From March 31 to April 2, Tech’s Stamps President’s Scholars Program (SPSP) hosted the Stamps Scholars National Convention 2023 (SSNC23), inviting participants from similar programs across the country to join a weekend of education, outreach and community.
Started in 2006 by E. Roe Stamps, IE ’67 M.S. IE ’72, and his late wife, the Stamps Scholars Program partners with multiple universities to award exceptional students scholarships and opportunities to further their career paths. Oftentimes the students’ home institutions will also sponsor part of their award, such as the SPSP at Tech.
To unite this vast network of scholars, the Stamps Scholars Program hosts a national convention every two years. After some delay from the pandemic, SSNC23 reignited the normal schedule and took place at the Institute this spring.
“Many of us on the team have been planning for about four years through postponements,” said Ryan Sequeira, fourth-year CS and co-chair of the SPSP’s committee for planning SSNC23. “Since 2017, it has been tentatively just Georgia Tech going forward. We just have the highest capacity to hold all the Stamps Scholars.”
Sequeira and other students worked alongside staff from the Office of Special Scholarships to coordinate the three-day event. Even with almost 40 other schools joining the convention, the committee ensured that it represented the Institute well.
“[Every] part of the convention is embedded into Georgia Tech. We have the Ferst Center, we have the Exhibition Hall, we have various classrooms around campus, the GT hotel,” Sequeira said. “We really just instill our motto, progress and service, into everything we do because at the end of it, it’s not just about one scholar’s learning or one scholar’s development of a talent or a poster presentation. It’s about serving the community.”
To carry out this mission, the committee gave plenty of opportunities for scholars to learn from and help others throughout the weekend. The packed schedule included highlights like Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens speaking at the opening ceremony and a keynote address from Elizabeth Kiss, the Warden of Rhodes House who oversees the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
SSNC23 also included workshops during their Thread Sessions that allowed students to educate their peers on certain topics. Miranda Leggett, fourth-year BA and Stamps President’s Scholar, also attended the convention and commented on the impact of the Thread Sessions.
“There were really a very widespread variety of options that people could select to attend,” she said. From the military-industrial complex to shark attacks to the environmental justice lecture that Leggett attended, the threads offered Scholars the opportunity to learn from other young experts about important issues.
In addition to the educational activities, SSNC23 also included outreach sessions to help 13 Atlanta-based nonprofits.
“For the community engagement events, we had a case writing session where we were helping these nonprofits with whatever problems they needed to address from our interdisciplinary set of Stamps Scholars,” Sequeira said. Leggett also added that these showcased one of her favorite parts of the convention: seeing how the Scholars were able to combine their strengths and experiences to solve problems.
“We’re so focused on technology here, which is great, but there’s a whole lot else out there, so it was really cool to get to see people’s different perspectives on these kinds of things,” Leggett said. She added an example of how Tech students had an efficiency-oriented approach to handling data for a nonprofit’s survey while Scholars from other schools had a broader approach that emphasized getting honest feedback from respondents.
Above all else, Leggett appreciated getting to meet students from different places and educational backgrounds at SSNC23. Sequeira also agreed that bringing everyone together was an essential feature of the convention.
“It was just great to see the little things too, seeing the Scholars interact and network after four years of not being able to do so in a form like this,” he said. “I think it was just really great to make that an available space for people to communicate and really meet and bond with each other.”
In addition to the professional features and benefits of SSNC23, the convention also allowed the attendants to relax and have fun.
By mingling at the casual Scholar Soiree or watching other Scholars participate in a talent show, students were able to enjoy the community formed by the convention after so many years apart due to the pandemic.
While SSNC23 is now over, planning will soon start to bring the next convention back to Tech’s campus in two years.
Through much planning, Tech’s SPSP plans to continue to provide these opportunities for education, outreach and community for its members and the larger network of Scholars across the nation.