Mother and daughter share a rare bond as Whitinger Scholars and Ball State University honors students
Robin Lamott Sparks, ’89, and daughter Sidney Sparks, ’23, share a special bond: both at Ball State University Honors College alumni who obtained Whitinger Scholarship—The University’s Top Honors College Awards Program.
The Whitinger Scholarship is Honors College’s flagship scholarship and the most prestigious scholarship awarded by Ball State University. This supplements Ball State University’s Presidential Scholarships, and each year, her eight Honors College freshmen of outstanding potential receive full tuition, necessary expenses, and on-campus room and board. provide. This scholarship was established in honor of Dr. Ralph J. Whitinger. Dr. Ralph J. Whitinger, a class of 1929, served as the first president for many years. Ball State University Foundation.
Wittinger Scholars are admitted to college based primarily on intellectual ability, success, and demonstrated leadership.
Robin’s Way as a Whitinger Scholar
For Robin Lamott-Sparks, the Wittinger Scholarship has made a huge difference, she said, allowing her to participate in opportunities that she otherwise might not have been able to afford financially.
“Without the Honors program and our close-knit community, we have access to many opportunities that we would not have had,” added Robin. “I have kept in touch with many of my fellow Whitingers and professors and still call them friends.”
Dr. Arno Whittig was Dean of Honors College when Robin attended. He described her as adventurous for her: for example, she embarked on a new form of learning at her college in Oxford, through the Honors program run by her college, and the role of a link between different groups on campus. fulfilled. Robin carved her own way.
“She approached life with enthusiasm and inquisitiveness and, as far as I know, very little fear,” said Dr. Wittig. “I am happy today to think of her not only as one of the brightest students who passed through Honors College during my tenure, but also as someone who is still a friend of mine today. I didn’t know it would happen, but whatever it was, it was likely to be interesting and fun.
A history major, Robin comes from a variety of backgrounds. She served in the US House of Representatives, US Senate, NASA, and her FBI in Washington DC for 10 years before moving to Connecticut. Most recently, she operated her hangar in End Her Connecticut. It is the only statewide policy and advocacy organization in Connecticut to fight food insecurity, a non-profit organization, and is part of the Commission that coordinates statewide efforts to combat hunger at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. served as a member. She credits her College of Honors for building her confidence to pursue such endeavors.
“I had a few professors who really pushed me and made me really get involved in activities on campus,” Robin said. “I was not very confident in high school, so I think it gave me confidence.”
Sydney’s Path as a Whitinger Scholar
Sidney Sparks, who majored in Political Science and minored in Spanish, was gifted and academically capable of choosing schools, many of them in her home state of Connecticut. Among her top picks were George Her Washington, D.C., and Smith Her College, a small historic women’s college in Massachusetts. But Mr. Sparks ultimately chose to become a cardinal. Ms. Sparks was clearly aware of Ball State due to her mother and Robin’s continued support of the college, but she made her decisions on her own.
“I chose Ball State University partly because of the generosity of the Whitinger Scholarship, but also because Honors College was a small community within a large campus experience,” Sidney explained. . “And I loved campus.”
Robin Sparks shares a satisfying moment in her experience as a first-year Whitinger Scholar in Sydney.
“At orientation Sidney went to schedule and randomly scheduled with Arno Wittig. During their conversation, they discovered that I knew him well. Sitting next to Warren Vanderhill (Rector Emeritus) at her first Whittinger dinner, I interviewed him for Whitinger, so it was kind of fun for both of them. We knew your mother!” Robin said with a laugh. I know it was for.
Reflecting on her last four years at Ball State University, Sidney appreciates the small, close-knit community atmosphere and dedicated faculty at Honors College.
“I loved the small classes, the relationship with the faculty, and the community of other students who were passionate about learning,” said Sidney. “I had the opportunity to take a really interesting humanities course with a professor who is passionate about what he teaches.
“The faculty and staff at Honors College have been outstanding over the past four years,” she continued. “They have always strived to go beyond the classroom environment to truly understand the students and their interests.”
Like her mother, Dean of Honors College, Dr. John Emmertknew Sydney personally and was interested in her work as a student.
“Sidney was an active and enthusiastic member of the Honors College community,” said Dr. Emmert.
“I was particularly impressed with her Honors College dissertation, which clearly contrasts the Pro Choice movement of the 1970s and 80s with the Pro Choice movement of the present day, and how social media disseminates information. It clearly shows how she’s changed, how she’s broken barriers based on race and class. Whatever path she chooses, she has a bright future.”
Sidney officially received her degree on May 6 and attended the graduation ceremony at Ball State University. Like his mother, there is no doubt that he will have a fulfilling career. A proud mother, Robin, was in the audience at the graduation ceremony, watching Sydney cross the stage.
“We are both Wittinger Scholars,” Robin said. “But she [Sydney] She has her own niche, different from mine. And she can’t wait to see what she does. “