Scholarship Reminder: Specific Goals!

A requirement on our scholarship application is to write out your goals for your project. The application states: “Your goal(s) should be specific and reasonable, considering both short-term and long-term. If you have multiple goals, type each one on a new bullet point.”

And when we say specific, we really do mean specific. This plays off of our post from last week about telling us your story. If you’re telling us about your specific goals, it’s telling us more about your overall project. Here are a few examples: 

Short-term goal: Plant flowers in our city park. Long-term goal: Attract more bees  

Revamped to more specific: 

Short-term goals:
-Reach out to our town’s local nursery and ask them for locally grown wildflower donations.
-Raise money to purchase additional local wildflowers
-Plan a day to gather the community so that we can work together to plant the wildflowers

Long-term goals:
– Help upkeep the wildflowers by weeding and watering when needed
– Attract more bees, butterflies, and other insects to our area
– Help local gardens and farms benefit from the higher number of bees in the area with the addition of wildflower beds

Can you see how much more information these specific goals give us and how deeper of a picture it paints when they are written in detail instead of in a general sense? 

Our email is also always open to any questions you may have or guidance needed during the process.

You can see more about the scholarship requirements by downloading our checklist here.

For more information on the scholarship, head here.

For our 2023 final submission link, head here.

Ways To Help Reluctant Readers

We have a reluctant reader in our house. She has been from the beginning! It’s very interesting though because she loves learning to read and work with letters to put them together into words. But when it comes to actually reading the books, she’s never very into it. Here are a few ideas on how to help reluctant readers love books a little more. 

Stop pushing it. Let the child come to the books, don’t push the books onto the child! 

Make it fun. Yes, interactive board books may seem too young for a kid in elementary school. But if they are opening a book and choosing to read or listen to words on a page, then it’s worth overlooking the suggested age range. Reading is reading. 

Take it at their pace. Yes, it may be frustrating to not completely finish a 10-page book in one sitting. But if halfway through they need a break, consider it a win that you made it through 5 of the 10 pages. 

Model, model, model. There is a lot of power in a child watching their parent, teacher, or other trusted adult pick up a physical book and read it. I listen to audiobooks on my phone every day, but once I started reading physical books, my daughter started picking up books and reading a lot more often. 

Let them choose. Allowing them choices in the literature they pick up instead of assigning certain titles can give them a lot more interest in books. 

Utilize TV or video game characters. Just because a book is based on a tv show, movie, or videogame does not make it bad. Books are books. If they are picking it up, taking it in, and reading the words, it’s reading. And reading is reading. It can be a big advantage for you to take a beloved character and change the setting from the tv to a book. 

Above all, accept the fact that not everyone has to love reading. We all have different interests, likes, and dislikes. Celebrate their reading however and whenever you can. You may have a child that celebrates reading 100 books in a year! Amazing! And you may have a child that celebrates co-reading a full chapter book with a trusted adult or peer. Also amazing! Reading is reading! 

What are ways you support your reluctant readers? 

Photo by Min An

Mental Health Accessibility in New Mexico is About to Improve, Thanks to This High School Teen

Mental health is such a buzzword right now. It’s finally getting the recognition and attention it deserves! There’s still so much work to be done in the world with the overall aspect of mental health and the accessibility to it, and a high school student in New Mexico not only realizes this but is working towards changing it. She writes, 

My goal is to create a local nonprofit dedicated to prioritizing the mental health of adolescent athletes. This is a need I see in our community as I and many other adolescent athletes in New Mexico suffer from mental health issues related to our sports. After extensively looking, I don’t feel there are any other organizations doing the work locally (or even nationally) to fill this need. 

My goal is to have three branches of this organization-

1. Outreach: This branch would be responsible for creating a new coaches and athletes curriculum dedicated to improving athletes’ well-being in sports. This branch would also be in charge of spreading this curriculum to school teams and other private club sports organizations in the community.

2. Advocacy: This branch would be in charge of creating legislative and policy teams in certain organizations. For example, one idea I have is to reform APS health classes in how it approaches mental health subjects and specifically nutrition.

3. Community: This branch would be responsible for running the organization’s social media pages and creating a website with resources for athletes themselves to access. I’ve already started on the website and hope to finish it soon.

While this is a huge project to take on and one that very well may not be successful, it’s an idea I’ve had for a long time and I finally feel brave enough to approach it. There are some logistical aspects I’m not sure how to go about but I’m willing to put in the work and learn from others in order to attempt to make this a success.

I have the support of a community service coordinator at my school and I have connections with multiple mental health professionals who could help. I have a fair amount of time to commit to this project and I’ve done extensive academic research regarding adolescent athletes’ mental health. I plan to connect with more athletic professionals in my state to promote this curriculum I hope to design for adolescent sports organizations. I also plan to connect with government resources to make this a certified non-profit in my state.

Happy Holidays From HonorsGradU

The holidays are here and happening! It’s a great time to look back on the last year to see where our blog has gone.

We’ve published multiple book lists, personality tests regarding how they can be applied in the classroom, advice columns for scholarship applicants, and more. We also awarded $55,000 in scholarship money to five deserving, hard-working students.

My personal favorite is the discussions that have developed in the comments on our posts. Connecting with our readers and continuing the conversations beyond the base post make the information written come alive and is given more meaning!

Overall, this year has been one to remember, and we want to thank you, our readers, for being here and appreciating the content we place before you.

From all of us on the HonorsGradU team, happy holidays!

The 2022 Scholarship Winners- My Thoughts

For the ‘21-’22 scholarship season, our beloved blog writer Kassidy took over the submissions and hand selecting the top five winners, which I know is no small feat after having done it myself! 

It starts with reading through every single submission at least twice. And then reading and re-reading, again and again, to somewhat rank them. After picking out which applications are on the higher end of the ranking, then comes multiple phone calls to schools and mentors to hear about the projects from their point of view, as well as hearing about the student’s personality and work ethic. We then read each submission over and over again and again, ensuring that each applicant has followed all of the rules and guidelines, make more phone calls if needed, and discuss, discuss, and discuss amongst all of the scholarship board members to narrow it down to the top five.  

So when I say it’s no small feat, I mean it! And Kassidy absolutely took it in stride and found five incredible winners for our 2022 awards. 

Shoshana Folic with Wishing’ U Well saw an immediate problem within her community and filled it. And the coolest part is that she started on a community level and it grew and grew into something huge! We are so proud to have Shoshana as our top winner. 

We also saw foldable tiny houses, fiddle groups that closed the generational age gap, community gardens, and kits to help the displaced people in the community. You can read about all of the past winners here. 

Reading through their stories is truly so inspiring to see how these youth are changing and improving their communities. With kids like these in our world, we don’t need to worry about our future. These scholarship applications are proof that empathetic, kind, caring kids are out there and willing and ready to help. 

New Logo, Who Dis?

The time has come to unveil the new branding for our scholarship! As I stepped into the role of scholarship chair and content writer, I began noticing some variations in the way that those who came before me referred to the scholarship. The original name for our scholarship was the Design A Better Future scholarship (which I’m assuming came from the fact that the projects needs to be based on the design thinking cycle). But as the years went on, it also started being referred to as the Build A Better future scholarship and both titles started being used interchangeably.

In order to *hopefully* limit future confusion, I decided to update the scholarship logo and declare one title to be the official title from now on. The HGU scholarship will henceforth be known as the Build A Better Future scholarship. I felt as though using the verb “design” was too passive and wasn’t giving our applicants enough credit. Yes, they are using the design thinking cycle but they are also going above and beyond to bring their designs to life.

design a better future scholarship high school seniors

In addition to updating the logo and title, the website has been updated with all the information needed for our 2023 scholarship! I look forward to seeing how the next group of applicants works on building a better future for their communities. If you or anyone you know is a high school senior that will be graduating in 2023, you can find more information regarding the scholarship here and here. Please email with any questions. Good luck!

Nourishing the Seed

Here is a brief list of book recommendations for middle grade readers (3rd-6th Grade). Stay tuned for more recommendations and more age groups!

Hooky by Miriam Bonastre Tur

One scoop of graphic novel, one dash of fantastical adventure, and two heaping tablespoons of witch makes this book the perfect recipe (or spell!) for the hesitant reader in your life. With beautiful illustrations and an engaging storyline, this is the perfect way to introduce middle-grade readers to novels without making them feel like they are reading a novel.

“When Dani and Dorian missed the bus to magic school, they never thought they’d wind up declared traitors to their own kind! Now, thanks to a series of mishaps, they are being chased by powerful magic families seeking the prophesied King of Witches and royals searching for missing princes.” -HaperCollins Publishers

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

“Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona… she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined.” -GoodReads

This book is the perfect reminder of the importance of friendship, courage, and acceptance (of yourself and others).

The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane by Julia Nobel

Nothing captivates a reader like the suspenseful twists and turns of a good mystery, and this book is no exception! Read aloud or read alone, you’ll find your readers on the edge of their seat.

With a dad who disappeared years ago and a mother who’s a bit too busy to parent, Emmy is shipped off to Wellsworth, a prestigious boarding school in England, where she’s sure she won’t fit in. But then she finds a box of mysterious medallions in the attic of her home with a note reading: These belonged to your father. When she arrives at school, she finds the strange symbols from the medallions etched into walls and books, which leads Emmy and her new friends, Jack and Lola, to Wellsworth’s secret society: The Order of Black Hollow Lane. Emmy can’t help but think that the society had something to do with her dad’s disappearance, and that there may be more than just dark secrets in the halls of Wellsworth…” -Sourcebooks

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Alright, this recommendation might come from a place of self-indulgence as this was a series that I absolutely LOVED as a kid. But I’ve also reread them as an adult, and they still hold up.

For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary is one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite . . . Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, powerful forces of evil are unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives, to save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world.” -Shadow Mountain

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they? It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.” -ABRAMS Publishing

Anyone who has been a kid, is a kid, has kids, or has even looked at a kid has heard of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This series is another resource to encourage disinterested readers. I mean, Jeff Kinney wouldn’t be able to write a 17-book series because kids aren’t reading his books, so he clearly knows a thing or two about getting kids excited about reading.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Accidentally built sideways and standing thirty stories high (the builder said he was very sorry for the mistake), Wayside School has some of the wackiest classes in town, especially on the thirtieth floor. That’s where you’ll meet Bebe, the fastest draw in art class; John, who only reads upside down; Myron, the best class president ever; and Sammy, the new kid—he’s a real rat.” -HarperCollins Publishing

Comedic, clever, and kooky; this book has it all! With chapters that read like short stories, it is ideal for reading out loud. These far-fetched stories will fetch a laugh or two (or 89).