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Manchester Valley grad Julia Dunn, named McDaniel Dorsey Scholar, hopes to spend life helping others

Manchester grad and Dorsey Scholar talks plans to become psychologist

For 18-year-old Julia Dunn, giving back to the community has already been a part of her life for years.

Since age 12, Dunn has been active in her church youth group, and currently is the president. Through the group, she’s been involved in service projects, leadership activities, unity activities and other events to try to help others.

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The Finksburg resident split her high school years between the now-closed North Carroll High School and Manchester Valley High School, from which she graduated earlier this month. In ninth grade, she joined student government and was the class secretary. In 10th grade, she became class president.

“Through that we did a lot of fundraisers for the class and service projects,” she said.

In student government, the class held bingo and other events, and also did food drives.

Outside of school, Dunn also is involved in Project Linus, a charity club that makes blankets for premature babies and children who are sick and in the hospital.

Service is deeply important to Dunn, who this summer, will head to Peru to build a school.

When she’s older, Dunn hopes to become a psychologist so she can spend the rest of her life helping others. She’ll head to McDaniel College as a Dorsey Scholar this fall to pursue those dreams.

The Dorsey Scholars Program is a “comprehensive scholarship” that covers tuition, room and board for all four years at McDaniel, and is a value of over $200,000, Cheryl Knauer, director of Media Relations for the college, said via email. Dunn is one of only three this year.

“The Dorsey Scholars Program is the highest academic honor at McDaniel,” she said.

Manchester Valley High School graduate Julia Dunn was named a Dorsey Scholar and will attend McDanel College in the fall.
Manchester Valley High School graduate Julia Dunn was named a Dorsey Scholar and will attend McDanel College in the fall. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times / Carroll County Times)

Knauer said incoming freshman don’t apply for the award, but rather are chosen from the Honors Program applicant pool. Students in the 10 percent of the total applicant pool are invited to apply to the Honors Program based on a combination of their high school GPA, SAT math and verbal scores, writing samples, honors and AP classes, class ranks and other areas of achievement. Invitations to compete in the program are sent out in mid-January and select students are invited to come to McDaniel to be interviewed, she said.

“Dorsey Scholars are high-achieving students who are especially motivated to build successful lives of leadership, service and social responsibility,” Knauer said. “These select students are provided distinctive opportunities and have the opportunity to collaborate with one another as part of the Dorsey community throughout their time at the college.”

Dunn said said she’d looked at some other bigger universities in addition to McDaniel, but the college in Westminster just felt like home.

“I chose to come to McDaniel because — well, one aspect of it that I like is the campus and I like the small college feel,” she said, later adding, “I like knowing people and being involved and being able to make a difference someplace small.”

Dunn became interested in psychology a few years ago, and said she really likes learning about behaviors and why people act the way they do. She’s specifically interested in children, and wants to go into developmental psychology.

“My ideal job would be a counselor working with families,” she added.

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Dunn is passionate about the relationship between children and parents, and the well-being of families. It’s important to her to help people have supportive families to raise children in ways that give them a strong future, she said.

“A lot of what children experience … when they’re young is what ultimately affects how they are when they grow up,” Dunn said.

In addition to dreams of being a psychologist, Dunn also said she wants to double minor in Spanish and writing.

She’s always enjoyed writing, and one day hopes to become a published author, she said.

“I do a lot of writing and the reason why I want to minor in writing is because I want to be able to get the structure and learn how to actually construct a novel because I’ve had ideas for a while and I have a specific idea for a book I want to write that addresses issues such as immigration, homelessness — just different issues that I think need to be brought to light,” she added.

Dunn said she’s very grateful to have been named a Dorsey Scholar. It was a “nerve-wracking” experience, she said, because there was a “lot of tough competition.”

She said the scholarship opens so many doors to help her achieve her goals. All in all, she said, she’s excited to take full advantage of the program and take what she’s learned to help others.

“That’s just my ultimate goal,” Dunn said.

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