Skip to main content

Not Alone in the Lone Star State

by Brandon Dawson
Freshman Scholar Advisory Board Member


Brandon Dawson is a 2016 MVS scholar sponsored by Dover, Del., Lodge No. 1903. He will begin classes at Duke University in Fall 2016 as an Environmental Science and Policy major. In high school, Brandon was highly involved in musical theater, served as President of the National Honor Society, and started his own honey selling business: The Bee’s Knees Honey.
As a high school senior frantically searching for the means to finance my education, I stumbled upon a seemingly normal scholarship from none other than the Elks National Foundation. Little did I know that turning in my application at the local Lodge would send me on a journey to Houston; a journey that is far from over.

After being selected as one of the 500 national finalists for the Most Valuable Student Scholarship, I was eager to await the results of the Top 20 who would be attending the Leadership Weekend in Chicago. Unfortunately, I was not selected to attend and believed my time with the Elks to be over.

Later down the road, I received an email informing me that I was eligible to apply for the Elks Scholar Advisory Board. The more I looked into it, the more excited I became to try and continue working with such a charitable organization. Luckily, I was selected as the Freshman Representative and one of my first responsibilities was to attend the Elks National Convention in Houston.

On the plane ride to Houston, my mind was full of excitements, curiosities, and worries. Before the National Convention, my only exposure to the Elks was a small meeting at my local Lodge to accept the scholarship. I was extremely nervous that my lack of experience with the organization would hinder my ability to connect with Elks from around the country.

These fears were quickly refuted as I began to meet the other members of the Advisory Board and ENF staff.


Since becoming an Elks scholar, I noticed that the hashtag #ElksFamily was prevalent on many social media accounts of current and past Elks scholars. Yet, it wasn’t apparent to me what that truly meant until I walked into the convention hall in Houston and saw members from every state in the US happily mingling and speaking to each other as if they’ve known each other forever, though they only meet once a year. 

The same hospitality applied to the Elks scholars as well. Members from all over were so eager to speak with scholars and learn about their stories. To me, seeing a Lodge member from New Mexico and an Elks scholar from Wisconsin meet for the first time and laugh with each other like old friends is the true meaning of #ElksFamily.




During the opening session, numerous speakers used the term “more than just…” to describe various aspects of the ENF; “more than just a scholarship,” “more than just volunteering,” or “more than just a convention.” Yet this phrase couldn’t ring truer when it comes to the opportunities the Elks National Foundation provides to individuals of all ages across the country. I am proud to call myself an Elks scholar and can’t wait to see what these next four years on the Scholar Advisory Board will bring.

Bio: Brandon Dawson is a 2016 MVS scholar sponsored by Dover, Del., Lodge No. 1903. He will begin classes at Duke University in Fall 2016 as an Environmental Science and Policy major. In high school, Brandon was highly involved in musical theater, served as President of the National Honor Society, and started his own honey selling business: The Bee’s Knees Honey.


Comments

Labels

Show more

Popular posts from this blog

Finding a Place in the #ElksFamily

by Aleah Hahn, Most Valuable Student Scholar Aleah Hahn received a second place Most Valuable Student scholarship in 2018. She graduated from Michigan State University in 2021 with degrees in Biosystem Engineering and German. She is pursuing her master’s degree in Marine Resource Management at Oregon State. In her free time, she likes to cycle, forage and hike. Over my spring break I was able to partake in the 2022 Spring Elks Scholar Service Trip in Chicago! In 2018, I attended the 150 for 150 Service Trip in San Antonio, where we celebrated the Elks 150th anniversary through service. Both were amazing experiences to serve in the name of the Elks. They were alike but also different in many ways.  In San Antonio, I connected with Elks state leadership from my home state of Michigan since the trip was at the Elks National Convention!  I served with 149 other scholars and met many of them. It was a great opportunity to connect with other scholars. The majority of our service was at Haven

What is Zoom?

by Jim O'Kelley Director, Elks National Foundation Zoom--It's like the Brady Bunch , but without Jan. (This is the first in a series of articles about the need for Lodges to be relevant during the pandemic. To find all posts in the series, click here: #StaySafeBeRelevant .) Every crisis seems to have its breakout star. This one has two, so far—Dr. Fauci and Zoom. If you’re not familiar, Zoom is a remote video-conferencing tool with a free basic package. In these days of social distancing and sheltering in place, Zoom is also a godsend. At the O’Kelley household today, we had three concurrent Zoom meetings going on at one point—Meghan, me, and Jane with her Panda Room preschool pals. In our new teleworking reality, the ENF staff has been using Zoom through Microsoft Teams for check-ins, standing meetings and impromptu discussions. These conferences have helped us stay connected and feel like we’re part of a team despite our isolation. A couple of we

Where has the SAB Bean? Chicago!

by Colleen Conrad, Scholarships Manager The Elks Scholar Advisory Board (SAB) is a group of Elks scholars—current and alumni—who advise the ENF on its scholar relation efforts. When I presented the idea of getting together in Chicago for our first in-person Scholar Advisory Board meeting in two years, I was prepared for some trepidation. It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in traveling and gathering for everyone, and finding time during the busy fall semester for our scholars is always difficult. However, the response I received from our SAB was an overwhelming, enthusiastic “yes!”  That enthusiasm never dissipated throughout our whirlwind SAB weekend together at the start of November. Eight of the 10 2021-22 SAB members visited the Elks National Memorial and Headquarters, participated in some fun bonding activities, explored Chicago, and of course, put in some real work during the day-long board meeting. “While I’ve never been to an in-person SAB me