UNC Charlotte’s first class of 15 Levine Scholars has just wrapped up their first semester at UNC Charlotte. But their experience began well before the fall semester with a challenging and inspirational 25-day leadership expedition in Wyoming’s magnificent Absaroka Range.
“The Levine Scholars Leadership Expedition to Wyoming was a wonderful way to begin the scholars’ UNC Charlotte experience,” said Diane Zablotsky, director of the Levine Scholars Program. “They discovered and experienced the rugged beauty of a new place while getting to know each other, develop leadership skills and begin to feel like a group.”
The wilderness expedition kicked off the academic year for the students. The first class of Levine Scholars includes 10 young leaders from North Carolina and five other states.
“At this important time of transition, each of the students grew individually while contributing to the mission and success of the whole,” said Zablotsky. “The insight and awareness they brought back from Wyoming will help them to be poised and ready for the challenges and opportunities they will discover in their college experiences.”
– Diane Zablotsky, Director
On July 11, the group traveled to Wyoming’s spectacular Absaroka Range, a vast wilderness region with some of the most remote territory in the nation. The Absarokas are near Yellowstone National Park. The area features broad river valleys surrounded by sheer glacier-carved cliffs, where the students camped under towering conifers and hiked across alpine plateaus where the tallest plants are only a few inches high. Along with grizzlies, other wildlife in the region includes eagles, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, coyote and gray wolves. The area also is famous for fishing and climbing, and the students learned new leadership and teamwork skills over a 25-day period.
The program is run by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), which has taught leadership, wilderness skills and environmental studies to more than 120,000 students since its inception in 1965.
The 2011 class of Levine Scholars will enjoy a similar experience next summer. Their 25-day backpacking expedition will take place in Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains.
The scholarships were made possible by philanthropists Leon and Sandra Levine, who committed $9.3 million to UNC Charlotte for the scholarship program to develop community service leaders. Leon Levine is the founder and chair emeritus of Matthews-based Family Dollar Stores Inc. The scholarships cover the cost of all tuition and fees, housing and meals, books, a laptop computer and summer experiences, including the Wyoming trip. The value of the scholarship is about $90,000 for each in-state student and $140,000 for each out-of-state student.