For DonorsFor Applicants

Gary Sánchez Swing for the Fences Scholarship

Funded by
3 winners, $10,000 each
Application Deadline
Aug 28, 2022
Winners Announced
Sep 20, 2022
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Black, Brown and Asian

Gary Sánchez spent most of his childhood playing baseball in sandlots in the Dominican Republic. Now Gary plays under the bright lights of Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Minnesota Twins, with multiple awards and American League records to his name. After making a name for himself and achieving his big league dream, Gary is committed to using his position to give back to Minnesota.

With that in mind, Gary has partnered with the Twins and to create the Gary Sanchez Swing for the Fences scholarship, which aims to help students in underserved communities access quality higher education.

Three winners will be selected and each will receive a $10,000 scholarship. All Black, Brown, or Asian students residing in Minnesota (high school or college) may apply for the Gary Sanchez Swing for the Fences Scholarship. All you have to do is write a short essay explaining to Gary what challenges you face or have faced and how you overcame or are overcoming them.

This scholarship seeks to support underrepresented students in Minnesota so that they have all of the financial resources necessary to pursue their education and swing for the fences in life.

The winners of Gary's scholarship will join him on the field at the Minnesota Twins home game on September 23 to receive their award!

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published August 1, 2022
Essay Topic

What challenges have you faced in life, and what inspires you to overcome them?

400–1000 words

Winning Applications

Angel Zheng
Cannon Falls High SchoolCannon Falls, MN
China is the place my parents were born. My parents' family was poor and most of the time they did not have full meals any day. My parents worked super hard to get into America. They continued to work as hard as they got to the US. Soon, a girl was born. My dad had to continue to work long hours to support both me and my mom. The older I got, I also had to work to help. As an Asian-American Girl, there were many challenges I had to overcome. I had to overcome physical abuse, was bullied mentally and experienced mental illnesses. Many people helped and supported me which allowed me to overcome the difficulties. Some of the difficulties I had to experience were physical abuse. When I was younger, my dad used to hit me. I would always dread coming home and always had to lie to people at school about my injuries. There were multiple interactions with the social services, but that only elevated the situation. When I got older the hitting stopped. He started to respect me and I slowly forgave him bit by bit. Just last year, my dad apologized especially when I started to develop mental illnesses. During the times when I was younger, I was not a bright kid. I never understood why the older kids treated my siblings and me wrongly. There was one incident that happened on the bus where older kids -middle schoolers- were making fun of my siblings and me. They made jokes about Chinese culture, but since my siblings and I didn't know about Chinese culture so we kept quiet. After a few weeks of bullying, I asked my mom if what they said were true. Apparently, it was not. There were many times people would assume many things about us. People asked if I eat pets which really horrified me. I own a cat and she is my everything. These many difficulties can greatly impact a person’s mind. In middle school, I ignored the comments. Middle school was a time for people to fit in. Once I hit high school, my brain changed. I was more understanding of psychology and I started to think a lot. Just last year, I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety and later ADHD. I had to stay at a hospital for five days and there I learned many coping mechanisms. I found out who my real friends were and that took a huge toll on me. A person I trusted for many years wasn’t what she seemed to be. I learned many things in the hospital, which interested me in psychology. I decided to pursue psychology instead of a pressured career in law. Though I had many challenges, I had many people who helped me through hard times. My ex-friends were the main reason why I was drowning but when I was able to find a new friend who really understands me and actually cared about me. My family was the biggest support during my depressed state. They listened to me and helped me find solutions to problems. Teachers were also warned about my condition, and they have also helped me. They also understood what things I needed in order to do well in school. Focusing on myself was the encouragement I needed to move forward. It can inspire many people as it did to me. I have overcome so many obstacles that a normal person wouldn’t have to go through. Because I am an Asian-American person, I have to adapt to the environment. It was great news that there were so many people who inspired me to overcome all my challenges and continue into a bright future. Hopefully, I achieve my goal to be a psychologist.
melina figueroa
Arizona State University-TempeTEMPE, AZ
The most significant challenge I have overcome is my father leaving my childhood home. Seeing my father leave my childhood home led me to question my self-worth. I believed that if I were a better daughter he would have never left. My father leaving impacted my mental health growing up and affected my relationships. Although I know now that I am not responsible for his absence in my life, its impact weighed heavy on my mind. This affected my outlook on love and relationships. Not only did his absence affect my mental health but heavily impacted my opportunities. My father didn't support my family financially so my mother had a lot of stress put on her to be able to provide for my sister and I. As I apply to colleges I recognize that many of my dream schools are too expensive. Although I could remain negative about this challenge I decided to take control back by working my hardest in high school. As a first-generation student, I have always worked my hardest to be able to achieve my goals. It wasn't until I changed my outlook that I felt less anxiety and stress. I overcame my worries and self-doubt by implementing the life lessons my mother taught me. My mother showed me how to use others' doubts and negative perceptions as motivation to become a better person. She taught me to be an independent woman and that I am still fully capable of being successful on my own. I learned how to provide for myself, which led to my confidence in being able to achieve anything. I now know how far my confidence can bring me. The ability to further my education is something I do not plan to take for granted. The opportunity is one that my mother did not have therefore, I am inspired to continue my education.
Janaan Ahmed
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolis, MN
From an early age, I knew I was the black sheep of my family. Two of my older sisters were the only kids in the house with a TV in their room. With nine kids under one roof, that was a big deal. Most days, they would watch Supernatural or binge-watch the Twilight series. They welcomed my little sister into their room to share popcorn and watch their favorite shows with them. I wanted to join, but they never let me enter their room. I would have to sit outside the door frame with my necked crooked to the side, trying to glimpse the tv. It was never the same as being allowed in. Physically, I was in the same space as my family, but I knew that proximity and blood weren't enough to feel connected. The exclusion grew deeper when my mom began to abuse me starting as early as 1st grade. My personality has always been bold, unique, and creative. I would walk downstairs in the summertime singing my favorite pop song at the time- usually something by Katy Perry, but my siblings faced me with harsh words. You would've thought "Annoying" was my name, by how much my siblings used it to label me. My mother was faced with raising 9 of her children and 6 of my step siblings under one roof on Section 8 and Food stamps. While trying to run a house, she was experiencing marital issues that resulted in her becoming a domestic violence and abuse victim. In turn, the trauma and pain my mother felt often channeled onto us kids, and the cycle of abuse continued. During elementary, I knew my family was not only much larger than most of my peers at school and in my community, but I knew the pain and suffering were more damaging than my young mind could handle. I quickly found an avenue to process my feelings through journaling. I would hide in the back of my shared closet with a tiny flashlight and write my pain away. To this day, I can still see smears on my pen marks from the tears that fell from my eyes. Though unfortunately, my mother would find my journals, read them, and punish me for expressing myself, and I began to journal less at home and more at school, locking away my secrets and pain in my locker after each day. At school, I felt safe. The house held my family in its walls, yet the space felt empty to me. I knew I was very different from those I shared blood with. I didn't belong. As middle school approached, I excelled in school, participating in every sport and club I could to avoid being at home. Quickly, the school became my home, a refuge. I began to cope with the isolation from my family, the abuse, and the hardships of poverty by overworking myself. My survival mechanism was being a 16-year-old workaholic. Changing my home environment was unachievable; instead, resilience helped me grow into a strong individual. I worked three jobs in high school, was a dual varsity athlete, sat on the Minneapolis School Board, frequently met with state representatives, was a full-time PSEO student, and ran a campaign that became the front cover of many Twin Cities magazines and newspapers. I was a familiar face in my community, yet I felt like a stranger when I walked into my house. I deserved to be loved and understood. My mother resented me for her relationship with my father and the lack of mental health support she received for her trauma as a domestic abuse victim. My siblings labeled me annoying for seeking the attention and validation my mother and family never gave me. Fortunately, I found purpose in working hard at school and being validated for my successes in and outside the classroom. In front of my teachers, I felt seen for once. It's no question that Education is my greatest passion. School saved me from the suicidal ideations I faced from being a victim of isolation and physical abuse. Every day I rushed to my following classes after spending time talking to teachers about subjects that related to our current units in class. The walls of my schools held me closer than my own family. Teachers loved me in the ways that I yearned for in my family. My teammates on the soccer and softball teams became the sisters I thought I'd never had. I didn't, and still don't, belong in my family, but I know I deserve to receive an education and be welcomed into the community of academia. Two weeks before my senior year of high school, my mother kicked me out, and I lived with my alcoholic father, who felt like a ghost; he was never home. Soon after, I moved out and have been committed to breaking the cycle of poverty and learning to provide for myself independently. My family has continued to alienate me and refuses to provide information for collecting FAFSA for college. Because of this, I have opted out of school to work full time after declining school acceptances. This scholarship with not only provide the opportunity for affordable Education, but it will also end another generation of poverty here in Minnesota. The challenges I faced at home allowed me to cling to school and transform my energy positively. I have been inspired to overcome my challenges by one day having a classroom that'll be a refuge for students who share those childhood experiences with me. Through my perseverance, I have excelled in any classroom I enter and continue to show my dedication to Education. Eliminating the financial barrier to higher education will allow me to become a teacher of color in Minnesota and carry the legacy of teachers before me. I am ready to return to the classroom and begin to heal and shape the future of Education. School saved me-I am a resilient student.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Aug 28, 2022. Winners will be announced on Sep 20, 2022.

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