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Sean Allen Memorial Scholarship

Funded by
1 winner$1,000
Next Application Deadline
Jun 17, 2024
Next Winners Announced
Jul 17, 2024
Education Level
Undergraduate, Graduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Undergraduate or graduate

Each new challenge in life requires strength and perseverance on the climb toward success. When climbing, you have to take one step at a time: this is the case for both literal climbing and in life. The climb might not always be fast, and it certainly isn’t easy, but achieving your goals and dreams doesn’t happen without effort.

The Sean Allen Memorial Scholarship will support a student who enjoys literal climbing - rock climbing or otherwise - and simultaneously makes the climb in their everyday life to make the world a better place.

Undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in climbing are eligible to apply. In your application, write about where your interest in climbing came from and how this scholarship will help you on your educational journey.

On June 16, 2020 Sean wrote in his gratitude diary, "I am grateful for the joy of climbing. It really gives me a lot of confidence and enjoyment, and a sense of value. It Makes me happy and I am grateful that I get to do it.

Sean died mountaineering in the Olympic mountains at the age of 38.

Selection Criteria:
Essay, Passion, Determination
Published February 9, 2024
Essay Topic

Tell us about how you became interested in climbing and how this scholarship will help you as you pursue higher education.

400–600 words

Winning Application

Christina Ward
Walden UniversityN ARLINGTON, NJ
Embarking on my journey through higher education as a 42-year-old non-traditional student, I've encountered my fair share of metaphorical mountains. The decision to pursue a PhD in Social Psychology, after a decade of service in human services, was akin to standing at the base of a daunting climb. Yet, my passion for indoor rock climbing, a hobby I've nurtured alongside my academic and professional endeavors, has equipped me with the resilience, determination, and perspective needed to ascend these challenges. This essay explores how my engagement with rock climbing transcends physical activity, informing my approach to personal growth and my mission to contribute positively to the world. Rock climbing is an exercise in problem-solving and perseverance. Each route, or "problem," requires careful planning, flexibility in approach, and the mental fortitude to persist through failure. These same principles have been pivotal in my academic journey and in my broader ambition to make a meaningful impact in the field of social psychology. The process of identifying a route, planning my moves, and adjusting my strategy in the face of unexpected challenges mirrors the approach I've taken in my studies and professional work. It's a constant balance of leveraging strengths, acknowledging weaknesses, and being prepared to take calculated risks. Moreover, rock climbing has taught me the value of perspective. From the ground, a route can seem insurmountable, but with each move, new paths and possibilities emerge. This shift in perspective is crucial not only in climbing but also in addressing complex social issues within my field. It underscores the importance of resilience, reminding me that obstacles in research and societal change are not dead ends but opportunities for growth and innovation. The sense of community within climbing has also deeply influenced my approach to making the world a better place. Climbing is inherently collaborative; climbers share tips, encouragement, and support. This sense of solidarity and collective endeavor is something I've strived to replicate in my academic and professional life. In human services, and now in social psychology, the goal is to uplift individuals and communities, requiring a collaborative approach that values diverse perspectives and expertise. Through my work, I aim to foster a sense of community that empowers individuals, encourages mutual support, and facilitates positive change. My passion for climbing also reflects my commitment to personal growth and lifelong learning. Just as I continuously seek to improve my climbing skills and tackle more challenging routes, I approach my academic and professional life with a mindset geared towards continuous improvement and exploration. This pursuit of excellence and growth is not confined to personal achievements but extends to my desire to contribute to the advancement of social psychology, aiming to develop insights and interventions that can address societal challenges and improve lives. Indoor rock climbing has been more than a hobby; it has been a metaphor for the climb I undertake daily in my quest to make a meaningful difference in the world. The lessons learned on the climbing wall—perseverance, adaptability, community, and continuous growth—resonate deeply with my academic pursuits and professional ambitions. As I navigate the challenges of being a non-traditional student and aspire to contribute to the field of social psychology, I carry with me the strength, resilience, and perspective gained from my climbing experiences. Through this journey, I am committed to scaling new heights, not just for personal achievement, but with the broader aim of creating positive change and making the world a better place.
Adam Lehn
West Texas A & M UniversityAmarillo, TX
I became interested in rock climbing during a particularly dark period of my life. I was about 19 years old and more depressed than I ever had been. I was smoking too much weed, crying by myself when I could find time to be alone, spending too much time indoors, and otherwise not taking care of my mental and physical health. I was in my second year as an undergrad and found myself surrounded by a particularly toxic group of peers. Not only did they not want the best for me, but they were dealing with their own darkness too. Something deep within me knew that something was very wrong and I knew that I had to make a change. I heard of the Expeditionary Studies program at SUNY Plattsburgh near the Canadian border in New York. I transferred colleges and enrolled in several Expeditionary Studies courses, including rock climbing, ice climbing, sea kayaking, and backcountry skiing. It was rock climbing that particularly caught my interest. After leaving behind toxic friendships, I found myself suddenly immersed in a crowd of friends who were interested in physical and mental health and who also loved to climb. I learned outdoor living skills, how to build anchors, ascend and descend from multi-pitch routes safely, the basics of mountaineering, and how to respect the wilderness through Leave No Trace principles. I got a job supervising and setting routes at the indoor climbing gym on campus. I was blessed with the ability to travel to some truly amazing places through the college's outdoor recreation club, including many trips to the Adirondacks, Shawangunks, White Mountains, Sangre de Cristos, Joshua Tree, and even to the Nepali Himalayas. Climbing has truly transformed my life. I was heading down a dark path, and it was largely because of climbing that I was able to pull myself back into the light. I experienced incredible personal growth in confidence, physical strength, independence, and in mental well-being. I have come to want to help others experience this feeling of growth and well-being too. I am working on a Master's degree in Counseling. I have been able to pull myself out of some very dark times. Along with climbing, I have also learned some other techniques that have worked to improve my mental health. I aspire to be able to help other people get through dark times of their own. When I become fully certified as a Licensed Professional Counselor, I imagine myself employing the use of wilderness therapy and activities such as rock climbing to help other people develop self-confidence and improve their mental health. If I were to be awarded this scholarship, the funds would go towards my end goal of spreading the joy of climbing to other people who are struggling with the difficulties of life. Maybe I could introduce it to somebody who could be as transformed as I was. If there were a place for me to upload pictures in this scholarship application, I sure would. Climbing has given me one once-in-a-lifetime experience after another and I have been able to snap a few good shots along the way. I would be happy to share them if anyone were interested to see. Thank you for your consideration. Thank you to Sean. I am grateful for climbing too.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jun 17, 2024. Winners will be announced on Jul 17, 2024.

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