After being prompted by the late Dr. Joe Cox, Emily McWhirter finally applied for the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation’s student scholarship, despite personal reservations.
Now, since receiving the award after her mentor passed away, the Candenton, Mo., senior is glad she did.
The $2,500 award is presented to only five undergraduate students in the nation each year, according to the SHRM site.
McWhirter, a human resources management major, said she did not expect to receive the award.
“I didn’t feel like it was likely at all to get this scholarship. I just applied and hoped that they would select me,” McWhirter wrote in an email to the Lariat.
According to the society’s site, the award is based primarily on merit and contributing factors that include the applicant’s involvement within their SHRM chapter, academic achievement and additional leadership activities.
As former president of the Baylor chapter of Delta Delta Delta, McWhirter is no stranger to leadership. The position allowed her to gain valuable experience with skills for a future in human resources, she wrote.
Currently, she is co-president of the Baylor Association of Human Resources, a student chapter of SHRM sponsored by the Dallas division.
“The scholarship will help me graduate from Baylor debt-free,” McWhirter said. “This will help me tremendously in the future because I won’t be bogged down with massive student loans.”
Cox, a former professor of management, not only supported McWhirter by encouraging her to apply for the scholarship, but also suggested she join the organization that awarded her the scholarship in the first place.
“He passed away over the summer and was unable to finish writing my letter of recommendation, but he always told me that I was an excellent candidate to receive a SHRM scholarship,” she said.
Cox passed away in July 2014, and was the founder of the Baylor Association for Human Resources, serving as its faculty adviser for 30 years.
When Cox passed away, McWhirter asked her sorority advisor, Dr. David G. Henry Sr, to write her letter of recommendation.
The Baylor School of Law adjunct professor said he has known McWhirter for a little over three years and recognizes her as a great leader because of her ability to avoid delegating tasks to others that she herself could not do.
“Emily is eminently capable in everything I’ve ever seen her do—impeccable integrity, a quality individual, boundless energy,” Henry said. “You rarely ever see anything but a smile on Emily’s face, which is also important to me.”
Henry said McWhirter’s attitude also helps her be a great leader because she does not fake or force her positivity.
“A leader is supposed to inspire the people around them,” he said. “You can’t inspire the people around you without an upbeat attitude…Just enthusiasm for the possible, excitement for the future.”
McWhirter said she loves the HR profession because she enjoys problem solving and being available to help people.
“I love studying HR because of the marketability of the major upon graduation,” she said. “Every company needs an HR employee and it makes me very marketable to get a job in any city.”
McWhirter has accepted a job as a talent development representative for Lockheed Martin in the Missiles & Fire Control Division in Grand Prairie and will start immediately following graduation.