This semester, Reinhardt University has launched a Scholars Program to offer scholarship recipients a cohort experience of engagement and reflection. Dr. Amy Cottrill joined the faculty this summer as the Director of the Scholars Program and a professor in the Religion Program.
The primary concept of the new program is to bring together students who receive a scholarship award based on their academic work, interest in leadership, history of engagement in their high schools, or who have demonstrated another talent or have life experience that enriches the Reinhardt community. These students will be brought together at various points in the year to reflect on the work they are doing, ask questions of each other, offer support, and make decisions about how they want to invest their time and energy in the future to make the most of their opportunities at Reinhardt.
There are 36 students this year who have received the Diverse Talents, Presidential, Sharpe, Goizueta, and Whitehead scholarships. Dr. Cottrill explains, “As they move through their four years, the questions about the future become different, so we also want to offer support for thinking about life after Reinhardt. That involves learning to tell the story of your education and connecting the dots, in a meaningful narrative that helps you understand the significance of your education and what you have to offer various communities in the future. It is about making meaning out of experience.”
The underpinning of the Scholars Program has a message for all students, “You belong here. We want you to succeed. This is a community,” explained Dr. Cottrill. She encourages all students to take time to visit their professors, as it helps them teach better, and students learn better.
Dr. Cottrill previously taught for 16 years in the Department of Religion at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, an institution also affiliated with the United Methodist Church. She did her doctoral work in Hebrew Bible at Emory University. “I am really happy to be here and a part of something pretty exciting. I resonate deeply with Reinhardt’s commitment to educating the whole student and to help them to construct lives that are personally and socially meaningful. Small, student-centered colleges and universities offer something special and increasingly rare - a chance for students to work with faculty and staff to ask big questions, take risks, and challenge themselves and each other in a place that will offer support,” she said.
The Emily Dickinson poem, “I Dwell in Possibility” resonates with Dr. Cottrill, “Is there anything better than that? It is so hopeful. Sometimes we shut down options in our own minds before we even attempt them in the world. When I hear President Roberts’s description of Reinhardt as a place “where diverse talents grow together,” I hear possibility. One of Reinhardt’s great strengths as a school is that the students are not all cut from the same cloth. My hope is to be able to work with everyone, students, faculty, and staff, to build a Scholars Program that supports and attracts students who see and value the different ways people are talented and are energized by those differences.”