For DonorsFor Applicants

Patrick Stanley Memorial Scholarship

1st winner$1,000
2nd winner$500
Next Application Deadline
Apr 30, 2024
Next Winners Announced
May 31, 2024
Education Level
Undergraduate, Graduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Must be an undergraduate or graduate student
Must be a non-traditional student returning to school after a gap
Must be at least twenty-five years old

Patrick Stanley was a father and a lifelong learner who was passionate about education and passed away too soon.

Patrick was a non-traditional student who finished his Bachelor’s degree at age 28, went back to school and earned his Master’s at the age of 52. At the time of his death at the age of 55, Patrick was applying for Ph.D. programs. 

This scholarship seeks to honor the life of Patrick Stanley and his love of learning by supporting a non-traditional student who is returning to school after a break in their education. 

Any undergraduate or graduate student who is at least 25 years old and is returning to school after a gap in their education may apply for this scholarship. 

To apply, submit an essay or a short video describing your academic history and your motivation to continue your education.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published January 30, 2024
Essay Topic

Please submit an essay or a video describing your academic history and your motivation to continue schooling. 

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Anna Pierce
University at BuffaloGetzville, NY
I have loved math for as long as I can remember. My mom was a teacher at my school, and I vividly remember doing extra problems on her chalkboard long after my homework was done—one after another until she was ready to go home. It felt like solving a puzzle, and completely captivated me. So when it was time to select a major for undergrad, I went with the only thing I knew and the one thing I loved, teaching math. Upon embarking on my teaching career, I encountered both the joys of educating young minds and the financial challenges that accompanied it. My initial teaching salary of $35,000 was not sufficient to cover my living expenses, especially while pursuing a graduate degree in math education—a requirement for full licensure in New York. Juggling the demands of teaching, grading, lesson planning, and graduate studies, I often found myself working long nights and weekends. To make ends meet, I took on a side job as a server. Despite my dedication, after two years, I realized that this career path did not align with my long-term aspirations and dreams. Following this realization, I made a pivotal decision to transition into the corporate world. I secured a contracting position in recruiting at a bank, starting at $15/hour. Over the next five years, I diligently worked my way up the corporate ladder, achieving three promotions along the way. While I succeeded in advancing professionally, I found myself lacking a sense of challenge and fulfillment in my work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, while reflecting on my career trajectory, I stumbled upon a revelation that altered my perspective entirely. As I explored various career options, I discovered a field that resonated deeply with my passion for math and problem-solving—engineering. Delving into extensive research about engineering disciplines, career prospects, and educational requirements, I felt a surge of excitement and curiosity. The thought of pursuing a career in engineering ignited a newfound sense of purpose within me. After years of contemplating my career path and feeling unfulfilled in my current role, I experienced an epiphany: why not go back to school? Did I truly want to spend the next few decades in a job that didn't align with my passions? With determination and a desire for change, I applied to a Civil Engineering master's program at the age of 31, despite initial doubts about my qualifications. Receiving the acceptance email was a moment of disbelief and immense gratitude. Going back to school at this stage of my life is undoubtedly intimidating, yet I am confident that it is the right decision for both myself and my family. I aspire to take pride in my work, make a meaningful impact on my community through engineering, and fulfill my untapped potential. One day, I will tell my boys about how I reinvented myself, and how they gave me the confidence and motivation to do it. I want them to be proud of their mom and for it to drive their ambition. This scholarship would be an opportunity for me to do just that, and I am so grateful to be in consideration.
Mary-Claire Erskine
University of Virginia-Main CampusTUCSON, AZ
At 33, I’m thrilled to be heading back to school. It took me years to figure out which path of higher education would synthesize my interests and skills, and I feel lucky to have found this master's program in Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia. It ties together interests I’ve pursued and sets me up for my dream career in climate change adaptation. In my late teens and early twenties, I was on the traditional education path earning a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies at Oberlin College. Although I got good grades, I was more interested in activism than school at the time. I led student environmental groups and volunteered for an organization fighting mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. Post-college, I embarked on a 5-month backpacking trip along the Pacific Crest Trail. My dad had hiked it in the 1970s, and it had been a lifelong dream. This was followed by a series of odd jobs, including working as a bike courier through a polar vortex in Cleveland and as a builder on a straw-clay cottage. I continued doing environmental work but I grew disillusioned with the limited impact of my activism. In 2016, I turned my focus to direct humanitarian aid and began to work as a logistician with an organization called No More Deaths. The group’s mission is to reduce the deaths of people migrating across the Sonoran desert. While at that job, I took community college classes in auto mechanics to better manage the organization’s fleet of trucks, studied Spanish, and learned a lot about non-profit administration and finances on the fly. When COVID hit and my contract with No More Deaths ended, I decided to dip into my savings to build a tiny house trailer, another long-held dream. Despite the challenges of working alone during the pandemic, the project was deeply satisfying, and I have been living in the home I built since then. I went back to humanitarian aid logistics and when funding for my job ran out, I used my EMT license to work on movie sets doing first aid. Meanwhile, I was mulling over what was next in my life and eventually realized I could use an urban planning degree as a lens to study climate change adaptation. I had been interested in this since college but 12 years ago the field scarcely existed, and I hadn’t been able to figure out an entry point to the work. I see parallels between urban planning and humanitarian aid logistics, both involve the coordination of people, supplies, and resources. While planners focus on the future, their work too can have profound social impact. Both fields require the ability to navigate multiple systems at once and scale between macro and micro levels. Urban planning's role in mitigating and adapting to climate change excites me. Smart planning can anticipate climate pressures, prevent or mitigate disasters, and reduce forced migration. I am also interested in planning ahead to make urban centers more able to ethically accommodate influxes of people as the zones where it is hospitable to live shift at unprecedented rates. I intend to use my urban planning degree to synthesize the issues I have focused on in my life and career so far, in order to do meaningful, direct work in the future that addresses the intersection of climate change, disaster, and migration.
Elijah M.
University of California-BerkeleySan Francisco, CA
“This is too much,” said many of the struggling students I taught essay writing to as a middle and high school teacher. Growing up and teaching in a crime-ridden neighborhood has always made me eager to want to fight for the rights of marginalized communities in some way. I just didn’t know which professional avenue to pursue. Therefore, after studying criminology in undergrad at American University in Washington, DC I spent the next 10 years off to figure that out. After a couple of years of using data to drive results, it finally came to me. From using data to improve student academic, behavioral and personal outcomes, to working in the nonprofit, government, and tech sectors, the 10-year gap continued to spark my interest in leveraging data. In particular, I wanted to use data as a means of social justice and to drive results for marginalized communities. Therefore, I decided to enroll in the University of California - Berkeley’s Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) program. With a foundational understanding of data, the Master of Information and Data Science is helping me take my data skills to the next level to become a Data Scientist, Architect or Engineer. Becoming a data scientist, architect or engineer would be both personally and professionally enriching. On a personal level, there are few architects of color fighting for marginalized communities. Therefore, on a professional level, Berkeley’s MIDS program will allow me to improve my technical data skills in SQL, R and Python. Additionally, it will also help me learn how to use automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to build and maintain systems for storing and extracting data. In addition, I am slowly building a nonprofit and government consulting business that supports clients who use data and communications tactics to drive results for marginalized communities. I help them clean, manage, update, and analyze their data. I often choose to work with many smaller nonprofits and government entities that lack internal staff with technical data skills. Most clients also struggle to automate large amounts of data as well as create useful databases. Because I am building a business and would like to improve my business acumen, I also would like to pursue my Executive Master’s in Business Administration (EMBA) in the future. The quantitative skills obtained from Berkeley’s MIDS program combined with an EMBA will allow me to power the philanthropic data work smaller nonprofits and government entities do by building robust data systems. While at Berkeley’s MIDS program, I intend to work full-time as well. I am currently pursuing opportunities to combine my data skills and passion for criminal, juvenile and social justice. Simultaneously, I work on campus as a part-time Graduate Student Instructor (GSI). I help teach a course on the History of Information. The goal of the class is to help students become better critical thinkers and understand how information has developed throughout history. I attend lectures two nights a week, and then help facilitate student-led presentations and discussions every Friday morning. As a GSI, I use data like I did when I was a teacher to help measure my students’ outcomes in the course. Whenever I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I always hear my students’ voices saying, “this is too much.” But then I remember how support and guidance helped them remain tenacious in their hard work. Going back to school after 10 years is challenging. However, I believe Berkeley’s rigorous MIDS program will provide the skills and support I need to help my clients use data to advocate for communities that often cannot speak for themselves.
Erika Cabell
University of Hawaii at ManoaHonolulu, HI
Cindy Chen
Columbia University in the City of New YorkNew York, NY


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 30, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 31, 2024.

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