For DonorsFor Applicants

Ella Henderson Dream Big Scholarship

1 winner$1,000
Application Deadline
Apr 30, 2021
Winners Announced
May 21, 2021
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners

"Being in the music industry from an early age has taught me that along with talent, it takes hard work & determination to reach the top. Progress is impossible without change & perseverance. It is important to know that whoever you are, your individuality is what sets you apart from others & not everyone will like you along the way… but it is not their approval you wish to earn. Remember to live boldly, uniquely & independently because when it really comes down to it, the only acceptance you need is your own.” - Ella Henderson

The Ella Henderson Dream Big Scholarship is open to all high school students and will be awarded to one student who possesses musical talent with the necessary drive and ambition to seek continual growth and to sharpen their talents.

Applicants will be asked to write about the ways in which music has changed their lives and how they'd like to change the lives of others through their music. Additionally, applicants will be asked to submit a link with a short clip of them creating or playing music.

Selection Criteria:
Published January 21, 2021
Essay Topic

How has music changed your life, and how would you like your music to change the lives of others?

250–1000 words

Winning Application

Ming-An Fasquelle
Harvard CollegeGlendale, CA
“…From sea to shining sea...!” Singing the Mandarin version of "America the Beautiful" in a recording studio, clutching the microphone in nervous excitement, I imagined the millions of people who would watch the 2014 Super Bowl Coca-Cola commercial aiming to celebrate the multi-cultural identity of America. Following a nationwide search, I was proud to be representing my country where different cultures were embraced. I ended a promo for the commercial with “If you can’t speak someone else’s language, you can use music to communicate.” Although it represented what I believed to be a realistic portrayal of modern-day America, the campaign proved controversial and Coca-Cola had to censor YouTube comments such as "this girl doesn't even speak English” questioning why they had let me sing a quintessentially American song in a language other than English for an event as cherished as the Super Bowl. At age 11, I was deflated by the criticism, wanting to share with critics that I did in fact speak English and had assiduously translated the English into Chinese, trying to capture the nuance of the lyrics. Ironically, just a few years earlier, when living in China, I wasn’t considered Chinese enough. At eight years old, only a month after being thrust into the Beijing school system, I stood with both arms out in punishment, speechless in front of the class, as my teacher threatened to hit the waiguoren (foreigner) for my clumsy non-Chinese method of solving a math problem. Spending my childhood across three continents with a Chinese-American mom and French dad, multiculturalism was my norm. I learned Chinese, English, and French simultaneously, and for much of my childhood, felt comfortable and even grateful for my ability to participate in all three cultures, whereas these experiences left me feeling inadequately able to represent any of them. Wanting to better understand why differences would prompt fear and be met with contempt, I engrossed myself in studying key moments in history and attempting to look beyond my privileged international upbringing. My piano bench my abode, I spent countless hours, striking ivory chords and furiously scribbling ideas in my notebooks, trying to reconcile the past and the present, and make music out of the discord. Meanwhile, I continued to do what I love, supporting people in the community by singing — whether performing at American Cancer Society events or animating fundraising benefits for children. Unexpectedly, songwriting and singing became tools for me to speak out and attempt to bring about change. Through songwriting, my indignation became my inspiration. Years spent in my room drafting songs related to social justice, gender equality, and racism eventually led to composing a song dedicated to the ongoing struggle for civil rights in the United States that won the 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Speak Up & Sing Out Music Contest, and was broadcast on Capitol Hill. Whether I was singing to myself in my bedroom or performing my songs in front of hundreds of people, I realized that music has a power to connect beyond that of words themselves. Today, I am no longer the nervous 11-year old who would stay quiet in the face of criticism and racially-charged judgments. Instead, I see my position as one of empowerment, to bridge not only cultures but ways of thinking about certain social issues; I see every new song I write as an opportunity to promote discourse and take a step towards creating change. Years later, at the Clive Davis Theater in the Grammy Museum, I take a deep breath and sing the opening line from my song, "Proclamation"— “I have faith in humanity, rising from sorrow, we’ll lead.”


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 30, 2021. Winners will be announced on May 21, 2021.

This scholarship has been awarded, but we have hundreds more!
Find a perfect scholarship now