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Trees for Tuition Scholarship Fund

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Picture of the donor
Trees for Tuition
10 winners, $2,000 each
In Review
Application Deadline
Jun 1, 2024
Winners Announced
Jul 1, 2024
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior or undergraduate
Georgia (Atlanta preferred)

Trees for Tuition believes that giving back and lifting each other up is more important than ever. 

Unfortunately, money continues to stand in the way of many prospective students from achieving a higher education and accomplishing their big goals after college.

This scholarship aims to help make higher education more financially accessible to Georgia students so they can pursue the careers of their dreams.

Any high school senior or undergraduate student in Georgia may apply for this scholarship, but students in Atlanta are preferred.

Students who share the same philosophy of helping the community and world around them are encouraged to apply.

To do so, tell us how you plan to make your community, or the world as a whole, a better place after college. Whether that be through your passion, job, hobby, or anything in between. You may also choose to tell us about how you are currently making your community a better place and how you plan to continue doing so after college.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published August 25, 2023
Essay Topic

Tell us how you plan to make your community, or the world as a whole, a better place after college. Whether that be through your passion, job, hobby, or anything in between. You may also choose to tell us about how you are CURRENTLY making your community a better place and how you plan to continue doing so after college.

400–600 words

Winning Application

Adem Byrdsell
College of CharlestonAtlanta, GA
I am humbled to be the founder of a non-profit organization, Byrd Basketball Foundation. My organization allows me to combine my love for sports with my quest to change the narrative of young people. Hosting the Foundation’s inaugural event, a week-long basketball camp was a joyful and proud time for me. The initial reason for the camp was based on my personal experience living in Liberia and understanding the limitations to sports development, however, I was given a second chance at life after surviving a near-fatal car accident in 2021. With my second chance, I chose to give back to my community, and I was determined to not only host the first camp but build it into a program combining healthy living, youth empowerment and athletics. The camp was held from June 27-July 2nd at the LTC Mobile Basketball Complex in Monrovia, Liberia. Initially planned for twelve campers, we expanded to 24 campers daily, and with a fundraising campaign that raised more than 100% of the cost, we accommodated everyone, at no cost to the campers. A typical day started with breakfast, an “empowerment jam” session, followed by basketball drills, training stations and workouts. Campers took a break for a full lunch and ended each day with a scrimmage. A transportation stipend was also made available to campers. Empowerment jams were hosted by coaches and professionals who spoke on various topics including, sportsmanship, the importance of education, basketball fundamentals and healthy living/wellness. Campers also toured the Invincible Sports Park, a new athletic facility, and had to opportunity to watch a high school game at the local YMCA. Each camper received a camp t-shirt, backpack, water bottle, shorts and a one-year membership to the YMCA, which will allow them access to the gym, to continue learning the game of basketball, as well as other facilities, including the computer lab. None of the campers had previously had a YMCA membership, which cost only $10/per year. The little things I took for granted were so appreciated by the campers, and I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce these kids to a world outside of their small circle and watch them expand their focus. We made a call for donations through a GoFundMe campaign and corporate sponsorships and received 44 donations! The fundraising efforts surpassed our budget and now there’s seed funding for next year’s camp. The commitment of a community of individuals and organizations allowed us to carry out our mission to promote teamwork, sportsmanship, and achievement in teens. I believe it’s critical to know that there is always opportunity in misfortune and setbacks. It is my goal to work as a Sports Medicine Physician, advancing the profession and supporting and mentoring young people.
Reginald Grant
Georgia State UniversityAtlanta, GA
The commonality of young black men losing their lives because of the influences of crime and drugs in Atlanta is heart-wrenching. After losing my brother to crime, I felt that God placed a calling on my life to be the change this city needed to alter the way youth grow up. There is no doubt in my mind that I am fortunate enough to live in a profound city enriched by culture, music, representation, and opportunity. Opportunities for those who if they were not here, would not be presented with. I have an undeniable love for this city, but the rise of crime, specifically among youth, needs to be addressed. Many of the youth stories begin the same, either being introduced by someone older in their family or their community. When we add on, economic and household disparities and a lack of adequate education, a recipe for at-risk youth is curated. These issues that these kids face aren't quick fixes. Deep-rooted in systematic oppression because of the neighborhoods they live in is the reason why we see so many kids turn to the streets for security and money. When kids fall behind in their academics, the likelihood of behavior defiance rises. There is potential for many of the kids that enter the juvenile justice system. Many times their talents and gifts can be overshadowed by the wrong that they are doing and with the lack of support, their idea of their contribution to the world can only be viewed as another criminal. What I want is for everyone to thrive beyond the limitations they feel their community puts on them. I want all people of color affected by the systemic oppression that America places on urban communities to strive and achieve by providing necessary policies in place to drive them forward. With that being said, after undergrad, I plan to take a gap year to study for the LSAT but do mentoring with metro Atlanta school districts for elementary and middle school students to bridge the academic gap for many of the students of color. In addition to that, I plan to work with juvenile justice agencies and organizations around Atlanta. From a more long-term perspective, I want to become a Juvenile Court Judge for Fulton County. This role is so important to me because I would have a great responsibility to help at-risk youth understand the importance of their decisions. I would also provide guidance and support for those very same kids that I mentioned earlier. I would provide an alternative to sending these kids to detention centers where they learn to be career criminals. By implementing things like community service and shadowing leaders of our community, their views on success will look different. These opportunities can help them understand success. In addition to being a Juvenile Court Judge, I would also want to be a member of the school board, a Senator of the State of Georgia, and hopefully, be appointed as the Commissioner of Juvenile Justice. The needs of my peers are what I desire to provide to the upcoming generation of young people. They need structure, love, consistency and simply to know that they are worth more than what they've done. And, essentially the time to change is sooner rather than later. To change the violence and crime, we must invest in the youth. I know that I cannot save everyone, but if I can provide support for one child who can educate their peers who then can educate even more, my job will be worth it.
Sophie Silverman
Grady High SchoolAtlanta, GA
Kimberly Lorenzo
Augusta UniversityAtlanta, GA
I plan to make my community a more loving place by being a backbone for hospitals as a nurse. They do the work that is not directly seen but makes the most impact on the patients due to the amount of interactive time. As a nurse, I hope to be able to make everyone feel equal and deserving of the same respect. When one goes to the hospital, your first encounter is always with the nurse who should come with a positive attitude to make your visit a more pleasurable one. Through this role, I want to be a catalyst for changing how the Hispanic and minority communities tend to lack trust in the medical community due to issues such as previous historical events, medical costs, and traumas that they had previously endured. It is my goal to lead the way in changing the perspectives of our underserved communities and prove that it is possible to have a positive experience along the continuum of health with all medical professionals. As part of the Hispanic community, we do not have the best encounter with medical professionals. I come into this world as a catalyst for my mother. I am the one who makes the appointments for her checkups, I am the translator in the room, and I am the one who must do everything in my power to make sure my parents get their point across when in the doctor's office. There have been circumstances where the nurses have lost their temper and have lashed out when they are not able to explain something properly to my parents. The language barrier brings chaos within both of these words without a doubt. I desire to change these circumstances to translate for others within the hospital as a bilingual nurse to take some burden off my patients within the hospital. Although that is in the future to come, there are a couple of ways to help the present community. One way that I do this is by being a leader to the younger children and even high schoolers. During the holidays, I volunteered at a grandparents and grandchildren event where there were various activities where the grandchildren would be able to bond with their grandparents during the process of the activities. It was difficult for them to bond with one another at the beginning but I feel like I gave them certain attributes needed to come closer to one another and understand each other on a different level. This moment impacted me the most for the children are the bright future of our community and must be nurtured in a way where they are also able to give back to the world. Another moment where I have helped my community is whenever there is an opportunity to translate for those who cannot speak English, I come into play to have them feel heard as a person who also had the same issues as others. When volunteering at a Latino Organization, La Amistad, where their main priority is serving Latinos in Atlanta with a nurturing environment, I came to encounter other struggling minorities who could not advocate speaking for themselves as easily in English. I desire to give back to the community by being able to help those who struggle and even have them give back to their community. I desire to give back to those the same way I have been given help in the most ways possible. In conclusion, I feel as though everything I have done comes to my desire of becoming a nurse.
Sariah Robbins
Galloway SchoolAtlanta, GA
I have had a fascination with science since I was little. I drove my parents crazy because I was always conducting my own science experiments in the kitchen and creating a huge mess. When I was about nine, my parents jumped at the opportunity to sign me up for a subscription service and I began receiving science experiments in the mail. Those early at-home experiments are why I’ve never felt intimidated by science. I’ve always loved how science helps you understand the world around you. As a young child growing up in Atlanta, I was regularly exposed to the plight of the underprivileged. During the winter, my father and I would frequently feed and blanket the homeless. We started doing this as part of a community service program at the hospital where my mom worked. When you see how people’s faces light up when you hand them a bag of toiletries, a blanket, food, or a bottle of water, it’s hard not to be impacted. Not only did this exposure awaken me to the needs of others, but it made me grateful for all that I have and inspired me to give back to those less fortunate. In middle school, I explored every aspect of science available to me, from robotics to raising chickens. However, my eighth-grade CPR class was where I first discovered my passion for health sciences. I was fascinated by the science behind CPR, the equipment, and everything about the experience. I had an epiphany when I realized I could utilize science to help people and I knew it was something that I wanted to do. I was able to get a job at a pediatric practice when I was fifteen. I started out scanning documents into the medical chart, but within six months I’d worked my way up to patient care technician intern. In March, I received a Certified Nursing Assistant License. Even though I have a very small role to play in their care, I love interacting with the patients as I take their vitals. I love hearing about their conditions and watching the doctors care for them. Working with the physicians has been an amazing opportunity. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the healthcare field and my experience has strengthened my determination to become a doctor. Too often individuals are denied basic human needs simply because they cannot afford them. I want to be a doctor and help the underserved because I believe that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare. I can't help but notice the large number of people living in impoverished communities with few healthcare resources and physicians. In my own hometown of Atlanta, one of the two-level 1 trauma centers closed this year. That hospital served the majority of the impoverished population, and now there is only one level 1 trauma center left to care for them. My dad and I still take time to give resources to those in need. Every time we go out, a mass number of people request medicine which is something we can't provide. I want to be a doctor so that I can serve and advocate for those in need in my community and communities around the world. I'm applying to this scholarship because, as an aspiring black female doctor, I know that this scholarship will fund my education and enable me to achieve my dream of becoming a physician. I know I will be prepared for challenges in life and my chosen career path so that I can use my skills to serve communities that need it most.
Maddie Shaw
Henry W Grady High SchoolDecatur, GA
I’ve always been a person that has highly valued community interaction. Whether it be telling community stories through my participation in my school’s newspaper, organizing community service in beta club, or facilitating the athletic growth of youth community members in soccer, I am consistently seeking out ways to be more active in my society. Therefore, I greatly admire the prospect of bringing members across communities together. My interest in current events has prompted me to advocate for ethical dilemmas in recent years as well as further my academic pursuits of studying political science. I have always been inspired by and engaged in current events and politics. I joined my high school’s newspaper, the Southerner, when I was a freshman, and I was immediately fascinated by my community’s news. From election coverage of Atlanta’s mayoral runoff to commentary responses to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, I have had a plethora of experience researching and covering political processes and their effect on governments and their constituents. Through my exploration of political science in various courses such as AP Government and Politics and AP Comparative Government and Politics, I’ve been made acutely aware of the inequitable and often dangerous conditions in which people are being forced to live under various political regimes. I have widened my lens of governmental affairs to a global perspective and realized my profound interest in the differences in which countries operate and the political hurdles many nations have had to experience and continue to overcome. My goal as a political science major will be to help people in need through policy-making, to discover the roots of various political problems worldwide, and to assist in eliminating those environments. My college experiences would allow me to pursue this by utilizing education in order to recognize global issues and construct creative solutions. I firmly believe every individual can make a difference in the world. I plan to be a force in community groups and fight for justice among my peers. Additionally, in college, I aim to utilize the research opportunities afforded to me. Specifically, I would love the chance to work in low-income communities in order to develop my education and my understanding of the world around me. I believe that the connectivity fostered between the public and students in research is crucial in preparing students for the real world. I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world and showcase my hard work and commitment. Whether it was my dream of becoming an Olympic athlete in elementary school, trying to inspire my community through my detailed and informative stories in my school’s newspaper, or coaching soccer to underprivileged kids, I’ve always set expectations high for myself but gained immense satisfaction when I reach that goal or deliver that product. I know that my college experience will provide me with educational support and access to all the tools needed for me to thrive in the real world and to fulfill my dreams of doing what I’ve always wanted to do: have an impact.
Triston Cruz-Tucker
Georgia College & State UniversityAtlanta, GA
Hello, my name is Triston Cruz-Tucker, I'm a senior at Midtown high school in Atlanta, Georgia. After I graduate high school this upcoming May 2023 I plan on attending Georgia College and State University starting in the fall then transferring to the University of Georgia after my freshman year. I plan on majoring in wildlife biology and conservation. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with Earth’s amazing creatures and the ecosystems they reside in. I've swam with sand tiger sharks, and backpacked through Yellowstone National Park, and my family has a trip to Kenya for a safari this summer! Wildlife is a core part of who I am as a person. I find it amazing how every organism has a specific role that they play in order to ensure the survival of its habitat. However, due to the impact of humans, more and more species become endangered, or even extinct every day. Whether it’s deforestation, pollution, or poaching, humans continue to disrupt mother nature, and her creatures. Most recently, notable is the approval of the Willow project. The willow project is set to take place in Alaska and will be one of the single largest oil extraction projects ever proposed. It will generate enough oil to release 9,200,000 tons of carbon pollution every year. Not only will the construction of the oil sight displace native species but emissions from the project could have detrimental consequences on a global scale. That’s where this ties back to me and my education. The main reason why incidents like this continue to occur is because the public is uninformed and uneducated on these matters. Continuing my education and pursuing a degree in wildlife conservation will hopefully provide me with the knowledge and resources to help the earth's creatures and ecosystems. I want to understand the best solutions for preserving the natural world. Yet it cannot end with me. With my resources, I intend to educate the public on these matters to ensure that catastrophes like the Willow project can be dealt with properly and not disrupt the natural world. It’s hard to think how many amazing animals we lose every day due to our own faults. It would be simply heartbreaking if we had to live in a world without the all-inspiring species that we see today. We have one planet and I intend to make it habitable and stable for all walks of life.
Arainna Ridley
Kennesaw State UniversityAtlanta, GA
I am currently finishing my last prerequisite for dental hygiene school. I first learned about the dental hygiene profession from my mother, an OR nurse who often works with dentists or dental assistants. Full transparency, I hadn’t thought about dental hygienist or their role in healthcare, but I did know I wanted a career in healthcare. Soon after that conversation with my mom, I began hearing more and more about dental hygiene and how oral hygiene plays an important role in your body’s health. A couple of weeks later, I had an appointment at the dentist’s office, and I was able to have an interesting talk with my hygienist about her experience in DH school, the board examination, finding a job after graduating, and her career currently. This conversation is what made me truly decide to pursue dental hygiene. It is important to me that I find a career that is interesting, while also being able to help the general public. Although several healthcare careers are interesting, dental hygiene sticks out to me because I will have the chance to educate my patients on the importance of oral health. When I think of doctors and nurses, their jobs are no doubt vital, but they focus more on the presenting symptoms and how to fix them. As a hygienist, I will be able to educate my patients on how their oral health affects the rest of their body which will work in collaboration with their primary care. There is a common misconception that oral health is for aesthetic purposes. When in actuality, oral infection or disease can affect your heart and other parts of your body. In fact, oral hygiene has been linked to sepsis, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases. This is because bacteria in the mouth can travel through the bloodstream and cause infection or inflammation in other parts of your body. As you may know, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for all adults. But did you know that 47% of African American adults have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease? In fact African Americans are around two times as likely to get cardiovascular disease than White Americans. However this increased risk is not due to any biological differences. It is due to factors such as poverty, lack of education, and poor diets. As a hygienist I hope to educate patients in my community on the link between poor oral health and cardiovascular disease, while also teaching them how to improve their oral hygiene. Additionally, I will have the chance to screen my patients for something like hypertension, while taking their blood pressure at their appointment. For some patients, this may be the only opportunity for this screening, if they do not regularly visit their primary care doctor. Although I intend to increase racial diversity in the dental hygiene field, I believe it is important to increase racial diversity in healthcare in general. Not only would this increase make the BIPOC patient's more comfortable and more likely to return, but it would also allow for healthcare workers who specialize in BIPOC's health. Although we are all human, there are some conditions that BIPOC are predisposed to or more likely to have. These conditions are often looked past because of the lack of diverity in health studies and clinical trials. The healthcare industry has a significant amount of progress to make towards racial diversity, and I intend to be a part of this progress.
Jordon ammons
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical UniversityDecatur, GA
As I write this on decision day, I can honestly say that I have a plan for my community or a way I can help it. Coming into my senior year I did not know about college. There was no thought of a dream school nor thought about my major. I honestly just enjoyed my last year of High school and lived my life. Now It's time, I see myself rushing to make a groundbreaking decision that determines my life. Even though my mind is made up I wish I could have made this decision earlier and rather than deal with the stress. This made me realize a way I could give a helping hand to my community and create more involvement in the world. In the expanse of six months of 6 months, I gained a lot of knowledge about college admissions. This knowledge may become useless in the next four years unless I share it. My goal to help my community is to educate the youth about college and help them in their next step in life. I constantly tell my junior friends about my struggles and what I went through in the admissions process. Any type of exposure can be helpful in the long run. This is one of the biggest decisions in your life, and it cannot be made alone and it honestly shouldn't be. By using my bachelor’s in computer science I will create a social media program that acts as a big brother/sister to anyone in need called “ The Next Step”. Just as I tell my underclassmen my experience, the program will utilize the same concept. This will give anyone in need, early information about colleges and requirements they want to attend from the people attending the specific college. Pictures and videos can be shared about the day-to-day basis of life in these colleges and trades. The synopsis is used to explain what they are doing and then the user decides, to stay or leave. As more people use the program more knowledge is gained and more opportunities are created. Viewers of the app can become creators and creators can view at any time. People spend most of their time scrolling through social media so I will utilize this information and create positive results. This program should be able to be used by all age groups making their next steps in life. As I start small with the inclusion of testing this program in my school, I will move to make it accessible to different counties and states till it can be used worldwide. The headaches, stress, and frustration are part of the process but you shouldn't let it affect you mentally. Social media has shown me that no matter at what stage you are in the process you still will have detours. The program itself isn't made to make your decision but rather to fill in self-doubts and or gaps in your thought process. Whatever your choice is should always be made by you and no one else this is one of the only restrictions on the program. With this, the next step in the path that anybody takes can be easier and help improve the decision-making process.
Jonas Loesel
Henry W Grady High SchoolAtlanta, GA
“I’m adding a rule that I get two turns now!” Trying to suppress a laugh, I countered “That’s not how it works!” The boy squealed, “All you said was that if we win three games we all get piggyback rides on the playground!!” This past summer, I was a volunteer at a camp for children who were victims of domestic violence. I was in charge of a rambunctious group of seven and eight-year-olds. They often had sudden outbursts of emotions, and would mimic the physical abuse and aggressive behavior that they experienced at home. Getting to know these children and their struggles gave me a new perspective on the extent of people’s hidden suffering, and the impact I can have in my future as a lawyer by committing to help those who haven't enjoyed the privilege of the law on their side. When emotional outbursts arose with these kids, I acted more like a “big brother” than a teacher. I did not punish their behavior or exclude them for their outbursts. Instead, I worked through these situations with the children, encouraging them to talk through their emotions and showing them how to be resilient in the face of triggering situations. One approach was to help the children identify the physical manifestations of their anger. I would ask, “Where do you feel your anger? In your arms? Your chest? Your head?” Once they identified the body part, we practiced distancing ourselves from the anger by asking and answering questions like, “What just happened?” and “How do we feel?” We also used calming techniques such as breathing meditation to help our body parts feel normal again. While I initially feared that my lessons would go in one ear and out the other, the children proved me wrong. After one demonstration of how to show compassion to others who were “having a bad day,” I witnessed many of the children sharing their food with each other, so much so that one child created a whole giveaway restaurant with treats he brought from home. And a few days after our lesson on recognizing angry body parts, another child, without being prompted, told me, “My arms are angry.” He sat out with me for a bit, and left when his arms felt calm again. This was a genuine improvement from weeks prior, when I had to wrestle him away from fistfights with other children. More than any other time in my life, I had a real opportunity to change the destinies of other people. I know that the children’s struggles didn’t end when they left camp, but I was able to equip them with tools to help them cope with their extraordinary challenges. Having this direct impact has moved me towards a future in the same vein: advocating for those whose suffering is not being adequately addressed by our legal system.
Christiyonna Pitts
Georgia Gwinnett CollegeAtlanta, GA
Making a positive impact in the community has always been a goal of mine, and I plan to continue this after college through my passion for teaching. Throughout my high school years, I volunteered at a local organization that specialized in providing food and clothing to individuals in need. Seeing the impact that this organization had on the community and the gratitude of the individuals who received their services sparked my desire to make a difference in people's lives. After college, I plan to pursue a career in teaching, as I believe that education is one of the most powerful tools in shaping the future of individuals and communities. My goal as an educator is to provide my students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in their personal and professional lives. I want to create an inclusive and engaging classroom environment that empowers students to think critically, communicate effectively, and pursue their passions. Moreover, as a teacher, I want to provide my students with opportunities to give back to their communities and make a positive impact. I plan to incorporate community service and volunteering into my curriculum, where students can use their knowledge and skills to help others and give back to the community. By doing so, I hope to instill in my students a sense of responsibility and empathy, which will shape their actions in the future and contribute to the betterment of society. Currently, I am making my community a better place by volunteering at a local organization that provides food and clothing to individuals in need. Through my volunteering, I have learned the importance of community service and the impact that it has on people's lives. I plan to continue this after college, and through my teaching, I want to inspire my students to get involved in their communities and make a difference. Additionally, I plan to support non-profit organizations that are working towards making a positive impact in the community. I want to contribute financially to these organizations and encourage others to do the same. By supporting these organizations, I can help make a significant impact in the community and improve the lives of individuals in need. In conclusion, my passion for teaching and community service has shaped my desire to make a positive impact on society. Through my teaching, I want to empower my students to succeed in their personal and professional lives and instill in them a sense of responsibility and empathy toward their communities. Additionally, I plan to continue volunteering and supporting non-profit organizations that are working towards making a positive impact in the community. By doing so, I hope to contribute to the betterment of society and make a lasting impact on people's lives.
nyjee chase
Kipp Atlanta CollegiateAtlanta, GA
Growing up I never really had true friends. My mom was a single parent and we moved around a lot. I would come to school in the middle of the year or when my class was already three grade levels in. The kids viewed me as an outsider and treated me as one. One year, I attended a new school and there was one girl who didn’t treat me as if I was an alien. She was nice to me and finally showed me what it was like to have a real friend. After being at the school for almost a year, it was finally time to go into 5th grade. At my elementary school, 5th grade was the highest level, so after that, I’d have to go to a different middle school, but before I could even get a taste of my 5th-grade year with the friends that I’d finally made, my mom broke the news to me that I would be going to another school for 5th grade. I was devastated. Once I arrived at this new school everything was different. I was in an environment with much older kids, we had to wear uniforms, and I had no friends again. The kids at my new school always had the newest shoes and accessories, meanwhile, I’d had the same shoes since middle school. There's nothing wrong with wearing old shoes, especially seeing as though they were all I had, but the kids made me feel horrible about it. Not until my 7th-grade year did I find a group of girls who immolated that same feeling of security within a friendship that I hadn’t experienced since 4th grade. These girls helped me find myself. I was so insecure about wearing old clothes when everyone else had something new every week, but they helped me realize that the newest thing isn't always the best thing. They never criticized me and were friends with me for who I was and not what I had. Now that I’ve gotten older I’ve seen how materialistic people can still be. I see people making jokes about old clothes someone is wearing or how dirty their shoes are, but this is the last thing they should be doing and I want to help people realize this. To help out my community, I plan to attend college and major in graphic design and business. Because I want to attend school in a different state when I graduate I plan on returning home and opening a boutique. Not only will I create clothes to sell for personal profit, but I want to take a percentage of what I earn from selling my designs and put that into a line of clothes to create for those who need them. This may not fix the mindsets of those doing the antagonizing, but I will be able to help young girls who cannot afford the newest clothes come back in style. They won’t have to worry about being criticized based on what they have because I plan to be there to help. As of now, I don’t have the knowledge or budget to pursue my dream, but whenever I can I find items that I don’t see myself in anymore and I donate them to women and girls in need. I also create women's care baskets and hand them out to women on the streets because anyone can be in these predicaments it’s just a matter of how you deal with the situation and who is willing to help.
Nakiya White
South Atlanta High SchoolAtlanta, GA
To be successful means not to have the latest stuff, but to be able to look in the mirror and say, "I made it through the struggle, and my journey has only begun." I want to take my Occupational Therapy Degree and turn it into something valuable and beneficial that can be seen as making a difference for others. When I wake up in the morning, my thoughts are on how to go to sleep with a bit step in the right direction that my future self would thank me for later. Me, being this ambitious is rare... I am an African American female, raised in inner-city Atlanta, who overcomes adversity every day. Kids like me do not see a way out, all we "see" is what is around us. I want to be living proof that even when society and statistics say you likely will fail, you can curve it and plant it into your soil of adversity and grow from it to become the sweet fruit of success. Helping others is what I have a passion for, and because of that, I will be majoring in occupational therapy and minoring in social work. First, earning a degree in occupational therapy will afford me the skills to help injured or disabled patients develop and recover physical skills to help them complete their daily living tasks. I remember being in middle school and my friend Sanaa had an occupational therapist at school teaching her how to write again due to her and her dad being in a bad car accident. I watched her try so hard to hold her pencil and write her name. I sometimes cried because that was my friend, and I could not help her. Leaving the state of Georgia will allow me to get away from the gangs and violence that I see daily in my neighborhood. I live in the Cleveland Avenue neighborhood in Atlanta, GA. Most importantly, I will be the first person in my family to attend college and to be completely honest, I sometimes believe that my family can hold me back. My family does not have a lot of money, and I know that the best way that I can help my mom and little sister is first to help myself. Attending Alabama State University will help me do just that. As African Americans, it is already an extra weight on our backs to be more than others might partake in. I want to achieve my dreams to show that women can make their dreams come true. Finding something you are passionate about and seeing where that passion and drive can lead you is a fantastic experience and an exciting journey I am willing to take. I am choosing to break the glass ceiling and show women that it is okay to step out of our comfort zones and choose careers that were not necessarily designed for us. Wanting what is best for yourself and seeing your life in a bigger picture and not a small frame only prepares you for the next chapter of your life. I plan to give back by mentoring younger girls to create a life full of inspiration. If I had the chance to learn with people who stepped out of their comfort zone, to leave remarkable work behind, work that we still admire today, Applying, creating, and renewing is what I go by, but the challenge, the drive, the overcome... is what I dwell by.
Aaliyah Anthony
Henry W Grady High SchoolAtlanta, GA
I have always advocated and believed that involvement in the community is necessary. Moreover, I will stay involved with the community while attending college and for the rest of my life. My parents have always instilled in my sibling and me the importance of giving back. Being involved has helped me meet different people from my neighbor and surrounding areas. As a college student at Spelman, I will mentor children and teenagers at community centers. Also, I will always give back to the community by participating in events to feed the homeless and help them find housing and jobs. I won't do this for hours, and I will do this because I have a passion for helping others. I feel that giving back does not always have to be giving money but giving your time and inspiring others with words of motivation. Volunteering for me is very satisfying. I always feel like I did something good for someone who needed help and helped the community improve. Currently, I am a member of Camp Now leadership Academy. Therefore, run by Bernice King, Martin Luther king's Daughter, is the director of the Camp. The Camp's mission "Is to empower people to create a just, humane, equitable and peaceful world by applying Dr. King's nonviolent philosophy and methodology (Nonviolence365)." The Camp has taught me leadership skills, and I am committed to staying involved in the community. One of the reasons I want to become a lawyer is because I plan to have a law firm. In addition, I will help out others who live in low-income neighborhoods through mentoring, volunteering and raising money. The legal system affects the minority community in many ways. Especially when it comes to African American men, I feel that becoming a lawyer will contribute to the well-being of society. Therefore, promoting justice through fair procedures. I will contribute my time by helping individuals who a wrongfully convicted and can not afford to hire a lawyer. Unfortunately, there is a small percentage of black lawyers in the United States. Therefore, I will start an organization and scholarship for minorities who want to become lawyers. Most importantly, I feel like this is essential because the world we live in is unequal for many minorities. Therefore, I will continue throughout my life to raise money and mentor other minorities to become lawyers and be involved with the legal system. In conclusion, I expect to complete more than 25 hours of community service and continue to do so after college and throughout my career. Community service raises social awareness by positively impacting the community. I was taught at a young age by my parents the impact of helping the community by committing my time. I have volunteered for toys for tots also. I have volunteered for churches within my community by helping give food and clothes and mentoring young children within my community. Furthermore, I enjoy helping others and seeing them succeed; it is a rewarding feeling, and I also get to meet new people.
Wills Barton
Henry W Grady High SchoolAtlanta, GA
I plan to make my community and the world better after college, through my job and my future chemical engineering degree. At Georgia Tech, I plan to pursue an education that will enlighten me in energy and engineering. I want to use what I learn and go into renewable energy sources and working on making the world more sustainable energy wise. Currently we are destroying our world through global warming, without much regard. There is call for change, however the efforts made are somewhat minimal in the grand scheme of things. I want to use what I learn and push to greater heights. I want the world to run off of at least 75% renewable energy, and currently we aren’t even scratching the surface of these numbers. Countries continue to pump more and more pollution into the atmosphere and the effort to make change is little. I want to better the community and the world by contributing my life to the goal of making the world more sustainable. I want my kids to be able to have kids and so after that, and currently with the pace of pollution and global warming, we are destroying our future generations. My job will be to make the world run off clean energy, I want every car to be electric, all power plants to be renewable. With chemical engineering, I will have the knowledge to make electrical chemical processes, and find renewable sources of energy through them. I want to better the community by bettering the whole world. The biggest threat to our futures isn’t war or disease, it’s global warming and resource management. These are my plans for the future, and I hope to make a true difference after college. Currently I help my community through volunteer work and training. I am a big believer in being fit, and do my best to bring that mentality to the people who live near me. From hosting football games at parks, to getting my friends in the gym, I support my community by keeping them active and fit. Being active is very important to me as it has been shown to increase life expectancy by large amounts. I always volunteer to help parents with kids and keeping them active. I sure do love capture the flag with the youngins. This is how I impact my community now, however my future is full of opportunity. I believe with my degree and some motivation, I can be the one that brings the world to true sustainable energy. Not only helping my small community, but helping the whole world.
Samiqiel Berry
Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership AcademyAtlanta, GA
Abigail Henderson
Florida Southern CollegeLakeland, FL
My job is one of the most important parts of my life. I work at an afterschool program, giving kids a healthy, safe, happy place to hang out until their parents get off work. It is everything I would have loved when I was a kid. Trees to climb, an edible garden, creeks to explore, all the art supplies anyone could dream of. All nestled into an urban neighborhood in Atlanta. I have taught kids to make friendship bracelets and origami, explored with them and let them lead, reviewed their homework, and sat patiently by their sides as they threw their pencils on the floor and crumpled their papers in frustration. Occasionally, my patience waned, and it would have been easier to snap at the child. But I held my tongue and took deep breaths. Pencils can be picked up and sharpened, papers can be smoothed out. A child's crumpled ego is much harder to repair. We forget far too quickly what it is like to be a child, constantly underestimated, patronized, misunderstood, with such big emotions and such a small vocabulary to express them. I see myself in those kids. Many of them have mood disorders or learning disabilities, just as I do. I understand the frustration when you just can't seem to grasp a concept that seems so simple, or the anger at the tedious work in front of you when you DO understand, and you just want something new and intellectually challenging. I've been there; I've been them. I was told that I simply "needed to focus more" or "work faster," which only made me feel more hopeless. I didn't want these kids to feel the same way. I strived to provide them with at least one person with whom they could express themselves freely, problem-solve at their own speed, and work in the most effective way for them. As I tried to meet each kid with patience and compassion, an epiphany occurred to me. I was so dedicated to providing these kids with what a younger me needed, what she deserved, yet, I failed to realize that I still needed those things. I was patient with every kid because they deserved patience; because I wish younger me had that support. But every time I couldn't understand a concept or assignment, I felt like ripping my hair out. That anger and frustration wasn't what I needed or deserved. Not when it came from grown-ups when I was eight, and not when it comes from within now that I'm eighteen. I like to think that I'm making the world just a little better for these kids. A little kinder, a little fairer. And in the pursuit of a better world for the children I work with, I inadvertently made one for myself. that's why I want to become a teacher. I want to give my students, particularly the neurodivergent ones, a little reprieve from the suffocating conformity of our world. I know how it is to squeeze yourself into the box that our society provides. I know how it is to mourn all the parts of yourself that would not fit. and I will do all I can to postpone, or even prevent, other children from feeling that pain.
Deja Daniel
Howard UniversityAtlanta, GA
The legal system has always been the great equalizer in my community. Lately, there have been several seminal moments that have stretched our legal system to maximum elasticity. From political strategy scandals to the boundaries of sexual assault and high-profile double-standards, applying the law with consistency has become an exercising futility. Considering how many defendants have inadequate counsel, it is no surprise how often justice goes unserved. I cannot stand by and watch someone, who by a preponderance of evidence is innocent, get railroaded by the system. Law is swift and it can be unforgiving, but in the right hands, it can be oh so powerful when applied with care and perspective. Therefore, my plan of action begins with obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology and Spanish, then attending law school. Upon graduating with my Juris Doctorate Degree, I plan to pass the bar exam and become a bilingual criminal defense attorney. Then, I will work for a law firm to establish a successful trial record of defending those who have been wrongfully convicted because of the systematic marginalization of people of color. Once established as a best-in-class lawyer in my field, my goal is to ascend upwards on the hierarchy of corporate leadership by becoming a partner at a law firm. After years of diligent service as an attorney, my ultimate goal is to be appointed as a judge to uphold the laws of the land in a way that benefits all, and not just the privileged, while exercising fair judicial sensitivity. Once all is said and done, my ultimate plan is to establish my own law firm, to fight for justice on behalf of indigent defendants who have been unfairly incarcerated. As a result, to even amplify the sentiment on the changes I would make, I will use my college education to uphold laws for fair and equitable application not just in my community, but to all. My interest to defend people who are unable to defend themselves was sparked from watching the motion picture, The Hurricane, when I was younger and noticing how unfair the justice system is towards people of color. Our justice system is built on the premise that you are innocent until proven guilty; however, that is not the case for every defendant. For example, take the “Scottsboro Boys” and “The Exonerated Five.” These young men were all railroaded and robbed of their childhood because the justice system judged their color, not the overwhelming preponderance of reasonable doubt. My aspiration is to be in a position where I have the power to change the narrative of innocent defendants’ stories. I am at a point in my life where I now seek to know are judges supposed to be our morality compass or merely referees in the game? By receiving my Juris Doctorate Degree, I will have a solid foundation to answer that question, as I plan to be a lawyer with my ultimate goal of becoming a judge.


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