J.Mitri September 2023

The term "success" will never be defined by a dictionary. Every person has their interpretation and vision of success. However, all these interpretations meet through the pillars of success commonly found through courage and education.

Throughout my journey at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, my vision of my success story transformed. Battling cancer, moving into high school, and balancing academics was an uphill battle. Every day, I had to gather the courage to go to school, receive odd looks, and catch up on the work I had missed in the days prior. However, my Dad would constantly repeat, "If there is a will, there is a way," which helped me continue focusing on my dreams rather than my life-changing circumstances. Of course, I could not have gotten all A's that year if it wasn't for my friends, who would bring me the work assigned to us that I had missed and reteach me the lesson that day.

Immediately when my results came back from the biopsy, my version of success drastically converted from being rich to becoming wealthy. My understanding of wealth and success included helping people, particularly those enduring harsh circumstances like mine. Many can say they want to help, but only a fraction act upon their words, which is why I found the courage within myself to major in biology on a prehealth pathway at Boston University. Although the path to my interpretation of success is difficult, I will find my way through courage and education.



C. Levine August 2023

"Do. Or do not. For there is no try" (Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back). When I was eight years old I remember staring at the dazzling space battles and strange worlds found in the Star Wars universe. Finding interest only in the manner in which its originator spoke, I never considered the true meaning behind the phrase. Years later, I got to find out what this saying truly meant.

Leaving middle school behind, I entered the crazy world of high school. I hardly knew who I was, let alone this new, strange world. The people were unknown, the teachers were unmet, and the building was unexplored. It was there that I began to struggle. A year later, once again going to a new school, I thought that I would have to repeat this painful process again. But this time, I would not do things with fear.

I entered my new school with confidence, ready to take on new challenges. I was ready to find new friends, meet new teachers, and explore new buildings. I would not sit back afraid of the unknown. I would “do.” Maybe that's what the quote meant. To either act, or not, but certainly to avoid hesitation and fear. Whether it’s interstellar space battles, or just third period biology, we need to have confidence in ourselves. That's why I should be awarded this scholarship. I had the courage to not only grow into my environment, but to grow into who I am as a person.

C. Levine

D. Naziri July 2023

In the boundless skies of my dreams, I see myself in the airplane’s cockpit, savoring another flawless landing of the Boeing 777-9, the world’s largest commercial aircraft, as a testament to my skilled piloting. Beyond the thrill of flying, airplanes also symbolize unparalleled freedom and liberation for me, which I aim to share with others.

Similarly, I aspire to be a general surgeon, making a meaningful impact on people’s lives. Witnessing a surgeon delicately stitch a torn stomach on TV ignited a passion within me to be a guiding light for patients in their darkest movement. Another dream of mine is to contribute to finding a cure for cancer, and I’ve already started by contributing to cancer research during an internship.

I’m committed to reaching both of my career goals since these dreams drive my unwavering determination to overcome the stereotypes and doubts that hinder me. In the male-dominated society that I come from, women are discouraged from becoming surgeons, and until recently, were banned from becoming pilots.

The “Courage to Grow” scholarship will relieve the financial burden of obtaining a BS, MD, and commercial piloting certificate. This scholarship means more than financial aid; it signifies a community that believes in the potential of individuals to rise above societal limitations. With this scholarship, I hope to unlock my aspiration’s full potential and help other young girls find the courage to grow and follow their aspirations, contributing to a future where barriers are broken, and dreams know no bounds.
D. Naziri


D.Villacorta June 2023

Courage can sometimes be mistaken for lack of fear. Courage is something we all strive to develop for one reason or another, we find ourselves in a situation that calls for extraordinary strength and resolve, most of the time being forced into it. Courage isn't the lack of fear but rather, the strength to face such fears and transform survival into tenacity to be able to find a solution to the problems facing you. I have the confidence to say that I have courage, developed through the discipline of education as my lifeline during difficult situations, and also finding strength within me to use the knowledge to my advantage to overcome those overwhelming odds. Competing in a large school to become the top 15% of my class in order to alleviate the burden of financing my college education for my parents in a household of 5 took courage. Supporting my teachers and my classmates emotionally through a health crisis while also struggling with my own mental health at home took courage. Being a first-generation college student, obtaining a full scholarship, working part-time while studying full time commuting an hour away took courage. Losing that scholarship because of the unreliability of the school and having to reinvent my life again took courage. And coming to terms with who I am, and continuing to find resilience through knowledge gives me courage. Applying again despite fearing being let down again takes courage. Knowledge still gave me courage.
D. Villacorta

L. Wright May 2023

My name is Liam Wright and I am a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. I will be graduating from Smoky Mountain High School in June 2023 and have a strong desire to achieve. I will achieve this by going to college and gaining an education for myself. I grew up on the Cherokee boundary which mirrors a Indian reservation, as the US government coins it. During my childhood I was exposed to the realities of poverty and substance abuse. I have made the decision to continue my education to prevent the cycle from repeating itself. I will be attending a two year technological degree at AB Tech in Asheville, NC. I will be working towards a degree in Automotive Technology and adjusting to life in the city. I have always dreamed of working in automotive technology and plan to one day own a car shop. I have been working in automotive since I was a young child and feel at home working with cars. The college I plan on attending is an hour drive from the Cherokee Boundary and I will use these funds with my transportation to and from class. I would like to thank you for this opportunity to express my excitement for college and desire to be accepted for this scholarship. This scholarship will help me in achieving the goals I have set for myself. It is not easy to share my life experiences, but I hope you will take my words into consideration.

L. Wright


G. Nogueira April 2023

It was 2011. I do not remember the date, exactly, nor the time, but I remember where I was. A white room, with black chairs organized by row, and that stage right in front of me– the one with the American flag on the right, and a black microphone stand on the left. Paintings of old men dressed in expensive suits stared down at me from the walls with their acrylic smiles. This day is one of my earliest memories: the day my mother was naturalized.

Courage and education go hand-in-hand when you are a first generation American. In America, many people expect you to be a criminal or drug addict or teen mother when you are Latina. To have the knowledge of what people think of you because of your ethnicity and still have the courage to subvert their expectations, become educated, and grow into the best version of yourself is the goal of every ambitious minority, especially if you are a Latin-American woman. In Brazil– where my parents are from– so many girls like me do not even have the chance to be sitting at a computer and submitting scholarships, much less even thinking of college. I sit here from a place of privilege, and sometimes I wonder what things would be like if my parents never boarded that plane in October 2000. To me, earning this scholarship is to tell that little girl in the all-American room to be unapologetically fearless and ambitious about her future.
G. Nogueira

S. Sanford March 2023

The courage to grow is an attribute awarded to those bold enough to face their demons, and smile in the act of doing so. Be it ourselves, our life situations, or our surroundings, there always seems to be a weight pulling like an anchor on a powerful ship.

The anchor for me lies on the sandbar of chronic pain. For the last two years, there has been a constant worry about my spinal well-being. A beast that has not been tamed by expensive medical procedures, my injury pulled me out of numerous physical hobbies and eats away at me during simple pleasures like sitting down after a long day.

For a moment, my days were completely bleak.

Once I came to terms with my condition, though, I started to work harder than I ever had to before. “Not feeling like it” had to be cut from my life if I were to start seeing a real change in my abilities. I am proud of the personal therapy track I have devised for myself after the medical industry had given up on me, and am very hopeful for what this new adventure of college has in store.

Fostering the courage within us to grow means no excuses. It means accepting the responsibility for what life has thrown at us and recognizing we have the power to deal with it and deal with it gallantly. It is through this recognition I feel I have earned the courage to grow scholarship.

S. Sanford

B. Webster (1)

B. Webster February 2023

As a young person living with dissociative identity disorder, I know confusion all too well. My life is viewed through the lens of not one, but many. Science has barely navigated the maze that is the human brain, but mine complicates things even further. Naturally, I’ve become an expert in getting lost.

When I was officially diagnosed in 2020, I was certain it meant relief from my questions. But as time went on, I quickly realized that finding one answer did not mean the rest would magically unravel. Living with DID has taught me plenty, but still, the explanations I can provide are meager at best when compared to an ever-growing list of questions.

However, when neural pathways slam their doors, perspective opens its windows. My brain is still a mystery, but the answers I’ve gotten concerning life have far exceeded what I thought I’d have at my young age. This has given me the courage to move forward, seeking the promise of growth like a light in a tunnel. I’m slowly learning not to panic when I'm lost, but instead to rejoice in the idea of mapping something new. Through my secondary education, I mean to further examine with more resources my unanswered questions, as well as shine a light on the path for those who follow behind in my future career as an educator. With the Courage to Grow, I choose to bring the world a few more answers than it had when I was put in it.

B. Webster

E. Scott January 2023

As the child of a multi-faith family, I grew up a satellite state in a “war of the worldviews”. During seventeen years of enmity and intolerance, I developed severe insecurity about my worth and feared parental disapproval. Instead of engaging with the central paradox of my family, I ran away from Faith, and I was left with none.

Eventually, I found myself in a dark place where I didn’t want to be. I decided to change something. At that moment, I stopped running away, and I learned what courage is.

Courage is acceptance. Courage is saying, “my life is imperfect. I am imperfect. I am worth it, flaws and all.” Courage is taking a deep breath and allowing life to be paradoxical. I accepted that not everything in life was under my control, and in doing so, I gained control over myself, my choices, and my faith.

Here’s what I have faith in today:

Divergent worldviews can coexist.
Radical kindness is the way out of intolerance.
The world gets better.

I plan to study writing, philosophy, and communities in college so I can help others heal from their paradoxes. When I chose to allow for paradox, I gained control over my life. With the Courage to Grow Scholarship, I will gain control over my education. Just as I no longer relied on others for my worth, I will not rely on my family to pay for my education.

Together, we’ll make the world better.

Thank you for your consideration.

E. Scott


S. Strausberg December 2022

At nine, I had built my first program.

Inspired by my dad’s work as a software engineer, I began programming at a young age, but it wasn’t until much later that I began to see it as a tool for change. In 2020, my dad was diagnosed with aphasia after a stroke. I built my dad a picture-based communication app, similar to iMessage, that replaces the QWERTY keyboard with a picture-based one. Using my project, my dad was able to connect directly with my aunts in California for the first time since his diagnosis.

Text-to-speech, screen readers -- every day, I see how innovative software has the potential to make the world more accessible to people with disabilities. I strive to develop enabling technology that enhances standard of living within marginalized communities. From communication platforms to artificial sight, I want to be at the forefront of innovations in accessible technology.

As a computer science major joining Cornell’s class of 2027, I will explore the ways in which different areas of computing are utilized to create accessible technology. The one thing that stands in my way is the cost of college tuition. With two terminally ill parents who were forced into an early retirement, the cost of education is an overwhelming burden. The Courage To Grow Scholarship will give me the tools to build a more inclusive world and help me give back to people like my parents.

S. Strausberg

L. Diaz November 2022

I believe that I should be awarded this scholarship for not only my success in the classroom, but also for my eagerness to make a positive change in my community. I am from a small town in northwestern New Mexico named Gallup. Miyamura is my homeschool in which I participate in many extracurricular activities in, but I take classes in my school districts McKinley Academy program. Here, I take college courses at the University of New Mexico-Gallup campus. By the time I graduate high school, I will have not only straight A’s and a high school diploma, but two associates in business and liberal arts. Living in Gallup, I am part of the small amount of people who take their education seriously. Alcoholism, and drug abuse are problems prominent in people of all ages in Gallup. This has made homelessness a huge problem for people of a young age and on. With the funding from this scholarship, being one of the few people to leave the problematic small town of Gallup and seek a higher education will be even more possible. The funding will help me more now than ever as most of the money that was planned for my college fund has been used for my grandma’s hospital bill from having a liver transplant and as well as cancer. After college, I plan on returning to Gallup and other places like it to help with the fight against drugs and alcohol. Thank you for the consideration for this scholarship.

L. Diaz

K.Little (1)

K. Little October 2022

Apartment clean? Check. Directions sent? Check. Hospitality attitude on? Check. I am an Airbnb host and this is how I started earning money to be able to attend college.

When I was 12 years old, my parents thought a part time job would help me save money for college. We had a bunkhouse studio apartment that was attached to our home. My Airbnb business consisted of managing online reservations, ordering supplies, cleaning the apartment between guests, hospitality and managing finances.

I was homeschooled but took dual credit courses in high school. I entered Oregon State University with a sophomore standing. Taking college classes during high school saved me thousands of dollars so I could keep saving for college.

College is expensive to attend. Aside from the money I’ve earned from my Airbnb business, I worked at other jobs. I rode horses and cleaned two Airbnb rental homes for people, listed items on Craigslist for local clients, and in September of 2021, I picked up another part time job at TJ Maxx. I am currently a freshman attending Oregon State University (Cascades) in Bend, Oregon. The academics are challenging, but I'm learning new knowledge and skills and enjoying my Calculus and Biology classes.

I deserve "The Courage to Grow Scholarship" because of my hard work the last 6 years to be able to attend college. Tuition, housing, and fees are expensive and any additional support is greatly appreciated. Thank you for considering me for your generous scholarship.

K. Little

M. Barrientos September 2022

Academics play an important role for my family, it is a way out of the life that we have been a long part of. My family has lived in poverty for most of their lives; it was not until recently that my father got a better job to help us out negligibly. Being raised in a family of minorities does not make it easy to receive a higher education. Being successful is a dream, but between a dream, there stands an obstacle, and this obstacle of mine is financial assistance. I wish to be the first person in my family to not only go to college, but also to become a doctor. I wish to one day generate wealth and give back; helping others is my dream. I have always vowed to put my community before myself. I too, want to build a student scholarship fund one day for those that are in need such as myself. If students are not receiving a way to be educated, then there is no future. I am one of these students who are not financially fit to become a doctor, yet it is a task that I am determined to complete no matter the adversity I will face. Affordable education is difficult to obtain, nonetheless, receiving this honor pledges that the future is in safe hands, for it will be given to someone who will give back to those in need.

M. Barrientos

M. Barrientos

J. Irabor August 2022

I lost my Dad December 5th, 2021. It was my first semester in the University of Michigan-Dearborn and everything went downhill from there. I finished the semester with a 1.98 GPA and fell into depression.

I realized my Dad wouldn't want my life to go on like this. He would want me to chase my dreams and to succeed. So, I began to work, each day and night to get my life back in order. To get my grades up and help the campus community grow. I am currently in my sophomore year with a CGPA of 3.4. I did that. I built myself back up and I hope my dad is proud.
I still lack the financial resources since my Dad passed away but I've been working and trying my best to find scholarships to sponsor my education.

When I get this scholarship, it will be a great addition to helping me make it through college.
My goal is to start up a car manufacturing company, so that I can create jobs for people and better their lives while also contributing greatly to the technological development of our planet.

J. Irabor

Y. Shah July 2022

Hope: a four letter word that carries the power of a thousand seas. When everything slips through my fingers, and I feel lost, hope is the single flame that can carry me out of the darkness. As a girl from a long line of traditional families, many of my preceding family members don’t support someone like me having a higher education. Instead, girls my age are conditioned to simply marry. My mother escaped this traditional life with divorce, and I hope to break this tradition with hope.
I always hoped to help others using my passion for science, but never knew how. As I matured, I learned that just because we close our eyes, doesn’t mean that the underprivileged disappear. Despite discouragement to pursue a future in healthcare from one side of my family, I remained on my path with hope the other side of my family gave. Today, with the power of hope, my goal has become more direct: I want to use my passion for science and the education I attain to help the underprivileged through healthcare, and most importantly, hope.
As a member of a low-income family, I cannot afford college tuition as easily as others. I hope to use this scholarship money towards my college funds, pursuing a future in medicine, so I will one day be able to help underprivileged individuals and communities have greater access to healthcare. My dream is to return the hope I was lucky enough to receive, back to the world.

R. Rubio smiling for a picture in black tshirt

R. Rubio June 2022

Growing up the color blue made me happy. I loved seeing the dazzling blue sky and sparkling oceans. When I furthered my studies of computer science in high school, I was hit by waves of discouragement no ocean could ever make. I had begun to constantly fail my coding exams, and was the “black sheep” of my classes. This made me feel inadequate as my male classmates always exceeded. The blue shining oceans no longer became something I would admire, but the sole reminder of where I stand as a woman in the IT world. I felt as though the degree of computer science was just as unreachable as the skies. My favorite color became something I disliked.

Volunteering to teach kids in computer science, I saw my students’ eyes shine with anticipation when they solved their programming problems, including the imperfections they committed in their codes. The satisfaction they feel as they enjoy the moment of trial and error outweighed my discouragement. It reminded me of the anticipation of putting my ideas in the wind. It reminded me of creating change with every line of code I create on my blue laptop.

Blue is me, I am blue. This scholarship would help me pursue my degree in data science at university. I want to increase female involvement in computer science and data science. Being the only female in my IT courses is not a definition of discouragement, but a message of courage and change for future generations to come.

R. Rubio

L. Macias May 2022

Choices. All important choices require courage. Meeting new people, going to college, serving in the military, playing sports, even writing an essay. Without courage to grow the world would go nowhere, nobody would go to the moon, nobody would want to be better. Fortunately everyone has a degree of courage, but not everyone cultivates it and stays determined to achieve their dreams.

Death is around the corner for everyone, we must live our lives knowing this. But no great thing is created suddenly, so there is a fear that our hard work is for nothing. This is where courage comes in, sacrificing the present for a better future. There is no easy way from the earth to the stars.

I have the courage and determination to achieve my goals. I want to create the stairs to the stars for humanity in the form of advancing space technology. Occasionally I’m distracted from my dream, but I have reminders of my purpose to keep me on track. What is your purpose, why were you yourself created? There is no shame in making an honest effort, do so and you will come closer to achieving your dreams and goals.

I’m making an honest effort to fund my education, and I hope you are working towards your dreams as well.

L. Macias


J. Radandt April 2022

Growth isn’t an automatic process. It requires careful nourishment, adequate attention, and loving dedication. But even with all that, growth requires something that cannot be given: the willingness to improve. This will is something that I have had to search for within myself, and at times, I thought it might never be found. In my darkest moments, I thought that growth was impossible for me, or even more worryingly, that I had nothing to grow towards- that my life was a dead end. When I think of how powerful those thoughts were, to be here, now, seems nothing short of a miracle. I’ve found the will to grow, and now that I have it, I intend to grow beyond what ever could have seemed possible for me. I want to get an education in clinical psychology, to help others find that same will to grow even if they think it’s nowhere to be found. I have a unique insight as to how hard it can be to reach that, and as such, I believe it’s my responsibility to help others obtain what I have been fortunate enough to find. With this scholarship, that future that once seemed nonexistent is within reach. And really, what could be a more worthwhile way to use this scholarship than providing a way for others to find their own courage to grow?

J. Radandt

H. Carlson March 2022

What does it mean to grow? The Hana two years ago would say “It means to always be the best at everything and always saying yes to anything. I should take on every project, assignment, activity, and hobby and perform it at 100%. Growing means that I am adding more things to my plate”. This way of thinking is misinformed and is rooted in capitalism.

I told myself that I could never make a mistake, and can only show the final product. I thought sharing the process of how I got there, would be a weakness. In dance- it is my art form- they say that it is not just about arriving in the position but the beauty comes from how you got there. This makes me reflect on what I want my journey to look like, and where do I want to go? The Hana two years ago would say “it is to push through no matter what and set my needs as a human aside”. In the present day, I would say that “my growth is not based on what I can produce for the world. I believe that growing includes rest. It includes listening to your body and what it needs and not comparing it to the needs of others”. To be able to acknowledge, reflect, and change my mindset about an issue that is deeply ingrained in our society is growth that I am personally proud of.

H. Carlson


J. Estrellas FEBRUARY 2022

I felt cold–my hands blue; as if I had stuck them in the snow for hours, were shaking like crazy. My heart was beating out of my chest. My anxiety went through the roof. Hysterical, I rushed through the Emergency Room, wandering and desperately looking for anyone to help me. Finally, what felt like hours, a Registered Nurse took me in. I could not recall her name, however, I do remember her mother-like care. As she placed a nebulizer on me, I could almost hear the shakiness in her voice as she repeated, “Deep breaths”.

Nurses play an essential role in our society. They have to walk through tears and blood every day, treat any patient they encounter, give orders, and administer medications, all while having a smile on their face. We often underestimate nurses and their capabilities, but we do not really know what they go through on a daily basis. To me, they are heroes. The nurse that cared for me is a hero.

As a first-generation college student and honor student, I will continue to push myself toward success to pursue my career in Nursing. In that process, I hope to become an inspiration to my family, friends, and others along the way, just like how the registered nurse who treated me at the hospital inspired me.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

J. Estrellas

B. Thompson January 2022

Change. One word, six letters, but a million chances of opportunity. If you google the word four definitions will come up. “Make someone or something different. To alter or modify.” This simple definition turns an ordinary one syllable word into something to strive for. The world is constantly advancing with new technology being created, new ideologies being spread, and generations being evolved. I myself have never been one for change; the idea scares me. Yet it’s the fear that that simple word gives me, that encourages me to be the change I want to see. As a kid I always had the big dreams and life goals teachers instilled in our minds. Be a straight A student, be on time, strive for greatness, and when all else fails you try again. This simple mindset shaped me into the person I am today. The life altering events that have taken place over the past year are the reason that change is needed. Change in the system, change in society and most importantly change within ourselves. I would like to be that change. My goals are to become a criminal defense attorney and help those who have been wrongly convicted, or simply want to be heard. If awarded this scholarship I can assist those seeking help and mean something to the people and this world. The question: why do I believe I should be awarded this scholarship? The answer is a simple 6 letter word with a million chances.


D. Wydeven December 2021

The interpretations of what it means to grow courageously are endless. In my life, growth has meant becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. This concept has changed my life.
What I once was most uncomfortable with was being myself. I wandered middle and high school as a tall, skinny math nerd. I felt so irrelevant despite everyone, only literally, looking up to me.
A defining moment occurred in 10th grade during my honors English class. I was selected to participate in our school’s Poetry Out Loud competition, a national competition on poetry annunciation. This meant I had to perform in front of a panel of judges and my classmates. Uncomfortable, sweaty, and nervous, I walked up to the auditorium stage with lights so bright I could barely see. I took a few deep breaths and performed as I practiced. I would go on to win third place in my school in that competition, but more importantly I found myself. I could accept myself, whether I liked poetry, math, or soccer. I would go on to lead my school’s National Honors Society, start on varsity soccer, and help 8th graders transition into high school through Link Crew.
These experiences taught me that being uncomfortable is more valuable to me than being comfortable. Without uncomfort we will never grow, and without courage we will never face uncomfort. With this scholarship I will bravely face the uncomfortable transition into college, with the financial burden eased through Courage to Grow.

D. Wydeven

A. Hernandez November 2021

As the first generation in my family to go to college, my parents have high expectations for me. It is hard trying to be perfect when I am far from it. Another thing being, they don’t believe in mental health. If I’m struggling, then I am expected to simply brush it off, and for the longest time that is what I did. Keeping all my emotions bottled up was very hard all throughout middle school and even some of high school. When I learned that it was okay to not be okay, I broke.

For the first time in probably ever, I was vulnerable. Being honest with myself on how I truly felt was a weird feeling but remarkably relieving. A big part of why my mental health was so terrible was the fact that I was expected to be perfect. Keeping up with grades, work, family, sports, and everything in between was hard and being expected to do everything right was even harder. Realizing that I don’t need to have a million things on my plate was refreshing. Learning how to be honest with myself helped me become a better person and helped me be happy.

As the oldest sibling, I want to pass down to my brothers that it’s normal to have these emotions. I need to show them that life can be amazing and beautiful. Life doesn’t have to be stressful all day every day.
Life can be happy.


A. Hernandez

I.Owczarzak OCTOBER 2021

Throughout middle school, I was a book judged by its cover. People jeered at my unconventional dust cover. I escaped into books so frequently, punishments included current reading escapades being hidden from my sight. Although I read often, my youth reading adventures were spent with ignorance. I used novels as my numbing agent, a portal from a dreadful reality. Happy, blissful books were the only ones near my repertoire. Bubbly, carefree plots transferred joyful emotion into my personal life, changing my views on classmates. Unable to escape the villains gawking at me as I crossed the lunchroom, I imagined the only solution was to redesign my cover. I adorned an identical jacket to any other. Slowly I transformed into a reader’s worst nightmare: a classic, appealing cover on a hollow, boring book.

My perspective shifted after I read Marie Lu’s, Champion; for a reading contest at school. Upon its completion, I was sprawled on the floor of my bedroom crying. The conclusion encapsulates Day and June, love interests, as they lose each other due to near death and memory loss. A closing scene for Marie Lu’s book opened a new chapter in my reading career. Soon after, I slowly shed my built-up facade from middle school and returned to dressing in a cover that I appreciated, realizing that content superseded aesthetics. If people couldn’t look past my cover and into my content they put down my book too early.


J.Ipock September 2021

I have killed a man. I killed a kind but ignorant man who chose not to work for what he believed in but rather put his trust in delusional faith.

I was this man a couple of years ago, struggling in school, struggling in soccer, and struggling at home. I believed I could achieve anything but faltered when asked how I would obtain said achievements, thus my goals often landed me knee-deep in the water of failures whose existence I refused to accept. It wasn't until I was bullied and harassed that reality was cast down upon me like an angelic light. The people that tore my dreams to pieces; they unveiled how much harder I needed to work to even approach my goals.

That day I buried my old self, adopting new beliefs and a much harsher view of life. Ultimately, to say I deserve the scholarship is wrong, as deserve is a deceiving word that instills false hope, however, this scholarship would provide a lot for me and I would use it well. Today I am 5th in my class, 4.0 GPA, President of Science NHS, and NHS, and play varsity and club soccer.

My story is true.

J. Ipock


V.Lin August 2021

Problem, design, create, discover. Life in the suburbs: questions coupled with lengthy car rides. In what ways can we encourage an environmentally friendly environment? How has climate change impacted coral reefs? How much of our body do we have control? It seems the more neuroscientists decipher the inner workings of the brain, the less power we seem to have on our bodies.

Participating in Project SEED and conducting two research projects, my experiences sparked curiosity to answer my many puzzling questions. The beauty of research is that you can never stop discovering something new. It is just so alluring; there is just so much of the world we have yet to understand and numerous unconventional discoveries to be made.

Environmental studies have always been a passion of mine. As a nature advocate, one of my research projects was on acid precipitation on trichome production. I hope to expand my research and develop ways to protect wildlife and the ecosystem.

Climate change has brought detrimental effects around the globe, and scientists try to develop alternative energy sources to slow down global warming. I want to be at the center of this movement of promoting environmental sustainability. With the scholarship, I hope to further my education and research on ecotoxicology to create an environmentally safe place for future generations.


R.Sutton July 2021

Growing up with divorced parents, finding a sense of HOME was always difficult for me. For years I lived in an abusive household I felt I could never escape. Fortunately, my grandma’s house became a safe haven for me, a place where I could detach from all the drama. I was soon inspired to create my first film, “Home” where I assembled different clips of my grandmother’s house and put them against a piano track. It was from this very film I realized I could translate life’s experiences into my art.

As I faced more challenges, I began to cling to my art more than ever. Frequently moving around, my family suffered to obtain financial stability. What transpired was a general feeling of uneasiness and severe anxiety. I created my film, “A Rose Grows” an ode to my evolving self-identity in response to a life I felt was constantly changing.

While my cognitive learning difficulties also proved to be an existing challenge, I was eager to fight for my academic success. In high school, I pushed myself to take AP classes and extracurriculars, and after lots of hard work, got into my dream school, NYU. I soon created my dance film, “Seeing Purple” which was about my struggle to overcome my learning difficulties and turn them into my superpowers.

Art is my HOME. I will continue to make meaningful work in the hopes that it will resonate with the world around me.

Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.



O. Donney June 2021

One sentence.

I never thought that one sentence could cause such uncertainty and so many unpredictable variables in my life. I had my life planned out. The first step was to study abroad in college, graduate, and then do traveling work. Now things are different. That one sentence two months ago changed my life.

I...have metastatic breast cancer. She was in tears and kept repeating sorry over and over again. My world stopped. My mother. My role model. My best friend. My only parent is dying.

I asked the dreaded question, “How long?”

5 years. I couldn’t breathe. No. A million thoughts ran through my head. The big one being college. With added medical bills, could we even pay for them? Should I take a permanent leave to spend the remaining time with my mom? What does she want to do? What am I supposed to do? Is there a book on this somewhere? How can I go back to school which is halfway across the country as my mother gets treatment? What is the right decision?

There is no right decision.

My mother has always wanted me to graduate college, so I want her to see me graduate. I need to stay strong. Reach inside, grab that courage and hold on as tight as I can. I am going to graduate and make her proud. Sometimes things are not easy, but that means the rewards are even greater.

O. Donney

X. St. Hill May 2021

One of the most important aspects of leadership for me is the philosophy of “Think and Do” in which I actively work to serve the greater good. Last June, I got the opportunity to work for North Carolina News Daily, a local online newspaper.

George Floyd was murdered a few days before I began working. While this was not the first time a traumatizing event like this has happened, I couldn't help but feel shocked and scared during those 8 minutes and 46 seconds, and the days that followed. Soon after, the police killing of Rayshard Brooks was reported. As a young Black teen, my heart felt like it was sinking

Working for a newspaper, I didn’t feel right remaining silent about these atrocities. My boss felt the same. With her help, I was able to begin the most Meaningful project of my summer.

Businesses struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to do something to support our Black community. Thus, my project began: creating a series of 6 articles, highlighting the diverse array of Black-owned businesses throughout North Carolina

Although 2020 was filled with much despair, especially for the Black community, there were still positives, beacons of light in the darkness. I was one of those beacons of light. That fact alone was enough to lift my previously sunken heart, and my spirits.

As an aspiring engineer, I'm intent on creating solutions to solve global problems, including issues of inequality and racism. I'm going to make the world a better place, for everyone.

X. St Hill

MIT ID 1 Copy

R. Guerra April 2021

Living in neighborhood full of gangs, drugs and poverty our chances at life didn’t seem to have the best outcomes. Most of our family was gang related and the lifestyle seemed normal at a young age. It was regular life and sooner than later it became normal to use alcohol/drugs, cause ruckus and have this mentality that was, what I now call, fogged and warped by fear. About 10 years later I found myself barely holding on to life.

As a mother, I was confused as to where, why or how did this happen. Something inside me sparked. I cannot describe what caused this shift in my life; it was peaceful, calm, and very accepting. It was an awareness of a presence of something bigger than this world. I started to look at my past life.

Looking for preconceived ideas that had formed in the life I lived for so long, I was seeing parts of my life that I had a chance to take action on and that time was right then and now. I was to either live with a fogged perception fueled by selfishness, fear and self-pity, or I could be selfless, brave, and confident. This change in perception gave me the ability to help others.

Today I mentor other women and show them what worked for me. I overcame my difficulties. I got accepted into the most competitive BSN program in my area and I’M GOING TO BE A NURSE!

R. Guerra

T. Taylor March 2021

The first half of my childhood was spent in foster care due to domestic violence, extreme neglect, and sexual abuse. Fortunately, I was adopted at the age of nine. My adoptive family guided me through a very painful healing journey. Proudly, I can now say that I have come to dramatic levels of healing and can now use my painful past to help others. A deep determination has always been present, despite the fact that I easily could have become another statistic.

After healing from my trauma, I was determined to break misconceptions about those who have been in foster care. We are not broken, nor are we damaged. Early graduation from high school was my first step, followed by publishing my autobiography called “Shattered No More”; I have answered the call to share my story through public speaking to crowds of up to 2000 in order to provide hope.

My college journey has included a nearly perfect GPA of 3.96 and recognition through numerous awards. Unlike those adopted over the age of 12, I have no financial assistance for my education. Without financial assistance, achieving my goal of obtaining a Master’s in Counseling may be impossible. The name of this scholarship spoke to me as I believe I have exemplified the courage to grow and strive to help others do the same. Thank you for your consideration.

T. Taylor


M. Haklidir February 2021

One of the most debated topics in America is how to provide affordable healthcare to the masses. While many focus on accessible health insurance, I believe the answer lies in accessible healthcare providers. With this scholarship, I could continue my training to become a nurse practitioner and provide attainable medical services to underserved communities. My grandparents relied on home remedies to treat any ailment my brother and I developed. This is when my passion for medicine first took form.

Minimal medical care was not a concern until my grandfather went to the hospital for severe stomach problems. These were the result of Colon Cancer. Because my grandfather had not been to the doctor in years, the flare-up was highly aggressive. When I decided to go to college, I knew I wanted to help people like my grandfather. I chose the path to become a nurse practitioner because I can practice medicine without charging a fortune for my services.

Nurse practitioners are particularly beneficial in rural communities where hospitals and doctors are limited or non-existent. Being an honor student and going above and beyond for my goals, regardless of my financial crisis. I am grateful to be considered for this scholarship opportunity, and should I be selected, I will use it to advance my medical education.

M. Haklidir

R. Doty January 2021

I was attracted to this scholarship because of its name and the meaning behind it. I know from experience; that a little bit of courage can go a long way! As a first-generation high school graduate, it has taken a lot of courage for me to use my education as a way break my family’s cycle of generational poverty.

My motivation is to not only provide a stable life for my own family, but to also follow my passion of helping at-risk youth break their negative family life cycles as well. My career and educational goals are extremely valuable to me. I’m aware that I can only accomplish these goals by earning a bachelor’s degree and pursuing a respectable career in my desired field of Human Services.

Being awarded the Courage to Grow Scholarship would be a true blessing to me. The financial assistance would help me fulfill my dream of becoming a college graduate, and get me one step closer to helping others find the courage to follow their own dreams.

R. Doty


R. Yousuf December 2020

“Who am I?”This question stuck with me through the years, as I contemplated just what made me a unique individual. This past summer I finally cracked a piece of the puzzle to answer the above question by utilizing the idea of the courage to grow.

The entire world was thrown into the chaos of our current Pandemic merely a year ago. I was simply lost, with a loss of what seemingly was my comfortable routine. There was suddenly so much time to reflect on the world; and might I say that I was horrified.

The death of George Floyd was a cold awakening to the reality that racism was largely existent. I was living in such an idealistic world prior to actually taking the time to reflect on the state of the country I lived in. I could not simply stand by, it was time to take a step forward and change the world.

Courage is the ability to take that initial step, regardless of what emotions are holding you back. I used such courage to join a group of students to look at the state of equity in education at our high school. The courage it took to put my voice and the voice of my peers out into our world, was the catalyst. Not only did I take a step forward for change, but also a step that allowed me to realize I am someone who wants to be the change I want to see in the world.

R. Yousuf

S. Evelyne November 2020

Daring greatly, I left my psychologically abusive husband of sixteen years. The outside world contained so much wonder that even when I succumbed to tears under the suffering of either my own family or the universe itself, I refused to stop believing that there was more to life than what experience had shown me.

Courage was a dimmer of a light inside of me, but hope kept whispering to my soul. Those echoes of hope breathed life to awaken me each day to push forward with tenacity. Ignorant, I had few ideas of what was beyond the brick walls of the home where I raised my children. I vowed to use every bit of energy to keep my children thriving.

I refused to walk away, but leaving with my children was not safe either. Divorce while recovering from a traumatic brain injury was audacious. Convinced that the abuse would someday stop, I stayed until it was undeniable that they too were being abused. But etched into my mind was the image of the gun he had purchased when I tried to leave ten years prior. Was leaving even possible?

Yes it was; in the middle of a brisk November night we escaped to my cousin’s house. I had forgotten what safety, or the semblance of it, had even felt like. My life continued to change; my voice grew stronger and louder. And then I took the most courageous step of all; I went back to college as a single mother.

S. Evelyne


O. Todd October 2020

Today, I am someone who strives to embody the Courage to Grow but I did not always have courage. I feared judgment and let doubt, comparison and flaws stifle me for a period of time. Freshman year, my family moved twenty miles from the only house I knew. I went from a public charter school with uniforms and 3 hallways for grades K-8 to being at a large public high school with almost two thousand students.

I had attended my old school since kindergarten and knew names of the younger primary hall students. I quickly realized in high school that how you look and behave affects the number of friends you have, hangouts you’re invited to, and followers on social media. Every year, I became increasingly self-conscious. I didn’t want to rub anyone the wrong way or look silly by what I said or did, so I often said nothing and missed opportunities that I wish I hadn’t.

This time of COVID restrictions gave me the distance I needed to hear my authentic voice. As evidence of my courage to grow, I followed my passion for politics and started a club where we strive to close the age, race, and gender gap in voting, by changing the culture around it. With a college degree in political science, I want to continue to advocate for issues such as mass incarceration and healthcare equity. Growth takes the courage to face judgment, make mistakes, look awkward and trust that it is worth it.

O. Todd

J. Jensen September 2020

“You’ll never make it through college". This statement, issued by my 11th-grade chemistry teacher, shook me to the core. I had always been the source of constant criticism due to my Attention Deficit Disorder, yet this denunciation was the catalyst for change in my life. Motivated by a newly discovered Me vs. The World mentality, I set out to quell the doubts placed in my mind by both teachers and acquaintances. I succeeded. My senior year was a milestone. I achieved high grades, made sports teams, participated in clubs, and improved my social life.

I should have been happy. I wasn’t.

It took me some time to understand why. I had for the past year, focused on ME. My doubts, my faults, my failings. I had been motivated to squash criticism about ME. This sole focus on myself had unknowingly made me miserable. I set out to change this. I volunteered at reading centers, I focused on my family, I made a goal to perform one charitable thing daily. I switched the focus from ME to OTHERS. I had the courage to grow. I want to help others grow as well. That is why I am attending college to become a licensed psychologist.

I am now happy. Yet, happiness doesn’t last. I still get sad. Worries plague my mind. The burdens of paying for my education haunt me. Yet through this new approach, I now have true joy. I’ve discovered that although happiness is fleeting, true joy lasts a lifetime.

J. Jensen


D. Daniel August 2020

The Courage to Grow Scholarship provides an opportunity for me to reduce the cost of earning my education. I am determined not to allow financial burdens to prevent me from making an impact on the world. The economic support this scholarship will provide will not only fund my education, but in due time, it will be paid forward to increase the number of students who will be able to earn their education as I plan to create my own scholarship foundation when I become successful. Consequently, it is imperative that students like me, who are financially supported by a single-parent household, have the same educational opportunity as students who have the financial support of both parents.

Correspondingly, this has been a pivotal time in my life as an African American female, being a black woman, who moved from Florida to Atlanta, with my dad right when my high school journey was about to begin. Not only was I without my mom, but I lived with three other people in my Granny’s one-bedroom apartment (three people sleeping in the same bed). In the face of that admittedly challenging adversity, I showed no signs of drop-off in my academic performance. Quite the contrary, it actually provided me the foundation to be a better student who valued the importance of education as I saw it as my only way out of this hardship. I have been denied countless scholarships, but I still choose to persevere because giving up is not an option.

D. Daniel

C. Brennan July 2020

At the age of 30 I decided to go back to school. The decision was not easy. I wasn’t sure I was capable of going to college. This was not due to any obvious self doubt; I told myself it was not the path for me and I worked and traveled instead. I grew into myself during the years away from school and what I know now is that I carried a sense of self lack and disempowerment around life and around academia. With systems of reward and success being male-centric; the seeds of doubt were planted in me as a young girl and I didn’t notice the brambles they grew into, blocking my path.

When I plunged into community college I was surprised to find that I excelled in my studies because I really wanted to learn and I began to find words and ideas for things I had thought about for years around social and ecological injustices. With growing confidence I found the courage to study art which I’ve done since I can remember. Art, I had been told, would never support me and was impractical. I have begun to see that pursuing art is my path toward contributing to a more just and loving world that I believe in, and this begins with completing my BFA. But I need help with this dream as the costs of going to school are solely my responsibility and so I ask to be considered for your generous scholarship.

C. Brennan


T. Bullock June 2020

As a Jazz pianist, I have discovered the invaluable gift of my unique creative voice through music, which allows me to persevere through difficult times and express my perspective in society. One of the greatest attributes of music is that it gives a voice for people to tell their stories, especially those who may not otherwise have a platform. Through music, I hope to expose the deep-rooted systemic injustices in our nation’s history and raise our collective consciousness towards love and acceptance of one another.

Recently, I was honored to host a virtual “At Home” concert through the Nashville Jazz Workshop. Jazz music reflects the culture, strength, and ingenuity of the African-American people and I wanted to express that in my show. The set list included songs that speak to the history of injustice that plague our country.

The universality of music has given me the honor to serve a diverse group of people, including children in the inner city, people who have struggled with drug addiction, and most recently, the elderly at an assisted living facility. Through these experiences, I have seen, firsthand, the power of music to make a positive impact on a community.

This fall, I will audition for music conservatories. My goal is to be a professional jazz performer, composer, and educator. Your investment will enable me to gain the knowledge and skills to educate youth as well as create music that unifies, raises awareness, and inspires change for the social ills in our society.

T. Bullock

J. Myers May 2020

I live in a small town. Most of the people here were born and raised here. Families stay for generations, they raise their kids and grandkids in the same place. They have childhood friends and ties to the community. All of these things give them a sense of belonging.

I, however, have not had that experience. I have grown up in three different states; Florida, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Each time I start to get settled somewhere I end up moving again.

This caused me to feel like an outsider and become very angry. I kept myself from getting invested in any place. I was so focused on what life could have been that I missed out on what it actually was. My own anger was my greatest obstacle.

One day, however, I made the deliberate decision to let go of my anger. I realized that I was holding myself back, and I would never grow if I continued this way. This was a difficult decision to make, but I am so glad I did. I now realize that new experiences should be embraced, not feared.

I believe that these experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. I now have a unique ability to not only adapt, but to thrive in new and challenging circumstances. It is for these reasons that I know I am well equipped for my next exciting journey, college. This scholarship would help me be able to enjoy that journey a little bit more.

J. Myers


N. Harling April 2020

I am unsure of everything. I am unsure of what to do today. I am unsure about what job I want to pursue. I am unsure of where I want to live. I am unsure if I can travel the world. I am unsure of everything. There is only one thing that I am sure of, I am sure that I need to go to college.

I value education. Without education the next generation of leaders would not be able to make necessary decisions. Whether those leaders are high school principals or the president of the United States, they need education. Education challenges our minds and pushes us to achieve what we are truly capable of. Without education society would have to start over and begin again.

I deserve this scholarship because I value the education college will offer me. I understand the impact that this scholarship could have on me and my life. I am ready to grow as a human and learn more about myself, the people around me, and the world. This scholarship will help me achieve my educational goals and set me on a path to becoming one of America’s future leaders.

N. Harling

J. Craig March 2020

Courage is standing up for what is right, even if what is right is not what you want. Courage is setting aside differences and helping your neighbor like she is your sister. Courage is being brutally honest with yourself when you need to be told the bitter truth.

I try to be courageous for the kid in my first-period English class who is closeted like I was and does not know whether to laugh or not when kids in our class are using the word “fag” or “gay” in place of “stupid” or “dumb”. I try to be courageous when I worked on a congressional campaign in 2018 facing a tidal wave of prejudice while I focused on ensuring the voice of everyone, democrats, independents, and republicans were heard by doing mass voting registration drives. I try to be courageous for my mother who works so hard to put my brother and me through school, giving up so much in her life for us.

I can remember when my mom came home from her second job one night years ago. I looked at her as she hid her eyes from the cruel world with her hands only for a moment. She then pulled her hair back and got to work on homework with me as I was extremely dyslexic as a child and could not do it alone. She gives me the courage to grow. This scholarship merely helps ensure I have the money to do so in college.

J. Craig


S. Beleau February 2020

Growth is a concept I feel quite emphatically about. In my eighteen years, I have met adversity, and have learned to fight through it. Throughout grade school and my adolescence, I faced numerous bullies; therefore it was a continual struggle to even know what self-esteem felt like.

My lack of self-worth and need for inclusion made me an easy target; verbal and physical fights were daily occurrences during my childhood. In middle and high school, I let other people just as insecure as myself assign a low value to me, inviting negative thoughts that pervaded my mind like a virus.

Finding my self-esteem was like the allegory of Plato’s Cave: I found light in a place I had not recognized as dark; I learned that my value was to be rightfully decided by myself. Seeing this light in the dark exhibited my most substantial growth within my high school career. I changed the things I said about myself to myself. Finally, my own future came into focus, no longer blurred by insecurities.

With self-esteem came maturity. Embodying the concept of self-esteem is what has made me the person I am today, one who is stronger than he once was. Not only did I grow out of weakness, but I have also learned along the way that growth is a necessity for those with ambitions such as myself; One who has degrees to earn, businesses to start, and places to see.

S. Beleau

A. Stanger January 2020

I believe I am the epitome of the phrase, “Courage to Grow”. I don’t have a story like some, a story of loss or rejection or disease. My story is about how I had the courage to completely change my perspective.

My brother has autism and over the years, it has affected our family immensely. My parents dedicate a huge amount of time to him with doctor appointments, school meetings, medication research, counseling appointments and much more. Often, I used to find myself feeling like an afterthought to my parents. I felt like my family’s life revolved around my brother until one day I had the courage to grow by switching my perspective to the perspective of my brother. I had the courage to choose to see him as not a challenge in my life, but as an opportunity for growth. I had the courage to let go of the feeling that I was alone. I loved my brother before, but that day, I had the courage to love him unconditionally. Although this compassion and understanding may come easy to some, I consider it an amazing step of growth in my life.

Since then, I’ve been able to see not only my brother in a different light, but people all around me. Because I had the courage to grow, the courage to become a better person, I have found a happiness in which I couldn’t obtain any other way. My courage to face my hardships truly changed my life forever.

A. Stanger


M. William December 2019

Life doesn't necessarily get easier as you get older. Things are constantly changing. Even when you are not expecting it or wanting it. It was never my plan to return to college in my fifties. However, life throws challenges our way and we must adjust. I was laid off from my job this past summer.

I never expected that I would be in this position at this age; and it was a turning point. I could continue down the same path that was comfortable and familiar or try something new. I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and took it as an opportunity to further myself and my career options.

I am now enrolled in college and excited about my future. It’s all new and quite daunting, but I am looking toward the future; not living in the past.

This is my one life and I choose to be proactive and not be discouraged. It will not be easy and I will have to challenge myself daily. Who knows what will come of my efforts, but I believe I will be better off with more knowledge and new skills.

You are never too old to learn!!

M. William

M. Her November 2019

Throughout my life, I was often alone and spent a lot of time observing the behaviors of the people around me. I analyzed closely what they thought and how they reacted to different situations. Oddly enough, I realized how alike we are, how basic life is, but also how dynamic. Humans have a large capacity for love, as well as cruelty; this could be the reason why our world appears corrupt. We constantly seek the superior, the artificial human, to guide us to the path of perfection. Unfortunately for some people, this desire is immeasurable to fill, yet others have nothing to fill.

During my adolescence years, I struggled a lot with my identity: I wore the labels others put on me. Little did I know, I dug my grave deeper by keeping my voice shut away, this had let others live vicariously through me. But after learning that no matter what I changed of myself, there will always be those who appreciate me and those who do not. I embraced my will to live and my will to succeed in life. I came to truths with my identity after forgiving myself and knew deep down that I desired wisdom. The taste of overcoming is rejuvenating to my purpose in life.

Going to college will give me the knowledge to help others overcome their own hardships through engineering and creating new ideas with technology to help the environment, to spread awareness about social issues and solve world problems.

M. Her


C. Bush October 2019

Shrimp, Shorty, Short-Stack - just a few “nicknames” given to me by classmates. Nevertheless, I set my mind to achieving great heights in other ways - ways that can’t be measured by a yardstick.

In spite of being picked on in school for my short stature, I was determined that I wouldn’t let it get to me. I excelled academically and began growing in my community. Although I am a high school senior and only 5 feet tall, I have “Courage to Grow” on the inside showing others a person is not only made of the outward appearance but also the heart. I demonstrate this as a Jr. Captain for Young Men of Valor, a program that focuses on young boys’; mental, physical, and spiritual growth. Many of the boys are physically taller than I am; however, I encourage them to grow up to be respectful and responsible young men. I am also an owner of an eBay business and a pianist at a center for disabled adults.

Helping others is not my only passion; I am very fascinated by technology. I plan to go to college for computer science and start a computer freelancing business, allowing me to work both in Corporate America and in the homes of our communities.

This scholarship will help me be a model for those to whom the world says, “You don’t measure up”; - so they too will have the “Courage to Grow”.

C. Bush

P. Thomas September 2019

When imagining my strengths, talents and hobbies, I often see myself on a literal tree. A tall, gnarly tree sprawling in many different directions.

When I look up, I see that my tallest branches tower many feet above, filled with lush, green leaves and forming a canopy to shadow the space below. These branches of my academia, flourishing since childhood, are much stronger and harbor much greater potential to produce fruit: becoming a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer. I can almost see this fruit springing from the branches.

However, I still find myself lingering below them, in their shadow, on a low hanging branch “ My Branch of Cinema”. It is sturdy and healthy, yet small. I have only known this new academia for a few years. I think, “It would be silly to stay on this branch and wait for it to grow fruit. I must do what will surely make money”. Though I cannot bring myself to climb to the canopy branches.

Creating, innovating, presenting, entertaining. This branch, although new and young, harbors all of the things I love. The branches within my canopy, no matter how large they may grow, hold no passion. However, sticking to this path requires courage: courage to remain with this little branch, courage to help it and watch it grow and intertwine with the branches above until it bears the best fruit on my tree. I believe that this scholarship will help me to do just this.

P. Thomas


E. Pan August 2019

As a child, I was constantly in awe of the interconnectedness of the universe. It was this feeling of childhood wonder that began my passion for physics and later motivated me to tutor others. I had never understood the appeal of teaching until I became a peer tutor. The shine in a student’s eyes when they finally understand a topic, the jumbled words as their brain moved faster than their mouth, the feeling of satisfaction when they tell me they notice a phenomenon in real life, all far outweighed the time and effort behind it.

Additionally, I hope to increase female participation in the sciences. I’ve only met a handful of female students who can say confidently that they want to pursue physics, or engineering, or math beyond high school. I promoted Women of Science in my school where we see more and more girls show the confidence and comfort to allow their excitement for science to truly show. I hope that I can spark change in the world by educating girls and prove traditional gender roles wrong.

It is important to give back what you have taken from the world, and I feel that it is my obligation to spread the insight that I have gained. In any case, to fulfill this goal, I must start by educating myself in order to educate others. I’d like to use this scholarship to experience a college education so that I can have the expertise to incite the same feeling in others.

E. Pan

C. Strahan July 2019

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they have a breakthrough. After years of trying and failing, I picked myself back up again and realized my true passion.

I am in love with space. The empty cosmos that lies just outside of our reach. The millions and millions of miles of unlimited beauty. The drive for science fiction, exploration, and the ability to touch the stars. I want to go to school to see that infinite layer of beauty. I often find myself looking upwards to the sky and wondering what else is up there. More planets? Stars? Galaxies? People? Anything could be in space and I want to see it. Through researching, watching videos, and doing my own stargazing at night I discovered that aerospace engineering is my true calling. I never wanted to do anything more than create technology (space shuttles, spacesuits, satellites, rovers) to see beyond what humans can grasp. Human beings have set foot on the moon before and it can and will happen again through the future generation of star gazers such as myself. I might be young and naive but everyone has been at some point. If the world didn’t have young people chasing their dreams then we wouldn’t have the luxuries that we live with today. Human knowledge now expands outside the realm of possibilities.

Nothing is truly impossible without dreams and courage. With one vision in mind, I can change the world. All it takes is a little courage to grow.

C. Strahan


O. Wyles June 2019

The title of this scholarship, “Courage to Grow”, expresses the profound belief that growing is a choice, and a courageous one at that. Although rain falls from the sky and the seeds in the ground will undoubtedly grow, humans are different. Life hands us rain, but it is our own courageous decision to use it to grow.

In 2015 I developed an autoimmune disorder called Alopecia that caused all of the hair on my body to fall out. As a girl in high school, image is everything, and this personal loss left me broken and fearful of what life would look like going forward. As I navigated through this complex time in my life, I could have chosen to hide myself away and let this debilitate me, or I could choose to embrace who I was and whilst doing so encourage others to do the same. I am proud to say that I chose the latter.

Since that loss 3.5 years ago, I have had the opportunity to be courageous every time that I walk out of the house with a bare head proclaiming that image isn’t everything, and being bald is beautiful. Not fitting into societal standards is still beautiful.

I believe that I should be awarded this scholarship because I am committed to growth. Through a multitude of personal experiences I have learned that embracing growth within yourself is a way to encourage it in others, and we could all use a little encouragement in our lives.

O. Wyles

V. Simeon May 2019

I believe I am the right applicant for this scholarship because I understand how much courage it takes to reach my goals no matter what comes my way.

Being a child of two immigrant parents, opportunity to go to college was all my parents dreamed for their children. Although I was the second born of two children, I am the only one who decided to go to college and pursue my dream of becoming a pediatric nurse. In my senior year of high school an unfortunate event occurred in my life. I lost my mother to diabetes which had been giving her health complications for years. I took a fall and failed my senior year due to depression and stress. Despite people around me saying my chances of getting into college were low, I fought the fight and went back to high school to get my diploma. From getting my diploma to being in my last year of college today, I have the “Courage To Grow” because I know how it feels to go through hard times and have very few people believe in you and yet still succeed.

I deserve this scholarship because I am prepared to make a difference in other people’s lives. I will give back to the community and encourage other people to have the courage to grow in any situation or circumstance .This scholarship will help me finish my last year of undergrad and be the first in my family to receive a bachelor’s degree.

V. Simeon


J. Bosley April 2019

I believe I embody the spirit of this scholarship award which seeks to recognize young scholars who are courageously committed to obtaining a college degree and attaining their goals. I have always prided myself on maintaining high grades and appreciating the excellent educational opportunities which have been afforded to me.

One of my greatest personal strengths is determination and it has served to empower me with a good work ethic, ambition, positive focus, and the dedication necessary to successfully accomplish all my career and personal goals. My determined drive comes from my maternal grandfather, who was my substitute father and mentor. He passed away from cancer when I was 13, without the opportunity to share one last hug or meaningful talk. Accepting his loss was one of my biggest life challenges thus far, particularly because my mom and I lived with my grandparents following my parent’s divorce.

Receiving this scholarship would lessen the financial burden of receiving a higher education. My family makes many sacrifices in order to provide me with opportunities which enhance my life. However, like many other students, I still need to seek employment and student loans in order to afford college. If I were fortunate enough to be a recipient of this scholarship, it would offer me the ability to work less and focus more on studying, thus permitting me to fully appreciate the educational value offered at the collegiate level. Lessened financial burden equates to lessened stress.

Thank you for considering me for this scholarship.

J. Bosley

G. Davis March 2019

In May of 2018 there was an ICE raid in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. This idyllic town where I grew up seemed to suddenly transform in to a hateful place before my eyes. This being exactly what I have been combatting throughout my years of classroom teaching and global-minded learning energized me to take action through work with the organization “IowaWINs”.

IowaWINs connects affected families with the resources and help they need to move through their family’s separation, loss and all-together trying times. Since June of 2018 I have been responsible for communicating with my assigned family to answer questions, connect them with local charitable events that can provide them with basic necessities, legal advice, job opportunities, and more.

As an ESL teacher, I do my best to use the afore-mentioned realizations and passion for action, acceptance and love in the classroom every day. After a day of teaching, I switch roles, as I am currently enrolled in the Masters in TESOL program at the University of Minnesota where I teach a TOEFL prep course and Research Writing to international students. Each of these positions allows me to demonstrate my leadership skills, work ethic and flexibility as I move from job to job, jumping from different populations and learning levels; sometimes all in one day!

Knowing that as a student and as a teacher attitude is everything, I do my best to arrive to my classes with an excitement for learning, a drive to succeed, and a heart full of empathy.

G. Davis


T. Walter February 2019

Courage is climbing Mount Everest, battling cancer, and skydiving. But courage is also those small steps. The ones that you might have never taken, like trying something new or taking a chance. Courage is sharing a part of yourself that is intrinsically vulnerable. Your heart, your personality, your soul. That part of you that is poured into everything you do.

Everything we do in life is based around courage. It determines whether we step outside, raise a hand in class, speak up against something, try for an internship, forgive someone, or apologize for a wrongdoing. Courage is stepping out of your comfort zone and being willing to experience what life has to offer. Being willing to do the things that scare us.

We grow into the people we were meant to be because courage gives us the opportunity. I often just go with the flow, do things only when I am pushed toward them, but lately there has been a spark of something else; a spark I am beginning to think of as courage. It is a yearning to get up and do something. To discover who I could be if I allowed courage to speak. Every day I am learning that the more I am led by that spark, the bigger it grows. It is becoming a flame that illuminates the path I can take. The path of courage.

T. Walter

A. Capel January 2019

Growing up I learned different nourishes courage, adversity is the ultimate test of determination, and hardship is life strengthening me. I am a different thinker with ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, CAPD and visual disturbances.

My life is like a glass of ice water. The rim of the glass represents overcoming to achieve my goals, the water, me with my differences, and the ice is my tenacity. Along my journey, as I keep adding ice, the water rises and cannot be held back. It continually spills over the rim. My differences cannot hold me back. With unending determination, I rise and overcome to achieve my goals.

I process information differently than most people. I think and problem solve out of the box. Frankly, I try to destroy the box. School is very much in the box. I have weathered an educational system not built for me, that focused more on my weaknesses than it ever cared about my strengths. On my fantastic journey I found me, my voice and my courage to grow. I learned to self-advocate, to actively communicate with my teachers and ask for the things I need. I know my trials, they haven’t defined me but how I have responded to them has shaped me into an empathetic, fierce, compassionate, driven, perseverant, resilient person. I have realized what I put after I am: defines me. When I say I am different it is a blessing because my different sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.

A. Capel


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


B.McMillon 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

L.Guerra 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.



S.Larsen 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

L.Jackson 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

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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 subpar 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

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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

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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

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