Abigail Scott, a senior English major and College of Arts & Letters’ Citizen Scholar, is graduating from MSU in May with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
“Having a 4.0 for the duration of college was something I had not envisioned myself achieving, but is something I am proud of accomplishing,” Scott said. “Every class that I took presented new challenges, but the learning environment at MSU helped me be excited about facing these challenges. It showed me that hard work and happiness are not mutually exclusive. I can accomplish both.”
Every class that I took presented new challenges, but the learning environment at MSU helped me be excited about facing these challenges. It showed me that hard work and happiness are not mutually exclusive. I can accomplish both.
During her time at MSU, Scott has learned many things, but says the most important lesson learned is how to face adversity through personal growth.
“I grew professionally in these four years, but also as a person,” she said. “There are a lot of things that are outside of our control, especially in college, and it is often how we approach those situations that provide the most important lessons. Life is never going to be perfect, and I learned that depending on how you approach challenges, you can come out stronger and wiser than before.”
Critical thinking skills are another important lesson Scott has learned in both her English major and through the Citizen Scholar program.
“That skill is a necessity to be successful in the classroom,” she said. “Likewise, being a Citizen Scholar requires critical thinking to deepen our understanding of cultural differences, and it increases our ability to engage and make connections across those differences.”
Coming from a small town in Northern Michigan, Scott was initially drawn to the Citizen Scholars program because she wanted to broaden her understanding of other cultures.
Students who complete the Citizen Scholars program receive a $5,000 scholarship, which can be used for study abroad, study away, undergraduate research, internships, and other enrichment opportunities.
Being a Citizen Scholar requires critical thinking to deepen our understanding of cultural differences, and it increases our ability to engage and make connections across those differences.
Scott used this funding to study abroad in Ireland, where she focused on studying Irish literature, which is the topic of her English senior thesis.
“Going on that trip had been a dream of mine since I was in eighth grade and, truly, if it were not for the financial funding from the Citizen Scholars program, I would not have been able to go,” Scott said. “Studying the literature, on top of immersing myself in the culture, enabled me to learn so much about the country’s writing tradition. It is an experience that I will carry with me forever.”
The Citizen Scholars program and MSU also have instilled in Scott a passion for working towards change as Citizen Scholars are encouraged to become active members of the community.
“I knew college was a time where I would be challenged, and I felt like having a sense of community from the Citizen Scholars program would help me along the way,” she said. “The Citizen Scholars program helped me engage with the East Lansing and Lansing community and inspired me to become involved in volunteer organizations, campus events, and clubs. It enabled me to utilize what I was learning from the program to contribute a positive change within those settings.
“There is so much support in the program and outside of it. I have found the confidence to take risks and be involved in opportunities that I would not have pursued without the advice and support from the Citizen Scholars faculty members and students.”
I have found the confidence to take risks and be involved in opportunities that I would not have pursued without the advice and support from the Citizen Scholars faculty members and students.
The Citizen Scholars program also helped Scott secure her internship with the College of Arts & Letters’ Excel Network as a Communications Intern, which she has held for the past two years. She also worked as a Teacher’s Assistant in the English Department.
“Rather than only learning in the classroom, my internships have helped me learn how to work in the professional world,” Scott said. “They taught me how to adapt and be flexible.”
As she applies for jobs, Scott has talked about the Citizen Scholars program during her interviews, which has been another benefit.
“It is incredibly rewarding to talk about my time in the program and the ways that it has helped me become a more outstanding citizen,” she said.
As she nears the end of her undergraduate education, Scott says she is taking with her the advice she has received.
“The life advice and tips that I have been given from advisors and faculty during my undergraduate education will stick with me for the rest of my life,” she said.
Scott encourages other students to join the Citizen Scholars program who may be considering it.
“The program is meant to make students the best version of themselves by helping them cultivate a personal commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and social justice,” Scott said. “The friendships that students form within the program will be lifelong, and the advice, networking, and opportunities stemming from the Citizen Scholars program will be beneficial far beyond MSU.”
After graduation, Scott hopes to find a job in the communications field.
Written by Caroline Caramagno