Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 10, 2011 12:03
Staff members of Quality Enhancement Systems and Teams (QUEST) are currently
reviewing applications for prospective new members who would be a good fit not only
for the program, but for the community.
"QUEST on my resume is a sentence about growth and credentials accrued," said
sophomore Brendan Fennessy, an electrical engineering major. "However, in this past
year it has come to have a much deeper meaning — a great sense of community."
QUEST is a University of Maryland honors program for undergraduates in the Robert
H. School of Business, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, and the College of
Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences.
As long as applicants belong to one of these three schools, are freshman, and have a 3.0
GPA, they are considered "perfect applicants," said Melanie Ashton, QUEST's Program
According to Ashton, the only exception to those three gateway requirements is if a
student is confident he or she will be accepted into one of the three schools by August
of their sophomore year. "If they are in transition and set to be accepted, we allow
provisional admittance, and we contact their advisor over the summer to see if they were
in fact accepted," said Ashton.
With about 150 to 175 applicants every year, the standard-sized cohort has 65 students.
The QUEST program aims to enhance students' professional and personal development.
Therefore, the selection process is very involved. Students are invited to information
sessions, which are considered the normal recruiting method. After students apply online,
an intense application process begins.
"Current students, staff, and alumni read the applications and score them for an
assessment of what we're looking for," said Ashton. "We remove all identification
information, review the scores, and then, based on those scores, we invite students in for
The interview process is two-fold. First, a panel of students, staff, and alumni who
scored the applications interview the selected students. Then, a behavioral interview is
conducted to see how effective these students are in a group.
Because QUEST is based in teamwork, much thought is put into how these behavioral
interviews are conducted. Students accepted into the QUEST program are required to
take three classes with fellow members that incorporate many group projects.
"If a person is more an individual in their studies, this is not the place for them," said
Ashton. "QUEST is a place to gain additional knowledge. Ideal candidates like to work in
a team and aren't applying just to pad their resume."
Students who participate in this course of study gain ample experience in innovation,
quality systems management and teamwork. But they also develop valuable relationships
that help further their personal development.
"The QUEST community is compromised of talent, motivation, friendship and lots of
support," said sophomore bioengineering major Varisha Parikh. "I have met some of
my close friends through this program and have also found great support systems in the
Giving back to the community is an objective of QUEST. Members focus on real-world
initiatives and hope to gain reality-based learning experiences.
"What do I like about QUEST? The experiences that open my eyes and the motivation
I receive to empower myself to make a difference," said Fennessy. "The faculty
are not only my friends, but believe in me so much that I achieve things otherwise