Barry McNamara  |   Published January 26, 2020

Show Your Passion

On Fellows and Scholars Day, Ditza Montesinos tells students to bring passion to the event.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Prospective students coming to a scholarship competition like Monmouth College’s Fellows and Scholars Day on Feb. 1 might have a checklist of items to bring.

But take it from someone who knows. The most important item on that checklist should be “passion.”

DITZA MONTESINOS: ?A private liberal arts college has always stood out to me. I knew I didn't wan... DITZA MONTESINOS: “A private liberal arts college has always stood out to me. I knew I didn't want to go to a really big school.”“I was really nervous on the three-hour drive here,” said Ditza Montesinos ’23 of Villa Park, Ill., who last year was one of two students awarded the William J. and Beverly Goldsborough Scholarship, Monmouth College’s most prestigious and selective academic award. “I watched a lot of motivational videos to kind of get me fired up for the day. One was about having the same kind of passion for something you really want that you’d have if you were drowning and really wanted that breath of air. To have THAT level of desire, THAT passion.”

And Montesinos had that passion. A strong student who was very involved at Willowbrook High School, Montesinos knew she needed financial help to enable her to go to the kind of college she desired.

“A private liberal arts college has always stood out to me,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to go to a really big school.”

A self-described “pretty involved kid” as she rose through school, Montesinos stepped it up in high school, expanding her leadership roles. One organization she especially appreciated was YES!, which stands for Youth Equity Stewardship.

“We would meet regularly with students from a neighboring high school (Addison Trail) and take a deeper look at social issues affecting students and try to come up with possible solutions,” she said.

Those discussions helped her fine-tune what was already one of her strengths.

“I’ve always been a pretty vocal person, but I’m relatively calm when I speak,” she said. “There’s passion but also clarity behind what I’m saying.”

Montesinos has continued her student involvement at Monmouth. The business administration major is involved in several cocurricular organizations, including the women’s fraternity Alpha Xi Delta and the women’s tennis team. Through the Fellows and Scholars Day, she also was named a Sustainability Scholar and a Stockdale Fellow.

“As a Sustainability Scholar, I go out and work at the (College’s market) farm on the weekend,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to go out there and just clear your mind.”

Montesinos is also part of the College’s Honors Program.

“My first course in the program was an exploration of madness with Keith Schaefer,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been affected by a class as much as his. He gathers these great students, and then although he leads the class, much of it is driven by student discussions. The class really made me think about human nature.”

Part of human nature, of course, is to be nervous or anxious for big events. Montesinos offered advice to the students headed to Monmouth’s campus on Feb. 1.

“Have a passion about why they’re there, and be open with the interviewers,” she said. “Think about the questions they might ask. You can even go online and look up some sample questions that might get asked.”

And Montesinos said not to worry – Monmouth’s interviewers are the opposite of intimidating.

“(Classics professor) Alana Newman was so easy to talk to,” she said. “She reminded me a lot of my art teacher in high school. And for art scholarship interview, I don’t think (art professor) Stacy Lotz ever stopped smiling at any point. I also met (classics professor) Bob Simmons, and he wound up being my SOFIA mentor (in August).” 

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