One of the Better Business Bureau’s primary goals is to promote ethical business practices. One rewarding way of doing so is through the Delaware chapter’s scholarship program, which was introduced three years ago, says Shaila Kapur, incoming chair of the BBB of Delaware. “It’s a community-friendly way to meet our mission.”
Kapur, who also chairs the Education Foundation, says the committee that chooses the winners has always been impressed with the quality of applicants. “Almost all of the nominees have stellar grades, a long list of extracurricular activities, and terrific recommendations. What sets the winners apart is their ability to express themselves in their essays on the topic of business ethics,” she says.
Madeline Brooks, one of two winners in 2011, was nominated by Wilmington Trust (now M&T Bank). She is now a communications major at the University of Delaware and is looking toward a future in public relations.
“I really enjoy writing and I think I would enjoy working with people and representing a business in a positive light,” she says. Public relations specialists, she wrote in her scholarship essay, “should not merely serve as corporate mouthpieces to make companies appear reputable; rather, they are in a position to be a company’s conscience, holding it accountable for its actions.”
Brooks and the other scholarship winner, Riley Foster, already demonstrate some of the skills necessary for a career relating to the public, says Kapur. “We were all impressed at last year’s scholarship presentation with the poise that Madeline and Riley showed and with their ability to speak with ease to a room full of more than 200 businesspeople.”
Foster, who was nominated by Frank Devonshire General Contractors & Roofing Inc., has begun pre-physician assistant studies at Marywood University. He discovered his interest in medicine when he took an anatomy class his sophomore year of high school. “I enjoyed figuring out problems in the human body,” he says.
In high school, the honor student “focused a lot on grades,” as well as boxing and community service. He volunteered at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Middletown as a camp counselor during the summer and at Children & Families First.
For both students, the scholarship has taken some pressure off paying for college. The award money covered Brooks’ first-year living expenses, and both students are using the scholarship to pay for notoriously expensive college textbooks.
Foster says the scholarship, along with his participation in ROTC, made college accessible to him.
The BBB scholarship is open to Delaware residents in the current year’s graduating class. They must be nominated by a BBB accredited business. Applicants must complete an application form, write an essay of 500 words or less, and submit a current transcript and recommendations. There is no cost to apply, and the scholarship is not based on financial need.
Winners, selected by a committee, receive a $2,500 scholarship. The 2012 scholarship award winners were announced at the annual dinner in March.