For DonorsFor Applicants

Pierson Family Scholarship for U.S. Studies

Funded by
Picture of the donor
Pierson Family
2 winners, $5,100 each
Application Deadline
Aug 1, 2024
Winners Announced
Sep 1, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Financial Status:
3.5 or higher
International and/or non-US citizen
Education Level:
High school or undergraduate

International students face a wide array of challenges when pursuing higher education.

Between language barriers, cultural differences, citizenship struggles, and more, there are many obstacles that can stand in the way of a student achieving their academic goals. The financial cost of college can also be overwhelming for international students, as they often have fewer options for financial aid.

This scholarship aims to support international students who want to pursue higher education in the United States.

Any high school or undergraduate student who is from a low-income background, an international and/or non-US citizen and has at least a 3.5 GPA may apply for this scholarship, but those from Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Rwanda are preferred.

To apply, tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue higher education in the U.S., and what your plans are for after you graduate.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Need
Published January 22, 2024
Essay Topic
  1. Please tell us about your background (family, community, and educational) and what inspired you to pursue higher education in the United States.
  2. Tell us about a challenge(s) you have overcome and what you have learned from this experience.
  3. Tell us about somebody who has inspired you.
  4. What are your post-graduate plans?
400–600 words

Winning Application

Osemudiame Kingsley-Odia
New York UniversityBROOKLYN, NY
"CHECK THE DICTIONARY" Staring at me unapologetically while I doodled with my little orange pencil in my notebook, my father reiterated, "Check the dictionary." The clock chimed two hours to midnight, yet all attempts for him to define the dozen-and-one words in my fourth-grade vocabulary assignment proved futile. Dad believed they were mere combinations of alphabets, so I needed to roll up my sleeves. Now and then, when Dad insisted that my siblings and I peruse the dictionary for such answers, we always found them in there. I became accustomed and then looked forward to playing Scrabble on Saturday mornings and receiving encyclopedias and puzzles, not video games, as presents. Indifferently, then eagerly perusing these, I gradually understood that no solution was elusive. There is always an answer. But how do I find it? Growing up with my paternal family of philosophers, I learned to seek the rationale behind concepts. Playing ball games demanded spatial awareness and proprioception; drawing, my favorite pastime, insisted on continuing a dot across a blank paper. To even exist within my comfort zone, I desired to understand the underlying principles, as everything seemed to have one — its algorithm. If every seemingly new idea were a slight modification or yet-predictable application of a basic concept, wouldn't every challenge be surmountable once I grasped the algorithm? Was I running on an algorithm? Bird-watching or Rubix-cubing, I considered such possibilities, taking my brain on a wild joyride while appreciating [cyclical] problem-solving patterns. Developing an interest in neural processes, I stumbled upon a WIRED article on Irish neurosurgeon Phil Kennedy, who — in an attempt to induce synthetic communication in ALS patients — hacked his brain and almost lost his mind. Enthralled by the possibility of fusing a career in medicine with engineering, I recall dragging my thirteen-year-old self out of bed the following day, having stayed up late, eager to debate the ethical concerns with my eighth-grade class. Leading such conversations in my high school community catalyzed my interest in neuro-engineering. Still, as this field is yet nascent in my home country — Nigeria — I feared these ideas would only go as far as insightful break-time conversations, and once again, seeking my father's counsel to surmount this, I learned to "step back." I embraced 'earthcare,' starting with dissolving non-biodegradable polymeric foams (salvaged from appliances' packaging) in petrol to produce homemade styrofoam glue for leather shoes and boiling homegrown 'acalypha wilkesiana' as an herbal remedy for my younger cousin's dermatitis then moving on to synchronously pioneering an ornamental garden in my community church and the Friends of Nature Club in high school. Opening myself to the joys of ambiguity, I revitalized my curiosity through the nuances of ecosystems [nature's balancing act] and insightful interactions in the communities I created. By stepping back, I gained two significant insights. The first was the focal point of my diverging interests — restoration. My "restorative" instincts had kicked in to combat challenges in my family and communities and now, ultimately influence my post-graduate plans — designing sustainable nano-biopolymers to reduce amyloid build-up accounting for most neurodegenerative diseases, ultimately increasing life expectancy, perhaps right from the embryo. The second was that I could get closer to these dreams by stepping farther from my comfort zone, perhaps as far as 30.57˚N and 92.33˚W from my home country — the United States. Through higher education in the United States, I aim to continue my quest in its diverse and innovative communities, where each mild gesture or grand measure refines the quality of knowledge and broadens my horizon, tapering my fears.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Aug 1, 2024. Winners will be announced on Sep 1, 2024.