by Brianna Safe, Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship Associate
Since 2014, the Caroline D. Bradley Seminar has been the event I most anticipate each year. Months and months of planning precede this exciting community gathering of students, alumni, parents, educators and supporters from across the U.S. For most of the year, CDB Scholars are separated by geography, schools, and busy schedules. But once a year, every spring, we welcome our entire community to convene in southern California for a three-day seminar where they can discuss and share ideas with like-minded peers in an inclusive and energetic environment. (If you aren’t familiar with the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship, you can read more about this unique and life-changing opportunity on our website.)
Since 2002, the program has identified over 230 highly motivated, gifted students across the country, providing merit-based four-year tuition to the high school program that best meets their personal and academic needs – private, public, charter, boarding, early college, online and homeschool hybrid. The seminar provides a meeting place annually for these students and focuses on personal growth through themes and topics which encourage conversation, connection and authenticity. It’s an important time because it allows each class of CDB Scholars to get to know other students within their cohort as well as the entire network of scholars from years past and present. The Bradley Seminar is generously funded by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
The 15th annual Bradley Seminar took place March 9 – 11 at The Westin near LAX and was our largest event to date with over 240 attendees representing 30 states spanning from Hawaii to Nebraska to Florida. Through cross-generational formats, small group workshops and conversation, we delved into this year’s theme, Intersections. Our keynote speaker, Jim Davis, Co-Founder of IEA, kicked off the weekend with an interactive exploration using personality theory as a framework for better understanding ourselves and others. Using Emilie Wapnick’s 2015 Ted Talk for inspiration, we discussed life at the intersection of giftedness and multipotentiality, and what it looks like to pursue life with many passions and interests. Always a highlight of the weekend, our CDB senior class shared parting words of personal experience, advice and insight to their fellow CDB community, rife with photos, tears and hugs.
On Saturday afternoon, CDB scholars and alumni visited the IEA headquarters in Pasadena to participate in a legacy project celebrating IEA’s 20th anniversary. Students collaborated with their CDB classes to design and create a flag using meaningful symbolism to represent their CDB class, as well as commemorate IEA’s milestone year. What resulted from their collective creative vision and work was inspirational. One even made me cry (admittedly not that difficult to achieve) with its underlying story and layers of symbolism. Their designs can be viewed below and will be displayed at IEA offices at The Barder House in perpetuity.
(A note: Aside from that one summer back in 2008 when I became mildly obsessed with learning all the flags of the world thanks to Sporcle.com, I didn’t know much about the specifics of flag design or vexillology. After putting in a few hours of basic research on the subject in preparation for this project, I was hooked. Two resources in particular made a fascinating case for why good design matters. First, the definitive guide “Good Flag, Bad Flag” compiled by Ted Kaye of the North American Vexillological Association. Second, the delightfully amusing and thought-provoking Ted Talk by podcast host, Roman Mars, “Why City Flags May Be The Worst-Designed Thing You’ve Never Noticed”. I recommend both to anyone interested in learning more on the topic. I also strongly recommend checking out the Flag of Mars proposal by Calder Hansen, 2014 CDB Scholar.)
It’s hard to believe this year’s event has already come and gone. Months of pouring over spreadsheets, emails, flight details, schedules, etc. lead you to that sudden moment when everyone is saying goodbye again until next year. There’s nothing quite like the energy that fills the room that first Friday night at the seminar. It’s a feeling that follows you home and sticks with you for weeks after.
One CDB scholar said it best: “I am sure I speak for all of the scholars when I say that the opportunity to meet friends, engage in intellectual conversations, and just spend time in a like-minded community was one of the highlights of my school year so far. I personally enjoyed getting to meet the freshman class, and was so inspired by their generous spirits, open-mindedness, and excitement about what the future holds. I spent time with different parents this year as well and had many discussions about topics ranging from accents to culture to the intersection of spirituality and science. I was so sad to leave – I felt like Sunday came even more quickly than it did last year! But even a short weekend was enough to make me feel so lucky and grateful to be a CDB scholar.”
I speak for myself and the rest of the IEA staff when I say how humbled and grateful we all are to work with such a lovely community of scholars, alumni, parents and educators. We can’t wait to see you again next year!
For more photos of the event, check out IEA’s Facebook page!