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Gamba Creative Arts Scholarship

2 winners, $2,500 each
Application Deadline
Jan 1, 2023
Winners Announced
Jan 29, 2023
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
First-generation, low-income, and/or underrepresented minority
Field of Study:
Pursuing creative arts, music, writing, audio engineering, or arts-related degree
New Jersey

The Gamba Foundation strives to help students in New Jersey leverage art, music, and storytelling to transform their adversity.

Whether a student is economically disadvantaged, underserved, or facing another kind of discrimination, they deserve the opportunity to pursue higher education and unlock all of the career opportunities that come with it. The arts are a crucial way for underserved students to work through their struggles, process emotions, and launch creative careers.

This scholarship seeks to support disadvantaged students in New Jersey who are pursuing art-related degrees.

Any first-generation, low-income, and/or underrepresented minority student in New Jersey who is pursuing creative arts, music, writing, audio engineering, or an arts-related degree may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, submit a short video showcasing a creative project you’re working on and answer the following questions: how has your adversity influenced your beliefs, relationships, creative work, and aspirations? How will your work inspire a positive change?

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published August 31, 2022
Essay Topic

How has your adversity influenced your beliefs, relationships, creative work, and aspirations? How will your work inspire a positive change?

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Jiakun Huang
Princeton High SchoolPrinceton, NJ
When I was growing up in the United States as an immigrant from China, I felt like I never really fit in because of a pretty large language barrier and it was really difficult for me to make friends especially in elementary school, where there were no other kids from China. However, I used to play a lot of classical piano and simply being by myself and working on classical pieces made me feel that much less lonely and really helped me throughout elementary and the beginning of middle school. I also began to play the saxophone at the end of elementary school, and fell in love with the instrument as well as jazz music, and it was really through learning music that I made my first really good friends and I felt like I fit in with others. I am primarily a jazz saxophonist, and a lot of my improvisation stems from my roots as a Chinese immigrant to the United States and a lot of my improvisational vocabulary was inspired by a lot of the Chinese traditional pop music that my parents grew up with. Growing up as someone who didn’t fit in, I want to go to college to study music education so that I can have a positive impact on young kids, as my music teachers did for me. I currently teach private lessons for sax and piano and I participate in our high school music mentoring program, where we tutor elementary school kids in music and musicianship, and these experiences have been so rewarding for me, and I felt that I had a beneficial impact on the young musicians and hopefully inspired them to make more music in the future. My parents first gave me a private teacher for saxophone when I was in sixth grade, and I’ve been studying privately with him for 7 years and still am studying with him currently in my senior year in high school. He had made such a big impact on my development as a person because he was an American adult, someone who I was able to talk to weekly with, and who treated me like an equal, and I want to have that impact on others that he did on me. This scholarship would help pay for my music education degree that I want to have in college and help me help so many other young people in the future.
Dayan Bardales
Plainfield Academy For The Arts & Advanced StudiesPlainfield, NJ
The American dream was never created for someone like me, but I made it mine. I am an undocumented immigrant in the United States. At 9 years old, I illegally came here from Honduras. At first, I was oblivious to the financial struggles our family faced because I was just excited to be here. People from my country could only dream of it, and I was finally here. The promise of the American dream was about to split me in two and mold me through art. Despite my optimism, I was hit with reality a month after my arrival. I was enrolled in the third grade and realized I was not like my classmates. I tried to befriend them but I could not help but feel inferior to them because I was not born here and knew very little English. My parents always reminded me that I was Honduran before anything else, but I felt ashamed of who I was and where I came from. This was the moment I learned that America makes you give up a piece of your culture and identity in exchange for the “American Dream.” In an attempt to fit in, I threw away nearly everything I had known to be true about myself. Neither of my parents completed high school. They grew up watching all their teenage friends in Honduras run the same fate of remaining impoverished or dying at the hands of gang violence. Thus, my parents always instilled in me to prioritize my studies, as that is the only way out of the cycle they have known their entire lives. I started reading books from the school library. Reading transcended me to alternative realities where I felt at home. These stories significantly helped me learn English and they introduced me to the art of storytelling. As a result, I was improving in school, making friends and a passion within me began to sprawl. As I snuggled into the comfort of societal acceptance, I grew apart from my parents. I was doing well in school as they had wanted me to, but they were not as supportive as I had expected them to be. I did everything to prove myself as an exemplary daughter, but nothing was enough. As the years have gone by, I realize that although I may fit into my new world, I will not share a deep connection with my parents as I will never view the world the way they do. The pretty new world I have created for myself does not protect me from or sympathizes with my reality of potentially being deported and having to suffer the cruel reality of Honduras. On the other hand, my family fails to understand that this country has shaped me into who I am destined to be. My constant attempts to find a balance between these two worlds whose approval I have been seeking has shaped the core of my being. The race in finding my place in the world has been long, but I find that all my experiences have shaped me into exactly who I am, a storyteller. Reading children’s books helped me assimilate by teaching me a foreign language spoken in an already foreign land and now, storytelling is the medium that internally bridges my American and Honduran souls. As I seek to tell stories, my two worlds collide and at the center of my universe, I find that my worlds do not need to be at war, and I can confide in knowing that I can tell my truth.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jan 1, 2023. Winners will be announced on Jan 29, 2023.

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