Scholar(ship)ly Advice Is A Trilogy Now

As the deadline for our scholarship draws near, I decided to reach out to winners from previous years to check in with them and see what advice they had to offer for this year’s applicants. For more information on our scholarship and how to apply, head here.

Kayla Klurman (Our 2021 Top Winner)

Check out our 2021 post on Kayla and her Design a Better Future project, Kayla’s Care Bags. Not only did she win the $10,000 scholarship, but she was awarded an additional $5,000 to continue her project.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to this year’s applicants, what would it be?

A: If I could give one piece of advice it would be to always stay true to yourself. Be genuine. It is so much easier to talk about yourself and the things you love when you are passionate about them and they hold a special place in your heart. This will radiate off of you and without a doubt, people will love you and your story!

Q: What has been the best thing to come from your scholarship project?

A: I have been able to continue my project in North Carolina while also being active in Miami.

Q: A quick update on you! What are you up to? Are you still actively involved in your project?

A: Yes! I make care bags in Miami and in North Carolina. I come home for the summer very soon so I am excited to have the opportunity to do some further work this summer!

Always stay true to yourself… This will radiate off of you and without a doubt, people will love you and your story!

Are you beginning to notice a pattern? The most common consensus between our past winners can be boiled down to one word: passion. If you start a project that you really believe in, it is very apparent in your scholarship submission. Not only that, you are much more likely to follow through with the project if you have a genuine interest in it. For more information on exactly what we look for in a scholarship submission, I highly recommend this post.

It’s Time to Kick Some Class! (of 2022)

Graduations across the globe are underway and thousands of students are about to enter a new chapter of their lives. Facing uncertainty can certainly be unnerving, and there are many new stressors that accompany the change. For high school students, they are figuring out which college to attend, what major they want to pursue, or if they even want to get a degree. College students are now faced with finding a lifelong career and hoping it is relevant to their degree and doesn’t turn into a dementor who sucks all the happiness from their life.

Fortunately there are plenty who have experienced graduation and lived to tell about it. Even more fortunate, I am blessed to know some pretty wise people who were willing to impart some of their wisdom with you. So for those graduating high school, college, trade school, or those who chose a different direction, these words are for you.

“Once you graduate, you quickly learn that there are two kinds of people: your friends and those who were friendly just because you had a class together that one time. And that’s okay. Treasure both friendships and learn from them.”

-Kassidy Baird (Yours Truly)

“Always expect more of yourself and take others with you on your way to the top.”

“Don’t be afraid to do something just because it seems interesting! There’s a lot of pressure to build a resume or look good for college applications or whatever, but taking time just for the things you think are cool or fun is so important in being well rounded and not getting stressed!”

“It’s okay to not have it all figured out right now, or even five years from now! Find what brings you joy, be yourself, and trust in your own personal journey.”

“Don’t rush into anything and just live in the moment. Be where you are and accept all of yourself and life will work itself out.”

“Find what you love and follow that passion. But don’t be afraid to try new things on the way. You may be surprised at what else lights your fire.”

-Twin 1

“Find something you love! So often we get caught up in ambition and what’s next, when in reality life goes so fast! Take some time for yourself to get to know what you like and what things excite you. There are so many more opportunities for your future than you could ever realize! The best part is that most people love talking about what they do and would be more than willing for you to come see their day-to-day. Explore, travel, and ask lots of questions. When what you do excites you, you will love life and make the world around you a better place.”

-Twin 2

(It isn’t super relevant that they are twins but I think it’s fun to see the similarities in their responses when they didn’t know what the other had said).

“Start applying now. And know you have more experience than you think.”

“It’s not about what you know. It’s about WHO you know. Network and be KIND.”

“Enjoy the day. Let your family take the pictures and celebrate the crap out of you. You deserve it.”

“Don’t get sucked into the rat race. After high school, for the first time, there’s all this flexibility and independence and it gets really easy to judge our own paths by the milestones we see other people hitting or not hitting (whether/when people are married, when people get degrees, if someone got a degree, other people who get right into working/careers). But life is flexible for a reason! You don’t have to have it all figured out, so don’t get caught up in measuring yourself against a measuring stick that doesn’t exist.

I hope you guys enjoyed these words of wisdom! I have plenty more nuggets of advice that I will share in a future post. What advice do you have for the graduating class of 2022? Share your advice in the comments! Who knows, you could even end up being quoted in my next post.

Scholar(ship)ly Advice: The Sequel

As the deadline for our scholarship draws near, I decided to reach out to winners from previous years to check in with them and see what advice they had to offer for this year’s applicants. For more information on our scholarship and how to apply, head here.

Ben Kim (2021)

Check out our 2021 post on the Design A Better Future project where Ben, Swetha, and Johnathan successfully developed a functioning keyboard for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to this year’s applicants, what would it be?

A: I’d advise this year’s applicants that they should not be trying to force a project into their hands–rather, they should find genuine interest and purpose to lead them forward.

Q: What has been the best thing to come from your scholarship project?

A: The best thing to come from my project has been acquiring new engineering skills and knowledge and, perhaps just as importantly, spending time with my group and making memories together.

Q: A quick update on you! What are you up to? Are you still actively involved in your project?

A: I’m currently studying engineering at Princeton University, and I am not still actively involved in the project–however, it will always be special to me.

Find genuine interest and purpose to lead (you) forward.

Did you know you can apply for our scholarship as a group? Ben, Swetha, and Johnathan submitted their application together and they won together! They had close family members with Parkinson’s and they were able to use their experiences to come up with a project that they had genuine interest in, and they knew first-hand the difference their keyboard will make. For more information on exactly what we look for in a scholarship submission, I highly recommend this post.

Some Scholar(ship)ly Advice

As the deadline for our scholarship draws near, I decided to reach out to winners from previous years to check in with them and see what advice they had to offer for this year’s applicants. For more information on our scholarship and how to apply, head here.

Hilton Stallworth (2020)

Check out our 2020 post on Hilton and his Design A Better Future project, All the Stars Initiative.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to this year’s applicants, what would it be?

A: My best piece of advice to this year’s scholarship applicants would be to have confidence in your work and convey your passion for the issue being addressed!

Q: What has been the best thing to come from your scholarship project?

A: The best thing that has come from the project that I worked on whilst in High School was that it enabled me to encourage some of my fellow students to pursue excellence in academia. It also helped give me experience with conceptualizing and developing planning skills!

Q: A quick update on you! What are you up to? Are you still actively involved in your project?

A: I am currently enrolled at NC State University majoring in mechanical engineering. I am not currently still involved with the specific project I worked on in High School, however; I still am trying my best to encourage my peers to pursue their dreams and fight to do the best that they can!

Have confidence in your work and convey your passion for the issue being addressed.

Hilton’s advice rings true: as I’ve been reviewing the feedback forms and final submissions, you can tell when someone is genuinely passionate about their project. Passion comes through in anything that you do, and why not use that passion to better your community! For more information on exactly what we look for in a scholarship submission, I highly recommend this post.

So You Wanna Win A Scholarship?

Time flies when you are serving your community! Graduation is quickly approaching and that means our scholarship deadline will be here before you know it. Your final submission needs to be submitted by May 28, 2022 11:59pm MST. To increase your chance at winning, you can still submit your working strategy form for feedback until April 28, 2022. For more information on our scholarship, head here.

I’ve been having so much fun reading through the submissions so far and I’m excited to see what else you guys are working on!

Here are a few recommendations for those who want to fill out their strategy plan and get direct guidance for your project:

  • It might be an optional step, but the more specific you can be, the more specific we can be with our feedback.
  • Use the SMART goal model when talking about your goals and include short and long-term goals.
  • Think past, present, and future when describing your resources. What skills have you already developed? What materials will you need to collect? How much time are you currently putting toward your goals?
  • Allies are wonderful assets but really focus on who the decision makers will be during your project. How can you use the connections you already have to get your project off the ground?
  • Tactics are going to be what propels you to accomplish your goals. A tactic is only effective if it’s delivered, in some form, to a decision-maker. For example, “raising awareness” doesn’t help unless you’re raising your decision-maker’s awareness or using that awareness to mobilize individuals to pressure specific individuals in charge. What steps can you take to do the most for your community?
  • An additional $5,000 is rewarded to the winner to help fund their project so think long-term and brainstorm ways you can continue to help change and shape your community once your project is completed.

Best of luck to everyone applying for our scholarship! I have been inspired by the submissions and I can really feel the passion you have for improving your communities.

An Open Letter To A Future College Student

An open letter to college freshman tips and advice

Dear Future College Student, 

You don’t know it yet, but your greatest life adventure is about to begin. You’ll walk into this wide eyed and ready to see what is in store for you, and walk out with an expanded knowledge and a full heart. 

College is an amazing and unforgettable time where you will grow in ways you never knew was possible or needed. You’re about to meet new friends, professors, and peers that will shape your experience while you are there. Those friends are going to get you through your four years at school. They’ll be there to study with you, grab a quick lunch with you, and yes, even invite you to a party or two. 

Your relationship with your professors may surprise you. Some professors will be cold, distant, and simply read off of their presentation slides. While other professors will take you in, teach you, mentor you, and send you off into the world with a newfound knowledge and love for their subject area. Maybe even with a letter of recommendation as well! 

Your campus is big and daunting and you will probably get lost… often. But by the end of your time walking these sidewalks and hallways, you’ll know this entire place inside and out. Because it won’t just be a college campus to you, it’ll be your home. It’ll be where you spend hours at the library nailing down equations and studying for that big mid-term you have coming up. The multiple food stops on campus will be where you stopped for a morning bagel on your way to biology class because you didn’t have time to grab food out of your own kitchen in a rush to get to class. 

The basketball, football, and hockey games you attend will become a bigger part of your college experience that you never realized you needed. The comradery of a whole school chanting and cheering together all for the same team will bring everyone closer than ever before. 

Four years at college isn’t just walking onto a campus and walking away four years later with your degree in hand. It’s the environment, the parties, the friends you make, the events you attend, the professors you meet, and so, so much more. 

So listen up, future college student. This is where your greatest life adventure begins. This is where some of your best memories and learning moments will happen. Take it all in, and enjoy it. The saying is cliche for a reason, but it truly will go faster than you expect it too, and you’ll be sad once it’s over. 

You’ve got this. 

You Don’t Have To Dread The Waitlist!

The dreaded college class waitlist! You try to perfectly plan your college classes, even judging your next class based on the distance and time it takes to get from building to building to ensure you have enough time and won’t be late. But then… the worst thing happens. The class is full and you’re left… on the waitlist. 

The waitlist can be so daunting, because it’s never going to tell you if you’re going to get in or not. There are people who are very first on the waitlist for a class and never get in. And then you have people 20th in line on the waitlist that can get in by the first day. Being placed on the waitlist comes with the fear of the unknown, which can be scary. But no need to fear, here are some tips for the waitlist! 

  1. Know your dates. Oftentimes there is a deadline for enrolling in the class, typically a week or two after classes have started. Know these dates and have them noted somewhere so you can be prepared and they don’t sneak up on you. 
  2. Sit in the front of the classroom, where the professor can see you. 
  3. Be on time, if not early, for class. Take good notes and be attentive. 
  4. Talk with your professor before or after class. Let them know you are a student on the waitlist and that you would love to be in their class. If it feels appropriate, you can even try to email them.

The goal is to prove that you want to be in the class and that you will put in the time and work to be there. Professors can’t always bend the rules, especially if it comes to the amount of seats in their classroom or the fire code rules, but they may be able to change things here and there for you to get you into their class. 

Do you have any other waitlist tips you can share? Comment them below!