Congratulations to 2019 Undergraduate Scholarship Winner Mariel Thompson!

Mariel Thompson thought her mom’s phone was hacked. “It was 10 o’clock in the morning and I was at work. She kept calling and texting me messages like ‘Mariel, answer the phone,’ and sounding really excited and I thought for sure her phone got hacked.” When Thompson returned her mom’s call, she found out the reason for all of the excitement – she’d won the DRI Foundation college scholarship for undergrads.  

Thompson is a rising sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she is a Global Studies major with a 3.92 GPA. Her mom, Tahiti Weaver, CBCP, is a compliance manager with Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union, where business continuity is a large part of her responsibility.

“It’s really exciting and I’m so proud of her,” says Weaver. Of the essay portion of the scholarship competition, Weaver says her daughter “really took it to heart, and she was eager to impart what she knew and what she had experienced. She really enjoyed the challenge.”

What was the challenge? Scholarship applicants were asked:

“For an organization or nation to be best prepared requires a holistic, united collaboration among all the elements that will reduce risk and increase the state of readiness. While resources are an important requirement; the ability for participants to work together is of equal, if not greater importance. In the politically charged world of today, there seems to be less and less cooperation among governments and more partisan agenda focused policies. Private sector organizations have found that an integrated, unified, non-siloed approach to tackling problems has been the most effective approach to being resilient. Having a vested interest in the success of the organization, there is an inherent reason for cooperation. As a future leader, and one who will be an heir to this legacy, how would you bring together the various factions to create an environment that will reduce risk and increase our state of preparedness?”

Says Thompson, “When I saw the essay prompt, I knew it was right up my alley. I really enjoyed talking about how we can all come together as an international community and how it all breaks down into the small community level that we all interact with on a daily basis in our hometowns.” Read her winning essay here.

“As a leader within my community, I intend use clear public information and economic recovery on a community level to prepare for and respond to disaster, to help mitigate the strain of political interests on national preparedness. I believe my efforts within the community will contribute to an overall goal of international connectedness and preparedness,” she wrote.

Thompson is already hard at work breaking down barriers and offering assistance. She volunteers with Entrepreneurs Without Borders and recently traveled to South Africa where she provide business consulting for small businesses in Cape Town.

And Thompson is always prepared thanks to her mom’s continuity career. “My mom is always asking me what my backup plan is, and she’s always there to give me multiple plans – B, C, and all the way to Z if I need it. It’s always been like that. When I was little, she had me draft a fire escape plan for our family.”

“We’re both really excited about the scholarship,” Thompson adds. “I’m super thankful to the DRI Foundation! This is a really great program and it teaches you to be extremely cognizant of preparedness.”