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Avis Porter English Study Scholarship

1 winner$1,000
Application Deadline
Jan 1, 2023
Winners Announced
Jan 28, 2023
Education Level
Undergraduate, Graduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Undergraduate or graduate student
Parental Status:
Field of Study:
Pursuing an English-based degree (journalism, English teacher, etc.)

Avis Porter was a beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who recently passed away. 

For decades, Avis wrote handwritten letters that she mailed to her family as she was passionate about using the written word to give something special to friends and family and to express her love for them. 

This scholarship aims to honor the life of Avis Porter by supporting students who are pursuing English or related degrees.

Any female undergraduate or graduate student who is a mother pursuing an English-based degree, such as journalism or a career as an English teacher, may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, tell us what you think of handwritten notes or messages, what the most meaningful handwritten letter or message you received was, and why it was so special.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published October 6, 2022
Essay Topic

Do you believe that handwritten notes or messages are more meaningful than typed messages? 

Please share the most meaningful handwritten letter or message that you received and why was it so special?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Jennifer Davis
Southeastern Louisiana UniversityPonchatoula, LA
A handwritten letter from my mother rests carefully in an old jewelry box on my dresser. The paper has been unfolded and refolded several times over the years, but the familiar script of my mother’s cursive handwriting remains crisp. Though she passed away over a year ago, her letter itself represents an entirely different era. Over a decade ago, my mother was writing to me from a court-mandated rehabilitation program. She had been arrested for her third DUI and taken directly to jail ("Do not pass Go, do not collect $200”). This same night, about 200 miles away, I had gotten drugged and assaulted while on a date. When I, traumatized and heartbroken, tried to call my mom, my stepdad answered and, after a pause that felt like it lasted the entire previous night, told me where my mother was and how she got there. The word "crushed" doesn't begin to cover how defeated I felt. Eventually, I was able to reach my mother when she was in jail and later rehab. I don't remember whose idea it was to begin a written correspondence during her stay: I like to think it was hers, perhaps in an attempt to seek redemption for how her addiction sabotaged her potential as a mother. My childhood memories of her took on a new meaning when I finally became old enough to realize that my mother wasn't just "quirky"; she had a disease, and that's why she was often so unreliable. When I managed to stutter out, "I was raped," on the Santa Rosa County Jail phone line, the combination of guilt–and probably a hangover–seemed to overwhelm my mother. She cried and apologized over and over, but by then I had learned not to rely on what she said. What she wrote, however, was slightly more dependable. My mother was more likely to be sober when she added her commentary to birthday cards, and she always took such care in picking out the perfect one. At the time my sister and I would tease her for how "sappy" her cards were; now, it seems like they were the best way she could express herself. The letters she wrote to me from rehab have that same element of truth, even more because she was completely, unquestionably sober while writing them. It wasn't necessarily the major issues we wrote about that I found the most value in, such as my assault, but the minor things: the classes I was taking, the people she met in rehab, and even her new sponsor. Finally, I could talk to my mom the way it seemed normal daughters talked to their moms. After her stint in rehab, my mother's alcoholism crept back in and eventually took her life, yet those six weeks of handwritten letters are so precious to me. The birthday cards, too, are even more meaningful now that I'm a mother myself. Though she never got the chance to meet my son–in fact, she died while we were on the road bringing my three-week-old baby to meet her–I know she was thrilled to finally be a grandmother. If my mom had prevailed against her addiction, her grandson too might have collected a drawer full of sappy birthday cards.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jan 1, 2023. Winners will be announced on Jan 28, 2023.

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