Jr.

Thread activities were facilitated by peer scholars from other institutions and spanned a wide variety of contemporary issues including:

  • Ethics of Healthcare in the Modern Era sponsored by the University of Notre Dame
  • Digital Ethics sponsored by Purdue University
  • Future of Art in the Technological World sponsored by University of Pittsburgh
  • International Threats to Democracy sponsored by the United States Naval Academy
  • Mental Health on College Campuses sponsored by the University of Michigan
  • Design Thinking for Social Innovation Approaches, Case Study: Food Insecurity sponsored by The Ohio State University
  • Approaches to Social Justice, Peace and Non-Violence: Past and Present sponsored by Elizabethtown College

Sam Althaus (Advertising, 2019) was placed in the "International Threats to Democracy" thread. He reflects, "I was completely enthralled in the scintillating conversation and immersive activities that I was able to participate in with other scholars. We got to simulate a sort of 'game theory' situation with each scholar group representing different democratic groups dealing and negotiating solutions to a threat to a theoretical democratic state. It was so well put-together and really changed my mind about some complex political issues going forward."

Through the Stamps Service Challenge, students spent a day engaging in local service projects related to their threads at organizations such as the American Red Cross, Living Walls Atlanta, Next Generation Men and Women Atlanta, AgLanta, Trees Atlanta, Atlanta Area Elderly Care Facilities, Veterans Affairs of Atlanta, and more.

To preserve the experience, Lincoln Rogers (Advertising, 2022) recorded the experience of the Illinois Stamps Scholars via photo and video throughout the convention.  He remarks, "Recording our group's experience at the convention was a really fun experience. I feel like we really captured the personality of our group, and the videos that we took really show how much fun we had at the convention. The convention in general was really great; it was extremely well organized and packed with really valuable speakers and events."

During his convention address, Dr. Roe Stamps, Founder of the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, reflected on the growth and success of the scholarship program noting, “We’re on to something here…”.   We couldn’t agree more!

Senior send-off
Left to right: Brittany Barajas, Sam Althaus, Nick Magerko, Chris North, Kaitlin Block 

Each year, we honor our seniors and their successes with a heartwarming send-off celebration.  This year's graduates were recognized with a superlative, graduation cords, and the book What Do You Do With a Chance?.  Senior Kaitlin Block (Social Work) reflected, "[This book] represented the chance we took on coming to Illinois, and all of the chances we will take in our future endeavors."  The seniors also imparted some wisdom onto the future generations by sharing the significance of the Stamps experience and passing along a "senior will" to a younger Stamps Scholar.  Kaitlin found the send-off to be especially sentimental. "We were all very emotional and tears were shed - both happy and sad because of how much this community means to us!"

What's next for our Spring 2019 grads?

Sam Althaus (Advertising)
Working in the advertising industry in Chicago

"I've done so many amazing things thanks to the Stamps Scholarship, but the most rewarding part has been the lifelong friends I've made along the way. Stamps has introduced me to some pretty awesome human beings that I'm so lucky to have met during my academic career."


Brittany Barajas (Spanish, Speech and Hearing Science)
Summer - Completing a National Outdoor Leadership School backpacking course
Long term - Pursuing graduate studies in bilingual speech-language pathology

“[A highlight] has been the great conversations and laughs that I have shared with Stamps Scholars at the University of Illinois.”


Kaitlin Block (Social Work)
Summer - Biking with the Illini 4000 Bike America Team from New York City to San Francisco to raise money for cancer
Long term - Pursuing a Master of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago

"It's hard to pick one highlight of my Stamps experience, but I would say that having stability in terms of finances and friendship has changed my entire life. I would not have been able to attend UIUC without the Stamps Scholarship, and I would not have been able to graduate without the friendships I have made both within and outside of my Stamps Family."


Nick Magerko (Computer Science)
Summer - Traveling to Europe with the University of Illinois Alumni Association's EXPLORERS alumni travel program
Long term - Working as a software engineer at Facebook in Seattle

"SSNC17 and SSNC19 were definitely the highlights of my time as a Stamps Scholar. I'll always remember the national conventions for the great experiences I had with the Illinois Scholars and all of the others I connected with along the way."

Where in the world are they?

The enrichment funding provided to Stamps Scholars creates opportunities for students to study at locations around the globe.  Check out where our students have been learning over the past few months.


Meral Aycicek (Global Studies, 2020): Austria, Spring 2019

"The highlight of my experience has been skiing in the Austrian Alps in Salzburg for a week in January. The Alps, and skiing especially, is a big part of Austrian culture. Kicking off my study abroad with a week of breathtaking mountain views was an experience I'll cherish forever."


Maxwell Chan (Industrial Design, 2022): Costa Rica, Winter Break 2019

"The highlight of my study abroad was being immersed in the Costa Rican culture, especially how they treat their environment and their citizens. I think there's an emphasized sense of family in Costa Rica that I personally found very heart-warming compared to how we live in the states."


Jacob Ebens (Supply Chain Management & Marketing, 2020): Austria, Spring 2019

"The continued support both monetarily through enrichment funds as well as the network Stamps provides has enabled me to go above and beyond during my study abroad experience. Thanks in part to Stamps, I was able to travel to 12 countries and expand on my international business knowledge. This four-month-long experience has given me more confidence, self-awareness, and adaptability. I have no doubt in my mind that these traits cultivated during my time abroad will translate back to my studies and career path. Having to not worry about a support system along my journey clearly shows just how much impact the Stamps experience can be at Illinois."


Robert Mitchell (Finance, 2020): Spain, Spring 2020

"I had an amazing time immersing myself in the culture of Spain, learning something new every day. Since the Barcelona study abroad program is more expensive than a standard semester on campus, I was able to use my enrichment funds to cover the cost difference. This helped allow me and my family to spend money on things such as trips to other scenic areas of Spain, or international weekend excursions, helping to enhance my trip by creating memories that I'll never forget. The highlight of my experience was traveling throughout Spain and to other European countries such as France, England, Italy, and many more so easily, which helped me introduce myself to as many different cultures as possible."


Jacey Schick (Agricultural and Consumer Economics, 2020): Northern California, Spring Break 2019

"A highlight of the experience was visiting an organic farm called Full Belly Farm in Guinda, CA. It was inspiring speaking with the owner who manages the farm that produces over 90 varieties of produce, integrates environmental stewardship, and supports the local food economy."

Spring highlights

When it comes to undergraduate excellence, the Stamps Scholars are the best of the best – from participating in research to taking on challenging leadership roles and so much more. Even still, they carve out time to gather as a group for professional development, service and fun.  Check out what our scholars have been up to this semester:

 Ron Filler with Kayla Guo
  • Service: As an annual tradition, Stamps Scholars participated in One Winter Night, a local event that brings hundreds of volunteers together to camp in cardboard boxes for 12 hours on a frigid February night raising funds for the homeless community in Champaign-Urbana.

  • Distinguished Leader Series: Scholars met with Illinois alumnus and donor, Ron Filler, about the power of networking, paying it forward, and defining their place in Illinois history.  The talk was followed by a tour of the new Richmond Family Welcome Gallery located in the Alice Campbell Alumni Center.

  • Community building: The spring kickoff “Smart Food for Smart Students” brought scholars together for an instructional cooking class at the Activities and Recreation Center. The cohort broke into teams and learned to prepare a variety of dishes with brain-boosting benefits.

  • Recruitment: For several weeks in February, scholars played an integral role in welcoming and hosting candidates for the new Fall 2019 Stamps cohort. From panel discussions to informal lunches, current scholars provided the student perspective on what it’s like to be a part of this unique opportunity.  Four new scholars will join the group in Fall 2019 - more details to come!
Join us online

Did you know that Illinois Stamps Scholars is online and on social media? Follow us on Instagram @illinoisstamps.  Be sure to stop by our website for the latest news and updates.

Attention Stamps alumni! If you haven't already, be sure to join our LinkedIn group to stay in touch with both current students and alumni.


The Stamps Scholars Newsletter is distributed once per term.  If you have questions, or if you'd like to be featured in a future issue, please send us an email.