Scholarship Interview: Ishva Mehta

scholarship interview online tutoring platform

“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 final scholarship winner is Ishva Mehta with her online tutoring program. Ishva started her project in 2020 at COVID’s peak. She spent her time in the National Honor Society tutoring elementary school children that were not proficient in English. She was finding that as schools were shutting down and COVID was at its peak, these students were struggling even more. Upon researching why she realized they were coming from non-English speaking homes, so they did not have the extra help they needed. Many of these parents could not afford tutoring either. 

Ishva set out to change this and help these students that were struggling the most. She wanted to focus on English with reading and writing. She started with a small website and through word-of-mouth. As she continued her program, more and more parents caught on and wanted more and more. This sparked her idea to create a feedback form to see what parents were wanting from this tutoring website. 

From this feedback form, she realized a lot of requests came for read alouds for their kids to watch. Ishva got to work and went full force with animating the stories herself, creating the videos, and even creating worksheets to go along with the videos. Beyond this, she wrote her own book as well. 

Funding the website became a challenge for Ishva and because she was helping low-income families, there was not a lot of community funding, either. To solve this problem, she took up a job at her local library to be able to continue this website. 

In the future, Ishva hopes to find a more permanent solution to funding the website, write more children’s books, and publish the current book she has written. 

Ishva is amazing and has created such a great resource in her community!

You can see her tutoring website here. 

You can watch her video here.

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: Swetha, Ben, and Johnathan

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”. 

Introducing our next scholarship winners: a group of three working together on the same project and splitting the scholarship winnings. Swetha Palakur, Johnathan Polucha, and Ben Kim. These three high school students worked together on a project for their engineering class, where they specifically needed to come up with a solution to a problem. 

They chose to create a keyboard specifically for persons with Parkinson’s Disease and other similar, neurodegenerative diseases. The reason for choosing this group of people specifically was for two different reasons, first that they realize what vital importance of using a computer is in this day and age and they recognized the struggles those with PD have using a typical keyboard. And second, they had close family members with Parkinson’s Disease, meaning this project hit close to home for them. 

After creating their first humble prototype made of cardboard, they were able to meet with the head neurologist at the University of California Irvine. She gave them great insight into how the minds and bodies of those with PD work, as well as some feedback on their prototype. One worry Ben, Swetha, and Johnathan had was that the keyboard would be too complicated to figure out, but she reassured them that it would be a great cognitive and problem-solving practice for the PD patients. 

After more teacher and peer feedback, more prototypes, and working out some wiring issues, they were able to create a functioning keyboard! Ben, Swetha, and Johnathon hope to someday patent their keyboards and spread them to Parkinson’s Disease patients all over. 

Ben is attending Princeton University, Swetha is attending the University of California, and Johnathan is attending Oregon State University. 

Scholarship Interview: Hannah Storrs

Your Voice Counts scholarship interview

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”. 

Hannah Storrs with her project “Your Voice Counts” was one of our scholarship winners this year and for good reason! Hannah originally started this project because she wanted to obtain her Girl Scout Gold Award, which focuses on a community project. When considering what she could do her project on, she remembered her love and interest in politics that started when she was only in 4th grade! This is what she based her project around. 

Hannah’s goal was to promote unity and understand (and hopefully abolish) voter apathy. She dedicated hours speaking to students in physical classes and on Zoom classes, both at her high school and her dual-enrolled college, Florida State University. On top of speaking with classes, she created an online platform with YouTube and Instagram to help students understand voting, the process, and feel confident they are making good voter decisions. 

You can see her YouTube platform here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBU6GcWXAZNTDgJsLmgmNpw

Hannah’s long-term goal for Your Voice Counts is to create a student organization at her university that she is currently attending. 

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. 

Lessons Learned From Awarding Multiple $10,000 Scholarships

Our 2021 scholarship has come to a close and the winners have been chosen. This was my first year as scholarship chairperson and I am going to be completely honest with you, it was not what I expected. 

I expected applications to come in, I would read and review them and then choose the winners. However, there was a lot of in-between that I didn’t see coming. Applications did come in, and I did read and review them. But instead of just casually choosing a winner, I read the applications again, and again. And then I tried to determine which applications should be considered finalists. And then I read the applications again. After that, I spoke with mentors of these students to verify projects and receive a little more insight on them and the project they were carrying out in their community. After every single conversation, I was convinced THIS was the student that deserved the scholarship. I made 15+ phone calls, but could only choose 5 winners. 

Needless to say, it was stressful! However, it was still an incredible experience. Here are a few things I learned along the way. 

There is so much good in this world. So, so, so much good. 

A lot of this good is coming from the youth in our communities. 

I underestimated what 17 to 18-year-olds were capable of. 

They are also more empathetic than we give them credit for. 

Our future is actually in really good hands. 

Reading through each project that these students submitted was incredible to hear more about the struggles in their community and how they sought out to find a solution and fix these problems. Becoming a scholarship chairperson was quite possibly the best decision I’ve made. These kids truly do deserve so much recognition, whether they won the scholarship award or not!

The Scholarship Is Due Today!

Our Design A Better Future scholarship has been going for a few years now. It’s a scholarship awarding five winners $10,000 towards their college tuition. To give a quick overview of the requirements, students must plan, put together, and carry out a project at the school or in their community that betters it in some way. We’ve had students create an invisible cane, start up a music class program for inner-city kids, and create an online social platform for kids with disabilities to come together, specifically during the pandemic.

Needless to say, these kids are amazing! All of them being senior’s in high school. It’s incredible to see them find a problem in the community and take action to fix it or better it in some way.

Today, our 2021 scholarship is due. As submissions have been flooding in, I’ve been reading through their carefully carried out projects. They are submitting pictures, videos, research articles, and more. And with each submission I am again blown away at what these students are capable of!

It’s also interesting to me what they are passionate about. Each project is based on a platform that these students have taken a stance on and are willing to promote and rally together to spread awareness for, for the betterment of their community.

Needless to say, these 17-18 year old kids are amazing. I don’t think we need to worry about our future one bit if they are going to be the leaders of it!

I am excited to announce the winners in a few weeks here on the blog, so stay tuned to learn more about these five winners, if I can bring myself to choose only five! I think they all deserve an award!