Making the Right Choices: Involvement and Academics

Making the Right Choices: Involvement and Academics

South Lakes graduate receives a surprise $200,000 scholarship.

2019 South Lakes High School graduate, Alessandra Mandala-Kol did not sit back in school. She studied hard, got involved in extracurriculars and contributed in the community. It paid off, big time. In mid-July, McDaniel College in Westminster, Md. announced it named Mandala-Kol a Dorsey Scholar. The award earned Mandala-Kol a scholarship valued at more than $200,000 and she didn't even apply for it. "I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity which McDaniel has given me, and I am truly honored to have been selected for this award,” said incoming freshman Mandala-Kol.

Being named a Dorsey Scholar is the highest academic honor at McDaniel College. It includes full tuition, room and board for all four years, said Cheryl Knauer, director of public relations at McDaniel College. According to Knauer, potential Dorsey Scholars do not apply for the award. The college selects awardees from the Honors applicant pool based upon prior academic and achievement criteria. "Dorsey Scholars are high achieving students ... motivated to lives of leadership, service and social responsibility," said Knauer.

Mandala-Kol earned her International Baccalaureate Diploma and Middle Years Programme certificate from South Lakes High School and was involved in chorus, as well as the school's food pantry. She was also co-president of the French Honor Society, volunteered at the Sunrise Senior Center in Reston and the Teenage Association Board at the Reston Regional Library, according to Knauer.

"Throughout high school, I was always focused on chemistry and biology. I could see myself using my interests in the medical field and possibly even working in organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. I have also come to realize that my passions rest in languages, history, and government," said Mandala-Kol.

According to Knauer, the Dorsey Scholars Program is supported by a $6.7 million estate gift from 1891 alumnus Philip Henry Dorsey and is the most significant bequest in the college's history. Dorsey Scholars must maintain a 3.5-grade point average and live on campus all four years. "McDaniel has made such an impact on my life. I want to show my gratitude by giving my all to my classes, taking part in service activities, and becoming integrated with the Westminster community," said Mandala-Kol.