For DonorsFor Applicants

Essenmacher Memorial Scholarship

Funded by
Picture of the donor
Rebecca Mason
4 winners, $1,000 each
Application Deadline
Jan 31, 2024
Winners Announced
Feb 29, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school, undergraduate, or graduate student
Has been involved inthe foster care system

Jeff Essenmacher was a family man, a friend to many, and an employee of Dell Technologies for 23 years.

Jeff went out of his way to help those around him, in both his personal and professional life. Jeff was passionate about connecting with others and was well-loved by his work family. He would have wanted his impact to live on.

This scholarship seeks to honor the memory of Jeff Essenmacher by supporting students who have been impacted by foster care.

Any high school, undergraduate, or graduate student who has been involved in the foster care system may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, tell us how being involved in the foster care system has made a difference in your life. 

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Impact
Published October 23, 2023
Essay Topic

How did being involved in the foster care system impact your life?

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Samantha Koehn
Vanguard University of Southern CaliforniaTurlock, CA
You don't always have the option to choose how your story starts in life, but you have the choice to write your ending. I was born to homeless drug addicts. After 5 weeks in the hospital, with a brain hemorrhage, sepsis and problems eating and breathing, I was given the opportunity to have a better life by being placed into the foster care system. For some, that might have been the end of a story that was over before it began, but for me, I see it as the small spark that ignited the flame that was meant to burn more fiercely than anyone thought it could. I am currently a semester away from completing my associate's degree in criminal justice through a local junior college, completing 50 college units while still in high school. During the pandemic, I was taking dual enrollment college classes because I fell in love with the criminal justice system and the impact a person can make on the lives of those who are hurting and broken. I am currently working on my bachelor’s degree at Vanguard University, where I am majoring in psychology to use with my criminal justice degree, which will allow me to work with youth offenders who are incarcerated or on probation. I want to be a youth correctional counselor to help guide those who haven't been given the same opportunity that I have, a path toward writing a better ending for their lives. I don't believe that people should be defined by their biggest failures in life. I want to be the person who helps them discover how they got to the point they are at, why they were with the people that led them there, and how to be strong enough to see their worth and to make real and positive change for their remaining future. My birth parents may have benefitted from someone reaching them in their teen years, telling them there is more than getting high and helping guide them toward healthier choices. Between them, there are (at least) eight children who have been born drug-exposed and who have been removed from them through the state. That is eight humans who started life with the cards stacked against them and who would have benefitted from being born to people who had prenatal care, weren't abusing drugs or alcohol, and who could love them like they should be loved from a young age, instead of being removed and placed with grandparents or family members and struggling with medical, mental and emotional issues as a result from their trauma. I was lucky enough to be born later than most of them, so I was made a part of a family that valued me like I should be loved. I am going to be the person who will help teenagers, struggling with the harmful identity they have created, break free from the chains of repeat incarceration and emotional bondage. I'm going to help them create a better story than they thought they could have in life, because I was given a chance for a better story in my own.
Meagan Harmon
University of California-Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA
Jennifer Kabat
Fitchburg State UniversitySalem, VA
My mom grew up in foster care most of her life. It's not something she often spoke about with me but when she did, the stories were terrible. She was one of the many unfortunate children who did not end up in a good loving home. My mom's experience is what made me want to be a foster parent in the first place. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be one of the good ones. To provide a stable caring home children could come to in crisis and feel safe and loved by a temporary parent. A place they could continue to be a kid without the problems of the adult world. Having now been a foster parent to multiple children in need, I never could have imagined how it would change myself and my life. Being a foster parent has greatly changed my perspective. I thought I understood what these children go through from what my mom told me, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. The things these children have seen, heard, and experienced horrify me. They also show me just how strong these children are to come out the other side, to open up and grow in my home, and to be able to trust in me or any other adult. Caring for children in the system has demonstrated how small most of my problems actually are in comparison and has changed how I approach issues in my own life. Every child I have fostered has changed me. They have changed how I appreciate the childhood and family I was lucky enough to grow up in. They have taught me new methods for gentle parenting, expressing emotions in healthy ways, and how to find joy in bad places. We navigate their issues together and I have learned many techniques and approaches to problems I never would have thought to learn otherwise. Most importantly being a foster parent has shown me that being a parent to these children is my most important role. I love my job but sometimes the hours I work get in the way of my foster children's needs. This is an issue I've been looking at how to fix, to continue my passion for nursing while fulfilling my role in foster parenting. That is why I am pursuing a Master's of Nursing in forensics so I may work in a far more flexible field of nursing and provide more consistent care to my foster children. They are the ones who inspire me to specifically work in forensics, caring for victims of abuse and neglect, and collecting evidence for use against the perpetrators. Without my involvement in the foster system, I may never have known the important role forensic nurses play. I saw firsthand how much difference a forensic nurse made when one of my foster children required their services. I want to be able to provide that to others while also being able to better care for my foster children as best I can.
Wyatt Ligue
Jackson High SchoolJACKSON, MO
When I first went into foster care I was sad because I was separated from my family either know they hurt me I still loved them. After all, it's my family, and If I grow a bond with someone I would hate to break or lose it but then I realized that sometimes you lose the people you like or love the most but over the past 9 years I became stronger and I learned that I can overcome lots of problems with faith or courage and Im 17 right now almost turning 18 and I feel like I grew up so fast but I wanna get my criminal and justice degree and do law enforcement as a career and I know that it's not easy for some officers but I want to have a mindset of me going to work knowing that it's what I do that changes people lives for the greater good and in the end, I can go home at night not worrying about when the next time a kid dad beats their mom or any other explicit behavior. I always wanted to ask for help when I was young but I was afraid of what would happen if I ever said what my parents did. It would make me happy knowing that a child is going to be in a happy, loving, and enjoyable home. and I learned that It is okay to ask for help it's something that I had to learn and overcome because of the household I was raised in as a child. I was always scared neglected and felt disconnected from my family like I wasn't as superior as they were. I want to help children know that they are getting the help they need like the help I have gotten and for some people who are a threat to their community by showing violence I don't want my community to be scared and feel unprotected I want them to feel safe and protected and I know what the law enforcement requires and I know I can follow their standards and I just wanna be a police officer everyone loves and who is glad to have them in their community cause he loves his job not for the money but for the goodness of his people. that's why I think I deserve the Essenmacher Memorial Scholarship and also If there's another kid who needs it more i will back out and Thank you so much for doing this!!


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jan 31, 2024. Winners will be announced on Feb 29, 2024.

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