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A Powell Scholar’s first year at Pacific

Josephine Kinlan ’23 works on homework in Callison Hall, the designated Powell Scholar study lounge.

Josephine Kinlan is a member of the prestigious Powell Scholar program at University of the Pacific. The health and exercise sciences and Media X double major made the long trip from The Bronx in New York City to Stockton in large part due to the opportunities the program offers. The mentorship, funding to pursue interests and fellowship piqued Josephine’s interest.   

Pacific’s Powell Scholars program awards high achieving high school seniors with a large financial aid package and provides mentorship as well as a variety of research and cultural opportunities. 

“From the instant our scholars enroll at Pacific to the moment they graduate and beyond, the Powell Scholars program cultivates and encourages an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to continuous learning, intellectual curiosity, and creative problem solving,” explained interim director of the Powell Scholars program, Professor Jeffrey Hole. 

Josephine reflected on the Powell Scholars program, the application process and how it ultimately affected her first year of college at University of the Pacific.  

Choosing the Powell Scholars program

Financial aid was the main reason Josephine applied for the program. The Powell Scholarship is the largest merit-based scholarship at Pacific. Scholars receive an annual merit scholarship of $45,000 and an additional $5,000 for independent research projects as well as $2,500 for study abroad expenses.  

Josephine applied for the scholarship at the same time she applied for admission. She was selected as a finalist and invited to campus to interview with the Powell Scholars selection committee, composed of a current Powell Scholar, the head of the Powell Scholars program and another administrator. The following month Josephine was notified of her selection, and she joined her cohort of 14 incoming first-year students last fall. 

Powell Scholars mentorship

Josephine meets with the head of the Powell Scholars program several times each semester to talk about their classes and life.  

“It was more mentorship than I anticipated coming into college, but the amount of individual attention they gave each of us was really nice and encouraging,” Josephine said. 

As the former head of Pacific’s Humanities Scholars, Professor Jeffrey Hole brings great experience to the honors program. 

“As the director, I feel it is my mission to serve as an advisor to and champion for the scholars,” Professor Hole said. “I meet with all the first-year scholars one-on-one for coffee or lunch at some point in the first weeks of the semester. This allows me to get to know them better and curate an educational experience that shapes and fulfills their interests, aspirations and ambitions.” 

Study abroad and independent research funds

Another great benefit of being a Powell Scholar is receiving funding for study abroad expenses and independent research projects. Scholars are encouraged to use their funds to “go big” and pursue projects that would otherwise be difficult to conduct without extra funding.  

Costs and expenses can prevent students from studying abroad, so the Powell Scholars program alleviates that stress. Josephine says she would love to take advantage of the study abroad fund, like her fellow Powell Scholar, Devin Thompson, who interned in the Dominican Republic. One of her top choices is South Korea as it’s her mother’s home country. 

Addressing real-world issues

One of the most valuable aspects of the program during Josephine’s first year was being able to engage in academic discussions with her cohort on topics she feels passionate about. 

During their first semester of college, the head of the Powell Scholar program led discussions and journaling on various topics in Callison Hall, the designated Powell study lounge. Their theme for the semester was leadership, and one of the activities included writing a letter to a current leader about an issue they were passionate about. Josephine wrote to President Biden about climate change. 

“Everyone in my cohort was willing to participate and engage during our sessions, which I really valued since this was not always the case during regular classes,” she said. 

Other opportunities she took advantage of as a first-year scholar were presentations by notable speakers and field trips like going to San Francisco to watch “The Nutcracker.”  

Research as a Powell Scholar

Josephine has already started her portfolio assignment, which is a mandatory project that Powells present during their senior year. 

“My friend and fellow Powell Scholar, Daniela Ceballos, and I are conducting a research study involving lowering the temperatures of classrooms to use less heating and electricity and students’ reaction to the change,” she explained. “We’re both passionate about the environment and sustainability, so I’m really excited!”  

Josephine is looking forward to her upcoming years at Pacific as a Powell Scholar. In addition to the many opportunities the program offers, she says she has also made lifelong friends. She and her cohort grew close during their first year, and Josephine believes they will only grow closer as they continue their journey here to “find and follow [their] passions,” the vision of the program’s creators, Bob and Jeannette Powell.  

If you are interested in the Powell Scholars Program, here are the qualifications to apply: 

  • Cumulative high school GPA of 3.7 or higher (unweighted)
  • Undertaken a rigorous academic curriculum – Honors, AP and/or IB courses 
  • Demonstrated leadership skills or leadership potential in two or more areas, including but not restricted to student government, community service, cultural groups, research or creative activities or sports

You can apply for the scholarship at the same time as admission, like Josephine, or if you’ve already applied for admission, you can access the scholarship application online. Your username and password are the same as your application portal. 

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