12/17/2014 Peter Durantine

New Generation of Leaders Gets a Lift from Rouse Scholarship

Leadership -- the ability to persuade others to work together to get things done -- is an inherent quality of Franklin & Marshall alumni such as World War II Army Major Dick Winters of "Band of Brothers" fame and current students such as Cecilia Plaza and Dustin Smith.     

It is the quality Andrew Rouse '49 said he looks for in recipients of Rouse Scholarships, a program that began 12 years and 29 students ago. Plaza and Smith were named F&M's latest Rouse Scholars in December 2014.

Rouse Scholarships are awarded to two F&M sophomores each year. The awards cover the cost of tuition, books and other academic expenses for the duration of the students' schooling at the College. In addition, Rouse Scholars can earn grants for research and leadership projects. They must demonstrate exceptional leadership and excel academically.

"Leaders also need nurturing if they're to have the opportunity to realize their full potential," Rouse said. "They get better at leadership as they practice it."

  • In this January 2014 file photo, Franklin & Marshall College alumnus Andrew M. Rouse, Class of 1949, recalled how he and his colleagues reorganized the federal government during Richard M. Nixon's administration at a Nixon Legacy Forum, "Creation of the Modern Presidency," in the Schnader Theatre of F&M's Roschel Performing Arts Center. Image Credit: Melissa Hess

Plaza, who intends to major in sociology and gender studies, shaped her leadership skills by being a prolific volunteer in high school.

"I like to feel I can change things," she said. "I grew up in a place where it was hard to change things and I didn't have the power to change things. I like to feel I'm having an impact."

In high school, Plaza founded and served as director of NutriFun, an educational program that teaches children the importance of nutrition and healthy eating habits. At F&M, she has take on several leadership roles: House adviser at Brooks College House, Ware Institute for Civic Engagement intern, sexual assault prevention facilitator, environmental science and policy course preceptor, Breakthrough Miami College Bound teaching fellow, director of the Vagina Monologues, an advocate on the SISTERS executive board, and executive board member of the Alice Drum Women's Center. She also is a Marshall Fellow.

  • Rouse Scholar Cecilia Plaza is considering law school and work on human rights issues. Image Credit: Melissa Hess

"F&M is a close-knit community, and I have developed a better sense of what I want to do as a student here," Plaza said.

She called her Rouse Scholarship "a great opportunity." She wants to give back by creating a leadership network "for anyone who feels they don't have the opportunity to participate in campus organizations."

After F&M,  she is considering law school with a focus on human rights law.

Smith, who is considering creative writing as a major, said leadership became second nature to him while in high school, where teachers strongly encouraged him to get involved.

"I was involved in as many extra-curricular activities as possible," Smith said. "It really didn't make sense to me not to be involved in them."

Smith is a House adviser and constable at Ware College House; a Latin tutor in the Classics Department; vice president of the House Community Leaders Advisory Board; a mentor and tutor for Squash ACES, a college prep program; a help desk assistant at F&M's ITS Department; a Marshall Fellow; and president of the Chessmen, one of four a cappella signing groups at the College.

Smith said he already has some ideas for his scholarship project.

"I'm thinking I'll organize an a cappella music festival on campus with the four groups from F&M as well as groups from other schools," Smith said. "The event will benefit Music For Everyone," a Lancaster nonprofit dedicated to increasing music resources in schools and the local community.

  • Rouse Scholar Dustin Smith intends to pursue a chemical engineering degree to work on green energy, Image Credit: Melissa Hess

Smith, who has always enjoyed the application of science rather than the theory, said he looks forward to engineering school.

"There's a lot of good you can do with chemical engineering," Smith said. "I'd like to work with green energy."

Rouse, who started the scholarship program after a successful career in government and private industry, encourages recipients of the Rouse Scholarship to follow his lead and support the program once they've achieved their success.

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