No students in the class of 2023 selected as Ingram Scholars in the most recent applicant pool

The Ingram Scholars Program unusually denied all rising-sophomore applicants admission during the last application cycle.

EBI

Alex Venero

E. Bronson Ingram Residential College as photographed on Sept. 10, 2020. (Vanderbilt Multimedia/Alexandra Venero)

Rachael Perrotta, Staff Writer

The Ingram Scholars Program failed to admit any rising-sophomores last winter, breaking their tradition of annually accepting a few sophomores in the winter application period.

Each year, incoming first-years applying have the opportunity to apply for the Ingram Scholars Program along with their application to Vanderbilt. Additionally, rising-sophomores can apply for the program during their second semester at Vanderbilt. 

Typically, around ten incoming first-years are chosen, along with approximately two rising-sophomores. In the class of 2022, two students, Louisa (Loulou) Byars and John (Chang Yong) Gee, were selected for the program as rising-sophomores.

Dean of Admissions Doug Christiansen commented on the lack of students in the class of 2023 chosen for the program.

The number in the cohort each year is determined by funding that is available from the Ingram Program endowment and the number of qualified applicants,” Christiansen said.

Applicants typically learn of their results in mid-May, but students were notified on July 28, 2020 that they had not been selected for admission. However, some students recently realized that rejection had been widespread, with no one making it past this round. Additionally, some applicants failed to receive notification of their denial until Aug. 10, 2020, after repeated inquiries about results.

“The notifications were sent based on the timing and stage of the selection process. All aspects of each student’s application status are confidential,” Christiansen said.

Miles Borowsky, Ingram Scholar applicant and sophomore, expressed his frustration concerning the timeline of results and the lack of rising sophomores admitted. 

There was no communication about this. Myself and others were left feeling confused, and quite frankly, very upset,” Borowsky said. “I put many, many hours into this application and while I never ‘expected’ to be chosen, I was hopeful that my hard work would pay off.”

Borowsky also expressed that, by not communicating with applicants about the lack of chosen awardees, the Ingram Scholars Program did not acknowledge the work they put forth to apply for the scholarship. 

“It’s really difficult to believe that not a single applicant was qualified,” Borowsky said. “I’m not aggravated that I didn’t get selected; I’m aggravated that no one got selected and that they failed to communicate with us and respect the time and effort we put into the effort. It leads me to believe that the Scholarship Committee isn’t being transparent with us.”

Jacob Shamberg, also a sophomore and applicant to the Ingram Scholars Program last application cycle, expressed a similar lack of clarity regarding the lack of applicants chosen from the class of 2023.

“The way the email was worded implied that they did choose some people to be finalists, which was a little confusing,” Shamberg said.

Christiansen stated that applicants were alerted about their personal standing in the program.

“Each applicant was appropriately notified whether or not they were moving forward as an Ingram Scholar finalist,” Christiansen said.

Borowsky inquired with the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships if there would be an opportunity for the class of 2023 to reapply for the program, which was declined. 

“Based upon the unique programming offered by the Ingram Program, rising juniors are not eligible to apply,” per an email from Chanell Thomas, Associate Director of the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Christiansen also stated that the funding, from the Ingram Scholars Program endowment, not being used for these scholarships will be used for programming and future awards.

“The Ingram Scholars program is funded by the Ingram Scholars Program endowment. All dollars generated by the endowment are used exclusively for Ingram scholarships and programming,” Christiansen said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic affected many scholarship programs nationwide, Thomas affirmed that it didn’t affect the results of the application cycle.

“The pandemic did create a delay in the review process. However, it was completed as in prior years with each application reviewed by the committee,” Thomas said.

Brian Heuser, Program Director of the Ingram Scholars Program, did not respond to The Huster’s request for comment.

“The Ingram Scholars Program is fully committed to its mission. The program continues to focus on being innovative in its approach to service, scholar engagement, required projects, and the sense of community among the scholars during COVID-19,” Christiansen said.