BFIS regularly communicates with all its scholars during the academic year. We like to meet with them over the Christmas break and again once the Spring semester has finished as this gives us an opportunity to check on their grades, talk about how things have gone for them and ensure that all is well.
In the last couple of years the meetings have necessarily had to be virtual and we miss actually being able to meet and chat with the scholars, in-person meetings generally tending to build better relationships.
Evidently the students once again generally did well in their studies in the Fall semester, maintaining good grades despite having to deal with a continuing mix of on-line and hybrid classes. This has meant some adjustments to how they learn but in the main they have adapted remarkably well.
As the threat of COVID gradually recedes, students will hopefully be able to lead more normal lives going forward and will once again be able to enjoy the diverse university experiences which scholars in the last couple of years have unfortunately missed out on to some extent.
It is amazing how quickly the year passes – we are once again looking forward to receiving scholarship applications for the coming academic year. Despite some initial concerns last year about low numbers of applications, we ended up with a good number and it is hoped that we will again see between 80 and 100 applications so that we have a good pool of applicants.
The scholarship application review process is a difficult one with a number of factors being taken into account – academic achievement, financial need, community service, extra-curricular activities are all considered. Essays are an essential part of the process and are carefully read by BFIS staff and an HR professional. We pose a question – “why are you interested in a career in insurance?” – and ask the students to write approximately 400 words on the subject. Some will write a paragraph, some a book and some don’t answer the question at all!
From this, we are able to reduce the number of applicants to be considered by about 50% and their applications are then shared with the Scholarship Committee who have the task of producing a short-list of approximately 25 – 30 students to be interviewed.
The interviews have had to be virtual in the past couple of years and it is likely that this will again be the case this year. The Committee comprises 8 members, most of who are BFIS Alumni. During the interviews committee members get to learn a bit about the candidates, their career goals, interests, etc. Many of the candidates are outstanding so once the interview process is complete the committee then has the extremely difficult task of selecting between 10 and 15 BFIS scholars who will receive either BFIS or named scholarships. Scholarship awards vary in both amount and duration.
Following the selection process, we have every hope this year of hosting an in-person Scholarship Awards reception. This is a wonderful event which brings together representatives from our donor companies, our Board and Committees, BFIS Alumni, the new scholars and their parents. After 2 dry years it is anticipated that this will be quite an event!