Legal Studies Major Credits Scholarship Award with Changing her Life
Her dream is to become an FBI agent. Ever since legal studies major Stephanie Wamboldt ’07 worked at the FBI Academy during an internship last summer, she has envisioned herself investigating crimes and helping people. “I was inspired by some of the heroic things that many people—especially one female agent I met—do there everyday,” she says. “There are many paths I can take, and I’m still not sure which one will work for me. But for starts, this summer I’ll be working at a district attorney’s office, helping victims and witnesses of crimes, and then I’ll see where it goes.” Law school is a possibility, so she’s gearing up for the LSAT.
Wamboldt is the recipient of the Der Hagopian Scholarship, an endowed award made possible by David J. Der Hagopian ’72 (economics) through the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst. It goes to an incoming full-time freshman who is a resident of Florida, has financial need and shows academic promise. Scholarships like this one, endowed by generous donors, are particularly valuable in that they provide the means to ensure excellence among the student body above and beyond the support provided by the state, which fluctuates from year to year. What makes the Der Hagopian especially gratifying to the recipient is that it can be renewed for the student’s entire undergraduate career if he/she is in good academic standing. No problem for Wamboldt—she has a 3.6 GPA and is fully engaged in campus life.
“I can't thank Mr. Der Hagopian enough for making it possible for me to attend this school,” Wamboldt says. I wanted to come to UMass Amherst because of the engineering program—and I wanted a change of setting from Florida. But I also knew my mother couldn’t afford an expensive out-of-state school. The Der Hagopian Scholarship sealed the deal. It’s truly been a blessing for me, and I would surely say it changed my life.”
Wamboldt traveled 1,500 miles to come to Amherst and within one semester she realized she didn’t like her major. “My grades were fine, but I didn’t find the subject matter interesting. I didn’t want to leave—it’s a really great place. So I searched for alternatives. When I took a legal studies course with Professor David Mednicoff, I became aware of how much the law impacts our daily lives. I somehow knew the field was for me.”
While Wamboldt had long been fascinated with law enforcement and law in general, she also was aware that its requirements would be very different from engineering. “There would be much more writing, which I wasn’t used to,” she explains. But Wamboldt faced her inexperience head on. “I took a freshman English writing class, and my instructor Lauren Rosenberg, was very supportive. She even submitted one of my pieces to Freshman Anthologies, a collection of essays by students. When mine was selected for publication, I knew I’d be OK.” In addition to her legal studies major, Wamboldt is a sociology/criminal justice minor.
Wamboldt has been immersed in student life as well. She is a Resident Assistant in her dormitory—“a job I hold dear to my heart,” she says. “I’ve been able to help other students and make a community of those around me.” Wamboldt also is involved in the Navigators Christian Fellowship, a registered student organization (RSO) that has weekly meetings, small group Bible studies, alternative spring break trips, regional retreats, and a variety of community service projects. “Intramurals are another way to have a great time,” Wamboldt adds. “I’ve been on the intramural soccer and softball team, and I’ve also been a softball umpire. Through RSOs like these you meet lots of people, many of whom will be lifetime friends.”
Being on the specialized freshman floor for Commonwealth College, Wamboldt says, was the best experience of her life, and she urges incoming students to consider the possibilities. “There are so many options, from special language major floors to music floors to honors floors. Very fast you become very in-touch with the people you live with. I was nervous when I arrived at UMass Amherst, but my freshman floor helped me emerge from my shell. Everyone is in the same situation and you can all relate.”
April 18, 2006