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Heroes in High School 2023 Resilience Scholarship

Funded by
Picture of the donor
Anthony Tran
1 winner$1,150
Application Deadline
Jul 11, 2023
Winners Announced
Aug 11, 2023
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior
3.0 or higher
First Generation College Student or First in your family to pursue your chosen career path

The Hero’s Journey is the universal path of facing immense challenges and discovering individual greatness that lies within. The lesson to be learned is that the capacity for this journey lies within us all.

High school is a time of challenge, obstacles, and hardship, BUT it is also an opportunity to experience positive transformation. The arc of a Hero’s Journey is familiar to us all because it is universal, transcendent, and innately human.

The Journey begins with a pull away from ordinary life and status quo as the Hero receives a call to action. The Hero must separate from what they know, but with the help from a mentor, guide, or favorable circumstances, they accept the calling. Along the journey, the Hero crosses a point of no return where intense challenges must be faced. Here, the darkest fears, the biggest obstacles, and greatest tests must be dealt with. Through this, the Hero finds themselves changed into something different, something has changed for them as a result of the journey. This change allows the Hero to contribute in a new way to the world around them.

This scholarship supports students in Oregon who embody the Hero’s Journey by taking their challenges, trials, and hardships as experiences of growth.

Any high school senior pursuing higher education in Oregon with at least a 3.0 GPA and community and extracurricular involvement may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, please look back on your experiences and share how the Hero’s Journey fits in your life, focusing on the idea of RESILIENCE. Tell us about your experiences and how you have woken up your inner hero in the process.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published May 10, 2023
Essay Topic

Every hero has a journey. Please talk through your life experiences through the lens of resilience and how you have awakened your inner hero through the process.

600–800 words

Winning Application

Keira Carstensen
Oregon State UniversityCORVALLIS, OR
I spent the first ten years of my life living a relatively normal and happy life. My family wasn’t wealthy, but we could afford the things that we needed and enjoy a small outing every now and then. My life hit a wall soon after I turned ten years old when my mom developed an inherited mental illness of bipolar disorder. She slowly started to change into a completely different person, and so did I. I started to go from playing soccer games on Saturdays to cleaning the house. I stopped playing games with my brother in the evening to cook meals. I learned to grow up quickly after having to save her after the attempts she made to end her life. She had to stop working altogether. Between paying her medical bills and living on my father’s income alone, we had to file for bankruptcy and change our lifestyle to one where necessities were sacrificed. Instead of falling apart in these moments, I clung to the goals and dreams I had set prior. They became my light at the end of the tunnel, and the people that cheered me on pushed me through the tunnel to today. However, that tunnel and its end became significantly longer after another three years of my life were disrupted. When I was thirteen, I suffered a traumatic brain injury from falling from a high perch onto my head. I had to be life flighted to a trauma-one hospital in Portland where the doctors worked frantically to keep me awake; alive. The following days in the hospital were remembered few and far between. I remember being told that I acted like a four-year-old and was really into the Jello. On the fourth day, I became fully conscious, managed to walk to the bathroom with the IV pole accompanying me, and sit back down on my bed and conversate with my puzzled family. The doctors that came in soon after were astonished. I was unable to walk, hear, or act my age from the permanent brain and nerve damage I sustained, but I suppose divine intervention determined otherwise. However, I was not out of the woods yet. For the following years, I endured intensive physical therapy for the disabilities I still sustained, and today suffer from permanent vestibular damage, hearing loss, and memory defects. Fear not, for through the face of adversity, I gained unwaveringly advantageous life skills and grit. I experienced a lifetime in six years that gifted me with wisdom, maturity, perseverance, resilience, empathy, and the relentless drive to keep moving forward. There is a parable of ancient wisdom that I like to live by after these experiences: good or bad, who’s to say? These experiences have strengthened my will to pursue my ambitions and passions because I can face the challenges on the path to my goals and dreams with the confidence that I will prevail and fail forward. I was not able to become whole and new again without the support of my teachers, friends, and family, and certainly not without failures and setbacks on the journey forward. I am able to share my story with others to give them advice, wisdom, and sometimes just an empathetic ear to guide them through their own adversity. I do not put these experiences behind me because they are what shaped me into the person that I am today. In the heat of these moments, they were dreadful and painstaking, but now that I have an omniscient point of view, I know that I have gained more than I could’ve ever hoped for and more than I lost. Today I can balance being a student, student-athlete, leader, teammate, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, and soon-to-be aerospace engineer because of the tunnel of challenges, the people that push me through, and my goals and dreams in the light of the tunnel, but not the end.
Sofia Alzugaray Orellana
University of PortlandBeaverton, OR


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jul 11, 2023. Winners will be announced on Aug 11, 2023.

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