“Just let me know if you need anything,” the Scholar on the other end of the line told me. “I’m not that far away from where you’ll be.”
The thought came at the end of a 20-minute phone interview I was conducting for the Bezos Scholars Program, so they can get a better idea of how alumni engage with each other. As an alumni (Class of 2016!), I jumped when the opportunity to connect with Scholars from other cohorts presented itself. But sentiment -- “if you need anything” -- was one I didn’t expect to hear from someone I knew exclusively through a brief conversation. But it felt genuine. And it was the kind of gesture indicative of what the Bezos Scholars Program is all about.
Bezos Scholars get their start at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where they get to meet leaders in every field from journalism to astrophysics. When I attended over a year ago, I was dazzled by the adults I was suddenly rubbing elbows with. But more dazzling than their resumes was their lack of condescension toward the wide-eyed high school seniors who stood before them.
As I continued the process of surveying BSP alumni, casually conversing with Scholars in different stages of their various careers, I realized that BSP mentors the kind of generous, thoughtful individuals who make the world great -- the kind of people I was so dazzled by in Aspen. This person on the other end of the conversation was a mover and shaker -- a successful person by any popular measurement -- but they were taking time out of their day to talk with me. And by fostering a cycle of generosity and thoughtfulness, BSP succeeds in nourishing a crop of young leaders who will inspire others like the eminent minds in Aspen inspired them.