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Scandinavia ECS | John-Alex Mason ECS Scholarship Recipient 2017

March 02, 2017

Victor Wang ‘17, a senior at The Colorado Springs School (CSS) will participate in the Life in Scandinavia ECS as the 2017 recipient of the John-Alex Mason Experience Centered Seminar (ECS) Scholarship. As a CSS alumnus of the Class of 1994, John-Alex Mason had been active in the life of the school and even planned and led a Blues ECS alongside faculty. As a student, John-Alex’s passions were explored and nurtured at CSS; his family credits CSS for offering transformative educational experiences such as ECSs that allowed John-Alex to pursue his music career and become a well-known Blues musician. After John-Alex’s passing in October of 2011, memorial gifts from family and friends established a scholarship fund to fully fund an ECS experience for a deserving student.

Victor is a true global citizen. His passport is stamped with experiences and the opportunity to study along side 16 seniors in Scandinavia this spring will be no different for a young man who is drawn to the study of politics and economics. 

As a freshman he left his home in China and traveled 7,000 miles to Colorado Springs to enroll in an American high school. While studying at The Colorado Springs School, Victor has been dubbed by a few of his teachers as a “renaissance man,” immersing himself in his studies and contributing as a vital member of the community. As an active and award-winning member of the Model UN team, Victor has competed in Panama and Germany. On previous ECSs he has taken courses in which he has logged many more miles: from the desert of Arizona and New Mexico, to agricultural businesses and farms throughout California, and to an immersive language study in Mexico (without previous Spanish experience). Victor strives to learn new cultures while being adaptive and flexible.

Victor is diplomatic and persuasive in Model UN competition and class debates, but his abilities as a natural teacher coupled with his sense of humor and thoughtfulness make him an effective student body president. Victor also serves as Vice President of the National Honor Society, President of the World Cultures club, Treasurer to the Model UN club and as a percussionist in the Band. 

He has challenged himself academically in taking courses like AP Literature and AP History, freely noting his favorite subjects as English literature and history. Nationally, only about 20,000 students per year take AP Comparative Politics, a course in which is offered at only two high schools in all of El Paso county. Without surprise, Victor enrolled in AP Comparative Politics as a junior and according to his teacher, Mr. David Benson, “Victor’s contributions to class were insightful and the other students loved to listen to him.” In pursuit of his academic curiosity, Victor even spent a summer at Harvard University taking two college-level courses: Expository Writing and World History after WWII.

Last summer, Victor remained in Colorado Springs to serve as a mentor in the school’s 3-week summer program for low-income middle school students. Victor loves people and people love him. He also serves a Senior Buddy to a Kindergarten student in the Class of 2029.

In the fall, after spending the summer home in China, Victor will attend college at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and is considering a double major in International Studies and Economics. 

Follow the students’ Experience Centered Seminar blogs from March 7 - March 24, 2017 at

More about Life in Scandinavia ECS: Shaping a society through the role of government

Essential Question: How can a society strive to become more healthy, balance private and public services, reduce social ills, and find a path that improves the lives and well being of its citizens?

How can we measure the success and happiness of a civilization? Striving to be a highly-developed, healthy society requires balancing public services with the workings of private markets, being economically competitive, reducing social ills, and finding a path to improve the lives and well being of all its citizens. This is a difficult task, but none is more important. This seminar focuses on Scandinavia, widely cited as having some of the healthiest and happiest societies in the world. Students travel to Stockholm and Copenhagen to examine the government’s role in areas such as health care and education, while investigating historical and cultural reasons that led to its current economic structure. The seminar hopes to include many diverse experiences, including the education and culture in Lund, SE. This includes short home stays, attending school, and sharing presentations about the respective economies.

More about Experience Centered Seminars (ECSs)
Experience Centered Seminars (ECSs) are an integral part of the Upper School program and give our students the skills necessary to conduct large-scale investigations in college and beyond. Each March, our students participate in a three- to four-week-long study that immerses them in academic subjects through a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach. ECS’s approach broad, interdisciplinary questions to optimize the teaching of critical thinking, organized inquiry, in-depth analysis, and synthesis of information. They demand direct active participation and primary research in an environment outside of the classroom. Academic requirements include oral and written presentations, term papers, group work and projects, or final exams. The ECS experience sets our students apart as they move into the collegiate world and beyond.

More About the John-Alex Mason Scholarship
John-Alex Mason '94Established by friends and family of alumnus, John Alex-Mason ‘94, the John-Alex Mason ECS Scholarship is a full, merit-based memorial scholarship for a deserving student to explore their passion through an ECS. John-Alex Mason played an active role in the life pf the school and even planned and led a Blues ECS alongside faculty. As a student, John-Alex’s passions were explored and nurtured at CSS. His family credits CSS for offering transformative educational experiences such as ECSs that allowed John-Alex to pursue his music career and become a well-known Blues musician. An application and essay are submitted by students and reviewed by a scholarship committee.

Past Recipients:
2013: Travis McDowell - The Blues
2014: Carl Churchill - Peru 
2015: Kristi Tilghman - Sojourn in South East Asia
2016: John Churchill - Cuernavaca, Mexico

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