Seniors Strengthen Skills for Scholarship Interviews


Becca Kuhn

Multiple Southeast of Saline seniors, including myself, are preparing for scholarship interviews with the Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Foundation and Distinguished Scholarship Invitational. Seniors Makenna Roths, Kennedy Gottschalk, Drew Hanson, and myself, share how we are preparing for interviews, and our best advice for future applicants. 

Makenna Roths and I have both been selected to move on in Distinguished Scholarship Invitationals at Wichita State University. The Distinguished Scholarship Invitational is a competition solely for Wichita State students. There are various lucrative scholarships that can be won, but the highest monetary scholarship is the Harry Gore Scholarship, which is worth $64,000. Although we have a few rounds left before finals, Makenna and I are both preparing for our future interviews. 

To prepare for my upcoming interview on December 13th, I’ve been asking a lot from my friends and family. I’ve asked them to randomly question me with open ended questions. So far, they have asked me questions like “In the current COVID situation, if a vaccine became available, should it be a mandatory vaccine?” all the way to “What is your favorite movie series?” I feel as though these questions are preparing me for a wide range of questions that might appear in the scholarship interview. The interviewers look for confidence and personality when answering questions, and I’m hoping practicing these questions will help me display my personality more during the interview. And although I haven’t been interviewed yet, I advise to be completely authentic with yourself as you fill out your resume, and as you continue on with interviews. For example, one choice that I made on my resume was writing about a fictional character, Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec, as a leader, as opposed to a real life leader. I think this choice set me apart from other applicants because I wasn’t writing about a Google-Searched Leader. Instead, I was writing about a character I know in and out, and truly look up to as a leader. 

Makenna Roths has also been preparing for the interview in her own way. “One of the most important things I am doing to prepare for the DSI interview is building my confidence. The best thing you can do during an interview is confidently be yourself. Confidence shows the elements of leadership, strength, and courage.” Roths said. She also credits her preparation to the support of her friends and family. “Although I am slightly anxious about attending the interview, I know I have a lot of support from my friends and family, and I know that no matter what happens they will be proud of me. Their words of encouragement comfort me and give me courage to jump right in and give it my all.” Roths said. Roths also advises future applicants to “Be confident and take your time on the application. The DSI Application is worth half of the points you can receive, so I recommend being very detailed and expressive in your answers and having a teacher look over and critique your essay before you submit it.”

Along with the Distinguished Scholarship Invitational competition, some SES seniors have also been selected to move forward in the Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Foundation. The Dane G. Hansen Scholarship competition starts off with a test to analyze each student’s academic ability. After this, select students are called back for an interview portion. In the end, students have a chance of receiving the $10,000 “Hansen Leaders of Tomorrow” scholarship.

Kennedy Gottschalk has been selected to move forward to the interview portion of the Dane Hansen Scholarship competition. She has been preparing by “going through a lot of practice interview questions and preparing answers that show my personality well.” Gottschalk said. And although Gottschalk has some anxieties about the upcoming interview, she feels that with some practice, she will be more comfortable answering questions. “I think once I am well prepared and have practiced answering common interview questions I won’t be as nervous. I’m just going to try and be myself and not overthink.” Gottschalk said. Gottschalk also advises future applicants to “Be yourself. It’s really obvious when you are being genuine and I think that’s something that the Dane Hansen competition really looks for.” 

Drew Hanson has also been selected to move forward in the Dane Hansen Scholarship competition. Hanson’s “Preparation will mainly consist of crafting a few stories to use, mock interviews, and most importantly- self reflection.” Hanson said. “I think what has best helped me in previous interview scholarships was knowing myself really well. It isn’t difficult to answer questions about yourself if you know yourself really well.” As for anxieties about the interview, Hanson is not worried. “I’m not very anxious- I have a decent amount of experience with scholarship interviews and it’s not the end of the world if I do not receive a scholarship. I’ll try to make the best of whatever situation occurs.” Hanson said. From his past experiences of scholarship interviews  and taking the Dane Hansen test, Hanson advises others to study and be creative. “For the test- study Latin roots and academic language beforehand. A whole section is on vocab words and being familiar with Latin root words and words that are commonly used in an academic context helped me a lot. Keep up to date on current events as well, that is another section. Write your essays beforehand, and make them creative. You don’t want to sound like everyone else. Get personal, and tell stories.  My essays were a bit weird, I think that may have helped me.” Hanson said.

Being authentic and confident has set Roths, Gottschalk, Hanson, and myself apart from the competition. Knowing our true selves, and being confident in that person has pushed us to be where we are in our respective scholarship competitions. However, for some this may be a challenge. For some, knowing their personality traits, weaknesses, strengths, likes and dislikes can be a confusing pile of muck. For these people, I advise spending more time learning about yourself. Sit down and write about the things that make you happy and upset. Ask family members and friends words that describe you. Take a personality test, and research your answers. Learning about and understanding yourself is something that can truly set you apart from others, in any competitive environment.