2 Transfer Students Win 2023 Intellectual Curiosity Scholarship Competition

June 16, 2023 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Two students hold certificates

Two students with a passion for science and medicine, and who are transferring to Elmhurst University this fall, have been named the first-place winners of the 2023 Elmhurst University Intellectual Curiosity Scholarship Competition.

Kaitlyn Vess, who is transferring to Elmhurst from a school in her home state of Texas; and Lola Shittu, who is transferring from Oakton College in Des Plaines, were each awarded a $5,000 renewable scholarship for up to two years of study at Elmhurst.

All admitted transfer students with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.25 or above were invited to participate in the Intellectual Curiosity Scholarship Competition, which was launched in 2020 to support the enrollment of transfer students interested in pursuing their intellectual curiosity through education.

More than 30 transfer students, most from area community colleges, participated in this year’s competition.

In the first round, applicants were asked to write an essay about a defining moment when their curiosity drove them to explore something in a different way; and about how that moment would shape their potential at Elmhurst and beyond.

Vess, who plans to major in biology and play on the women’s soccer team at Elmhurst, wants to become a veterinarian. In her essay, she described how Sy Montgomery’s book The Soul of an Octopus changed the way she understood the minds of animals and how she interacts with them. She says that attending Elmhurst will enhance her intellectual curiosity and help her  prepare for veterinary school.

Shittu says her love of books inspired her to leave her home in Nigeria and come to the U.S. to pursue higher education. Her defining moment came during a research course she took at Oakton, when her curiosity about what seemed to be contaminating an experiment led to an exciting discovery. Shittu plans to study nursing at Elmhurst before becoming a nurse and, eventually, a doctor.

During the second round of the competition, held on campus on June 7, participants formed teams to compete in an academic trivia contest. Teams answered questions on topics ranging from U.S. history to physics, and each member of the winning team was awarded a $2,000 renewable scholarship for up to two years of study. Members of the winning team were:

  • Angela Rodriguez, from Schiller Park, Ill.
  • Chioma Echefu, from Elgin, Ill. (originally from Nigeria)
  • Alexandra Krieger, from Des Plaines, Ill.
  • Joseph Runnion, from Schaumburg, Ill.
  • Neela Ward, from Naperville, Ill.
  • Alexa Lopez, from Wood Dale, Ill.

All students who submitted essays and participated in the second round of the competition received a $500 renewable scholarship for up to two years of study.

During the awards ceremony, also held on June 7, Elmhurst University President Troy D. VanAken congratulated all of the students, not only for participating in the competition but also for deciding to continue their education and pursue a bachelor’s degree.

“You all are here because you have an intellectual curiosity that drives you,” he said. “You also understand that college offers the kind of environment where you can follow that curiosity wherever it leads.”

For more information about transfer programs at Elmhurst, email admit@elmhurst.edu or call (630) 617-3400.

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