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 scholarship@honorsgraduation.com with any questions. Good luck!

Introducing Brooklyn Conrad: A 2022 Scholarship Winner

This is part of a series of blog posts introducing you to our 2022 Build A Better Future scholarship recipients and their projects. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our scholarship, click here.

Up next on our scholarship winner docket is Brooklyn Conrad! Brooklyn has been a member of her local 4-H since the fourth grade, which provided her with countless service opportunities. Some of those opportunities included gathering donations for her community food shelf. She began noticing that most of the food being donated was highly processed and it opened her eyes to the lack of fresh and healthy foods available to those in need.

And thus, the “Feeding Growing Minds for a Healthy Future” campaign was born.

Brooklyn began meeting with local and county government officials, stakeholders, and community members and explaining the importance of making healthier food choices available to those in need. Through her own research, she learned how to make garden beds from IBC totes and wire cattle fencing. With the help of master gardeners and the food shelf coordinators, she received instruction on what produce was most in-demand and which plants would be best for her garden.

In May of 2021, she was ready to get to work. Brooklyn was able to use her 4-H connection to assemble a group of volunteers and together, they planted a variety of vegetables. She watered the garden throughout the summer, and by July, there were vegetables ready to be harvested and donated to the food shelf. She continued nurturing her project and at the time of her application in May of this year, they had already prepped and planted the gardens for another season of fresh produce.

By partnering with her 4-H chapter, she made certain that her food shelf will continue to receive healthier food alternatives. She has been teaching current 4-H members how to maintain the garden and she connected them with a master gardener for additional expertise. Moving forward, Brooklyn hopes to share her project with other counties and is actively gathering resources and materials to help them start their own food shelf gardens. She also wants to set up a system where community members can donate extra produce from their own gardens to local food shelves, ensuring that an even greater variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are going to those who need them instead of going to waste.

Introducing Mia Gregory: A 2022 Scholarship Winner

This is part of a series of blog posts introducing you to our 2022 Build A Better Future scholarship recipients and their projects. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our scholarship, click here.

It’s time to introduce another scholarship awardee! When Mia Gregory was in the 8th grade, she really began noticing the homeless community in her neighborhood. Instead of feeling sorry for them, she decided to take action. She explained the motivation behind her project as follows:

“I knew that I could never solve homelessness directly, but to me, it was more about making them feel loved despite their hard situations. I didn’t like the awkwardness of turning your head from them as if they weren’t human. I wanted them to know that I saw them and that they deserved care.”

And love them she did.

Pass It On bags became Mia’s way to serve the displaced people in her area. Each bag contains food, water, hygiene products, socks, and a pamphlet to connect them to a church organization that provides shelter for the homeless. All throughout high school, she kept a bag or two in her car to hand out to those who needed them. She wrote down her thoughts and feelings about what she was seeing and shared it with her peers. Her words encouraged others to donate supplies and many decided to keep bags of their own to pass out.

Mia has also started connecting with local churches and organizations to raise more awareness for her project; ensuring that bags are still being created and shared after she leaves for school. She is hoping that once word gets out, more donations will come in and more people will be inspired to pass out bags and interact with those who are so often ignored. She will be attending Lipscomb University and is already researching the area and brainstorming ways to network with the university’s mission program to establish Pass It On bags within the Nashville community.

“It’s time to take action, love them anyway, and pass it on.”

Introducing Michael Wilson: A 2022 Scholarship Winner

This is part of a series of blog posts introducing you to our 2022 Build A Better Future scholarship recipients and their projects. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our scholarship, click here.

The next scholarship recipient that I want to share with you is Michael Wilson and his work in establishing a local chapter of the Arizona Old Time Fiddler’s Association. As someone who was homeschooled, he often participated in “real life projects” as part of the curriculum. These projects included providing manual labor for his elderly neighbors, performing with his family’s band at senior care facilities (Michael is an accomplished vocalist and mandolin player), and working with kids in an after school program.

It didn’t take long for Michael to notice that there were two major problems in his community. The first issue was the isolation of seniors. Many residents were limited to their nursing homes and never received visitors. Even outside the nursing homes, many of the seniors were homebound and living alone. The lack of visitors was made worse during the pandemic and let to a steep decline in the quality of life for the elderly. The second issue was that many of the children were coming from foster care and otherwise broken homes, which limited their access to positive role models. Michael realized there was a way to hit both birds with one stone: music. Once he found the mission statement of the Arizona Old Time Fiddler’s Association, he knew it was exactly what his community needed:

“The Arizona Old Time Fiddler’s Association is a non-profit organization whose objective is to preserve, promote and perpetuate the art of old time fiddling, to encourage all people, young and old, to develop their musical talents and afford them opportunities to perform in public, to hold jam sessions and other musical events, for the members’ own enjoyment and to educate the public on the values of old time fiddling. And to brighten and improve the lives of “shut-ins” and other needy people, by furnishing musical entertainment and performing other charitable, civic and community services.”

He immediately got to work establishing the Payson chapter of the AOTFA. He ran booths at community events and promoted the project on the radio in order to recruit members and meet the requirements to become a chapter. A local pastor provided a building for the weekly jam sessions–although the sessions were moved outside during the pandemic–and local musicians helped lead the sessions, as well as supplying instruments and music selections. He even incorporated a potluck into the sessions so others could contribute even if they weren’t interested in playing music.

Michael had two goals going into this project: to renew a sense of purpose and inclusion for the elderly and providing structure and guidance to the younger members of the community. In addition, all ages were able to experience learning and improving new skills to increase their self-esteem and instill a sense of pride. The generational gap was bridged and lasting relationships were formed. But don’t take my word for it; the pictures speak for themselves.

And The Award(s) Go To…

Going into this scholarship season, I knew that narrowing down the list of scholarship applicants to the five awardees would be difficult but I couldn’t have prepared myself for just how challenging it turned out to be. The levels of passion and selflessness reflected in the Design A Better Future projects that were submitted had me wishing I could award 16 scholarships, but alas, I slowly had to whittle the list down to five. There were many projects that got me thinking about my own interactions within my community and there were others that opened my eyes to issues I wouldn’t normally encounter in my day-to-day routine.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

Coretta Scot King

The scholarship was founded in the 2012-2013 school year as a way to show Honors Graduation’s support for our future leaders. Using the design thinking cycle, high school seniors created a project designed to improve their community. Work included a proposal, artifact/prototype, and final reflection. A $10,000 scholarship is awarded to the top five applicants toward their college tuition, with an additional $5,000 grant awarded to the top recipient to fund their project.

I will follow up with individual posts that dive into the details of the winning submissions soon, but without further ado, I am so excited to introduce you to the 2022 Design A Better Future Scholarship awardees:

  • Shoshana Folic: Wishing’ U Well (Shoshana is our top recipient and will receive an additional $5,000 grant to continue funding her project).
  • Mia Gregory: Pass It On Bags
  • Brooklyn Conrad: Feeding Growing Minds For A Healthy Future
  • Michael Wilson: Rim Country Chapter of the Arizona Old Time Fiddler’s Association
  • Christian Duckworth: Foldable Dome Homes

A hugely heartfelt thank you to all who took the time to apply for our scholarship and for the work you have done and will continue to do within your community. I truly enjoyed reading each submission and being shown ways I can help my own community. I hope we all will strive to build up those around us, even if it’s just smiling at the people you pass on the street.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”

Oscar Wilde

What We Look For In A Scholarship Application

Our annual scholarship is due in a few short months, so we can only hope that scholarship applicants are gathering everything they need to submit their final project. 

Do you know what goes into choosing scholarship winners? A lot more than you think! Hours and hours of reading, re-reading, crowdsourcing from everyone in our company, and even late-night chats with family members discussing each individual applicant and what their project entails. Oh, and more re-reading of applications. Yes, that’s right. Every single application gets picked over, analyzed, and discussed, we take each application very seriously and everyone is considered, it’s not just a skim read of all of the information and picking and choosing what sounds good. When I say that we pour hours into this, I am very serious about it. 

So what exactly is it that we are looking for in your scholarship application? You can read an overview on our scholarship page, but here’s a deeper dive to help you see our thought process. 


1) The quality & quantity of work already completed

We want to see a quality project that has been given time and effort, meaning there is a large quantity of information we can see and read. Your project is your baby, you’ve put so much time and effort into it, but we know nothing about it! Paint us a picture of exactly what you’ve been working on, how you’ve achieved it, and your why behind starting the project in the first place. If it’s written well, we can hear the passion behind what you’re doing. And spoiler alert: we also pay attention to correct grammar and punctuation. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it is something you should be mindful of when submitting. 

2) The potential for future long-term impact

Unless you are selected as the top winner winning the $5,000 grant toward your project to continue funding it, you are not required to continue your project after you have received your scholarship. However, we are more likely to choose the winners based on the likelihood of a continuing project that will keep impacting the community in a positive way. 

3) General community relevance of the project

Your project can be just for your school, your school district, or even more widespread in your community in some way. However, it needs to directly impact those in your neighborhood. Meaning, if you’re creating materials or resources for a third-world country, you will need to find a way to tie it back into your community. That can be by them volunteering to help with your project or having it impact them in some way, too. 


Finalists may also be asked for proposals on how they would use the $5,000 grant if selected as the top recipient, and the more specific those plans, the better (especially if they involve plans to seek additional funding or perpetuate the fund toward your project in the long term).

Once we’ve narrowed it down to our top projects, one final question to help us pick apart the final winners is based on how you answer our question about the $5,000 grant. It also helps us choose the grant winner as well. If asked this question by our team, take it very seriously! 

Other things we are looking for while choosing the winners: 

Completion of the project- If we have to track down your project information, pictures, videos, etc., it can be a red flag. Make sure all of your information is completed and in the final submission. 

Organization of project- If it’s jumbled and hard to pick out the information, it can be easy for us to overlook the project and not spend the time picking through all of the minute details. 

The passion- Again, we can tell in your submission how passionate you are about the subject based on how you present it to us. Show us your passion! Tell us what got you started with the project you are working on and what’s driving you to continue working on it. 

Take these tips and put them into your final project. I promise by doing so will help your application shine above the rest.

An Update on Our 2019 Scholarship Winner: Anthony Neil Tan

We reached out to Anthony Neil Tan this spring for an update on his Maker Hub Club and where they are today. He did such a great job highlighting their accomplishments that I will let you read it directly from him, instead of paraphrasing it for you! You can see the post on him as a scholarship winner here.

From Anthony:

💸Our student maker funding program called Instructor Awards, where students write an Instructable teaching others how to make something and receive reimbursement for material expenses.

  • Custom Gaming Keypad With RGB 
  • How to Refurbish an Old Skateboard

💻We taught an 8-week virtual Arduino Programming Workshop to 10 students hailing from across the nation

⚙️We held monthly Makers Meetings to foster community and held engaging activities

  • We held an April Fools Prank challenge where two winners were awarded with a $25 Amazon gift card each.
  • Check out a video on one of the winning projects here.

🎉We got t-shirts and keychains to spread our spirit and pride in what we do!

  • We got 26 t-shirts (16 for volunteers and 10 as prizes for our student maker spotlights and for our special awards recipients in the 2021 InventorsFair, which we participated in as judges.) 

🎤We participated in Makers + Mentors’ Make For All Commitments in support of maker-centered learning!

  • I’ll be a guest speaker at the Make For All Commitments Celebration event, representing Maker Hub Club and speaking about the wonderful experiences of being a student maker.

✔️We are rebranding to Student Makers because we feel this organization name truly resonates with our commitment to serving the student makers community!