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If you happened to walk through Mantor hall in the past few weeks, you may have noticed something unusual... read more

Thompson Scholars bond during fall break Denver venture
Emily Wemhoff
Antelope Staff
Photo courtesy of Jen Harvey
Over 50 Thompson Scholars traveled to Denver during Fall break. The Thompson Scholars Learning Community lives together in Mantor Hall.

During fall break at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, over 50 students on the third floor in Mantor Hall were packing their bags and heading out…but only for a couple of days.


It took a six-hour drive to get where they needed to go.


Around 1 p.m., the first glimpse of the mountains welcomed the UNK Thompson Scholars Learning Community (TSLC) to Denver, Colo.


What is the TSLC?


The Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, a charitable organization formed by investor and industrialist Warren Buffet and later named in honor of his wife, awarded 68 students at UNK five-year renewable scholarships to help with tuition and books.


The program currently serves a total of 115 students, including the Thompson Scholars who initiated the program last year. Once students accept the scholarship, they become part of the Thompson Scholars Learning Community Program in the second year at UNK.  


Most of the requirements focus on freshmen and sophomores in order to help them make the most out of their first years at college.


Thompson Scholars take classes together, are provided one-on-one mentoring and assistance, attend study hours and have the opportunity to do undergraduate research projects, for which they receive a stipend upon completion.  In addition, students participate in campus events and philanthropic activities in the community.  


They also take trips together. Over fall break, this year’s TSLC students went to Denver and visited the Denver Art Museum, saw the Broadway production of “Wicked” and visited the Nature and Science Museum. The trip was a social program to build stronger bonds within the community and to create an experience together.   


Many of the scholarship recipients are first-generation college students. “The scholarship provides the means for many of the students to attend, and we provide the support to help them believe they can achieve any life goal they have,” said Jennifer Harvey, Thompson Scholars Learning Community coordinator.


First-generation college student Ashley Vaughn, a freshman history education major and a Thompson Scholar, said that her experience in the TSLC has been a good one.


“Unlike a lot of freshmen students, we don’t begin our college experience alone. The community is here to help us. They give all the freshmen Thompson Scholars a class to take together, with people we know,” she said.  


Freshmen students of the Thompson Scholars Learning Community live together in Mantor Hall where they learn about how to adjust to college and get connected to the campus.  


Vaughn also enjoys living within the community.


“We live together, which makes it much easier to make friends. My favorite thing is the closeness we all have developed by living together,” she said.


College can be a scary place at first, but the TSLC has provided students with comfort and a feeling of belonging.  “Every student has a need to feel special and be part of something,” Harvey said.

“I think our learning community helps meet those needs for Thompson Scholars, at a time in life when there is so much transition and adjustment.”


For more information about the Thompson Scholars Learning Community go to www.unk.edu/thompson.

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