A Postscript on the Scholarship

If you’ve read last week’s article, $1500 Daytona Beach College Scholarship Revoked, you know what recently happened to me. I’ve decided to do nothing about it.

I went to Charlene Solomon’s office and apologized for my rudeness on the phone (“What? You can’t take my scholarship. You already sent the letter. Who do you think you are?”), the opposite of what many of my friends suggested, which was to escalate to the higher nodes of the Daytona Beach College bureaucracy. I will apply again in the fall of 2008, and perhaps I will win an award for keeps. Fighting a battle would not produce changes but instead make enemies and cost time, which is not what I’m in college for.

$1500 Daytona Beach College Scholarship Revoked

I lost a $1500 scholarship today.

I won a $1500 scholarship from the Daytona Beach College Foundation (of Daytona Beach, FL, USA) in the Fall of 2007. It is split into two semesters. There is a rule: “You can only receive one DBCC [sic, DBC used to be Daytona Beach Community College] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester.” Many of the scholarships are spread out over two or even three semesters. So, in my strategic cunning, I interpreted the rule in the manner that is most beneficial to me: you may only be awarded one scholarship per semester, but you may be profiting from the sacred funds of multiple donors in simultaneity.

I’m not one to ask questions. Ten times the yeses come from decisive action rather than cautious inquiry. I went ahead and entered for the scholarship. Surely if I interpreted that rule erroneously, I would receive no award, right? I finished my application online on 2007-10-25, with a glowing recommendation from Dr. Casey Blanton, my humanities professor in the QUANTA learning community, and author of Travel Writing: The Self and the World. No error messages or notifications of my ineligibility. It must be fine, right?

December 10 rolls around, and I receive this delightful news from the postman:

Dear Richard:

Congratulations! On behalf of Daytona Beach Community College, I am pleased to advise you that you have been awarded a $1,500 scholarship from the Elizabeth Barr Studio Arts Scholarship Fund. Your scholarship will be awarded over two semesters for the spring 2008 ($750) and fall 2008 ($750) semesters at DBCC [sic]. This scholarship is not transferable to any other semesters.

$1500 Elizabeth Barr Studio Arts scholarship letter $1500 Elizabeth Barr Studio Arts scholarship letter, excerpt

Compare this to the first award:

Dear Richard:

Congratulations! On behalf of Daytona Beach Community College, I am pleased to advise you that you have been awarded a $1,500 scholarship from the James Fentress Scholarship Fund. Your scholarship will be awarded over two semesters: fall 2007 ($750) and spring 2008 ($750) semester at DBCC [sic]. This scholarship is not transferable to any other semester.

$1500 James Fentress scholarship letter $1500 James Fentress scholarship letter, excerpt

Yes! I’ve pulled it off. There were plenty of measly $500 scholarships, but I’d won the big enchilada, twice in a row. Or so I thought.

January 14, the first day of classes. I take my letter of sincere thanks in to send off to the donors for the Elizabeth Barr award. I get the financial aid office mixed up with the bursar’s office, but the kind clerk offers to forward my letter on. You just don’t hear words the caliber of bursar nowadays.

It is on February 1st that I finally get the monies to fund the textbooks I am habitually buying as of late. Yet my beautiful Elizabeth Barr award, which I’ve bragged about to dozens of friends and strangers alike, is ominously absent. Where could it be, I ponder?

As any good coper, I reason that it is just taking longer than normal. “The money will come, soon. There are just processing delays. The gears of the bureaucracy are not well-oiled today.” On February 4, I finally crack and call in.

Charlene Solomon, head of the DBC scholarship foundation, gives me the dreadful news herself: I will not be receiving my capstone prize. It is all a mistake. Up to this point, I am so convinced of the infallibility of the scholarship department, that the word mistake is no more than an Egyptian hieroglyph to me.

The mistake is, that I am receiving the second half of the $1500 James Fentress scholarship this semester, so the rule, “You can only receive one DBCC [sic] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester,” cripples my entire application, as I shuddered to suspect. Because of the $750 I am receiving from the James Fentress scholarship this semester, I lose all the $1500 of the Elizabeth Barr award.

But it gets worse: my precious money was awarded to another student.

Perhaps this would be enough to console a charitable person. But not me. Because I’m just so much better at putting coinage to use, it should obviously be mine, no?

The epic continues: my file indicates that I was attempted to be called several times to be informed of the dreadful thing. Yet I received no such calls. I have devised an ingenious theorem that the messenger chickened out, but marked me as called. I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell a student that his wonderful scholarship, the culmination of years of academic toils, has been rescinded.

It’s not like this is going to ruin my education. Everything is already paid for by our state’s excellent BrightFutures reward program (which I got $75 less of this year), the Pell grant, and the icing on the cake is my previous $1500 scholarship. Suffice to say, there are students much more deserving of the award (if not for academic merit, for financial neediness). I would’ve just saved this $1500 for my postgraduate education, slated for 2011. I’d love to boast that I’m the first person to ever win two consecutive scholarships like this, and that this is the first time the rule has been enforced. But honestly, I have no idea.

Please do not misconstrue this as bashing of the DBC foundation. I know it’s hard to manage so many students and applications, and mistakes happen. But do they have to happen to me, and of such an irritating sort? I’d certainly prefer it that the award was legitimate, yet forgotten to be sent, so long as I’d never found out about it.

$1500 may be a small amount to you, but my family is lower-class so it would’ve greatly helped us. Who’d have thunk it in 1969 that Americans would be paying upwards of a dollar a bottle for water? And how do we profess to respect mother nature when we pile our landfills with such wasteful containers?

I encourage the administration to update their rules. Replace:

You can only receive one DBCC [sic] Foundation Donor scholarship per semester.


You can only receive one DBC Foundation Donor scholarship per semester. If you are receiving a scholarship spread over multiple semesters, you may not apply again until that scholarship has concluded.

And on the scholarships page, replace:

Students may apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible, however, students may only receive one DBC Foundation scholarship per semester.


Students may apply for as many scholarships as they are eligible, however, students may only receive one DBC Foundation scholarship per semester. If you are receiving a scholarship spread over multiple semesters, you may not apply again until payment of that scholarship has concluded.

The current rules are too vague, if the staffers themselves misread them. Don’t let someone else go through the same disheartening rigmarole. If it takes away the faith of one student in our university, then it has hurt my community as a whole.

Scratch the opening. It should be “I lost nothing today,” because I never actually had anything.

2008-02-05 Update: I corrected grammar, clarified parts, elaborated on the proposed rule changes, and revised an overly negative paragraph.
2008-02-10 Update: Read A Postscript on the Scholarship.

School So Far

I was just telling my friend Marianne, over at her deviantART journal, about what I’m up to at school, so I’m posting it here too:

I’m doing great, though it’s a lot of work this semester. Here are the courses I’m taking (6 this time!). I’m in a learning community that covers three courses, continuing from last semester, which is fun despite the high demands. I’m doing Trigonometry and Internet Research (an easy online course), plus my favorite, Photography. I got my film camera today and had it for the class; they let out early though so I’m writing this from the school computers. I know most of the concepts from digital work, except everything relating to film. :silly:

Trigonometry is the hardest because math takes the most effort for me… need to study this weekend.

Speaking of the photography class: I got my camera, a Canon EOS Elan IIe, just today, and was ready in time with 72 exposures of black-and-white film (Kodak Tri-X 400) and the special battery. Today’s weekly class covered a lot of the basics of shutter speed, aperture, focal length, film speed, etc. which I already know, though everything about film was new to me. We learned how to put the film on a spool, and an overview of using developer, stopping, fixing, and washing (we’ll get to do it ourselves next week). I took a photo of two dandelion clocks against the bright sun, like Two of Us Against the World, but with a lot more contrast. Then I took it with my digital camera, and found that I had to go quite below what the light meter indicated, so I likely over-exposed three pieces of film… I was dumb and forgot about the danger of the sun, but stopped immediately when my eye hurt a bit… didn’t damage my vision, fortunately. Let this be a lesson to all of you! If you’re going to have the bright sun in the viewfinder, do it quickly and without looking, or if you must look, get a point-and-shoot and use the LCD screen, so that you don’t hurt your eyes. If the sun is below the horizon, there is little danger, but otherwise, take caution as normal. I got a really great photo though; will be adding it tomorrow. It’s title will be Two of Us Against the Sun Spores of the Sun.

That’s all for now! Glad to see I’ve gotten fifty visitors in the past day; people must be liking my photos and finding my writings informative. :cool:

Adventures in Film

Started my photography class two days ago (2008-01-18). First thing I see entering the class room is a large-format camera mounted on the most impressive tripod I’ve seen; very nice. Shockingly, we’re expected to buy our own cameras and black-and-white film. I did a quick, thorough search online, and settled on the Canon EOS Elan IIe, a 35mm SLR film camera with no lens. It was $70 used, including shipping (paid $5 extra for expedited shipping, so it ought to be here before next Friday’s class). The MSRP was $720 when it was released in 1995, but we can see that has fallen drastically. I imagine my beloved Canon Rebel XTi will be $70 in 2019, if not less.

My main reason for picking a Canon SLR with an EF mount is so I can use my Canon EF 50mm F1.4 lens (photos). I do use it as my primary on my Canon Rebel XTi, though with the crop factor it is like an 80mm lens, but on a full frame camera; in this case, a film SLR with a 36x24mm film, it’s just peachy. The zoom lenses that come standard are more versatile for their variable focal lengths, but falter in low-light and low depth-of-field photography—if I want to take a photo at 50mm with my XTi’s kit lens, I can’t go below F5.0, but with the non-zooming (prime) 50mm lens, I can open the aperture up all the way to F1.4 (though below F2.2, the depth-of-field is generally too shallow). Plus, prime lenses are lighter, cheaper, have better image quality, and, according to some, cutting your zooming potential forces you to be more creative.

Speaking of creativity, we are in an age where it is harder to be creative than ever, with the tools available to most digital photographers. Too many consumer cameras omit manual mode or give too few controls. I started out working with one where I had no control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO speed (!), only auto-focusing, no manual white balance, and while I did produce many of my best images with it, I could’ve done far more far earlier otherwise; even 5-second exposures, focusing closer than three inches, RAW mode, etc., were not options. While I keep my DSLR in shutter-priority mode with auto-focusing for quick shooting, it falls short often; all auto-exposing systems want to make everything look gray, including snow, a bright sky, or scenes dark with shadows. Cameras do not know where to focus; if I place my subject in anywhere but the center, my friends become a blurry blob while beautiful trees get razor-sharp clarity. Switching to a different focus point is quick and easy, but in digital compacts it is painfully hard, or entirely omitted; then you have to put the subject in the middle, half-click, recompose, and shoot, which takes too long. Don’t even try it on a cell phone camera. It’s good to take a film class cuz they’ll force you to learn all that stuff, and you’ll be using a camera where it’s all available. I’m in it more for film and film processing, as I know nothing about that (good stuff to know so I can sound like an expert, ha ha).

In twenty years, 35 millimeter film will be a relic of the past for still photography. Medium and large format film will stick around much longer, as they will continue to outstrip digital cameras in clarity and resolution. Perhaps the megapixel war will be over (it ain’t yet), and we’ll be junking our silly rasterized cameras for infinitely scalable, automated vector photography. We’ll have flying cars too.

Speaking on my website: if you haven’t been here in a week, you’ll notice that the author line below each post has spiffy formatting. It’s now a dynamically-compiled sentence with the author (I’m richardxthripp), time of posting, categories, and tags. Had to change my WordPress theme to use ISO 8601 date formatting. Get used to it; we’ll all be writing our dates like this, soon as we switch over to metric and start using Oxford spelling. All the times are UTC, which is five hours ahead of local time (North American Eastern Time), and four hours ahead during that pesky Daylight time. I do show the local time that each of my photos was taken at; look for the data line below the sales pitch.

The same fancy line appears on the printable view of each page (which has been moved to a gray-text link at the bottom of each entry). I use WP-Print for those pages; I could use a special style-sheet for print, but it’s more work, and I wouldn’t get that pretty list of links at the bottom. By default, it likes to append a trailing slash to every link: “/print” is instead “/print/”. I don’t understand everyone’s love for trailing slashes on every URI (“URL” is obsolete); I know they’re supposed to represent directories, but all pages are not directories. So, to get it to do what I wanted, I had to edit the source code (there is no option in the user interface). Unfortunate, but not hard to do through trial-and-error.

If you like to read this blog on the LiveJournal or Xanga mirror, all the “add to your shopping cart” links now work from there! I hard-coded my blog’s URI into the YAK source code (the WordPress plugin I use), because before, it was relative, so the buttons would try to take you to the add to cart page at livejournal.com or xanga.com, which obviously won’t work. Other bugs have also been squished. The Printable, ShareThis, similar, next, and last entries links have all been moved to the footer of entries instead of being displayed inline with the text; this makes them clearly separated, gives focus to the content, and saves a lot of space.

There is also a brilliantly simple hit counter on the sidebar, below the ads; it says “You are visitor # 1,190 at thripp.com” right now. You are two visitors if you browser for over an hour, or come back later. This is all thanks to StatCounter; I’m not putting the load on my server. Dedicated WordPress plugins write stats to the database for every visitor; this is awful if you get really popular.

That’s all! I hope everyone is looking forward to the Martin Luther King holiday, which we’re celebrating six days after his birthday, for some reason.

Back to School

My winter break ends tomorrow, when I begin my second semester at Daytona Beach College. I’ll be taking six courses (sixteen credit hours), but three of them are with the same wonderful teachers, and one of them is Photography I, so this will be my most fun semester.

The photography course is in-class for four hours weekly, so I won’t be there till Friday. While I do some black-and-white photography, this course will be mostly black-and-white film. I haven’t worked with film before (only digital and digital editing), so this will be a useful learning experience.

The courses I’ll be in: English II, Humanities II, American Political & Economic Issues, Trigonometry, Photography I, and a one-credit course on Internet research, which is good for my intended majors (computer science, and library science as my master’s degree).