Maybe We Don’t Need To Be Worried About Our Future

the youth of our future is inspiring

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time talking and interacting with high school-aged students. This has been through our recent scholarship, through serving the youth of my community, and through visiting high schools to spread the word about our 2022 scholarship

I’ll have to admit, the last time I spent this much time with kids ages 14-18 was when I was that age! Though I’m not too far off in age from them (about ten years their elder), I still have felt a disconnect to this age and culture that I’ve had to reprogram my brain to figure out. And like the majority of our society, I originally looked at this age group and was worried about our future! The way they talked, dressed, thought, and even walked had me worried that someday our world would be run to the ground by these children when they turned into the adults that would be the leaders of the country. 

However, after more interactions and more conversations, my thoughts on their future flipped. 

Though they walked and talked and interacted differently than what I was used to, they are still filled with big ideas and dreams, and hopes for the future. They are still amazing leaders with budding skills on how to work together as a team to accomplish tasks they need to be done. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and check out our past winner’s page for our scholarship. There are 7 OUTSTANDING students that noticed a problem in their community and set out to solve it, whether in a group or by themselves with a mentor’s help. And these are just the winners! I read through dozens and dozens of applications with similar drives to help their community in some way. There was not one single application that did not deserve some recognition for the work they were doing, they were all inspiring. So you can imagine, choosing a winner was very, very hard. 

And this was just my interactions with high school-aged students applying for a scholarship. I’ve also been able to interact with the youth of my community through service in my church, as well as brief interactions with this age of kids in high schools. And yes, I will still always question why they are so into TikTok or why crop tops are the shirt of choice right now?? But the coolest thing about the human race is that we don’t all have to think, act, and dress alike to get along or understand one another. 

These 14-18-year-olds are coming into our society with newfound knowledge of technology, social media, teamwork skills, and more than we as older generations cannot comprehend or will never know. 

So, maybe we really don’t need to be worried about our future. Maybe this TikTok, crop top generation has a thing or two to teach us about life. 

Scholarship Winner Update: Caitlin Gill

Our 2020 scholarship winner, Caitlin Gill, was an inspiration to everyone when she created F.L.EX.S.P.A.C.E., an online platform for students with disabilities to come together for various activities. You can read our original blog post on Caitlin here

One year later, here is the update Caitlin sent us: 

“F.L.EX.S.P.A.C.E. is doing very well! We currently have events six days per week including workouts, a Music Jam Session every Thursday, and a social event on Saturdays. Twice a month we have in-person events either at a park, food place or at the movies. We recently had a Movie Night Out where we saw Space Jam together. 

For the month of June, we provided daily life skills and wellness workshops online via Zoom. These were a huge success as we encouraged independence by teaching important skills. The most popular workshop was our “Cooking with Caitlin” workshop where we cooked something new every Monday. 

The scholarship that HonorsGradU provided has enabled us to purchase supplies for our in-person events, cover technology costs (since we are mainly online), cover tax document costs and provide a means to host our social events. I cannot thank HonorsGradU enough. I have received so many comments from families and participants expressing how important F.L.EX.S.P.A.C.E. is to their social well-being. We would not be able to impact our special needs community without your support.”

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. 

Scholarship Interview: Our Top Winner- Kayla Klurman

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 top 2021 scholarship winner was Kayla Klurman, who also received a $5,000 grant for her project, Kayla’s Care Bags. She graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Miami, Florida. Kayla sat down next to a girl named Rosy during lunch at school and listened to her story about foster care and how hard it was for them to obtain the proper clothes, shoes, basic toiletries, and school supplies. This moment is what sparked Kayla’s interest in starting up Kayla’s Care Bags. 

These are care bags made specifically for foster kids in Kayla’s community. They are put together by donations from others in her community, picked up personally by her, and then placed in bags organized for specific ages and genders. Take a quick look at the process here: 

Kayla primarily used social media to spread the word on the needs of Kayla’s care bags and would drive to various places within her community to pick up supplies and put the bags together. One problem Kayla felt like she was running into and wanted to troubleshoot was that she was only able to know the ages and genders of those entering the foster care system so she could not put together personalized bags. In order to work through this, she’s brainstormed closets made specifically for foster kids to enter, shop around for what they need, and take free of charge. Kayla is also focusing on stocking the closets with maternity clothes and items for those in foster care that are pregnant. She would have to work hard to keep these closets stocked with items, but with help from the $5,000 grant, it will be possible. 

Kayla is an inspiration to us all! She heard a story from a friend that encouraged her to make a change in her community. She saw the problem and found a solution.

Kayla will be attending Davidson College in North Carolina studying political science. 

Feature Friday: Isaac Stone

Welcome to Feature Friday! Today we are interviewing past scholarship winner, Isaac Stone. Isaac won our scholarship in 2018 when he created a prototype for an invisible cane. You can see more about his project here. 

I have been in contact with Isaac to get an update on where he is now. He is attending Washington University in St. Louis, MO. where he is double majoring in computer science and mechanical engineering and has kept busy with multiple projects and service opportunities throughout his time there. 

Related to his project, he has been teaching students with disabilities how to code via Skype and Zoom. He has been able to assist in writing and suggesting curriculum for this program, and also adjusts it to each student’s particular needs. 

Isaac writes, 

“I’ve been teaching a tenth grader on the spectrum for over a year now, and I have taught two other students with various obstacles and abilities in 7th and 8th grade respectively.  I work as a volunteer, and have greatly enjoyed watching as my students have learned not just how to program, but also valuable computer skills, such as how to make computers accessible to them, whether it be using an editor with high contrast and dyslexia fonts, or learning how to scroll over items for alt text and learning how to intuit what different icons and buttons do.”

Isaac has been working with CodeConnects which primarily serve underrepresented youth by providing one-on-one lessons. All of this was online before COVID, so he is excited to continue doing this. He found this group while doing research for his invisible cane, the project that won him our scholarship in 2018. 

Isaac also writes, 

“As AR technology becomes more prevalent it may become easier to write simple AR apps and test them without going through licensing processes to get access to the full backend of an iPhone, and I hope that will be the case since AR technology necessarily measures distance using vision recognition software.  I have certainly thought about how to expand this project. However time and energy constraints have held me back, partly because the technology necessary already exists but it’s not easily accessible yet, and partly because my other endeavors have very visible impacts on individuals.

Other notable achievements Isaac has been doing at college is being the aerodynamics team lead for his school’s design, build, fly team. Playing bridge with fellow students. Singing bass for a school acapella group. He was involved with a full-time internship with MITRE Corporation this summer, as well as another internship with a startup company called Apptronik the previous summer. He is also a regular member of washU composers club. 

Isaac is accomplishing great work in college and we are proud to have him as a past scholarship winner! 

Past Scholarship Winner: Liz Hansen

Welcome to Feature Friday! Where we showcase a new person each week in an interview. For past Feature Friday interviews, go here.

Today’s Feature Friday is highlighting Liz Hansen. Liz is a past scholarship winner, she received our Honors Graduation scholarship in 2019 and is now attending Marquette University. Here is an update on where Liz is now! 

Liz is double majoring in criminology and Spanish on a pre-law track. She joined the rock climbing club, which she is on the board for now. She also joined a sorority Alpha Chi Omega whose philanthropy is dedicated to supporting domestic violence and abuse victims as well as education on healthy relationships. 

When I asked Liz why she chose the sorority she did she said, “What drove me to join my sorority was really and truly how amazing and supportive the women are in it. Regarding our philanthropy, it’s something I’m truly passionate about; I feel that my calling is to help others. Domestic violence and abuse are a lot more prevalent than people realize because it doesn’t need to be just physical. There’s a huge gap in education on the subject and teaching others, especially college students, about what a healthy relationship looks like is so important. The women we help at the shelter are in need of support and resources, and our donations of time and money are so impactful on them.”

Liz’s project that won her the scholarship was a compost program for her high school that accompanied a community garden where she was Garden Chair for Pay it Forward. All of this was on a volunteer basis. She worked hard to create a project that would remain self-sufficient even after she left. While others maintained the garden and compost with a dedicated crew working on it and learning the ins and outs of compost, it did very well. 

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the compost had to take a short halt. They are hoping to have it back up and running as soon as the school opens for in-person education. 

Liz writes: “My project truly has influenced how I look at my and my community’s lifestyles. I really value having other people around concerned about making environmentally friendly choices a habit. One thing I love about Marquette is that they have biodegradable silverware and take out ware, as well as a campus-wide compost program!”

We are so proud of Liz and the positive impact she has on her community. To learn more about our scholarship program for graduating high school seniors, check it out here!

Check Out Our 2020 Scholarship Winners!

Did you know that every year our company, Honors Graduation, gives away $50,000 in scholarship money to graduating high school seniors to use towards college tuition? They are able to fund this by cord sales each year.

If you are a graduating 2021 high school senior you can qualify for this scholarship as well! Read all about our scholarship here.

Also, if you’re looking for some uplifting stories to read about, check out our past scholarship winners. You can see work from when this scholarship originally started up until this year’s 2020 winners. From providing masks to low income students, to a safe platform for special needs students to connect online, these high school seniors have set the bar high! It is an honor that we can help them in a way to continue their education into college and watch as they continue to do more for our communities by building a better future.

How have you personally designed a better future for your community? Is there a high school senior you can share this scholarship with?