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

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.

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?

Announcing A 2020 Scholarship Winner: Hilton Stallworth

This is part of a series of interviews with our scholarship recipients for our 2020 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 2020 program, click here”. 

Hilton Stallworth applied to our scholarship this last spring and we were incredibly impressed with his project. Hilton was enrolled in the magnet program at Enloe High school to be exposed to more rigorous classes and educational activities. Shortly after starting, he noticed that he was one of the few black students enrolled in these classes. The majority of his black peers were only enrolled in the standard public school classes. As he went into high school, there was an increased amount of students enrolled in the school, there was still a small number of black students pursuing advanced level classes. This being detrimental to both the students in the standard classes who aren’t performing highly, as well as the few in the advanced classes sometimes feeling discouraged and ostracized as if they didn’t belong there. 

This inspired Hilton to partner with the Black Student Union and create the “All the Stars Initiative” to close the academic achievement gap within Enloe High School by both increasing black student enrollment in advanced classes as well as increasing the performance in the classes in which the students are enrolled. The initiative has three pillars; Outreach, support, and incentive. Naturally, it starts with outreach and being able to get in touch with as many Enloe black students as possible and inform them of the program and opportunities available. Second comes support in which students would sign a pledge to the program, but also to each other stating they would support one another’s academic ventures through structured tutoring and encouragement. Finally, there is incentive which gives students short term goals to continue to fuel their drive for higher education and excellence. 

Hilton hopes that the program will gain the traction and recognition it needs to attract black families to the school due to stellar initiative. The other hope he has is that the program will become successful enough that other schools in the area will be inspired to implement their own version of the initiative, eventually turning All The Stars into a movement amongst the black community. Hilton is hopeful that people will see the true value in a program like this to continue to foster and invest their time in it so that it can positively affect the lives of the resident black students. 

Now that Hilton has graduated Enloe High School, he will be attending NC State University. Since he is attending college locally, he will be able to remain in close contact with the new leaders of the initiative and the Black Student Union. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his plans to visit the students every few weeks came to a halt as they are all now doing virtual lessons. One thing he is doing, however, is attempting to work with the students at Enloe to figure out a way to have similar empowerment amongst the black students in a virtual format. Outside of high school, Hilton plans to actively encourage his black classmates in college to pursue academic excellence, as well as give back to their community. 

My Own Design A Better Future Project

Recently I’ve been put on the board for our Design A Better Future scholarship. The whole scholarship has nothing to do with grades, GPA, or academics at all. It’s based on a student serving in their community some way, seeing a path they can take to make it a better place. 

Mary wrote about how she unknowingly conducted her own Design A Better Future (DBF) project in her community so it got me thinking, is there something I am already doing, or can do to participate in this as well? After some time, I realized I have been working on my own project in my hometown. 

From the framework of our scholarship: 

Look, Listen, and Learn: 

This summer my kids have been enrolled in Infant Swim Resource (ISR) swim lessons at Utah Swim Acadamey in Provo. It’s life saving swim lessons that first teach kids to save their life if unexpectedly found in water alone, then teach the strokes and work to get out of the pool unassisted. After posting about it on my social media, I had multiple friends in my hometown of Idaho Falls ask how and where they can access these lessons for their kids. Unfortunately after some research, there wasn’t any options. 

So, I set out to change that. 

Ask Tons Of Questions:

  • Why aren’t they available in the area? 
  • What steps do I need to take to make them accessible? 
  • Where is most of the need? 
  • What would it cost to build a pool? Rent a pool? 
  • How much does a heating element in a pool cost and does it extend our window for teaching swim lessons? By How much? 
  • Who are my allies in this? 
  • How do I learn how to teach these lessons? 
  • Who can I hire to help me teach so that we can access more kids? 
  • How can we maximize the number of kids we teach while still starting small and reasonable? 
  • How do we spread the word? 
  • And so many more….. 

Understand The Process Or Problem: 

The problem is the lack of swim lessons in general the area, with the complete absence of ISR lessons. Why? I believe it’s linked with the lack of pools in the area, given the cooler climate. 

The process is taking research upon research. Reading articles and ordering some new books to read. How To Teach Your Baby To Swim by Douglas Doman and Teaching Your Baby To Swim by Françoise Barbira Freedman. More ways I am learning is by observing my children’s current swim lessons and seeing how something like this is run. 

Navigate Ideas:

During this phase I realized that living four hours away from the location I want to make this happen would be difficult for it to work out to run lessons from far away. I called in more resources and had my sister, who lives in the area, join in with me on this. 

This is my daughter at 2 years old, five lessons in. Can you hear my gasp because I was so excited?!

Create A Prototype: 

We brought swim lessons to the area! Our swim instructor committed to teaching for two weeks in the Idaho Falls/ Ammon area. We worked really hard to market, find useable pools, and organize schedules. And after two weeks we had about 35 kids floating and swimming! 

Highlight and Fix: 

From our initial launch, we are working on navigating a smoother way to schedule parents, have access to our own pool, and an easier way to get the word out about these lessons. We asked parents for feedback or what they would like to see happen. 

One common comment was a solid platform for communication with parents. We were answering questions and posting information about the swimming lessons by sometimes posting on my Instagram, sometimes posting on the swim instructors and various texts/ calls from both our phone numbers. Because of this, we are working at creating social media platforms just for this purpose and a website we can refer everyone to. 

Launch To An Audience: 

Because swim lessons will be happening outdoors and summer is coming to a close, we are nativating each of these steps over the next few months so that we can launch next spring to the Idaho Falls area! We are excited to bring such an important and life-saving service to an area that is lacking. I can’t wait to see where this project will go! 

Our instructor and my daughter after a successful two weeks teaching ISR lessons in Idaho Falls