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Courage To Grow Scholarship

You must be a junior or senior in high school or college student with a minimum GPA of 2.5 or better. U.S. citizens only please.


Deadline date: February 28, 2019

Awards per month:
Award amount: $500.00

First name:  
Last name:  
Your birthday year example:2001 :  
Contact phone number:  
Email address:  


Please explain in 250 words or less why you believe that you should be awarded this scholarship:

(Note: Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are important.)

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Scholarship Award Process:

1) Final candidates will be selected 1 week after the application deadline.

2) All scholarship recipients will be honored by receiving a certificate of award.

3) Scholarship monies will be distributed to the student's college/university account pending the following:

A) Proof of enrollment in college via the college administration department.

B) Proof of grade point average of 2.5 or better was obtained.

4) Scholarships awards are for a maximum of $500.00 USD.





















The "Courage to Grow Scholarship" was created to help students realize their college dreams.

We don't want the college dreams and plans of so many young men and women to get lost in the financial shuffle. It takes a lot of determination and courage to forge ahead when sometimes it would be easier to give up.

With the "Courage to Grow Scholarship" we strive to help students achieve their higher education goals. By taking away some of the concerns such as "how will I pay for college", students can concentrate on their education and focus on the task at hand.

Today's economy is hard enough on a family, it is our desire to ease some of the financial burden that a college education can put on individuals and their families.

Courage to Grow Scholarship
Growing Success through Courage and Education


H. Lim
December 2018

My cape flapping through the wind and my rosy cheeks stinging from the moisture in the clouds, I extended my arms with my small, grubby fists clenched as I flew over dozens of skyscrapers. Urgent to defeat the supervillain terrorizing my city, I activate my laser eyes until -

Rubbing my eyes, I snap back into reality and remove my cape - the plastic dry cleaning garment bag my parents use for their customers. I venture off in the store hearing the release of steam behind me. I see my father - sweat dripping down his cheeks - rapidly ironing in order to finish the large stack by the end of the day.

My parents sacrificed their livelihood in South Korea to grant happiness for their children - their sacrifice, a struggle hidden behind my father’s gentle smile every evening. Business was failing, yet my happiness was one thing my father strived to maintain. Years later, I found myself at the store more often - yet it became me rapidly ironing clothes and tagging garments.

Experiencing the hardships as an immigrant from a working-class background has grounded me as an individual - I have grown foundations, such as empathy, independence, and strength, which I carry into my everyday lifestyle.

Epitomizing the purpose of this scholarship, I can grow. Instead of fearing my future battles, I plan to embody them - striding toward them with my cape flapping through the wind, my fists clenched, and a new strength upon my shoulders.



A. Kazen
November 2018

I can’t do it. I think to myself as I decide it’s easier to let what my professor said go, than to challenge her.

I can’t do it. I say as I know I should stand up to a classmate and tell them they shouldn’t be talking like that, but it’s easier to say nothing.

I can’t do it. I sigh, hearing of people who have changed history by standing for what they believe.

Courageous people don’t get enough credit. Do hard things? Stand up for what you believe? Contradict the majority because you are persuaded about what you know to be true? It’s great in theory, but it takes real strength of character to put it into practice. Courage is looking at your life, knowing you are where you are for a reason, and not being afraid to believe it. Courage is knowing that even when you don’t have the strength in yourself, you’re never alone. Courage, I have learned, takes practice, but it is worth the temporary discomfort.

Courage is deciding you can’t do something because it’s too hard, and then doing it anyway. Courage is taking a deep breath and saying, I can do it!!



B. Welch
October 2018

I believe I’m the right applicant for this scholarship because it was intended to help people find the courage to pursue higher education.

The story of my success in college is still unfolding, but it started with my family losing everything in the great recession of the late 2000’s. I was forced to forgo college and get regular jobs to pay for my living expenses. I decided to volunteer in my available free time while I worked on my character and formulated a precise life plan. My volunteer activities included disaster relief, drug abuse counseling and community betterment events.

After seven years of volunteering and seven thousand hours in total, I was able to determine the one passion that had never wavered. I dream to become a mechanical engineer with a focus in sustainability. I dream of enabling our society to live with clean energy. Someday, I believe I will help bring global warming to a halt. Upon resolving to return to college, I discovered there were Federal and State programs to help me. I was lucky to receive financial aid. While financial aid doesn’t take care all the costs of becoming a mechanical engineer, it has shown me that it is possible to find a way to my dream. That’s why I’m applying to this scholarship. The Courage to Grow Scholarship, if I’m lucky enough to receive it, will mean so much to me in my journey.

B. Welch


J. McKeehan
September 2018

I work with my hands, and create masterpieces out of cardboard and wood and spray paint. When I notice something others perceive as broken, replaceable, I see something that can be made into something new, beautiful, with purpose and life, not to be thrown into the massive overflowing wastes of buried garbage, but reused.

Last summer, I rode my bike to Ace Hardware, and came home with the top half of a fan, the rest broken off and the fan going to be thrown away. In a shower of sawdust, sappy wood glue and a shiny saw gifted by my grandpa, I transformed this rejected piece of plastic into a useful fan with a sturdy wooden windmill base. My new loyal helper kept me cool and content throughout the blasted hot days of other summer projects.

I have had the courage, time and time again, to challenge our community’s perception of object permanence and social stigma against touching an object labeled “trash”. We, as a whole, must continue to open our minds to see in a different light, more than a wasteful society.

If this scholarship were to be given to me, it would ensure my funds to go to a good college, because money for education is not something that I can always make out of scrap. When I grow up, I want to make a difference in this world.

J. McKeehan


August 2018

“Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” is the opening line of a poem that my mother recited to me growing up. It speaks to the struggles I experienced growing up as a child of a single mother without my father’s involvement- physically, emotionally, or financially. She encouraged me to not let that hinder me from becoming a successful black male. Despite his absence, I am not, was, and will never be a statistic. I believe in myself. I have worked extra hard to maintain a high academic standard so that I can enroll in my college of choice. I have the “courage to grow” because I see where kids like me end up without an education.

I deserve this scholarship because I am prepared to make a difference in this world if I attain the proper education. I will give back to my community and inspire kids like me to grow. This scholarship will help me to realize my dream of becoming an engineer so that I can earn a decent living and not have to depend on anyone or the system for survival. I will be the recipient in which you will be most proud to share my success because of your support. I am the only male in my family to ever go to college. Therefore, you will help me start a generational tradition by helping me to reach my goal of attending college with this special scholarship. Obtaining a college degree is priceless for me.

B. McMillon


July 2018

When I was little I loved the tidepools. My friends and I ran along the beach, past people sprawled beneath vibrant umbrellas, as the fine sand turned to bulky rocks beneath our feet. The ocean was a place of mystery, a bottomless, uncertain expanse limited only by the depth of human ambition. It was ambiguous. The tidepools represented that same ambiguity, broken down into child sized portions. As I excitedly hunted through one pool for seashells and starfish, I would notice other pools, each with new creatures and potential. I would follow this meandering path for hours, alone but for the ocean and my innocence.

Such is the prevalent human attitude toward ambiguity. We start with one path, one idea, and inevitably unearth a veritable ocean of alternatives and extrapolations, so enamored are we with the notion of something left intentionally unclear, uncertain with the intent of discovery. We find by searching, and search by finding. Humanity improves as ideas and their subsequent paths are investigated. This is natural. We must encourage searching just to search, discovering just to discover. We must accept ambiguity, appreciate curiosity, looking no further than our own minds for justification to love, to invent, to discover, to destroy.

As an aspiring writer, I am this ambiguity personified. I deserve this scholarship because through language, storytelling, empathy, and persistence I demonstrate possibility. I mesh various disciplines and force consideration of their combined outcome. I hope to facilitate the advancement of human society as only curiosity can.



June 2018

Every horse I have met has taught me a new lesson, i.e., Calvin taught me that being different is okay, even if others want to reject you for it; Buddy, that if you focus too much on the past or the future, you will overlook the present (and end up running into a fence!); Rhett, that everyone has differing opinions, but it is how you approach an idea that matters, not the idea itself.

I cannot think of a time in my life when I wanted to be anything but a Veterinarian. The concept of helping animals captivated me from a young age, and although this remains my educational goal, over the years I have seen how horses can help people heal. Something I have, that others do not, is my barn, where I ride and volunteer with their equine-assisted therapy program. The nonjudgmental nature of horses and their ability to mirror the attitudes and behaviors of humans, helps individuals’ process their thoughts and emotions. When I ride anxious and tense, my horse becomes tense, obstinate, and moves much more slowly. To correct his behavior, I need to recognize and release my tension. I, too, want to empower others to understand and accept themselves as they are so they can build on their strengths and move beyond what holds them back. Working with animals has always been my passion, and your scholarship will help me in achieving my goals of healing animals and supporting the humans who love them.

S. Larsen


May 2018

Amongst the bushes, dirt and trees of the world lies endless possibilities, different combinations of green. Lying somewhere beneath the dark soil of an orchard, grows an untamed sapling. A nascent stem straight from the earth’s bosom, its newness to the surface of the world gleans as it stares into the new light, the source of life the sun offers. Never before has this sapling ever sprung into a world so brand new, a world so fresh, like the familiar scent of the seeping morning dew. The rich patches of land are already taken. Although the orchard is frightening and uncharted, the sapling still courageously grows.

Like this sapling, I am venturing into unfamiliar territory, entering a whole new world, but I will not allow that to stunt my growth, as I wish to continue to grow in boldness and in confidence. With this scholarship, I’d be able to continue to focus on new ways to spark my own intellect and inspire those around me. I wish to one day grow to create my own ideas relative to the world and my story. Having a foundation, an opportunity as great as this one, would help me to continue to grow through and past the rough patches in my life, overcoming the mental, physical, and economic barriers of my environment. In order to grow, every seed, each sapling, an ordinary person like me, needs a sufficient beginning, a sufficient start. If I were awarded this scholarship, it’d be my courageous start.



L. Wikner
April 2018

I am a dreamer. A dreamer terrified to think that I have the opportunity to make a life-altering choice. Terrified to follow a risky path. Whatever path I take will lead me down a different road. It kills me to not know where a road will take me. I need to know that I will succeed. I want to be proud of my life. I do not want to find myself in four years saddled with regret and debt. I need help. I need the courage to take the necessary leap. I can do it; I know I can, but I need help and faith.

I am so tired of fear; so tired of uncertainty. Do you know how desperately I have clawed my way to be in this position? Can you feel my hunger? I have so much to give, so much to lose. It is this incongruity that strikes fear inside of my soul. But, I know with support and love I can do what is right, good, and pure. I have six siblings living on one income in one of the most expensive areas in the country. They inspire me and encourage me to fight for what I was not born with, but what I can be. Please, help me dream. I have dedicated myself to academia. I will never stop learning or seeking knowledge and the means to put myself in the best position to help others.

L. Wikner


S. Keller
March 2018

My family lives rural and remote. During 8 months of “winter” we heat our home with wood my family gathers each summer from lands with dead-standing trees needing cut to reduce forest fires. My mom rolls and flips heavy logs out of the forests for my dad to saw and my brother to split. I load our truck and help stack 8 cords each year. On nights when clear stars mean temperatures will fall below zero, our home grows very cold overnight as the logs in our stove fade into ashes before we set a morning fire. Feeling that cold makes me appreciate the rigorous planning and all the teamwork that brought warmth to our lives when we need it most.

I know my friends in town enjoy homes where they set a thermostat and enjoy heat they didn’t have to work for. Their parents may completely pay for their schools, too.

My family lacks the resources to pay for 4 years of college or take on loans. I feel different from my friends, but I realize that having the courage to deal with life’s challenges makes me stronger. When I struggled with my academics, I had to develop strategies to help me learn. Financially; early and consistent savings and using our state’s Running Start program to earn a free AA degree while in high school has allowed me to dream I could possibly afford my Bachelor’s degree. Winning scholarships would secure that dream and make me warm all over.

S. Keller


A. Appouh
February 2018

Being born an African American in an impoverished neighborhood meant that my life was going to be tough from day one. When I was diagnosed and institutionalized with mental illness in my late teens, my life became unbearable. At a time when most young people are excitedly beginning their college careers; school, work, and my relationships with others all suffered. However, by learning to immerse myself in my studies and stay active in my community, I was able to find the courage to grow as a person and student. I seek to be a role model. Someone who helps students find the courage to grow so they can build the confidence and strength of character they need to overcome the obstacles and challenges they face.

While I have learned to manage my mental illness, I still struggle to pay for the ever-rising cost of my education, as I intend to continue receiving advanced degrees. Receiving this scholarship will help alleviate some of my financial burdens so that I can pursue my goal of becoming a high school math teacher to transform the inner-city classroom. Through my education, I intend to make a lasting, positive impact on America’s youth as a teacher.



T. Andrews
January 2018

I ruffled my brow in confusion as my mother’s sweet voice filled my four-year-old mind with a captivating tune. I mimicked the sounds I heard until my mindless babbling translated into the unfamiliar word “santoki”, which I later discovered to mean “mountain rabbit”, with the song telling of his journey up daunting mountain peaks.

That nursery rhyme was my first conscious encounter with my Korean culture and understanding my biracial identity. Being half Asian and half White, my childhood was filled with such diverse elements and values that my inquisitive, unprejudiced nature was always made present. I strived to educate myself on the topics, people, cultures, and ways of life with which I was unfamiliar. I listened intently to the stories of my diverse peers and keenly absorbed every lesson in the classroom. I discovered early on, that there’s so much I don’t know about this world, but my ignorance can so easily be dissolved through the pursuit of knowledge.

I perceive the world from such a unique viewpoint because it’s not just a single viewpoint; it’s a collection of all my experiences and perceptions. Akin to santoki’s fearlessness, my inquisitions and ambitions drive me to continue my trek against all barriers I encounter, as I find the answers to questions that are unknown to me, accomplish the feats I set out for myself, and find the actualities hidden under unfair stereotypes.

It is my diversity that strengthens me and allows me to find success in all of my endeavors.



C. Padron
December 2017

My coping strategy is music, it is the one place that I can escape to fill my life with clarity. Lyrics I wrote, say “Her soul has become an abyss, her eyes are more dark every day, she has no more hope for the future, she’s wishing that her life would go away. And the pills are just a poison, they don’t seem to change her ways, and if anything I’ve noticed, she gets worse every day.” It’s ironic that writing such sad lyrics can heal our wounds, but it’s because of this pain, that I realize we need to experience sadness to truly be happy. When I write these lyrics I’m acknowledging the pain, which in turn is more healing than forcing a smile, and keeping my true emotions in the dark. Sadness, just like any other emotion deserves to be in the limelight.

Obstacles are moments of fear and sadness that we need to experience in order to become brave and grow as a person. Bravery wouldn’t exist without fear, just like success does not exist without failure. I learned to cope with the kaleidoscope of emotions by looking at obstacles as an opportunity to learn and live a fulfilling life. I am grateful for the challenges that God has put in my way to make the journey to success a kaleidoscope. After all, life is beautiful and kaleidoscope means beauty in Greek. The emotions sparked from failure make the path to success more intriguing and beautiful.

C. Padron


B. Lopez
November 2017

My life has not always given me certain opportunities that I feel would place me in an advantageous position. Education has always been a paramount goal in my household, but a proper education can be expensive. While growing up, I watched my parents struggle to give for me and my siblings, but their love and hard work always placed food on the table and clothes on our backs. They taught me that pressure makes diamonds, and that out of struggle, we can find out who we really are and what we can achieve in life. Through their actions, they have shown me that roses can grow from concrete, and all it takes is dedication, an iron will, and a hunger to better myself and the world that surrounds me. Acquiring the proper materials needed for school has time and time again proved to be a burden, but that burden has turned to a success. I have learned to think outside of the box to achieve certain goals, and that unorthodox mentality has helped me be successful on several different endeavors. My parents have worked extremely hard for me to be successful in life, and I want to prove to them and myself that hard work was not in vain. Being chosen for this scholarship will mean that my parents do not have to worry about my future education. It will also give me a great opportunity to finally help them and pursue my goals without any hesitation and financial struggles.

B. Lopez


S. Miller
October 2017

Several months before my daughter’s first birthday I became a single father, during that time I had recently enrolled for my first term back in school. She is almost 3 now. I had no clue what I wanted to be in life but I knew taking initiative towards getting an education was the best thing I could do for us. It was terrifying at first, I felt like I was going in completely blind but remained stoic and determined.

I think one of my biggest struggles in life is just facing the fear of success straight in the eyes and tackling it head on. The doubts that we may have need to be set aside in order for success. I have had my struggles, but after this term I will have obtained my first degree and I will be moving forward to apply to nursing school this next fall. The struggles have been everything a person could imagine. Financial hardship, loss of jobs, stress of not getting good grades and the fears of being a sub par father have all been legitimate concerns of mine. I finally understand that in life when you attach your emotions to things you try to succeed at doing, it may hinder your ability to do your best. So I give it my all, keep going and remain neutral while understanding that through every tough circumstance everything will pass. Collateral beauty is all around. It is how you handle it that determines the outcome.

S. Miller


K. Kubit
September 2017

It's always been difficult for me to be myself.

I am, by nature, a sensitive person, and the opinions of other people frequently defined my choices in the past. I would do almost anything for the assurance that I was “liked”, but the affirmation I received was dependent solely on how much I adjusted myself to fit the expectations of others. So, I crafted a unique persona for each “friend” of mine, using their preferences to create the version of me that I thought they would appreciate most. The differences were slight; sometimes it was the switch between “Positive Kayleigh” and “Negative Kayleigh”. But I was never just “Kayleigh”. Never simply me.

For a long time, all of my relationships functioned like this. I felt fake, I felt like a fraud, and most of all I believed that if I were to drop the act and be myself, I would be shunned. Then one day, for reasons I still don't know, I suddenly recognized the truth; that I have worth. It was a novel idea, and I held onto it tightly, not wanting to lose the joy it gave me.

Since then, I've started each day with the goal of being true to who I really am. It's frightening for me to be honest with people, but I finally feel free. I know that I'm sufficient even without the approval of others, so I can live my life to the fullest. Now, I am myself, and confident enough to grow.

K. Kubit


J. Sansone
August 2017

In high school I cared for my community in a therapy office. I was saving up for my first car when my mother and my stepmother were both diagnosed with breast cancer. I dreamed of healing the women in my life. Caring for others near and far. Only my mother gracefully recovered. This overwhelmingly uncomfortable pain woke me up to life.

As the breadwinner, my mother inspired my college endeavors. I pushed myself to live away in uncertainty. I earned good marks, taught yoga to nuns, joined cross-country, volunteered on community farms, and taught beekeeping and medicinal herb classes to college students through a small business I founded. I discovered that most people do not have the resources to live nourishing lifestyles. By listening, educating and guiding people I am a witness of dynamic growth. Again, I moved across country to serve at a honeybee sanctuary and teaching farm in Virginia. Students of all ages visited from around the world. The teachings and careful attention on each plant, animal, and human process taught me courage.

Just as the nurtured seed unfurls into a vibrant flower under the sun, a human too, transforms day after day. This constant cycle “birth and death, blooming and shriveling” is necessary in order to rejuvenate and give others the goodness from our hearts. Befriending our fears and humbly embracing the small joys requires a balance of expanding/contracting, succeeding/failing, being alone/together. Now as a student nurse I embody and support courageous growth for my patients.

Jamie Sansone


R. Courtney
July 2017

I am no different than anyone else on paper, perhaps. But in my mind, and looking at my life from the outside in, I am different. I became the man of my house at the age of six when my father suddenly passed away. As time went on, it became clear that growing up without a father would put many different stresses on my life, especially financial ones. It turns out that this loss and those challenges also made me appreciate every opportunity life offers. I have always tried to make things easier on my mother and sister, lessening any burdens before they overwhelm us. I worry about my sister the way I would imagine a father would worry. Helping my mom in even the simplest ways, has been a constant effort of mine. I have managed to balance family and school in a way that most kids my age would never understand due to the unique circumstances my family has had to face. I have worked several jobs to contribute as much as I can while maintaining a 3.69 GPA and extracurriculars. As college approaches, I want to do everything in my power to lessen any future financial burdens my education incurs. College has always been a must for me, and this Courage to Grow scholarship is the first step in the realization of my goals. I am proud of the kind of man I have become -- and I think my dad would be, too.

R. Courtney


M. Poquiz
June 2017

I am obsessed with intricacy.

Compulsively, I attempt to tear apart the secrets of the natural world and understand them at their most basic level. This compulsion has expressed itself not only in my microbiology major but also in my art. My greatest pleasures- and frustrations- lie in attempting to capture details, both real and imagined. This delicate balance between my artistic flights of fantasy and my scientific search for the truth is a continuous exercise in discipline and decision making.

In microbiology, I have realized these organisms are forever shifting their infinite potentials into undiscovered frontiers. They reminded me so much of my own wild imaginings, yet were grounded in the realities of science. I could approach these limitless possibilities with the perspective of an artist and act upon them with the attitude of a scientist.

I deserve this scholarship because I can approach science from both a human and technical perspective. I have immersed myself in both sides and understand that the humanities and STEM fields must be altruistic towards one another in order for each to fully impact its respective field. Many science majors have been accused of forgetting the humanity that lies behind the hard facts of science when ironically; biology is the study of life. The finer points of our humanity are contained in the most infinitesimal of things, whether they be creatures or gestures, and I intend to catch every single one.

For I do not fear details.

I drown in them happily.



M. BonHomme
May 2017

When I was younger I never believed that I would have made it past the age of 13 alive. I witnessed the youth waste their life away on drugs, gambling, and violence. I didn't think I would grow up to go to high school, or a homecoming dance. College was an unknown concept to not only me but my whole family. As a first generation college student, I am terrified to enroll in college this fall. However, as I begin to think more and more about my future I realize that life isn't all bad. When I was younger the worst things in life came free to us, but I shouldn't think only bad things come to us.

My college acceptance freed my mind to become more open to seeing life in technicolor. I used to see life in black and white, but I now I see life in a happier light. I want to grow up to become X, Y, & Z. I am now seeing myself in the future as someone great. I need to be courageous for myself since no one else will be for me. It took me many years to have courage to now believe in my abilities and talent. I may be scared to be the first in my family to go to college, but I know it is exactly where I belong. I want to grow my intellectual capacity. I am ready to gain new perspectives in college and grow as a person.

M. Bonhomme


S. Sieden
April 2017

Life is scary, let’s face it! When I was little, it was the monster in the closet, the dark. When I was in Elementary school it was the mean kid in my class, being picked last in gym class, the mean lunch lady. As I grew up, the scary things got much worse and much more real. It was fear of failure, fear of me, and fear of my future. Am I going to succeed? Am I making the right choices? Will my life be all that I dream it to be? And that’s when I learned the most important lesson ever. Life takes courage. Mountains of it!

My Grandpa loved John Wayne! He always said, “Well, like the Duke always says, courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway!” I always giggled when he said that. But he was right. There will always be something scary in life, always, but you have to climb that mountain, face that fear, and do what others may tell you that you can’t. Every day we have a chance to grow and become more of the person we want to become. Becoming those people is what will change our world. Facing this next chapter in my life makes that monster from years ago seem pretty harmless and in the dark I can now see the stars, so as I enter this next phase of my life, I’m scared to death, but I’m off to “saddle up anyway!”

S. Sieden


C. Reid
March 2017

Growth is a concept that is unpredictable and difficult to measure. It is a force that is unavoidable. Sometimes, the word “growth” brings images of cancerous cells and weeds from a garden to my mind. To me, growth is both painful and amazing. We are eventually presented these two options: to be swept away by a metaphorical river that sweeps the land like a natural disaster allowing change to plague us, or to lay our foundations like an oak tree that offers shade on a hot day choosing to grow from the change that affects us.

There are times when both choices have been utilized in my life. Every day, I am presented with the choice of how to view change and what to do with it. That choice each day requires courage. I choose to have courage to recognize myself as someone that will make room for improvement. Courage to be brave and sink my roots, rather than be swept away by a river of self-doubt. If my life were an oak tree, then that tree will be grafted and pruned time and time again. The roots of the tree will tell of the way I chose change and began to perceive the world differently. Those choices will reflect my courage because I will have to admit that the power to grow is always mine.

C. Reid

R. Penaranda
February 2017

Life is not easy for everyone, and opportunities are not equally distributed. Some have to work harder to achieve their goals. This is my case. Something I have learned from life is that challenges make one stronger. I have lived through many difficult situations and experienced many life challenges, but I overcame them all.

I learned from all the difficult moments; every part of my life taught me something, even my volunteer work or my fundraising labor. All of this taught me how to successfully work within a team. Working and striving to make positive changes in our society allowed me to be a positive role model. I want to continue to be an example for underrepresented communities. I am fully committed to community service and social justice. I work with Latin and African American youths as an advocate for higher academic achievement.

Living on my own without financial support has been challenging, this is why I want to get an exceptional college education. Education has always been my goal, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to attend Seattle University, a school that is dedicated to social service and to empower leaders for a just and humane world. Education is a rewarding experience that lasts a lifetime. I want to show underrepresented communities that we can work for change and with an education we can grow through adversity and succeed in life.

R. Penaranda

S. Luehr
January 2017

Courage comes from the willingness to stand apart. It is the embodiment of accepting your true self for who you are, regardless of what the world says. It is standing strong in your convictions, though the principles of this world urge you to bend; this is courage. Courage is striving for those dreams hoped for, even those dreams you still cannot see. Courage is having faith, though your goals and dreams seem temporarily out of reach. It compels you to disregard the sideways looks, the questioning glances, and the vengeful hatred that flashes in the eyes of many, as you continue to push forward toward the goal; this is courage. Courage is confronting your fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of inadequacy. It is waking up each morning and daring fear to confront you. It is laughing in the face of fear and boldly stepping into a new world; this is courage. Courage is found in the person willing to defy normal existence in order to strive for more in life. It is defining who you are in our culture today, without feeling the need to apologize for your originality. While others waste away into oblivion, you press on, dedicated to the task of accomplishing wonders; this is courage. To live freely and to love passionately, this is courage. In all that I do and all that I am, I strive to be courageous.

S. Luehr

D. Rozenblit
December 2016

I had once believed that the key to a successful life was money, and that as long as my material desires were satisfied, I would live a fulfilling life. However, I have come to realize that the more material objects I obtain, the less fulfilling each one seems to become. After a certain point, I realized that the number of objects one comes to possess does not dictate whether or not one has lived a successful life. This paradigm shift in my life came about around a year ago with the death of my grandfather from glioblastoma. My grandfather was not remembered for any sort of wealth that he had obtained, but rather for the number of lives that he had influenced. This realization, coupled with my love for biology, has completely shifted how I imagine my future. Rather than imagining myself in a mansion, I imagine myself in a laboratory; researching and developing the most cutting edge technologies in the medical community. For my whole life I have admired scientists such as Darwin and Pasteur who had made groundbreaking discoveries that have changed the world forever. My career goal is to become one of the scientists that I have admired so greatly. Whether it is by developing new cancer treatments, improving vaccines, or discovering more about the brain, I want to make an influence in this world that extends farther than just my lifespan and to be remembered for the number of lives I have managed to save.

D. Rozenblit
November 2016 Award Winner

W. Dyer
November 2016

Courageous isn’t the first word I would use to describe myself - or the second or third or fourth, to be honest. Growing up, I was reserved and introverted but still held a strong sense of confidence. When I got to middle school, however, I slowly felt my self esteem slip through my fingertips like sand. Something so embedded in my heart, in my personality, was being drawn out of me and for the first time, I had no control over it. My anxiety heightened; everyday I’d face some new obstacle, I’d feel my voice caught in my throat, I’d suppress my feelings and feel nothing but fear consume me. Flash forward three years and I’ve shed an old skin: I’ve picked up the sand again. Through stepping outside my comfort zone, making new friends, and trying new things, I was able to shape new pieces of my personality and create a safer, stronger, and more personal confidence. I’ve developed my passions and I’m doing everything in my power to pursue them through making art, writing whenever I can, and develop and research ideas on science and engineering. The more time I invest in my passions, the more I feel myself grow as a person, and the more I feel myself embody the word “courageous”. This scholarship would help me achieve my dreams and I’d like to thank you so much for your consideration.

W. Dyer
October 2016 Award Winner

J. Pitts
October 2016

Imagine this, you’ve just started your first semester at the college of your choice and almost everything you knew about being a student is thrown out the window. It takes you the first two months to get used to being independent for the first time in your young adult life. Campus is a two-mile maze in either direction but you start to feel something. One month later classes start to become less like chores and more of a day to day experience that you actually start to like. As your passion grows you start to see yourself in the mirror slowly but surely becoming the person you wanted to be at the end of this experience.

A few weeks pass and bad news turns your reflection of hope into one of uncertainty. Money becomes an issue and it may seem that you may not make it to next semester. However, the status quo can’t count on one thing. The hope that you have to fight your way past the worry and the fear of the door closing at the end of that tunnel. So with that you still strive to do your best and take hold of the future you want with both hands and no intention of ever letting go.

J. Pitts
September 2016 Award Winner

H. Bangle
September 2016

I believe I should be awarded the Courage to Grow Scholarship because I can think of nothing else more intimidating than returning to school later in life. It has been proven the longer a person is out of school, the less likely they are to return and I think I know why. I realize now that I did not appreciate my opportunities when I was younger. I was easily distracted by life and was easily detoured from my educational goals. I’m not implying that I have any regrets with my husband or my children, but my fear has definitely increased. When I was younger, I felt invincible. As I got older, I accumulated more to be thankful for and in turn, had more to lose. If I returned to college, I was afraid of losing stability for my family financially and mentally due to stress. I would also have shortages on time since I would need more to attend classes and study. The fear of failing became a clear reality. What if I can’t remember what I used to know? What if I am mocked for attempting something I failed at before? Would I lose the respect of my family and friends? I soon realized that bravery is not something that can be taught but more witnessed. I want my children to learn to be brave by doing what they are afraid of instead of avoiding it. If I can show them how to be brave, I’m guaranteed a victory.

H. Bangle
August 2016 Award Winner

A. Salas
August 2016

Courage is not a word that I can relate to. Courage is taking on the most difficult challenges in life head first. My life has been held by the leash of expectations and my hand has been dragged to reach them all. I know not true courage, but being obedient. Being the middle child of a family of four is not the hardest thing of my life. The hardest thing is grabbing for the attention and parental dedication I deserve. It is not the gifts and white lie promises that have made me what I am today, it is the little notice of my elders and my will to prevail one day longer for myself that have crafted me into the young male I am. I try for courage but the tight leash on me to this day keeps me from going the distance, going into adulthood, and consequently independence. Accomplishing these goals will be my first step in knowing courage to grow. It is until I take on my next steps of life, college, work, retirement, and everything that comes in-between, when I will be courageous to grow in my life, not held back. Now, under the wings of parents and teachers I cannot truly know courage. Applying to this scholarship for my future is truly a sign that I am ready to have the courage to grow and break the chains that have been on me for so long.

A. Salas
July 2016 Award Winner

Elizabeth Prickett
July 2016

I am the oldest of seven children, none of which have the same two parents as me. I was the guinea pig for my parents and when their marriage didn't work out, I ended up testing first hand how it felt to live in a broken household. There was no plan for me; my parents didn't know they needed one. I was a very thoughtful and soulful child, however, and made my way the best I could. My dad turned his life around and cared for me the best he could as a single dad until he remarried. Soon there were three more little girls in his life and I was again forgotten for a time. I grew up self-sufficient and when high school came, I slowly realized that college was coming. My father stressed education, saying that if he would have gone to college things would have turned out different. He wanted me to have a better life, but had no funds to do so. I want to be able to have my dreams of becoming a nurse realized, but in my current situation I don't see a way for that to happen. I dream of helping people when they are in pain and need help or attention. I dream of making the world a better, healthier place. I dream of making my father proud.

Elizabeth Prickett
June 2016 Award Winner

K. Vang
June 2016

I've applied for this scholarship numerous times before. I apply each time because the title of the scholarship speaks to me. It reminds me that despite the obstacles that I face I must continue to push forward. My biggest fear is to remain stagnant, stagnant in ability, in perception and stagnant in knowledge. I have reread my entries from the past, and for each I hear a different voice. Each time I have written my statement for this scholarship I have wanted to grow in a different way and have interpreted the word “grow” differently. At this point in my journey, I think that a better suited name for this scholarship is “Courage to Fail” or “Courage to be Challenged”; fore in the time between my applications I have been able to grow the most in rising from my failures and rising to meet my challenges. I look at opportunities not seeing a chance to fail, but a chance to grow and learn in ways I can’t predict. I face each new day and each new challenge with conviction and confidence in my ability to appreciate and understand the lessons I need to be taught. To grow is to be resilient, resourceful, appreciative and open to what the world has to teach. This is what growth means to me, and what this scholarship means to me.

K. Vang
April 2016 Award Winner

E. DeShields
May 2016

Growing up I was determined to escape the poverty stricken neighborhood that I lived in. With no one in my family attending college or even getting out of the struggle there were not many role models for me to look up to. I always knew I was smart but I didn’t know if I would make it to college. When I had a sister I promised myself that I would be the one person that she could look up to in a positive image.

My mother nearly lost her life to domestic violence and it has forever altered her life as she is now disabled. When it was time for me to go to college my mother could no longer provide for my younger siblings, so I put my education on hold for them. We moved to a small town and I got a job to support them. I have now been taking care of them for 3 years. I strived hard at the school I am at to be able to transfer. At one point I was afraid of the growth because of the uncertainty of it. It has been a hard journey but I would not change it for the world. Becoming an adult with real responsibilities has given me the “Courage to Grow”. I deserve this scholarship because I have overcome many trials and have grown into a stronger person. This will help me further my education and be one step closer to success.

E. DeShields
April 2016 Award Winner

Andrew Charles
April 2016

As human beings we strive to achieve success, something that not only makes one feel prowess; but benefits to the image of an individual. Failure is perceived by the public much more than success, and occurs more frequently. Failure is feared and known to many as the end; proof to many that their idea failed. No matter what, failure happens to everyone. It condenses down to how one discerns failing.

The greatest failure that people consider is when it concerns the well-being of others.

Though what society and countless amounts of people fail to see themselves, is that failure is a crucial part to success. To be successful, one must learn from their mistakes. Success is all about learning how recognize where a mistake has been made. It requires one to retrace their missteps and repair them, rather than fall into despair about the mishap. "Failure" is the attempt of trying. In order to gain triumph, you will fall on the path to it.

All those who have appeared successful and affluential throughout history have all failed quite often. They all had one common attribute to gain success, they tried. Years of practice, patience, and understanding, have allowed for them to try constantly. I deserve this award, because what defines me is how well I rise, after I fall.

Andrew Charles
March 2016 Award Winner

Shay’la Liller
March 2016

Having grown up in a small southern town in Louisiana, I am expected to abide by defined social expectations. Following in the footsteps of their parents, I watch my cousins and friends push their dreams and careers aside to get married and start a family in the same small town we grew up in, some as early as eighteen years old. However, from an early age I have always had, as my family would call them, unusual dreams. When I picture my future I see myself scouring the jungles of the Amazon or climbing the peaks of the Himalayas. I imagine myself walking along the banks of the Ganges river and standing in awe at the base of the Taj Mahal, and with a lot courage and hard work- several of these dreams have come true. I have witnessed the beauty of India’s architectural miracles and I have fallen to my knees at the sight of Sagarmatha ( Mount Everest). I write to you with hopes that my journey will not end here. I deserve the Courage to Grow scholarship. I have defied the social norms and my family’s wishes in order to chase my dreams. With the money I will be able to further my degree and align myself on the path consistent with my dreams-creating a better future for not only myself, but for those who believed their dreams were also unattainable.

Shay’la Liller
February 2016 Award Winner

Nicholas Talamantez
February 2016

Having courage is a concept of fighting human nature. Fear is natural. Fear is inevitable. I have lived 18 years and in that time I have met and defeated many fears. I am certainly not afraid to grow though. I actually can’t wait to get to explore myself and the world. I already know a lot of things about myself though. I know that I will do whatever it takes to reach my goals. I know that I hate being alone because I am left with my own thoughts of existence. I like being alone because I do not have to worry about others. I plan to travel. I plan to teach. I plan to guide. I am tomorrow, but I am also worried about guiding the day after. My time is limited, but my impact can be permanent. It will echo through the decades that follow. I need money for college. College will allow me to travel and make connections. It will allow me to grow in a comfortable environment, and hopefully one that is uncomfortable too. We need to be pushed out of our comfort zones in order to grow and discover things we did not know of. I feel that I deserve this scholarship because I am more aware of myself, the world around me, and my goals than most others. I will not let this money go to waste. The world is a big place, but every decision we make affects it in a grand way.

Nicholas Talamantez
January 2016 Award Winner

Jayda Robinson
January 2016

Every person comes face to face with some adversities, and I am no exception. Throughout my high school years, I’ve often found myself in some unfavorable situations. The truth is I wasn’t too great at overcoming these adversities. Abuse and other factors forced me to believe that I truly deserved such hardships. I also believed that I didn’t deserve the opportunities in front of me.

Things began to change for me as my younger brother faced health concerns. He was only fifteen, but he was undeniably strong and optimistic. I began admiring him, and together we found the strength I had hidden away- leaving me feeling revived. Since then, I have realized that I want more from life. I deserve more from life. I want a good future, and I finally want to take grasp on all opportunities that lay in front of me. Now college is a great opportunity, and I am very capable of succeeding with higher education. However, my journey to college will require great financial help.

Receiving this scholarship would help remind me that there are people out there wanting me to succeed, and there are people out there rooting for me. I want to follow this good path, and I aspire to show my brother, alongside many others, the opportunities that still exist despite circumstances. I once again have the hope, intelligence, motivation, passion, and the burning desire to commence positive change.

Jayda Robinson
December 2015 Award Winner

Maemie Williams
December 2015

At the age of 2 years old, my family split right down the middle. My parents decided to go their separate ways, which left me primarily in the care of my grandparents. When I was young, not having a picture perfect family was upsetting, but as I look back at pictures, I consider my parents' decision a true blessing. Being raised by my Nalnal has caused me to grow into a humble, caring young lady. For 9+ years my Nalnal had given me the life of a princess, along with many life lessons I would carry for eternity. She taught me to look at the world with a soft touch and kind heart. No matter what our problems were, someone always had it worse, and our job was to simply lend a hand to anyone in need. When my Nalnal was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I didn’t understand why it was her. When she passed, she reminded me to be kind and give no matter how little I had. Even though horrible events take action in our life, we must stay strong and look at what we can accomplish. I believe I am deserving of this scholarship, because I always have and will put others first. In order to live by this fully I wish to pursue a career as a pediatrician, and without help would not be able to accomplish this goal. I soulfully appreciate this opportunity for consideration and wish you the best in making your decision.

Maemie Williams
November 2015 Award Winner

Michael Sanders
November 2015

I am a father of two, with the hopes of providing a future, as well as a legacy for them. My hope is they will learn from my mistakes, as well as my examples and take the steps needed to further their education and success. My wish is they do not take as long as I have to progress after high school.

I spent almost twenty years working most any kind of manual labor I could find to earn a paycheck. I am very grateful for the lessons I was taught as well as the opportunities that were given to me, yet feel I could be so much more. The work ethic and drive that kept me employed has carried through to my schoolwork as I have earned multiple recognitions for academic achievement, such as President’s List, Dean’s List as well as becoming a Phi Theta Kappa member.

After earning my degrees, the education and values learned in school will be carried with me to my next step in the chase for my dreams. Whether it means earning a respectful position at an established company, or working hard to open my own business, my future looks brighter now than ever before. Which means the possibilities for my children will be even greater than the ones that have been shown to me.

Michael Sanders
October 2015 Award Winner

Leya Elias
October 2015

When I was younger, my immigrant family dealt with a tragic death. Their case was complicated and the language barrier made it more difficult. My family was not able to be accurately represented due to the lack of advocates who spoke their language. Growing up, this situation made me someone who strongly believes in bringing to light the voices of the silenced. My family’s background has inspired me to be an advocate, and my bilingualism has inspired me to appreciate more about other cultures. Beyond being an advocate, my family's perseverance through their experience has motivated me to excel to my highest potential and never give up.

I hope to be an attorney and one day a prosecutor, so that I can bring justice to as many people as possible. I am a person who wants to protect the rights of all Americans. I have developed a passion for making changes in peoples’ lives. I currently speak English, and Tigrinya, and I am currently in my third year of learning French. I would like to learn more languages, so that I can be of service to as many different people as possible. I strive to attend college and not let finances be what stops me. My goal is to attend college, go to law school, and change lives. Today's world moves quickly, yet we still face some of our most ancient societal challenges. The Courage to Grow scholarship will allow me to be the change I want to see.

Leya Elias
September 2015 Award Winner

Sophie Braker
September 2015

I remember once during my childhood, my parents had a Christmas party. I made cupcakes that were decorated as Christmas lights with licorice as the electric cord. My dad really did most of the work and I just took credit. At the party, I remember some family friends only taking little bits off the licorice because they said the cupcakes were too beautiful to eat.

Little did I know that those cupcakes would be the first taste of my career. The summer before my junior year I visited Johnson and Wales, part of which is a culinary school. I felt like I belonged there. My senior dream is to be a baker and a sommelier, along with being a food historian.

When I was a child I really wanted to change the world, be a Doctor Without Borders, create a charity, write a book that changes the social convention of the world. But that is all too much for one little girl from Colorado to do. So for now I will change the world through baking.

Good food makes people happy. Happy people do good things. So, I will change the world by making good food. This scholarship will ensure that I won’t have to take student loans and spend the rest of my life paying them off. Help me change the world in my way.

Sophie Braker
August 2015 Award Winner

Erica Swannie
August 2015

Many say we are a product of our environments. Some of us have been lucky enough to be raised in a home that emphasizes the importance of an excellent education, encourages self-reliance, and above all, promotes the tenacity needed to be successful in life. In October 2009 my mother was diagnosed with invasive cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. No tears. No pity. No playing the cancer card. She simply made it clear that the tenacity she always spoke to us about would allow nothing short of success in her battle. Why have I prefaced my essay with my mom’s challenge? Never has a circumstance in my life matched the angst I felt when there was a possibility I would lose her. I have yet to experience a bigger challenge in my short lifetime. Staying focused academically when I really just wanted to spend all waking moments with her was a daily trial. The high educational expectations I had for myself paled in comparison to keeping her company through her illness: watching television, renting movies, playing board games, just in case I might lose my opportunities to engage in these activities in the future.

I currently pay for my own college tuition, as I have an unrelenting belief I can become a Doctor of Physical Therapy without placing any financial stress on my mom. This scholarship will afford me the opportunity to further my studies, all while showing my mom her courageous battle has taught me self-reliance.

Erica Swannie

July 2015 Award Winner

Niasia Palar
July 2015

Not many are brave enough to embrace themselves. To grow as a person you have to love the skin you are in. I was taught in life to understand. To understand my past-crazy mom, my inconsistent dad and all the people around me, including myself. What I understood about myself is that I was unique. Others perceived me as quirky & peculiar, judgments came too frequent. My hair was wild, my style was retro 80s, I "talked like a white girl" and I let out this dying sound, I called a laugh, way too often. I was taunted and misunderstood by my peers. So, I spent time understanding and analyzing myself. I may have had some issues, but there was nothing "wrong" with the texture of my hair, the sound I made to express happiness, and the way I expressed myself through style. Who's to say what is "right", anyway? I stopped caring what others found wrong with me because I felt all right. I learned that being different is not bad, it means you march to your own beat and are brave enough to be yourself. If you are able to stand out from the crowd, you are a born leader. I have always been a leader. I continued to think, dress differently, and be myself. I found the courage to love myself. I was able to share that through my designs. My choices to be courageous essentially got me into my dream college, the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Niasia Palar

June 2015 Award Winner

Maxwell Failing
June 2015

Our stories may differ but the tree outside my library window and I share a bond.We live to grow.

The Pacific Northwest rains may fulfill the trees need to reach the sun, but my soil stays dry to the touch.

No downpour of knowledge saturates me, because my thirst is unending, a repeating decibel. When the sun punches his time clock and the tree fades from sight it is replaced by my own reflection.

I sit alone rooted in my seat, and wonder if the tree outside is in any way related to the pages that gave their life so that I can read the tattoo lettering.I bask under the flickering incandescent bulbs as if they were grow lights, and hum along with their monotonous tune.

My life is spent in the library, hours become days, days become months, months become years, and the years tally to a lifetime. Time.Every textbook unturned and every idea undiscovered, is faulted to time, not effort. In this limited time, we should pause to take it all in, to simply ponder.Because when that silence snaps, we all have something worth saying.We just need courage to tell the words we feel.

I find beauty in language, my emotions blossom when expressed in words.I write not for others to see my colors.

But so that I can grow.

This scholarship would help me pursue my passion for learning and writing by relieving some financial stresses, allowing me to simply ponder.

Maxwell Failing
Western Washington University

May 2015 Award Winner

Dominique Salazar
May 2015

I see my hometown: a suburban hub for Latinos, a buzzing hive of frustrated parents driving too far for work, a busy intersection of dancing teenagers struck by cars; I also see a community of people who appreciate the smoggy view of our nearby mountains, one that collectively graffitis the rocks, marking territory, challenging the world. I see gossiping students, their homes, locked rooms of painful misunderstanding shared by young siblings. I see parents return home late, sighing. I do not despair in what I see: my long-separated parents, my five siblings divided by state lines. I do not wallow in words of comfort, in subtle cinema. I instead embrace the manifestations as a writer, journalist and film director, capturing what I see: a world half-deep in fiction, submerged in the waters of subconscious sentiments, chimerical horror, soothing soliloquy. The other half faces the sun, gasping hard reality’s polluted air, blinking at truth’s threatening apparitions. I recognize the two halves as my world, complete, unbroken; the half submerged in literature and film has adjusted to the cinematography and prose, while the supine half-sphere enjoys nonfiction’s light.

My life is benefited by this duality; I see reality as art, fiction as its veritable reflection. I see my hometown: not just ubiquitous toxicity, but beauty, the intentional splashes of artistic meaning, divine power’s flowing prose. This scholarship is a step down my path, a way to further my attempts at understanding and explaining just what this world is trying to tell me.

Dominique Salazar
Columbia University
April 2015 Award Winner

Madalyn McCormack
April 2015

Three: I decided I wanted to sing opera. Fourteen: I chose the college I would attend. Seventeen: I received my acceptance letter. Eighteen: I began attending my dream school.

Eighteen and a half: I did drugs for the first, and second, and third...time. I dropped out of my dream University, lost the respect of my family and friends, and gave up my dreams.

Nineteen through twenty-one: I lost myself.

Twenty-two: I was tired; tired of being alone. I was broken; physically, mentally, emotionally. I was broke; dead end jobs, dead end “friends”; dead. I was homeless; the backseat of my Tracker didn’t make a very nice closet, or bed.

Twenty-two and a half: I fell in love, and pieces of the person I remembered being started to resurface. I started to dream again. I decided my life, my passion for knowledge, and my happiness were mine to nurture, mine to grow. I rallied against all of the fear I had developed since eighteen and a half, and I made a simple call to an academic advisor.

Twenty-three: I enrolled in school again; this time with more courage, more goals, more responsibility, and much more experience.

Twenty-three through twenty-five: I worked full time. I decided on a major in Information Technology. I attended classes and ate every morsel of knowledge I could pick up. I grew in my education, becoming a leader.

Today: I am just under a year from graduating. I am proud. I am courageous. I have grown.

Madalyn McCormack
University of Phoenix
March 2015 Award Winner

Matthew Enfield
March 2015

When I was a child I was surrounded by the voices of people telling me "You can be and do anything you want." I grew up learning to believe and confide in these voices. As the years have gone on the voices have changed and instead of encouraging me to rise to my potential, they softly whisper; "be average." It is a daunting task to constantly challenge myself to not be complacent. The world at large would have me be content with challenging myself just enough to say that I did. I however do not wish to be average. I do not seek to be the best looking, the best at my job, or the best at anything except self mastery. I wish to be the best me. This task is a life long endeavor that I undertake to change my surroundings by first changing myself. I never want to see a person bow down to the myth that springs from the mouth of those who do not know his potential. I will make a difference. I will not let the fear of the unknown rule my life as it rules theirs. I cannot do it alone, but with the help of the "Courage To Grow" scholarship I will have the help I need to go to college and get the education necessary to make a difference. Together we can put an end to the norm of being ordinary, and start teaching people to be extraordinary.

Matthew Enfield

Feb 2015 Award Winner

Margot Myers
February 2015

I was born and raised in a small Montana town. As a kid, entertainment, education and social options seemed limited. We didn't have the luxury of high tech and cultural amusements or educational opportunities. We were guaranteed to see the same faces at school, businesses and social events. Due to this we would treat each other with courtesy. Knowing we would see each other tomorrow put us in the position of being dealt instant feedback if our actions were less than respectable. We now know how to be hospitable and join hands with our community members. My friends and I laughed until it was painful after being dumped off a tractor into a manure pile, and slept in the fields under Montana's big skies. I've been given a solid, one-sided foundation that taught me the importance of respect, courtesy and gratitude. Now I need to experience the other.

My goal is to attend college out of state to expand my horizons, an overused cliché, but it rings true. If I am awarded money for my education I will be able to fulfill my dream. My inner values of continuously giving back to my community and serving others will follow me as I embark onto the next chapter of my life. I will not waste the opportunities given to me and while doing so I will incorporate my philanthropic beliefs. If helped in my pursuit of expanding my mind, I will use my education to enrich both myself and my community.

Margot Myers

Jan 2015 Award Winner

Daniel Chavez
January 2015

Because my parents were not able to obtain an education, I have worked to achieve academic success. Moreover, I have worked to become a better person by being more open-minded and offering my volunteer service to others.

I have worked each day not for the results of the present, but for a better tomorrow. Believing that education is what will carry me to a better future; I value its importance and work towards achieving success.

I have helped many people in ways such as volunteering at the food bank, buying clothes for the unfortunate, and helping students learn. However, I aim to continue to exercise my service, but on a larger scale. I aspire to be a person who opens the doors to those who are less fortunate and have never had the opportunities I have been blessed to have received.

I believe having an open mind is important. There is inhumanity in our society. Much of this is the result of the cruel judgments made. Many individuals hold a staunchly conservative view of our society. I am a person who tries to understand people rather than speculate and judge them.

I value these beliefs because they are a part of me. They are what have helped me live a better life. I value their importance and find them to be concepts everyone should value and respect. I believe a person who values and integrates this philosophy such as I deserve to be considered for a Courage to Grow Scholarship.

Daniel Chavez

December 2014 Award Winner

Elizabeth Clark
December 2014

Music. It is a language spoken and understood by everyone, regardless of race, nationality, gender, or culture. It is a language I speak quite fluently. Like learning a language, playing music at first is very difficult and all the beginner is trying to do is get out a note or two, just as someone learning a new language is figuring out how to ask the basic question "how are you?" It is not until much later does the musician learn adjectives and adverbs, the ingredients that make language, as well as music, interesting and creative.

As a musician myself, I am finally beginning to learn how to color my music with bright vivid crayolas. It is at this point that my band mates and I are no longer playing just to play. We are now creating music to tell a story to the audience, to make them feel true emotions. These are the emotions can only be felt when the melody of a heart-breaking ballad swells over the audience, or the joy when a beautiful piece is finished and the audience is sent onto their feet clapping and crying.

It is through music that people can experience this form of humanity and feel something they may never have before. It is an incredible feeling as a musician to bring that kind of emotion into hundreds of people all at once. By earning this scholarship, I will be able to pursue my dreams to be a music educator.

Elizabeth Clark
November 2014 Award Winner

Chandreyee Johnson
November 2014

I staggered up the stairway of the adolescent residential home to check in with my co-worker and plead for a break. It had been an intense evening, filled with the heightened emotions of a house full of raging teenagers. A few hours had passed since the uproar of events, and the teens were now deep in slumber. As I approached the upstairs landing, I looked up to see my co-worker staring at his computer screen. His face, illuminated by the computer's glow, revealed a smile and chuckling; whatever he was watching, he was thoroughly enjoying. I caught his attention, and after a quick exchange of requests, he returned to his computer, his chuckles and smiling ensuing. I shook my head and walked toward the exit. Pressing against the door, I glanced back into the dimly lit room and felt a joyful smile sweep across my face. Suddenly, a flash of all the smiles I've seen in this facility flooded my mind; the teenagers, because of something I said; my co-workers reacting to my goofy moments; the joy I feel when these amazing young adults genuinely smile with me, knowing they're not alone. That's my purpose, I remembered; to make a difference.Pursuing my education allows me to continue making that difference in the lives of these youth. Receipt of this scholarship will enable me to advance toward my counseling degree, knowing that as my education and experience broaden, my impact will help give these teens their own courage to grow.

Chandreyee Johnson
University of Phoenix
October 2014 Award Winner

Tranard Harvin
October 2014

It is not always easy to overcome obstacles in life. Extenuating circumstances that we seem to have little to no control over can discourage us and, in most cases, turn out to be stepping stones that lead to our triumphant success. This is why I feel that persistence is one of the greatest qualities to possess. When I was 16 I started the Low Country Youth Enhancement Program, a youth-led, community out-reach program that seeks to enhance the natural abilities of children. This program develops a number of community projects that combat issues that my community faces such as hunger, homelessness, academic enrichment and a number of other issues. Psychology is a field that allows me to exude compassion for humanity; it is also the field that led me to change my interest in the rather pervasively renowned field of medicine. My sole interest is in the area of Child Psychology. According to renowned Harvard psychologist and author, Dr. Dan Kindlon, “Our children happiness as adults is largely dependent on the tools we give them to develop emotional maturity - to be honest with themselves, to be empathetic, to take initiative, to delay gratification, to learn from failure and move on and to accept when they've done something wrong”. Dr. Kindlon clearly explained, in better words than I could find, the reason why I desire to work with children. This scholarship will serve as a signal of support and motivation in my quest to becoming a successful Child Psychologist.

Tranard Harvin
Claflin University
September 2014 Award Winner

Andi Kabiri
September 2014

While some people may be familiar with the proverb "the shoemaker's children go barefoot," fewer know that "the caterer's children go hungry." My sister and I plan to write our memoir, "The Caterer's Daughters." Every night we fall asleep to the scent of baked goods, whether chocolate chip cookies, red velvet cupcakes, or mint chocolate truffles - only to wake up to the dreaded yellow Post-It note: "DO NOT EAT!"

When my parents divorced, my mom brainstormed ways to bring in additional income. She started with what she loved - to cook. Working at my mom's side, I've learned a lot about catering and more than expected about human relationships and the American class system. As I serve guests in the buffet line, I can hear my mother's generous laughter. For me, it's a symbol of hope from the "wrong" side of the buffet table. My mother is always friendly and humble. She is also uncompromisingly resourceful. She keeps late hours, so we want for nothing. She rarely looks back, so we can move forward. And here I stand, beneficiary of it all. I want to follow in her proverbial footsteps.

I want to be resourceful, determined and gracious, so that I can take care of myself and patiently pursue my aspirations. This scholarship will help me pursue those aspirations. Then one day, when I sit down to write that book, I hope that all those sweet aromas will again fill my soul and make their way to the page.

Andi Kabiri
August 2014 Award Winner

Lauren Phillips
August 2014

Every choice we make has a consequence, but it’s up to us to choose how the outcome will play out. After high school, I chose to attend a 4-year university, but my choices along the way ultimately led me to a pit. Fear crippled me and determined my next steps in life. Every so often a “second chance” would come along, but my un-faced consequences would catch up and drag me further into my hole of failure. Years later, a passerby threw me a rope to climb out and I approached a fork in my path. To the left was a familiar trail with shadows, quickly leading to complete darkness; to the right was a narrow yet warm path with a minuscule glimpse of hope for the future. When we reach those forks on this journey called life, we must find the courage within us to choose the narrow path illuminating hope, regardless the familiarity or comfort of the other, and keep trekking forward. When we encounter that next consequence, because we will, then we can tap into our grit and choose courage once again. Today, at the age of 25, I am living my latest second chance and returned to school to complete my degree in Psychology. My dream is to be a vessel of hope in the field of women’s counseling, but I cannot do it alone. With this scholarship, I will be one step closer to my goal to empower other women with a knowledge of choice.

Lauren Phillips
July 2014 Award Winner

Isaac Treves
July 2014

Finding a purpose in life is an important part of growing up. Cancer struck my father, uncle and grandmother and took away my beloved dog. But it was not until I read S. Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies that I decided to join scientists at one of the final frontiers of science. Last summer I won a Science Research Internship competition and worked at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research in Dr. Beebe’s biomedical engineering lab. I spent 250 hours working with renal cell carcinoma, submitting circulating tumor cells to low-oxygen conditions to improve cancer diagnosis. In this I achieved some success and gained insights into my future as a scientist. I discovered the importance of diligent, meticulous lab work and creative research design. I gained confidence, and the courage to grow into my role as a scientist.

I want to untangle the mysteries of how cancer cells take on a life of their own. To this end I applied to several top-tier schools, and was accepted by Princeton University. I’m thrilled to have the chance to learn cell biology from the very best, but attending will be a large financial burden on my family. I may have to work long hours to pay off the debt. Support from the Courage to Grow program would help me to devote more time to my cancer research. Thank you for considering my application.

Isaac Treves
June 2014 Award Winner

Dixie Ortiz
June 2014

Everything was silent and still when walking down Ariana Road- the road was literally a dead end. Yet, it was constantly on the brink of rippled interruption from the constant flow of residents immigrating and emigrating, with few lamentations upon leaving. This was a place to deal with the lemons life had given, and aspire to escape with lemonade within moments of a presented opportunity. The neighborhood was chock full of outdated mobile homes covered in rust, fading colors and roof sealant products. My own home was small and featured broken windows held together with duct tape. Hurricanes jarred these fragile homes, shoved water through the windows and chunks of pine tree branches barely missing the roof. Our neighborhood’s isolation and low socioeconomic state did not attract honorable neighbors; with shady characters lurking on the roads, leering at us and the little we possessed. One day, my parents made lemonade. We gathered sufficient funds to leave for a sunnier street, a concrete house complete with air conditioning, stable floors, and three bedrooms, each with solid windows! Now, I’m sipping lemonade and tasting a sample of what life with a stable, steady income could be like. It’s even sweeter after years of tangy lemons. Today, I carry on the transition upwards, past poverty and hopefully armed with the Courage to Grow scholarship to ease the costs of college. This scholarship will add to the assurance that I'll never need to return to a battered home within a stagnant neighborhood.

Dixie Ortiz
May 2014 Award Winner

Jessica Wollum
May 2014

The students giggle and throw spitballs at each other, ignoring the knowledge the teacher attempts to impart. Except for a little girl with new, purple glasses perched on her nose. She stares at the teacher, forehead scrunched as she tries to devour and digest each word he says. This little girl is full of questions, analyzing and searching until she finds the right answers. How in the world does one find X? The little girl wonders. What will these characters do next and why did the author write it that way? She considers as she reads.

She thirsts for knowledge, never feeling quenched, so she searches for more and more. Trying to unlock the secrets within, she spends her days staring at books. She listens to her teacher, aware of his ability to answer her never ending questions. She masters each task placed before her with deep consideration, but she longs for more. A desperate desire to be challenged and to meet her match, to not understand what is laid before her.

I am that little girl; older but similar. I still yearn for knowledge like a river yearns to find a resting place. Persistence still exists in the very core of me and I use it when challenges appear in front of me. Respect for elders who know many things still allows me to understand what I do not know. I should receive this scholarship for my quest for knowledge, my perseverance, and my respect for those more wise.

Jessica Wollum
High School Student
April 2014 Award Winner

Justice Orieh
April 2014

The Courage to Grow foundation has truly blessed me! In my opinion, there should be no limits in life. I believe everyone is able to reach greatness and fulfill their full potential, no matter where they came from As human beings, we are all created equal, and therefore should have the same opportunities to be successful. With this being said, I’m very thankful I was awarded this scholarship, because currently, the high price of tuition is the ONLY thing standing in my way to becoming a successful medical-professional. Since elementary, I have always maintained honor roll status, and been in the top 5 percentile of my class. This caused my mother to sew the desire of wanting to be a doctor into my dreams. I am on the road to medical school to both help people live long and healthy lives, and make my mother the proudest one on Earth. However, my parents, who have worked so hard to be financially able to send me to college, appreciate any help they can get. I have completed two semesters of college, and I ended both semesters with my usual honor-roll status, since my current G.P.A. is a 3.57. I want to thank Courage to Grow for awarding me this scholarship because I WILL reach my dreams of becoming a medical doctor, and thanks to this scholarship, I am so much more likely to do it in a timely manner.

Justice Orieh
March 2014 Award Winner

Sophia Valdez
March 2014

My dream to live life contributing to others while combining adventure and medicine led to my decision to become a veterinarian. There is, however, the possibility that my decision was influenced by my five-year-old girl logic that being a vet could compensate for failed attempts at creating diving boards for the canal-dwelling toads behind my yard. Whatever the true inspiration, I know that the vision I have for my future veterinary practice compliment my personality. To become well rounded in life, I have made sure that aside from vigorous studying, I prepare for my veterinary career in the form of community service. With the prerequisite demands of veterinary schools, and the time spent gaining experience at the zoo and in clinics, it is difficult to find a balance between studying and raising enough finances to access education. The old rules that promise success to those who work hard and spend wisely are unfortunately no longer enough. Money and GPAs control my life with more power than they ever should by draining my single youthful chance to live as I dream. The average debt for veterinary students is about $200,000, excluding living expenses and undergraduate studies. This statistic aggressively dares me to turn away or fail. However, I have driven myself beyond the academic requirements of an aspiring veterinarian for so long because living for the lives of others is a worthy cause. Receiving your sponsorship will privilege me with education, and investment in the lives I will one day save.

Sophia Valdez
University of Arizona
Febuary 2014 Award Winner

Dane Burkholder
Febuary 2014

My whole life, I have taken responsibility for my own accomplishments and drive because I understand the significance of hard work. I realize that determination and motivation are the most important things in life, and this has allowed me to take advantage of a multitude of new experiences. Next year, I will be attending college to study chemical engineering, and the Courage to Grow Scholarship would enable me to embark on this new journey of my life with confidence and stability.I am naturally curious about how things work and relate to one another, and I have always appreciated a comprehensive education that develops the entire individual. I think being well rounded and interested in a variety of disciplines can allow oneself to think critically about solving problems, interact effectively with many different people, and ultimately lead to an interesting, satisfying life. An important element of my journey through life so far has been constant self-improvement. Whenever possible, I try to learn something new, get better at piano or tennis, become healthier, or simply think more positively. I always strive for the best and set extremely high standards for myself, and I know there is always something new I can improve upon. I believe I am a deserving candidate for this scholarship because I will use my education to benefit society instead of myself. I strongly believe that selflessness is the most meaningful form of growth in an individual, and I have shown this throughout my academic and extracurricular career.

Dane Burkholder
High School Student
January 2014 Award Winner

Lakin Orr
January 2014

Everyday millions of people are affected by one or more types of anxiety disorders. It is the most common form of mental illness found throughout the U.S and is commonly seen in the form of depression. About half of the people diagnosed with depression later receive treatment for a generalized anxiety disorder. Victims of this disorder experience little to no motivation or concentration, and may often feel no desire to communicate with others. I say all this to point out that statistics and symptoms do not make the person or determine their future. They do not determine MY future. Everyday I face depression and anxiety, but I do not let them control my life or how I live it. I will not be a victim. When I think about courage I think of one of my favorite quotes by Meg Cabot, author of the Princess Diaries (book): "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all." Sometimes, when I think about moving away from home and going to college I get scared. I think to myself what if this happens or what if that happens, but then I think to myself: going to college and fulfilling my dreams is more important than trying to avoid being out of my comfort zone for the rest of my life. Simply staying alive is not living. I want to LIVE.

Lakin Orr
December 2013 Award Winner

Linsey Sturgill
December 2013

Courage is something that everyone should have, but that doesn’t mean that everyone does. I believe that I do possess the quality of courage. Courage to be myself, courage to grow, and even the courage to learn. You may not be thinking that learning is a courageous act, but in this day and age, valuing your mind and striving to expand your knowledge is something that’s hard to find in teens. I’m not only going to college for my benefit, but for my family as well. As a first generation scholar, I’m striving to do something no one in my family has done before. I want to be something my parents can be proud of and an example to my younger siblings. To be the one that they’ve placed all of that courage is something I don’t take lightly. I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I think I’m up to the task. I have the courage to start a new tradition for my family, to explore uncharted territory for us. In the present, I show this strength within my academics. When others are goofing around and not staying on task, I ignore them and do my work. When they tease me for being a goody good, I ignore them. To go against the flow of the “normal “ kids, is why I think I show courage. I have the courage to take my own path and do what’s best to make me successful.

Linsey Sturgill
High School Student
November 2013 Award Winner

Stacy SatterWhite
November 2013

I am a single mother of 4 beautiful children. I am in pursuit of my Master's degree, but in need of financial assistance in order to complete the program. I grew up in a foster home , so unfortunately I do not have loving and supportive parents who can help me with my babies; nor do I have grandparents who secretly tuck money in my pockets while giving me a kiss on the forehead. I did, however, learn to clip coupons and stretch meals. I am a full-time mom; a full-time employee; and a full-time student. I am trying to give my children a financially stable future - however, I am also trying to make ends meet. We live pay check-to-pay check - so there is hardly any money left to buy shoes for 8 ever-growing feet; put food on the table; and keep the lights on. My greatest need is a financial one. Receiving financial support will allow me not only to obtain my life-long goal of a master's degree, but it will also give me more time to spend with my babies who complain, "Mommy, you never read us a bed time story anymore." I believe that I should never stop learning and that education is a key principle foundation upon which to build a solid future. It is my endeavor to obtain a Master’s degree; set a good example for my children; and give back to my community. For your time and consideration, I am greatly appreciative.

Stacy Satterwhite
Walden University
October 2013 Award Winner

Raymond La
October 2013

Aspire to inspire. This is a maxim that I reach for to define my college experience and personal goals in life. I was born and raised in a small, coastal town in Florida where the family and community milieu is strong. I never considered my family well off, as I grew up in a middle class household with parents who both immigrated to this nation with small finances and limited education. With an undying sense of idealism and courage, they labored through and persevered, which has allowed them to fulfill their American Dream. They embody in me their same sense of courage and altruism, which I still carry to this day. For this reason, I work as a student staff member at one of my college’s residential dormitories. This is a challenging position in which I reside in the freshman dormitories and serve as part of a support system for the new college students. Whether it is introducing them to extracurricular activities or mentoring them through academic challenges they face in the classroom, I am blessed to be able to provide a helping hand. I took on this position with courage because I knew that it was something I stood for. Although there are times when this job presents many challenges to me, I consider it an opportunity to be able to experience them and learn to overcome these trials. This courage to take on challenges defines my college experience and is something too that has allowed myself to grow.

Raymond La
University of Miami
September 2013 Award Winner

Leticia Rosario
September 2013

Sadly, I didn't win the genetic lottery, I've always been a small fish swimming among sharks in a vast ocean. I've always announced I'd like to study psychology and philosophy in Yale, one can't even imagine how many laughs I've gotten. Society seems to find it impossible for a Hispanic female stemming from poor ghetto roots wanting to obtain higher education. Regardless of this fact, I've consistently shown tenacity, I'm student council president, a member of mock trials, the Humanitarian Club, AV Club, I'm part of the soccer team, tennis team, and track, every Saturday I attend a program called SEED at MIT. This past summer I was also in school at Phillips Academy Summer Session. Everything I do, every moment spent in school, or outside is a step towards my hopes of contributing to the creation of a better world. I grew up dirt poor in a ghetto neighborhood, living in fear of falling into malicious, sleazy ways. I've witnessed intelligent beings wither away, allowing stereotypes to consume them. My very own brother at only eighteen was locked away and declared a criminal. That is what motivates me to study psychology and philosophy, to find meaning and to assist others in doing so. I hope whoever is reading this essay does not judge me based on straight A's, judge me on the fact that I am not driven by money or eternal fame, I am driven by a genuine desire to save the lives of those abandoned and lost.

Leticia Rosario

August 2013 Award Winner

Darian Kanouff
August 2013

When I was thirteen, I made one of the most important decisions of my life. Ever since Kindergarten, I had gone to the same school. It was a very small school that did not provide a very good education, but it was where I had always been and it was comfortable to me. However, I knew that if I wanted to have my best shot of getting into the college of my dreams, I needed to go to a better school. I made the scary decision to move in with my dad in a different city. I left my friends and the only life I had ever known to try to improve my chances of building a good future for myself. The change was terrifying and I had a very difficult time adjusting, but I persevered. I know now that I will always find the courage to adapt and to grow when faced with a difficult situation. I have realized it is during these trying moments that I have discovered most about who I am and who I should strive to be. I didn't know when I decided to move it would be one of the most important decisions of my life, but I certainly do now. I have become courageous and confident and I have gained the skills I need to prosper and continue to grow in college. I know, however, that it will be expensive and I will continue to work hard to get myself there.

Darian Kanouff
High School Student

July 2013 Award Winner

Amanda Yamasaki
July 2013

Growing up, I have always enjoyed drawing and painting but in school I focused on academics. I thought art was supposed to be just a hobby. It wasn’t until I was a junior that I took art as an elective and realized how much passion I had for it. My English teacher saw that I was carrying my artwork everywhere and asked me to paint a mural for his classroom. I was apprehensive since I had no formal training it would have been a challenge. That summer, I worked over 300 hours on this mural. I was featured on the front cover of our local newspaper. It was at that point that I realized that this is something I want to do in my life and applied for art school even though I have heard that it wasn’t the “practical” thing to do. I was admitted to one of the prestigious art schools, the School of Art Institute of Chicago. The Courage to Grow scholarship reaffirms my thought that we should pursue our passion.

Amanda Yamasaki
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
June 2013 Award Winner

Danielle Francis
June 2013

It's crazy to think that I have made it to nineteen. I've always had doubts on ever progressing in my life, but here I am. When I fell into a state of depression, I didn't know what I was capable of doing to myself. Turns out, I was my own worst enemy. It was hard when my family started to notice a change. I did not want them to judge me and feared that they would not understand. I didn't have anytime to sulk though, because in less than a year, I was going to college. I remember leaving my town, family and friends, thinking that I would not survive in a school five hours away from home with little money. When I arrived, I had a huge culture shock and immediately wanted to go home, but I didn't. Somehow college has changed me for the better and I am more than happy that I chose to receive education at a higher level. I have excelled in my school work and made an amazing group of friends. Leaving home has also helped me accept and understand myself because for most of the time, I was on my own. It has also brought me closer to my family which is all I could ever ask for. I wish to return to school in the fall better prepared, and with Courage to Grow's help, I know I will be better off financially. It would mean the world to continue my journey.

Danielle Francis
Florida A&M University
May 2013 Award Winner

Rodney Hughley
May 2013

The greatest [life] lessons learned throughout my journey in higher education have afforded me the courage, determination, and persistence to maximize my potential. In like manner, I have acknowledged that it has been through my seemingly weakest and most challenging moments that I have unknowingly gained strength. A few years ago, I decided to return to college at an age when most of my peers were well established in their chosen careers. But, one evening I found myself encouraging my younger brother not to waiver on his decision to further his education, “Don’t waste time chasing your dreams rather, invest your time, energy, and resources in fulfilling them”, I stated. At that moment, my mother in turn responded to me, “As long as you have the breath of life flowing through you, it is never too late for you, either”. That moment changed the trajectory of my life. Arguably, life experiences may never supersede traditional higher education, however, in all likelihood they are undoubtedly influential augmentations. On a personal level, it is apparent that personal commitment coupled with empathy is essential as it pertains to my passion for child advocacy. Being raised in an abusive home as a child, I realize the preponderance of leading by example. My essential goal is to encourage and empower [children] in order to share with them that which I have come to know: The only necessity for an individual who desires to fulfill a dream are actions essential in achieving them.

Rodney Hughley
Rollins College
April 2013 Award Winner

L. Sage
April 2013

Benjamin Franklin once said “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out”. He obviously had never met me. As a perfectionist, I dread failures especially those that life inexplicably throws one’s way when he or she least expects it. However, as Franklin encouraged, we have to keep moving forward despite our shortcomings. Such a moment came for me during my senior year, after months of sending college applications and fearfully awaiting replies. I received four of my college’s decisions within a day of each other: three rejections and a somber wait list notification. Following my graduation ceremony, that opportunity wasted away to a dismal “no”. For a long time I was inconsolable, having spent my entire life being told I was “going to do great things one day” and was unsure how to overcome such drastic failure. Eventually, I decided the only way to achieve my goal of attending college was to start over and try again. I retook the ACT, wrote new application essays, and undertook a harsh self-examination. As it turns out, my tumultuous efforts were rewarded with an Early Decision acceptance to NYU and its large costs. The Courage to Grow Scholarship is all about moving past failure toward your dreams, even when it feels more frightening to do so. That is precisely what I have experienced here. Action speaks louder than words. In reality every failure is disguised opportunity. I turned my deepest failure into highest possibility.

L. Sage
March 2013 Award Winner

Anthony Ibrahim
March 2013

My mother was diagnosed with two types of cancer and my father also suffered from a chronic illness for the majority of my high school career. In a time where I needed my parents most, I learned how to be independent and take care of the family. Despite the rough times I have gone through, I am blessed for everything I have been given. I have taken it upon myself to do everything in my power to make a positive change in the world. The service activity I enjoy the most is running a genocide prevention club at my school. I educate my local community about genocides that have happened around the world and how they have the power to stop the next one. I am truly dedicated to giving back to my community and I know it has done so much for me. With my little sister in elementary school and my big sister in college, the “Courage to Grow” scholarship will reaffirm my beliefs that my education will guide me down a path of success and remind me to always be thankful for what I have and those who have lent a helping hand. Education truly is the most powerful weapon and I hope through this scholarship that I will be able to further educate those around me.

Anthony Ibrahim
High School Senior
Feb 2013 Award Winner

Jacob Bitney
Feb. 2013

My father's constant curiosity and thirst for knowledge transformed my distaste for school to a savory drive for individual progress. During my childhood, our family took frequent trips to the Sierra Nevada Mountains where my father built a cabin on our land. It was there that my father taught us the necessities of life and how to find them. Aside from physical needs, such as food, shelter, and warmth, he also taught us the cycle of life: that everything is born from nature and everything thus returns. It is there that, at 13 years old, we scattered my father's ashes, among a stream that so often quenched our thirst, and there we will always be able to remember his wisdom. Nothing in my life could have opened my eyes more to the opportunities we have around us than my year abroad in Switzerland. During my junior year of high school, I had the privilege of being a foreign exchange student. I lived among different people, who were speaking different languages, in different cultures. I am now open to all opportunities that are presented to me, which is an essential aspect when striving to be a successful and productive scholar. I would like to go outside of our country again to study and to share my experiences with others. A scholarship like this one would help me to achieve my goals. Education is no longer a creeping stream of facts to me, but a roaring sea of life.

Jacob Bitney
High School Student
Jan 2013 Award Winner

Ashely Monti
Jan. 2013

My parents raised six children, having their first child right after high school. Raising this many children was difficult for my parents and did not allow them to save money for future expenses, like college or retirement for themselves. In 2008, my family experienced a whirlwind when my mother was diagnosed with emphysema, a year later she was diagnosed with cancer. Medical bills, which covered medications, treatment, and doctor visits, became unimaginable. It is hard to fathom the expenses that came with improving the health and survival of my mother. Unfortunately, in 2009 my mother passed away. My father was left with little to no money to afford a funeral or finish paying her medical bills. At this point I knew affording college was going to be impossible. I decided to work throughout high school, but could only raise enough money for one semester of college. I also thought that if I studied vigorously in high school I could receive grades that would enable me to achieve scholarships. Yet, I did not plan into that equation the amount of change that came with losing my mother. I am terrified that affording college may prevent me from achieving my dreams of going to law school. Help give me the courage to grow and take great consideration in my application.

Ashely Monti

University of Minnesota
December 2012 Award Winner

Deanna Hall
Dec. 2012

Life is not easy. My junior year of high school I was homeless. I had to face this with my mother, her abusive boyfriend, my two sisters, and my four-year-old brother. We lived in a car and prayed we could get enough money from other people at gas stations so we could afford a cheap hotel. My faith became weak as my mother became cold as if she was a walking dead person. There was no more life in her eyes because she was so disappointed she couldn't help her children. I was not going to let this run and ruin my life. I had to help turn our lives around. I helped my mother find a new job, and I tutored my sister in her freshmen year of high school. I also had to ask organizations at school to help my family with food. I can't say I did this on my own, because my faith grew stronger and things began to look up. I don't use my testimony for a pity party. I use it to show that everyone can do whatever their mind wants if only they just went for it and had faith and confidence in themselves. I deserve this reward because I am in debt and my family can't afford my college expenses. I am humble and I don't ask for help but I don't want to see my mom so sad that she can't help me. I will be forever grateful.

DeAnna Hall

California Baptist University
November 2012 Award Winner

Trevor Mckoy
Nov. 2012

No matter how challenging the obstacles may be that veer in my path, my determination and drive to excel in all endeavors is by far my strongest attribute. Being the first member in my family’s generation to attend a University is an honor nonetheless, but it comes with a great deal of financial sacrifice. As I charge into my junior year of college as a full time student studying biology with an emphasis in medicine, I am besieged with the reality of the massive amount of debt I am burying my parents in, through the constant borrowing of private loans. As my siblings get closer to graduating high school I am reminded of the importance to relieve some of the financial load. Although it is disheartening to witness the way tuition greatly increases every year, it is well out of my character to fathom the idea of letting financial burdens inhibit my dreams of reaching Medical School and obtaining a doctoral degree; not only for myself but for my younger brother who also aspires to acquire a college education. I understand it is now within my reach to change my current circumstances, and reach out to organizations and people who are willing to lend support. I believe I should be greatly considered for this scholarship not only because I’m in financial need, but rather for the great impact I know I can achieve in this world through the continuation of crafting my skill and courage to further grow.

Trevor Mckoy

University of Washington
October 2012 Award Winner

Allie Robinson
Oct. 2012

I am a college student in the northwest. I struggle to learn more about myself and my path daily. My struggle is not unique; many have been in my shoes and will be there again. Changing majors, making hard choices, and giving up what you thought you wanted are all part of life. However, people handle it differently. Through my hard times, this guidance helped me through: never give up, never get down for too long, and always strike out on a new path with a smile and a brave heart. Don’t beat yourself up for something you could not have known, don’t feel guilty over the things other people expected of you, and show them who you really are by what you do. There is always hope in life, even when everything seems to be spinning out of control. Perseverance and love always succeed, even if it’s in an unexpected way. All of these things are connected. I try to live them out in my everyday life and I am getting better at doing it all the time. That is why I apply to this scholarship over and over again, even though I have never been chosen. There is always hope, and perseverance wins. Thank you for your generosity.

Allie Robinson
Pierce College, WA
September 2012 Award Winner

Pallavi Chamarthy
Sept. 2012

The Courage to Grow Scholarship is an honor to receive, and I would first and foremost like to thank you for this wonderful opportunity! Throughout high school, I have faced many obstacles. At times, I would feel like I was losing focus. But I learned that I had to keep going, no matter what. Courage and self-motivation is what kept me moving forward, despite whatever problems I was facing. I soon realized that believing in myself was the key to achieving my goals. My education has always been a top priority. Over the years, my passion for learning has only grown stronger. After I graduate high school, I plan to take my education to the next level: college. I would like to have a career in the science and technology field, along with a minor in music. The Courage to Grow Scholarship will definitely help me pay for some portion of my college costs. I am excited to find out what my future holds. I know that I will have to continue to be strong and courageous. I will persevere, even through times of difficulty…because in the end, it’s worth it!

Pallavi Chamarthy
Plano Senior High School (Plano, TX)
August 2012 Award Winner

Brandon Sweeting
Aug 2012

Finding the courage to try has always been an issue of mine. Constant trepidation filled me whenever I considered acting on any opportunity, regardless of its benefit. This fear and indecisiveness had caused me to miss out on a lot in high school, and I thoroughly regret this. The reasons why I didn’t enroll in challenging classes, and when it came time for college applications, why I hadn’t applied for any scholarships, stemmed directly from my fear of not being able to succeed in whatever I may attempt. I developed a type of acceptance, like most individuals do, when they are complacent with their current circumstances. However, upon entering college, I began a miraculous transformation. I realized then, that I must break free from the shackles of acceptance and fear that had held me down for so long. I decided to take hold of the opportunities around me and accept the challenges that I had previously cowered from. This shift in mindset motivated me to pursue my dream major of Physics, something that I never would have considered while I was still in high school. I used my clean slate to write a perfect GPA and have started research with two physics professors at my University in hopes of someday changing the world with my own scientific discoveries. With the funds from the Courage to Grow Scholarship, I would further progress my scientific aspirations and use them to pay my undergraduate research expenses.

Brandon Sweeting
University of South Florida
July 2012 Award Winner

Cala Fils
July 2012

On January 12, 2010, I lost many of my peers in the devastating earthquake in Haiti. I survived. Although I feel blessed to be alive, I lost everything dear to me, including family, friends, and even pets. Throughout this horrific tragedy, pediatricians were most needed because of the large number of children who were hurt. Because of this tragedy, I was determined to become a pediatrician. As a Haitian-American, the word college is common in my household. My parents who never went to college always tell me that I will attend college. In this era where a college degree is becoming necessary, not going to college would be the worst mistake of my life. In order to become a pediatrician, I have to go to college. It is my only path. After the catastrophe, I avoided everyone. Depressed, angry and alone I was. I didn’t have enough strength to let go. However, I joined a program called JROTC that has taught me how to grow and move forward in life. I was once closed off. Now I mentor and groom cadets in the program. I spend my time helping others and giving back to my community in every way I can. I never pictured myself helping others especially with their tribulations. I can personally say, after the earthquake and it’s aftermath, I have grown incredibly mentally. Without question, this scholarship will make a tremendous difference in my life, my parent’s lives and the lives of those I will help.

Cala Fils
Montclair State University
June 2012 Award Winner

Julie Bash
June 2012

Walking through the doors of North Reading High School as a freshman, something deep in my nature prompted my desire to leave a strong impression and establish myself as a leader early on. After being elected to many leadership roles at my high school, these positions served to further fuel my interest in student government on both local and regional levels. Senior year I was elected President of the Northeast Region of Massachusetts Association of Student Councils, (NEMASC). I run leadership workshops at various high schools and colleges across the state of Massachusetts where I teach other students public speaking, team building and communication skills. I interact with my high school principal regularly planning events and community service. While teaching other students strategies about how to further their leadership, I realize that involvement in these activities not only educates my peers but fosters my growth as a leader as well. Being involved in student government has influenced my plans for the future. My ultimate goal is to become a lawyer based on my passion for justice and political science. Student government has taught me the importance of influence. As President of NEMASC, I am aware of the impact I have on others and the need to take advantage of the opportunity I was given in this role in order to leave a lasting impression. If I were awarded the Courage To Grow Scholarship, it would be significant in helping me grow as a future leader.

Julie Bash
Providence College
May 2012 Award Winner

Joshua McElrath
May 2012

Courage comes from within. I believe it takes courage to believe in something bigger than myself. It takes the ability to look at obstacles as opportunities and setbacks as stepping stones. It’s a chance to move forward in both difficult times and times of growth. Courage can manifest itself as painful or pleasant. Courage is an opportunity to develop the ability to look within and find ways to help others such as those you love and those who have lost loved ones. Courage teaches me to recognize that I am human and gives me the opportunity to grow as a person in my character, thoughts and actions. Courage ultimately stands for C-Compassion, the ability to show kindness to others. O-Overcoming, through stepping through not around difficult situations. U-Understanding that I can do all things with the right frame of mind. R-Reflecting on living in the moment and being mindful of those situations around me that help to me to grow. A -Achieving and seeking opportunities to develop inner character. G-Growth inboth character and attitude. Lastly, E- Endurance knowing that the end result of reaching for educational opportunities will bring about change that is lifelong and lasting.

Joshua McElrath
Central Washington University
Apr 2012 Award Winner

Cassie Sinclair
April 2012

I have been a single mom for nearly seventeen years and though sometimes it is a struggle, I wouldn't change a thing. Having been an active Realtor for the past twelve years I was feeling I wanted a change. I've wanted to go back to school for some time but waited until my daughter was older and had her driver’s license so she wouldn't be stranded. My daughter and I are now attending the same college. With both of us in school it can be very difficult to juggle the expenses. Proving to myself that I can do this is so important to me and I do not want to give up. I so much appreciate any and all help that I can get. This scholarship will be put to good use with books, supplies, and tuition. Thank you so much for your support.


Cassie Sinclair
Wenatchee Valley College
Mar 2012 Award Winner
Ashley Malmgren
March 2012
I am an anesthesiologist, a radiology technician, a maid, a surgery assistant, phlebotomist, critical care technician, a loving hand, a pharmacist, a teacher, a shoulder to cry on, friend to cry with, a sucker for a furry face, a face to lick, a midwife, a dental hygienist, a vet’s best friend, a pet’s best friend, a babysitter, a physical therapist, a mother, a playmate, a chew toy, a protector, and a cleaner. I can make the pain go away, save a life, see what’s wrong, clean anything, ease a mind, fill a drug order, show the right way, end suffering, give kisses, get kisses, clean teeth, and bring someone to do the right thing. I have a strong stomach, endured countless scars, scratches, and bites, cried with a stranger, cried into the fur of too many lifeless bodies, a big heart, a thoughtful mind, the strength to do the right thing even when it hurts, the ability to fall in love in five seconds, and the deepest love for all creatures. I am a Licensed Veterinary Technician who wishes to continue my education to benefit my patients. With this scholarship I would be able to continue to strive for the best care that my clients can pursue for their companion. This scholarship would help pay for books or even part of my tuition at St. Petersburg College to obtain my bachelor's in Veterinary Technology.


Ashley Malmgren
St. Petersburg College

Feb 2012 Award Winner

Samantha Williams
February 2012

It has been two years since I started down this path of worry. Looking back now, I see how much I have grown through all the struggles with my nemesis, money. These battles have left me with many bruises, worry, anxiety and stress, but I fight on. I am a soldier, fighting for my future despite every obstacle that tries to get in my way. I am tired of continuously being scared and shattered, forced to crawl at money’s whim. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I had a nervous breakdown. I was in desperate fear for my future; there was an unexpected balance of three thousand dollars that my financial aid did not cover. I saw my future crumbling before me in an instant, I was faced with losing my chance at education, a chance at escaping the poverty stricken nature of my family, their last hope. Through grace, not all hope was lost. God provided for me and I was able to take loans to pay the balance. That experience has increased my willingness to fight for my future; I am finished with money holding me back. I strive to be a true representative of poverty stricken youth determined to show the world and inspire others like me that despite my dire financial circumstances I will accomplish all my dreams. Learning to have hope, never give up, always looking for a brighter future. I am a soldier for the future to win the war for my life.


Samantha Williams
Bowie State University

December 2011 Award Winner

Joe Magana
January 2012

Seeing my mother come home exhausted every day from her job, she never once forgot to remind me that if I did not want to live a life like hers, then I needed to always persevere and go to school. My mother, only having a sixth grade education and living with her two young children in a gang infested community where violence prevailed, was able to take on both roles of father and mother and slowly make men out of her boys. Seeing her struggle as the years went by and situations worsening, with her getting injured at work and being laid off due to her pain, and my father suddenly stop giving child support, my mother never once let her kids see her cry and would once again never forget to mention in Spanish “Nunca paras de ir a la escuela” meaning never stop going to school. One might say that growing up this way might be too difficult and not adequate for children; however, I argue that this upbringing has only made me stronger as an individual and given me a different perspective on how to view the world around me. I have kept my mother’s words clear in my head this whole way and feel as though this scholarship could help with the huge burden of being able to help pay for school. I hope that with this money I can continue mine and my mother’s dream of continuing in my education.

Joe Magana
Los Angeles, CA

aug 2011 Award Recipient
Michael Gomez
September 2011 

     Over the past year, I have made a turnaround in my life.  Uncertainty concerning my future after college contributed to a steady academic decline freshman through sophomore years at UCLA.  But after a trip to Colombia to learn about my heritage and speak with relatives in medicine, it all turned around. It became clear to me that microbiology research was my calling.  Since then, I have maintained high scores and committed to a research lab.  I am set on majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics and minoring in Spanish.  My career goal is to attain a Ph.D. in Microbiology or Virology.  A challenge to these goals is paying for education.  My parents and I have buried ourselves in bank and school loans that will keep us burdened well into the future.  The Courage to Grow Scholarship would relieve some of this weight.  I have committed to my community through several projects.  I was involved in the club Invisible Children, which sought to raise awareness and fundraise to provide schools for children in war-torn Northern Uganda.  I felt the need to give the children of Northern Uganda a stronger voice in America.  I left this project to focus on improving my grades during sophomore year.  Now that my life has stabilized, I will be joining a new project focused on tutoring children of inner Los Angeles schools.  I believe that I should be awarded due to my academic improvement, clarity in academic goals, and commitment to my community.


Michael Gomez


June 2011 Award Recipient
Maria Grekowicz
June 2011

I want to be a teacher. That being said, I am going to one of the top (and most expensive) universities in the country to be a teacher. To be a GOOD teacher.

I've had a gift for teaching since I was a small child, when I often helped others to learn dance steps because I learned quickly, was patient, and had high hopes for people who did not have those hopes for themselves. I am an Irish dancer; I am a student; I am a teacher.

I do not dare to say that I deserve this scholarship more than anyone else, but I will admit that I desperately need it. My dream of becoming a great, inspiring, effective teacher may never come about without scholarships to help me pay for a good education. My father is unemployed, and has been for 7 months now. With my mother being our only source of income, feeding our family of 6 has become a daily struggle. Without scholarships, I may never inspire students.I may never change hundreds of young lives for the better.

My parents can only help me so much, and they have already sacrificed more than I could ever ask of anyone. I may not be the most deserving of this scholarship, but I need it. Thank you for holding this scholarship; even if I don't win, contests like these remain a source of hope for thousands of college students, including myself.

Maria Grekowicz
University of Michigan

Apr 2011 Award Recipient
Jodell Cox
May. 2011

The older I get, the smaller I become. What I mean by this is, as time passes by and I mature, I become further and further in awe at this enormity of this world. With the number of opportunities and possibilities there are out there, trying to pick out the best one would be like trying to find the best shell on a beach. Not only are there too many to count but there is also all of the shells that you cannot see, buried under the sand and scattered in the distance, waiting to be found. It's unfathomable. With this knowledge, it is easy to make the mistake of limiting your view to what's right in front of you and on the surface, but you risk missing out on something truly amazing.

My point is that we should not be close-minded and miss out on all of the things life has to offer. Now I may not know exactly what my path is in this jungle we call life, but my compass is open and I know the direction that I am heading down. It may not be the easiest or the safest path but I have the two tools that I would need to brave it: the will to continue even when I want to give up and the belief in myself that I can and will reach the end of this path and that I deserve what waits for me at the end of it.

Jodell Cox
University of Florida

Mar 2011 Award Recipient
Rachel Duncan
Mar. 2011

I want to be a licensed art therapist because I see a great need for creative counseling services for people suffering from loss, grief, and depression. I believe art therapy can be particularly effective for young people who might not benefit from talking about their experiences, but might grow and heal through making art. Both my father and sister died of cancer when I was young. I was able to process these difficult experiences with a therapist, and I also came to deeply respect the mental health profession.

My dream came true when I was admitted to Antioch University's Art Therapy program. I have a solid educational background with a BA from the Colorado College that prepares me for the rigors of graduate work. I am currently taking prerequisite coursework at Shoreline Community College. I support myself without financial assistance from family, and need scholarship funds and student loans to cover living costs while in graduate school. I am passionate about volunteering in Seattle. I tutor homeless teens working on their GED once a week at the Orion Center. I also co-organize an art club at the Secondary Bilingual Education Center where we aim to create an inviting environment for recently immigrated children to explore art materials and express themselves visually.

I am a committed student and contribute my love of the arts and positive mental health to the community. I have the added benefit of diverse life and work experiences that will make me an effective art therapist.

Rachel Duncan
Antioch University

Nov 2010 Award Recipient
Anthony Chao
Nov. 2010
After listening to my parents describe their escape from Communists in the 1960s and experiencing a life of poverty, I can admit life is certainly difficult. The title "Courage to Grow" speaks for itself. Coming from a poverty-stricken childhood, I believe I am a person that has the courage to grow towards my full potential in a way that could revolutionize my family's life for generations to come.

Because my parents have sacrificed their time and effort to put food on the table and provide me with the supplies I need to do the best in school, I have proven to be a bright student. Because I have experienced drastic setbacks (losing textbooks and calculators from those who were willing to steal them) that took weeks for me to mentally recover, in addition to, overcoming fatigue from weekly "all- nighters" because of a large workload, I am definitely prepared to overcome the greatest hardships I may witness in the future.

Furthermore, if I were to describe myself today, I view myself as friendly, humble, mature, and focused on what I want to be in the future. Although I do not possess many leadership roles, I inspire my classmates because I am a person who shows, not tells, others what it takes to succeed. My demeanor has given me "the most likely to succeed" tag, which I accept as I strive to become an outstanding ophthalmologist.

I am one who not only needs this scholarship, but fully represents the "Courage to Grow".

Anthony Chao
High School Senior - La Puente, CA

Oct 2010 Award Recipient
Selah West
Oct. 2010
I grew up in a cabin on twenty acres of land among the mountains. My parents planned to live in it temporarily while my dad built a house sufficient enough to raise a family in. Those plans were soon forgotten when they divorced. My father moved away leaving my mom to raise three children in an unfinished cabin. Our main source of power was six 12-volt batteries which were charged by solar panels. A generator served as emergency backup because my mom couldn't afford to buy gas for it regularly. The cabin was heated by a wood stove. Every summer we split and stacked the wood needed for the following winter. To conserve water, we used water from the bathtub to flush the toilet. When the septic tank got full we hiked into the woods with a shovel until we could afford to have it pumped. Continually struggling for money, we grew up without most of the material possessions that our friends took for granted. Yet what I perceived as disadvantages growing up, I now see as intangibles added to my character that I could not attain with any other situation. Growing up as a child on the bare minimum has given me an understanding of the importance of hard work. As a young adult I hold the convictions and morals it takes to be successful in life and attribute these qualities to the example my mom set and the cabin that gave me more than I could ever imagine.

Selah West
Central Washington University


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