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Wells Scholars Program

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Last modified: Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Valparaiso's Das named Wells Scholar at IU

Aug. 10, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Smita Das from Valparaiso, Ind., has been selected as a Wells Scholar at Indiana University, one of 19 entering freshmen so honored. She will this fall join more than 320 others who have been named Wells Scholars since 1990.

The scholarship, named in honor of the late IU Chancellor Herman B Wells, ranks among the most competitive and prestigious awards offered by any American university. Since its inception, more than two dozen Wells Scholars have gone on to earn prestigious Rhodes, Truman, Marshall, Soros, Mitchell, Churchill, Fulbright and Goldwater scholarships for advanced study.

Das graduated from Valparaiso High School with an International Baccalaureate Diploma. She won the National Junior Tennis League Arthur Ashe Essay Contest and the national Target Corp. Teacher Appreciation Essay Contest. A four-year member of her school's speech and debate team, she placed first in debate at district and qualified for the National Forensic League national tournament. She served as the team secretary and was named Outstanding Speaker. A four-year member of her school's mock trial team, she received the Best Witness Award at regional and state competitions.

She was a member of her school's state champion chamber orchestra, which she served as secretary; and she received top ratings for violin and piano performances in state competition. In addition, she served as president of her school's chapter of National Honor Society and was active in Model United Nations, Key Club, the varsity tennis team and the Indian American Association of Northwest Indiana. She was a member of the Thomas Jefferson Middle School team, which placed second in the nation at the National Science Olympiad the summer before her freshman year. She also served as a volunteer for the Red Cross and Porter Hospital. Das has been selected to participate in IU's Integrated Freshman Learning Experience and plans to major in microbiology.

Many previous Wells Scholars today contribute to Indiana as residents who are attorneys, doctors, school teachers and business people, and even an ordained minister. Others have gone on to clerk for Indiana and U.S. Supreme Court justices, are engaged in international relief and service efforts and are scholars at other renowned educational institutions such as Harvard Business School and Cornell Law School. There are Wells Scholars currently serving in the Armed Forces and other positions in government.

To honor Wells, IU created the Wells Scholars Program, which began with fund-raising efforts in 1988 and the appointment of Professor Breon Mitchell as its founding director. In 1990, IU welcomed its first class of Wells Scholars and on June 7, 1992, Wells' 90th birthday, he was officially presented with the Wells Scholars Program, as a gift from his many friends and admirers. After his death in the spring of 2000, this community of talented and dedicated young scholars remains as a permanent legacy of his educational vision.

Wells Scholars receive full tuition and course-related fees, as well as a living stipend for four years of undergraduate study on the Bloomington campus of IU. The program also offers special seminars, an optional year of study abroad, and support for a summer research project or internship. The Wells program emphasizes close interaction with faculty, academic and career advising, opportunities for community service, and contact with distinguished visitors.

Wells Scholars are selected for having demonstrated exceptional qualities of character and leadership and distinction both inside and outside of the classroom.