scholar \’skä-lǝr\ n 1: a person who attends a school or studies under a teacher: PUPIL 2a: a person who has done advanced study in a special field 2b: a learned person 3: a holder of a scholarship
This definition comes from my hard copy of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (2004). [This book was given to me by my parents back in Christmas 2005. It was one of four presents I asked for that year. Along with the “big dictionary,” I asked for a pocket-sized dictionary (for my backpack), an ironing board, and an iron. (It was my sophomore year of college.)]
So that’s the definition of a scholar, but isn’t there more to it than that? There are certain qualities/traits that scholars have in common–each of these contributing to what I would describe as the essence of a scholar. In no particular order, I give you what I believe to be the essence of a scholar:
A scholar is committed to their studies. They work towards their goals and they are diligent in their efforts.
Scholars get that there is no limit to what they can learn. They continuously question, challenge, and examine. Every new discovery leads them toward deeper understanding.
A scholar strives for truth in knowledge.
A scholar is trustworthy. A scholar maintains decorum; they are responsible, reputable, and good for their word.
Scholars follow the code of ethics for their discipline and their institution.
A scholar’s work is in vain unless it is documented and shared. Thus, a scholar utilizes the appropriate means for producing, sharing, and storing their knowledge so it is available for peers and future scholars. Scholars listen. Scholars debate. Scholars write. Scholars speak. Scholars utilize as many mediums of communication as they can to disseminate ideas.
A scholar strives for balance in their life. Activity and rest, studies and play, personal life and professional life. A holistic approach to living contributes to a scholar’s healthy mind, soul, and body.
Scholars are thinkers; they are dreamers. Scholars are constantly pushing towards the cutting-edge. They aspire for new discoveries.
A scholar is not afraid to fail. They understand that learning occurs through all experiences and sometimes the hard lessons have more to teach us than the easy ones. A scholar must be brave; they must be willing to take risks. A scholar knows that at times they may not be successful, and they can overcome any setbacks through process and persistence.