Scholarship Interview: Ishva Mehta

scholarship interview online tutoring platform

“This is part of a series of interviews with our scholarship recipients for our 2021 Build A Better Future scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our 2022 program, click here

Our final scholarship winner is Ishva Mehta with her online tutoring program. Ishva started her project in 2020 at COVID’s peak. She spent her time in the National Honor Society tutoring elementary school children that were not proficient in English. She was finding that as schools were shutting down and COVID was at its peak, these students were struggling even more. Upon researching why she realized they were coming from non-English speaking homes, so they did not have the extra help they needed. Many of these parents could not afford tutoring either. 

Ishva set out to change this and help these students that were struggling the most. She wanted to focus on English with reading and writing. She started with a small website and through word-of-mouth. As she continued her program, more and more parents caught on and wanted more and more. This sparked her idea to create a feedback form to see what parents were wanting from this tutoring website. 

From this feedback form, she realized a lot of requests came for read alouds for their kids to watch. Ishva got to work and went full force with animating the stories herself, creating the videos, and even creating worksheets to go along with the videos. Beyond this, she wrote her own book as well. 

Funding the website became a challenge for Ishva and because she was helping low-income families, there was not a lot of community funding, either. To solve this problem, she took up a job at her local library to be able to continue this website. 

In the future, Ishva hopes to find a more permanent solution to funding the website, write more children’s books, and publish the current book she has written. 

Ishva is amazing and has created such a great resource in her community!

You can see her tutoring website here. 

You can watch her video here.

#GoGreek Interview: AJ Cutler

#gogreek interview alpha chi omega sorority sister

Welcome to our #GoGreek series! This blog series focuses on interviewing past and present members of sororities and fraternities. We are able to learn more about their experiences and ask them questions to help others learn more about the Greek world, bust stigmas, and find out if Greek life is right for you. 

Today we are interviewing AJ Cutler. AJ was a part of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. 

AJ was drawn into Greek life through her friends, they were participating in the recruitment process and encouraged her to come along. She also loved the idea of finding like-minded people. Her favorite part of being in a sorority was always having something to do, there was always some event she could be a part of or join, enriching her overall college experience. 


What was your philanthropy and what effect did serving this philanthropy have on your life?

“Domestic Violence/ Sexual Assault Awareness. This topic hits too close to home with so many of my friends, that’s felt very passionate and connected to this cause. I have chosen to continue to believe and support survivors of domestic violence end sexual assault, as well as create a safe space for any friends or colleagues that may experience it themselves.”

How has your experience helped or shaped your life beyond college? In what ways do you feel like being in a sorority or fraternity boosted your resume?

“I very frequently hang out with my friends that I met through Sorority life. There has also been a domino effect on my career, as a sorority sister helped me land my first job on campus, which led to opportunities in my field of study, which eventually landed me my current job that I love! I was able to diversify my experience with social media and marketing, and it led me to go out for more career-based clubs, which has boosted my resume!”


Her advice for those wanting to join Greek life is to join based on the people. Find the people you want to surround yourself with, and then you can find your own purpose in your organization. 

How I Made it Through My Statistics Class

surviving statistics

In college, the majority of my classes during my freshman year were fairly easy. Show up to class, do the readings and assignments, and pass the class. During the second semester of my freshman year, I was incredibly sick the first week of classes. We’re talking in and out of the emergency room kind of sick. I missed a lot of the really important first days where you learn more about the class and are taught the fundamentals to get you through the rest of the curriculum. 

For all 6 classes I was signed up for, I met directly with professors and TA’s, explained my situation, and was given all of the material and information I needed to succeed. This worked fantastic for 5 of the classes! I was off to a great start and felt successful in the material. However, the 6th class… My statistics class. This was not sufficient. The information students were given on bell curves and percentiles took an entire class of one hour and twenty minutes to cover. However, I was given the reader’s digest version in a quick 30 minute office hours time slot with my professor. 

I walked away from her office hours feeling like I understood. But then I sat down to do the first homework assignment and quickly realized I didn’t grasp the concept as well as I thought. The very next day I was in the TA’s office hours trying to understand what had just been taught to me. This was my very first interaction with statistics and it was going over my head. I felt so defeated because it wasn’t like my other classes where I just show up, do the work, and pass. I actually had to work for this grade! 

The first test came a few weeks later and I struggled through it, but passed. Barely. Soon after, I developed the habit I needed for the class. Attend class, follow my professor to her office for her designated office hours. Go over everything we just discussed in class, plus anything from previous classes that I still didn’t understand (typically it went back to the fundamentals that I missed during the first week.) I would go home and struggle through my homework, then visit the TA the next day during her office hours. If I still felt like I was struggling, I would email my professor or TA and they would meet with me again later in the week. 

This class felt like a part-time job, and rightfully so, I was spending the majority of my time and energy just trying to obtain a passing grade! Some weeks I would even go to the same statistics class but at a different time of the day/week to relearn the material again in a group setting. 

The last day of class while taking the final was a big day for me. I walked in nervous and not quite knowing what to expect. I had just worked really hard all semester to do well in this class, so it was a hit or miss on whether or not I would do well on the test. I did the math based on my current grades and would need to score at least a 75% on the test just to pass the class. So as long as I could do 75% of the material, I would be okay. 

Going through the questions of the test, my spirits rose as I continued to feel more and more confident in the answers I was giving! They didn’t feel overly complicated and suddenly everything started coming together for me. It was a sigh of relief as I handed my test to my professor. She gave me a big smile because she herself knew how hard I had worked all semester. Neither of us knew how I actually did at this point, but we both knew how hard it had been and how much time and effort I gave for this. 

Roughly an hour later I received my score back via email. With shaking hands, I opened it to reveal my score.

100%

Yes, you read that right. I scored ONE HUNDRED percent on my statistics final. I was teary-eyed reading it! I couldn’t believe it. I had to put so much work and effort into this class, so knowing that at the end of the semester I knew 100% of the information was incredible to me. 

I still walked away from this class with a B for a grade, and coming from all straight A’s up until this point, I felt like I should have been more disappointed. Instead, I was thrilled. I wore that B grade with pride because it signified hard work, dedication, and knowledge to me. 

It also taught me a good lesson that grades aren’t just a mark to show how well you did in the class or how much you participated. Because if that was the case, I would have walked away with an A++++ for how much time and effort I gave. Receiving a B as a grade truly was an indication of how well I understood the material throughout the entire class. It taught me that there absolutely is a reason to be excited about B’s, C’s, and even D’s for grades. Even though I ended the class with a B, I can only imagine that my professor was also beaming with pride from her office. 

Scholarship Interview: Alexis Brotherton

“This is part of a series of interviews with our scholarship recipients for our 2021 Build A Better Future scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our 2022 program, click here

Our next scholarship recipient is Alexis Brotherton. Alexis created an Agriculture Field Day for members of her community to promote agriculture awareness. This project started a few years ago for her, but because of COVID, it continued to be put off. She was finally able to carry through with her full project recently and it started off great! 

Alexis has been involved with 4H for a lot of her life, so she knows the ins and outs of ag very well. She created surveys sent to peers, teachers, and community members to gauge where the lack of information was, as well as the most needed topics to cover. Once she received this information back, she created the content for the ag field day. 

Alexis was able to pull off this event with a lot of community volunteers at each station that helped teach the information they were presenting as well as manage any hands-on activities at the event. When the community members showed up at the event they were greeted by Alexis herself at the check-in table where they were told about each of the stations and sent on their way from there to learn more. 

This event was Alexis’s trial run for bigger, future events. Currently, her focus is on starting college and succeeding in that area, but once she has more time, she wants to focus on more events, around 1-2 times a year and changing up the topics each time for repeat patrons. 

Alexis is doing great work and is doing a great job promoting ag education and bringing clarification on the subject to the residents of her community. She is attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for school. 

The Financial Responsibility of #GoingGreek

An open letter to college freshman tips and advice

Joining a sorority or fraternity comes with one big thing that often gets overlooked and sometimes comes as a surprise to a lot of new recruits during rush week, and that is finances. There are a lot of fees and dues when it comes to joining a Greek house and it’s important to know what your upfront and yearly costs will look like before committing so that you aren’t surprised later. 

Each school and each organization will have its own fees, so it is best to do your own research on the specific houses you are looking into. This is typically information they will cover during Rush Week as well. However, here is a quick overview of fees or charges you may see. 

New member fees

Initiation fees

Chapter or house dues- annually

Social dues- for social events

National dues- paid to the national headquarters of your organization

Semester dues

Rent- if living within the household 

Fines- which could be for anything from damages done to your room/the house, to missing an event or meeting 

Georgia Southern University posted this table to their website for all students looking into Greek life, this is just one of the examples you may see when it comes to the financial responsibility you hold as a fraternity or sorority member. Typically the bigger university you attend with higher tuition rates, the higher Greek fees will be as well.

Should all of this financial responsibility deter you from joining? No! But it is something to be aware of. Especially because these fees are on top of your college tuition and fees.

A few places you can turn to for help: 

Parents/family members 

Scholarships- both in and out of your University or organization

Financial aid- Loans and grants. Some organizations offer them, as well as applying directly from the government through FAFSA. 

Scholarship Interview: Swetha, Ben, and Johnathan

This is part of a series of interviews with our scholarship recipients for our 2021 Build A Better Future scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our 2022 program, click here”. 

Introducing our next scholarship winners: a group of three working together on the same project and splitting the scholarship winnings. Swetha Palakur, Johnathan Polucha, and Ben Kim. These three high school students worked together on a project for their engineering class, where they specifically needed to come up with a solution to a problem. 

They chose to create a keyboard specifically for persons with Parkinson’s Disease and other similar, neurodegenerative diseases. The reason for choosing this group of people specifically was for two different reasons, first that they realize what vital importance of using a computer is in this day and age and they recognized the struggles those with PD have using a typical keyboard. And second, they had close family members with Parkinson’s Disease, meaning this project hit close to home for them. 

After creating their first humble prototype made of cardboard, they were able to meet with the head neurologist at the University of California Irvine. She gave them great insight into how the minds and bodies of those with PD work, as well as some feedback on their prototype. One worry Ben, Swetha, and Johnathan had was that the keyboard would be too complicated to figure out, but she reassured them that it would be a great cognitive and problem-solving practice for the PD patients. 

After more teacher and peer feedback, more prototypes, and working out some wiring issues, they were able to create a functioning keyboard! Ben, Swetha, and Johnathon hope to someday patent their keyboards and spread them to Parkinson’s Disease patients all over. 

Ben is attending Princeton University, Swetha is attending the University of California, and Johnathan is attending Oregon State University. 

Spotlight on Omega Phi Alpha

spotlight on omega phi alpha

Omega Phi Alpha was founded in 1953 at Bowling Green State University. A handful of students at Zeta Kappa Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity wanted to start a new organization for the purpose of assisting with projects on campus that they were working on. After a group of women stepped up and wanted to fill the role, a sorority was started with a similar, but different name. Omega Phi Alpha. Originally the sorority was only open to members of Girls Scouts or Camp Fire Girls. This has since been changed. 

Their core values are service, tradition, sisterhood, diversity & inclusion, and leadership. Each separate organization is centered around service in some way. They state on their website their purpose: 

“The purpose and goals of this sorority shall be to assemble its members in the fellowship of Omega Phi Alpha, to develop friendship, leadership and cooperation by promoting service to the university community, to the community at-large, to the members of the sorority, and to the nations of the world.”

omegaphialpha.org

They truly are a sorority founded on women that stepped up to help and will continue to leave a legacy of women willing to step up to help. They are a positive influence on college campuses everywhere!

You can see more about Omega Phi Alpha and the overview of the sorority here in this video: