Seth Lake of Olympia mimicked the fetal position he reverted to the day his roommate’s family met him for the first time, shivering under a hat, coat, and blanket on the couch, sicker than a dog.

A hungry John Leraas, also of Olympia, overspent his dining plan the first half of the semester. Limited to eating on $6 a day, he bought a rice cooker and skillet to supplement his meals. Mariah Maki of Washington State University Admissions, seated next to Leraas, passed him her plate of hors d’oeuvres.

Amy Gordon of tiny Lacrosse radiated the bigheartedness and positive spirits of someone raised in a close-knit community. She rushed her roommate to the emergency room one night and stayed with her until 4 a.m.-in a small town, you take care of your own.

Lake, Leraas, Gordon, and other WSU freshmen made a motley and engaging crew November 3 during a Regents Scholars reception in their honor. Even conveying their worst experiences to Maki and molecular biosciences professor Ralph Yount, they dished out generous helpings of humor and good cheer.

The Regents Scholars Program is the only scholarship program of its kind in Washington, where students from communities across the state are nominated by their high school principals and guaranteed a minimum scholarship amount just through that nomination. WSU president V. Lane Rawlins established the program to both recognize Washington’s top high school students and recruit them to the University. To date, 400 WSU students are Regents Scholars.

For the 2004 cohort, more than 250 high school administrators nominated students whose combined grade-point average is 3.94. Nominees include student body presidents and senators, National Honor Society members, musicians, varsity athletes, and community volunteers. Scholarships from $6,000 over two years to $45,000 over four are awarded.

The reception drew roughly 200 Regents Scholars and WSU administrators and faculty who discussed the students’ experiences and academics, celebrating the talents, vitality, and potential of young people embarking on a lifetime of learning.

“The most precious thing I got out of college . . . was a life of the mind,” Rawlins told the scholars. “I was blessed and lucky to get that kind of an education. You’re with people who are not just thinking about the textbook they’re reading, but about tomorrow.”