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Windward Spirit Scholarship

16 winners, $3,000 each
Application Deadline
Nov 15, 2023
Winners Announced
Dec 29, 2023
Education Level
High School, Undergraduate
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school or undergraduate student

Ode to Millennials-Gen Z:

"This generation has a rendezvous with destiny,” said President Franklin Roosevelt, referring to thegeneration that evolved from the Great Depression of the 1930s into World War II; and which Tom Brokaw referred to as “The Greatest Generation.”

The Millennials-Gen Z also have a rendezvous with destiny. They will inherit a bankrupt country along with a bankrupt world. Will they become “The Greatest Generation 2.0”? Our children are our elders in universe time, said Buckminster Fuller, and it can be difficult for my generation to accept this.

The older generation typically wishes that the newer generation would “do it” their way. When I was young, parents would ask that we kids write to them while we kids preferred to use the telephone.

Today, my generation can’t understand why Millennials-Gen Zs can’t pick up the phone.

Yet, there are so many similarities between the Greatest Generation and the Millennials Gen Z. In the 30s incomes were very low, and unemployment was 25 percent. For Millennials-Gen Z, incomes are very low and underemployment, by some accounts, approaches 25 percent. The Greatest Generation faced a world at war; and, survival of our society was in question. They accepted their “rendezvous” with a genuine sense of duty. They accepted many burdens gracefully.

The Millennials-Gen Z now face a world at war of a different setting. They accept an economy that is on a course of bankruptcy, not only in the United States but worldwide. They accept the sickness of school loans that were designed to perpetuate poverty. They accept a medical insurance system that charges young people much higher rates to the

benefit of the older generation. They accept the call of duty created by global warming along with a sickened tax structure that perpetuates Greed, with a capital G.

Yet so many of our youth are excited to be a part of life! Do they know something that we older folks missed?

I often hear, “You’re the generation that created this mess, now you’re going to tell us how we should fix it?” Then I have heard, “Don’t worry, we’ll deal with it,” politely telling us to get out of the way. They are a polite and kind generation, at times maybe too kind and polite. Yet, they are absent of resentment while the mature portion of our society resents almost everything.

So, they do hear the call of duty—their rendezvous with destiny. My bet is that they will become“The Greatest Generation 2.0”!

Any high school or undergraduate student who is striving to make a difference may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, Please offer your thoughts and/or ideas about the Ode To Millennials-Gen Z text.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive
Published August 15, 2023
Essay Topic

Please offer your thoughts and/or ideas about the Ode To Millennials-Gen Z text in the description.

200–1000 words

Winning Applications

Kearstin Safford
Gainesville High SchoolGainesville, VA
Sophia Warchal
Ardrey Kell HighCharlotte, NC
As I read the "Ode to Millennials-Gen Z," I found myself in a unique position. I belong to Generation Z, the generation that is often characterized by its resilience, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to facing the challenges of our time. While we may not have experienced the same trials as "The Greatest Generation" that emerged from the Great Depression and World War II, our generation, too, has its rendezvous with destiny. Growing up as a Gen Z individual, I have witnessed the profound impact of economic and social challenges on my peers and me. Like the generation before us, we have had to grapple with economic uncertainties, low incomes, and the specter of underemployment. The weight of student loan debt is a reality that many of us carry, a burden that threatens to perpetuate financial insecurity. My journey has been no exception. As I ventured into higher education, I became acutely aware of the financial challenges that come with pursuing a college degree. My family and I have had to make countless sacrifices to ensure that I could access the opportunities that come with education. The looming concern about student loans and the financial strain it places on my family has only intensified my commitment to addressing the issues of affordable education and access. But it is not just financial matters that have shaped my understanding of the challenges our generation faces. The call of duty mentioned in the text extends to environmental and social responsibilities. I have witnessed the effects of climate change, from extreme weather events to environmental degradation. This generation, including me, is increasingly recognizing the urgency of climate action and our role in shaping a more sustainable future. I've taken part in local environmental initiatives, joining forces with like-minded young people to advocate for change in our communities. Yet, in the face of these challenges, I find myself inspired by the resilience and optimism that define our generation. We may be faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but we possess an unwavering determination to make a difference. I am a part of a generation that is actively engaged in finding innovative solutions to the problems we've inherited. I have seen the remarkable efforts of my peers to address the issues raised in the "Ode to Millennials-Gen Z." We may not always pick up the phone as previous generations did, but we do pick up the mantle of responsibility and take up the call of duty. As I stand at the threshold of higher education, I am driven by the belief that I can be a part of "The Greatest Generation 2.0." I am committed to pursuing a path that combines my passion for social justice, environmental sustainability, and access to education. I see this scholarship as a pivotal opportunity to further these goals, empowering me to make a tangible impact on the challenges of our time. In conclusion, the "Ode to Millennials-Gen Z" resonates with my own experiences and those of my Generation Z peers. We have a rendezvous with destiny that calls us to embrace our responsibilities, both financial and environmental. I am eager to rise to the occasion, driven by the optimism and sense of duty that define my generation, and make a meaningful contribution toward becoming "The Greatest Generation 2.0."
Keziah John
Loch Raven High SchoolBaltimore, MD
When I see funny memes online saying “Ok boomer” or “You talk like such a millennial”, I laugh but deep down I know my generation, Gen Z, has problems. We are a very intelligent and diverse generation, yet we seem to lack the motivation and energy to actually make a change. Perhaps the root for this may be ridicule from older generations, who bash us for “not knowing how to write checks” or “being too lazy to pick up a job to pay for college”. However, these are merely accusations and not a solution to the problems our world is facing. Many students my age are dropping out or at least considering dropping out. Rather than blaming these students for their mindset, we need to figure out why they needed this mindset in the first place. With the new boom of AI technology and its place in the workforce, many students are quite anxious that soon artificial intelligence will take over the careers of teachers, retail workers, and other essential jobs. A lot of students such as myself are struggling in school taking hard AP classes and stretching out our schedules with extracurriculars to prove ourselves worthy to colleges. College admission rates have dropped to an all time low, and as a result we have to keep taking on more activities to impress the colleges we want to go to. Although older generations blame Gen Z’s unawareness and incompetence on newfound technology and cellphones, they have to understand that the world now REQUIRES technology. We basically can’t do even the simplest things like checking out library books or taking a test without going on the internet. Sometimes when people talk about our generation in disdain, saying we’re “addicted to our screens”, I mention that children in gen Alpha are born with screens in their hands. I agree full heartedly that my generation has a phone addiction problem, but what really worries me is the newest generation. Every time I sit in waiting rooms for the doctors office or waiting to pick up something, I always see a baby or toddler gluing their eyes to a cellphone, completely absorbed in the videos they’re watching. I joke around sometimes that not everyone can be a computer engineer in the future, referencing how toddlers seem to know about how to operate phones than adults. I often joke like this to make light of the situation, but deep down it is concerning how the newest generation seems to be more emotionally connected to children’s YouTube videos rather than their family and friends. Gen Z always gets pushback for their laziness and addiction to phones, but clearly we had a period of time where phones were still flip phones and TV shows were watched on cable. We were not watching YouTube videos on repeat when we were one years old. Nobody can blame gen Z for their angst. The newest generation seems even more glued to phones and tablets than we are, and who is going to support us when we’re older? Regardless of the unknown ahead of us, I firmly believe Gen Z is a super generation of hardworking young adults. We have so many talents that we will be able to put to use in the future. We might be overwhelmed and frustrated at times, but I am confident that we will became the next generation of innovators, creators, and developers. Gen Z gets more insults than it deserves. We might not have the same fashion sense as millennials, the same ability to do long division and mental math in our heads without a calculator like Gen X’s, or have a knowledge of old TV shows like baby boomers. But we have a sense of realism, a drive to keep pushing forward despite the challenges we face in everyday society. I would like to thank the Windward Spirit for sponsoring this scholarship. One of the biggest barriers US Gen Z students face are college tuitions. This scholarship will help a lot of students be able to achieve their dreams and break down the walls of student debt. If I win this scholarship, I will use it to pay for my college tuition and pursue my dream of being a STEM major. It will help me demolish the walls of stress that I face because of student debt. I would like to keep this entry concise and to the point. I am confident that our generation will be able to overcome the challenges that are posed upon us. Despite our shortcomings, we have a sense of passion and determination that sets us apart from other generations. I love the sense of unity I share with my generations. Though we poke fun at millennial behavior such as the overuse of emojis or skinny jeans, it’s all lighthearted and purely for fun. However, generation Z knows how to get to business and be serious about important matters. I know my generation is competent. Even with the problems our modern world faces, I am proud to be part of Gen Z. I hope I can win this scholarship as it will open up new doors for my education and break past the obstacles that prevent me from achieving my dreams. I know I will do my best to collaborate with the rest of my generation to make this world a better place. Generation Z really IS the Greatest Generation 2.0!
Joshua Blaine
Detroit Edison Public School ADearborn Heights, MI
In a world brimming with innovation and rapid evolution, there's a palpable undercurrent of misapprehension surrounding two cohorts: Millennials and Gen Z. Labeled as tech-obsessed, entitled, or lacking resilience, these generations face widespread scrutiny. Yet, buried beneath these criticisms lies an unparalleled potential for change, innovation, and unity. Through the Windward Spirit Scholarship, I aim to channel this latent potential, advocating for the voices of my generation and building bridges of understanding that will redefine societal norms. Millennials and Gen Z, despite being close in age, have experienced the world through different lenses. While Millennials came of age during the technological boom, Gen Z grew up in its aftermath, navigating a digital realm that constantly morphed around them. This has culminated in distinct perspectives, challenges, and aspirations for each group. Yet, there exists a shared underpinning: the desire to be heard, understood, and respected. My mission, woven intrinsically with this scholarship, is to create a platform that amplifies these voices, allowing us to shape our narrative, rather than being subjects of it. In this pursuit, I'm not alone. Together with my business partner, we've envisioned a holistic approach to advocacy. While my focus lies in amplifying voices and crafting compelling narratives, my partner complements this vision with a deep-seated understanding of technology and media, ensuring our message resonates far and wide. Our combined aspirations are not merely career goals but represent a movement; a concerted effort to dismantle misperceptions and lay the groundwork for a more cohesive, understanding society. Societal norms surrounding Gen Z often oscillate between admiration for their digital prowess and criticism for their perceived lack of traditional values. However, what is often overlooked is their resilience, their commitment to social justice, and their unparalleled ability to mobilize and effect change. I advocate for a shift in perspective. By recognizing and harnessing these strengths, we can not only alter public perception but also leverage these skills for societal betterment. However, no change, no matter how profound or well-intentioned, can occur in isolation. Advocacy demands collective effort. It requires the amalgamation of voices, the synthesis of perspectives, and the unity of purpose. This is where the ethos of the Windward Spirit Scholarship aligns perfectly with my vision. I firmly believe that the true prize lies in unity. While individual efforts can create ripples, combined endeavors can lead to waves of change. Together, as Millennials, Gen Z, and every generation that stands with us, we are unequivocally stronger. In conclusion, the Windward Spirit Scholarship is more than financial aid; it represents the wind in the sails of our collective journey. A journey that seeks to redefine, reshape, and reimagine the narrative surrounding Millennials and Gen Z. With the support of this scholarship, I am confident in propelling our vision forward, ensuring that the voices of our generations don't just echo within our circles but resonate, loud and clear, in every corner of the globe. Together, we can, and we will, chart a course toward a brighter, unified future.
Hazel Purins
University of Wisconsin-MadisonMADISON, WI
The world seems broken. Climate change is relentlessly destroying the planet, while wars raging across the continents seem set to destroy the people living on it. We've endured a global pandemic, rising sea levels, uncountable extinctions, and destructive wildfires. However, I believe in the new generations and our ability to take what we've been given and make it better. I have hope in the future, and specifically hope in Gen Z. I see my classmates fight for what they believe in, and I see them making a difference. I want a better world, and I believe we will be able to achieve one. I do not think all hope is lost. The number of Gen Z students I know who are planning to use their lives to help others inspires me. As a member of what will one day be known as the generation who stepped up, I plan to do what I can. My dream is to study mycorrhizal networks in the hope of understanding their relationship with plants, and use that knowledge to help restore forests damaged by wildfires. I grew up in California, watching the ecosystems I love go up in flames because of the actions of the generations before us. I know the cost of years of drought from misallocation of water, and years of abusing the planet that gave us life. It is Gen Z's job to fix what we have been given. After all, the point of living is to make the world a better place for those who come after you.
Abdul Mohammed
San Jose State UniversitySunnyvale, CA
Each generation is a thread woven into the fabric of time in the magnificent tapestry of history, adding its distinct colors and patterns to the tale of human progress. Every generation has a meeting with destiny, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's words ring true throughout time. The Millennials and Gen Z now stand on the verge of a new age, their hands holding the torch of change, just as the Greatest Generation emerged from the ashes of the Great Depression to face the furnace of World War II. The phrase "The Greatest Generation" was created by Tom Brokaw to describe the brave individuals who endured the trials of their age. The Millennial generation and Generation Z are now handed the reins of leadership, inheriting not only a globe in flux but also the weight of history's lessons. Their quest will be rewarded with a failed nation and a troubled planet. Can they become "The Greatest Generation 2.0"? is a lingering question. The generational story is reframed by Buckminster Fuller's theory that our children are our seniors in cosmic time. For those of us in the elder generation, it is an unsettling reality. Sometimes, our innate desire to lead and influence others might make it difficult for us to see the wisdom that youth naturally possesses. The torch we hand them symbolizes both the possibility of transformation and our appreciation for their original discoveries. Every generation has peculiarities and behaviors that confound their forebears. The telephone was a technical marvel in my youth that the elder generation frequently couldn't understand. These days, Gen Z and Millennials are figuring out their communication preferences and frequently avoid making traditional phone calls. Our perplexity with their decisions is a reflection of the disconnection that people have experienced throughout history. But despite their outward contrasts, the past and present are connected by a common thread. The Millennials and Gen Z are quite similar to the Greatest Generation. The high unemployment and poor salaries that both generations have experienced are echoes of the past. Each generation is challenged to discover answers that overcome adversity by the unsettling resonance between the Great Depression and the current economic difficulties. The ability to accept challenges and handle them with grace becomes a defining quality of greatness. With unflinching loyalty and humility, the Greatest Generation bore the burden of a war-torn planet. They welcomed their meeting with destiny with a sense of mission that went beyond individual struggle. They demonstrated the noble nature of the human spirit in the face of the greatest difficulties by their tenacity. The Gen Z and Millennial generations are currently on the verge of their own, profoundly affected by peculiar circumstances, rendezvous with destiny. They inherit a war-torn planet that is rife with economic instability, environmental crises, and social inequity rather than a battlefield. They carry the weight of a culture battling its demons. But they respond with a firm resolution and a willingness to face these problems head-on. A few of the challenges that the younger generation faces include an economy that is on the verge of collapse, school loans that are intended to enslave rather than free people, and a healthcare system that puts their fortitude to the test. Beyond national boundaries, systemic greed and global warming are included in the obligation. The difficulties are numerous and varied, but despite the chaos, there is an unmistakable optimism that permeates their blood. Today's youth display a zest for life that shines as a ray of optimism amid uncertainty. They march on with a spirit that welcomes the beauties and opportunities that life brings despite the responsibilities they carry. Their eagerness to participate in life, their insatiable appetite for new experiences, and their commitment to making a difference imply that they have an understanding of life that their elders may have missed. Younger generations have frequently been the target of stereotypes and criticism from their elders, including statements like "You're the generation that created this mess." These feelings reveal a division between the old and the new, as well as an effort to make sense of the divergent routes that time has taken. Nevertheless, there is a hint of comprehension in the statement "Don't worry, we'll deal with it." It is a request for trust, asking the older generation to back off and let the younger generation decide their future. Sometimes people mistake the civility and generosity that define Millennials and Gen Z for ignorance. However, these traits spring from a place of compassion and comprehension, a desire to close the gaps that separate us. Their lack of such bitterness is evidence of their capacity for growth and healing in a world where such feelings are frequently present. When we look into the future, we realize that the Gen Z and Millennial generations are carrying the torch of progress. Although their meeting with destiny may be different from that of the Greatest Generation, it is no less important. The difficulties they encounter and the responsibilities they bear serve as the smelting furnaces that will forge them into the change-makers. In conclusion, the Millennial generation and Generation Z are now carrying the torch of change. Their meeting with destiny is characterized by social complexity, environmental catastrophes, and economic ambiguity. Despite these difficulties, their enthusiasm, tenacity, and kindness are evident. They provide a look into a future that is both unpredictable and full of promise as they travel their particular path. They are the torchbearers of a new era, the agents of change, and the carriers of hope. These generations will rise to fulfill their destiny and make an indelible impact on the globe, just as the Greatest Generation did when they left their mark on history.
Michael Jacobson
Athens State UniversityPotomac, MT
I believe most of your applicants will choose to agree with the Ode, as it may seem to be in their best interests. I also believe most applicants won't have looked up who R. Buckminster Fuller was! Your Ode has reminded me of the potential that this generation has. But, in the spirit of doing more with less, let's get started. It took me some time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I am 30 years old, and I am returning to school to pursue my Bachelor's degree. I am majoring in accounting and minoring in forensic accounting. I also have delusional disorder, a paranoia disorder. Like many young men in their twenties, I struck out a few times. I was briefly homeless, an alcoholic for many years, and meddled with drugs. During the last several years I made connections with drug addicts, the homeless, and people like myself who were just beaten down by life. When you travel on a bike at night, even in this little town in Alabama, you can meet a lot of characters. You learn that the system we're born into isn't fair, and not everyone can get out of a bad situation through sheer force of will. I know that I got out because I was lucky. I discovered the world of finance. The main reason I am going into forensic accounting is because finance saved me from a life on the streets. I read a book by Suze Orman, "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke," and it changed my life. I was on meth, working 50-hour weeks, and scraping by. But when Suze broke it down for me in that book, I learned what I needed to do to get out of my situation. I started paying down my debt, one of the most debilitating obstacles anyone can face. I managed to save for an electric bicycle to ride to and from work, even. Then I listened to Suze's podcasts, in which she says repeatedly, "If you don't like what you're doing, then why are you doing it?" I knew that I could quit the drugs then. It took me some time, but I got out of the game. When I did get sober, in January of this year, I decided to apply to my local university and got admitted. I knew that what I wanted to do was help people get out of their bad situations, too. I started taking accounting classes because I wanted a strong foundation in finance, something I could build off. And, as I've mentioned earlier, I've decided I'm going into forensic accounting. It's truly a passion of mine. So, although we probably won't meet sailing in Orange County aboard the Windward Spirit, and I may never meet your secretary Bruce, or your CPA, Charles, Jr. I'd like to wish you all the luck in the world, Mr. Meyer, because I believe in the concept of original goodness, too.
Allie Ball
University of OregonMilwaukie, OR
I often say to many millennials, Gen X, and even Baby Boomers that Gen Z will be the generation to get things done. We entered into a world that was broken, corrupt, and failing its people, but we also saw a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel for society. Will the task be easy, no, but seeing my generation speak up about injustices, care about climate change, and so much more is inspiring. I have to give some of the credit to the technology we grew up with and how advanced it got during our lives. Much of our information and news comes from apps like Instagram and TikTok, it is in our face 24/7 which allows us to form our own opinions. It allows us to also see the world through a whole new lens. I am currently reading a book called Generations: Does When You're Born Shape Who You Are? by Bobby Duffy. This book examines how there is a link between how we got from point a to point b because of the generations that came before. But he also emphasizes that we shouldn't use it to point blame on anyone but rather come together to build a better future. When I read the line in the above text that said " Don’t worry, we’ll deal with it,” politely telling us to get out of the way. A part of me strongly disagrees with this line. Gen Z and Millennials will make up over half of the votes come the 2024 election and Baby Boomers will make up a very small percentage. I feel as though we have to work together no matter how one views the other because we are going to decide the fate of this country. I do however also understand the frustration felt by Gen Z and I think that our anger is valid. Nobody wants to have the pressure put on them to help change the tide of our impending fate but yet it is on us. Nobody wants to wake up and say to themselves I wonder what cause I will have to fight for today but we do. When it comes to this next year it will truly be a test to see if Gen Z and Milillinals can put aside their differences and frustrations and come together for democracy. Another part of the text that I took particular interest in was the line that says "Yet so many of our youth are excited to be a part of life! Do they know something that we older folks missed"? Even though I am not blind to the conditions of the world and more particularly the United States I still have hope. I get asked a lot how I remain so evident in helping society become better and I never have a perfect answer. Part of me feels a moral obligation while the other part is saying well someone has to be willing to get the job done. I ultimately decided to study and major in Political Science in college and Minor in Global Studies and possibly History as well. With this degree, I want to become a politician because I see the world for what it is but will not stand idly by and watch its downfall. I want to be in a position where I can make real, lasting change for the generations that come after. Gen Z is here to pick up the pieces so generations after us don't have to go through the same hardships as us. My last thoughts on this text are that our ways of calling for action may be more extreme than the past generations are used to but it is working. We are seeing younger politicians, younger teachers, lawyers, doctors, change makers. We are seeing more and more of our government called out for not doing enough. We are seeing demands from protests and rallies being heard in bills and pieces of legislation. When new generations come, new ways of getting things done come with it. There is nothing wrong with moving away from answering the phone to just sending a simple text. New times call for new methods.
Julio Villegas
Essex County CollegeBelleville, NJ
This is true. I can confidently tell you that this decade of the 2020's will be for this century what the 60's were — culturally and geopolitically — for the 20th century. I was 4 years old, living right there in North Jersey, when 9/11 took place. At first, I didn't witness any of the scenes, they were shown to me the next day. What I particularly remember about that day was a deeply harrowing sense of abandonment from the parents and collective adults around me, as if they were all keeping a secret we weren't supposed to find out. Little did I know, for my generation and those proximal to it, that that would be the defining catalyst and backdrop for the world we've found ourselves in these past two decades. It's like you try to have hope for so long, but even the naïveté of youth wears fast, and we're living in the earnest breakdown of the global order as we've known it — after many decades. To accept it with grace? Inevitably, yes. But behind that grace exists great sadness, rage, and remembrance. I very much believe, especially through cultivating spaces and cultures for self-expression and meaningful discourse, that we can become the 21st-century iteration of a Great Generation 2.0. We carry the memories of society before and after the introduction and proliferation of the smartphone or digital technology as such an ingrained component of day-to-day life. I very much believe that we've seen the decline and dying of the American Dream as our parents knew it in the 90's or late 80's. As the Ode references, it very much does feel like the inheritance of an even more bankrupt country in a seemingly equally-bankrupt (monetarily and morally) global order. It's not just the US, but a lot of major economies collectively are on the precipice of deeper turmoil, with any given windfall capable of setting off a domino effect with unpredictable outcomes. Historically speaking, nations that have faced sustained domestic and economic strife tend to focus outward on campaigns of war and conquest against a "common enemy" in order to spur unity of the fractured populace through nationalism. We have been witnessing this fervor broiling and spilling across regions of the globe disproportionately within recent years, reminiscent to me of the early 2000's— this time with a younger generation. With easier access to content and information than we once had. With easier propensity for distractibility and burnout in trying to give every meaningful issue significant energy while trying to live one's life in the present, unpossessed by future or past concerns. To rendezvous with destiny, out of sheer necessity. In acknowledgment that the familiarity of what we've known is no longer suitable for the times we are now knowing. With unpredictable scenarios such as the 2024 US elections, intensified climate disasters, expanded regional conflicts, economic downturns, failing infrastructure, and black swan events looming ahead of us as we walk this decade, I have the sincerest faith that Millennials - Gen Z can still remember innocence before tragedy and fuse it with the nostalgia of the late 90's and early 2000's to synthesize something distinct and necessary for these times we presently experience. We know there is something more to this than just this. We also acknowledge that it will get worse before it gets better. It's not delusion, it's not defeat, it's the destiny before us. I often joke that I feel like the youngest old man you've ever met. A part of me felt so rushed to make sense of the world at 4, that now at 26, I don't know if I feel like a mature kid or stunted adult. It's confusing, it's humbling, it's motivating, and yet it's only one possibility of the many we can potentially experience in this new century. Generational times call for generational minds and ideas, a true confrontation between paradigms: which is most suitable for the trajectory we find ourselves along humanity's timeline. I very much believe that we recognize and uphold the responsibility of being elders in children time so the next generation can be children and elders in their proper time. There's both fear and joy in the unknown. Let us cast our sails with windward spirits.
Jaxson Waller
Nebraska Wesleyan UniversityLINCOLN, NE
I'm going to start this essay on how I could not figure out what the Meaning of the word Ode is. I am an 18-year-old and a part of Gen Z and maybe that is the point of this essay is the fact that all the definitions of the word I found did not fit with what this essay seems to want to talk about. And my Apologies if this is something that everyone else knows and I have just been too sheltered. What I think the question is asking is what things are easy, and what things are hard for both Millennials and Gen Z's, And what things can be compared between the two. Now I am a member of Gen Z and both my parents are Millennials, my mother being 36 and my father being 37. Yes, I was a teen pregnancy, this year I became exactly half of my mother's age which is crazy to anyone to imagine being the same age or older than your parent was when they had you. Especially because I can still consider myself a child to some extent. Now what things do I think that millennials had that I believe are harder for Gen Z's? Well, I am going to tackle this question based on how I think. I am an undergraduate Political Science major at Nebraska Wesleyan University and I think that Gen Z has had it much harder than its predecessor. Not only are houses 300% more expensive to buy in this day in age, but the costs to live have reached all-time highs for new adults. Essentials in today's day in age, like shelter, transportation food, water, and education are all things that have gone up in price so significantly in the past 20 or so years that Gen Z, like myself have no idea how to tackle becoming independent adults. When I look back at how Millenials lived they all seem to have lived a party-like childhood, with no crazy technology, a lot of going outside, and their parents not worrying about what they were doing. And I believe that a lot of people, Millenials included kind of see their childhoods that way. Gen Z spends most of their time indoors, on their technology, socializing on the internet, and seems to be extremely sheltered. To me, it seems as if those same people who went out and did whatever they wanted as a child are the parents of Gen Z children that have been so badly sheltered and that is crazy to think because those parents grew up completely different. I am not saying that all Gen Z's behave in this way. I have worked 2 jobs over the past 2 and a half years and I have gotten used to putting up with customers and having to understand that as an adult you have to grow as a person, not just physically but mentally. Gen Z is the future of our workforce and Gen Z's grow up and are a lot tougher than even I might give them credit for. This Past election we have had some of the first Gen Z members to join the United States House of Representatives. For example Congressman Maxwell Frost of Florida. It takes a lot of knowledge, a lot of time, and a lot of effort to be elected a Congressman in any of the 435 districts in the U.S., and Gen Zer did it. The Sad thing was that this same Congressman was not granted a mortgage on a house in Washington D.C. to be able to move to the city that holds Congress, because his credit/credit age was not good enough for the banks in a city that is completely unaffordable to live in. Now only 15 years ago you could get approved for almost any house you wanted to as long as you had a down payment and the promise to pay the money back. Of course, I am referring to the housing market crash in 2008. This is just proof that if this same representative had been elected to Congress 14 years prior, he wouldn't have this issue that New Gen Z adults are having to go through. Not to hate on Millenials, because they didn't know what their future was going to look like. They were born from a fairly wealthy age of Baby Boomers, and Generation X as the economy at the time favored the American People. Millennials Were a part of the first age of people who learned the technology that we all know and love today. Many of the people in the technology workplace are Millennials. And It seems to a lot of people that Gen Z are the tech wiz, and they know the most about technology, but if my computer or phone is having any issues, one of the first people I go to is my Millennial mother. Millennials are extremely hard working, they work extremely hard to make sure that their children can succeed, and they know that it is hard for their children with the economy how it is, and just coming out of a pandemic. My mother raised 3 children while going to school to eventually have 3 degrees, an associate's in nursing, and pre-childhood education, and a bachelor's in pre-childhood education. My father even though he was a teen parent worked a blue-collar job to support our family of 5 up until my mother was able to get a job as a preschool teacher. If older generations think that Millennials grew up to be a bunch of nobodies then I would have to say they are wrong, and my parents are proof of that. In conclusion, I believe that although Gen Z and Millenials have their differences, in the end, the two generations both have hardships in their lives and other things that seem like they had it easy with. I appreciate anyone who took the time to read what I had to say today.
Nataly Gutierrez
Brookdale Community CollegeRED BANK, NJ
Destiny: the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; in other words: fate. The truth of the matter is that no one is coming to save us. Gen Z as a collective has been exposed to more than any generation that came before us. In our digital age, we grew up casually watching atrocities that were previously reserved for war veterans on TV and YouTube, keeping us in a constant state of fight or flight from a very young age. That, along with recessions, high rates of unemployment, horrible medical insurance infrastructure, racial injustice, police violence, rampant propaganda, one of the highest rates of incarceration, drug epidemics, politics overran by greed, additives allowed in our foods that are banned in other countries, a global pandemic that shut the world down, the rise of social media… and the icing on the cake: the impending doom of environmental ruin; well, it’s enough to drive any generation to the brink of insanity and this is all before our 21st birthdays. To say the generations that came before us let us down is an understatement. We were told, “just go to college and get an education THEN you’ll be set for life and successful.” They pushed us away from trades, careers centered around passion, and the arts and into the hands of predatory student loan companies. Despite all this, we persist. Knowledge is power and we have a limitless amount of knowledge, so we must remind ourselves we have a limitless amount of power. There is strength in numbers. We are capable of change and creating a world we are proud to be a part of. Every generation has a rendezvous with destiny, a defining moment or movement that shapes them into the adults they will become and the children they will create after them. No one is coming to save us, so… we must save ourselves and those yet to come. The quote “our children are our elders in universe time” stuck with me. As time passes, and history continues to be documented, each generation following Gen Z will have more and more access to a comprehensive understanding of how we lived. The next generation will have even more insight than us. That is why it’s imperative that we set them up for success. Gen Z has to set the foundation for Generation Alpha and beyond. They need a world better than the one we have today. Where they don’t have to question “How many years will I have to live a peaceful life before Mother Nature catches up to us, how many years will I have to work to save enough money for the down payment of an average house, why does our government take more than it gives, will I die with student loans, does it ever get better?” Things can feel bleak. The world can be scary. But it can also be beautiful. We can have community, we can have peace, we can have vibrant health and financial freedom. We can see America with no homelessness, we can see no child go hungry. There are enough resources for everyone. These things aren’t too much to ask for, they aren’t out of reach. We need to work together. Gen Z as a collective genuinely wants the world to be a better place. We want to live lives of purpose. We want to contribute in meaningful ways without being bound to the dollar. I grew up in Colombia. My family was middle class. My dad who still lives in Colombia has made it apparent to me that every decision he makes is dictated by whether or not it makes money. We had to prioritize, like many others all over the world. I never had the resources to give my passions the attention they deserved and my goal is to change that. I want to make a difference, live a life of meaning, and positively impact others who grew up like me. Every day I look for purpose. I’m working hard to create opportunities for myself that I wasn’t afforded before. I want my life to be full of passion and I want to be able to share my passion with those around me. I moved to America to pursue an education in music. I have been drawn to it for as long as I can remember, but there was nowhere for me to cultivate my passion. As a part of Gen Z, I want to create an impact in the world by using my education in music to bring hope, passion, and opportunities to the next generation in Colombia that I didn’t have. Everyone deserves to be doing what makes them happy no matter where they’re from and I intend to share my knowledge with kids like me who are drawn to the arts. For so long, human beings have been motivated by power, individualism, and greed.We have been so obsessed with the concept that “more is better.” More money, more technology, more consumerism, more “progress,” but at what cost? Gen Z had to grow up fast, but I have faith that together we can change the status quo, and if not we will have set a strong foundation for those who come after us. We will give them the hope that we have had to create and nurture on our own. The solutions to our problems will not be found in those who created them, but in those who have suffered at the hands of the ones who came before. Gen Z is breaking down barriers, paving the way, healing generational trauma, and fighting like hell to survive. We will persevere, we will rendezvous with destiny.
Jacquelyn Layton - Brown
University of North Carolina at GreensboroCHARLOTTE, NC
Shanisha McGuire
Pennsylvania State University-Main CampusDrexel Hill, PA
A gut punch. A gut punch is what it initially feels like to have any type of praise given to my generation. What do you mean we'll be the “Greatest Generation 2.0?” You just listed all of the reasons why we should all cower under our beds for the next couple of years until the adults fix this… and then we cry while cowering because we realize we’re the adults, WE have to fix this. But… something everyone in my generation has in common will make us all collectively come out from under the covers, put on our adult pants (no skinny jeans of course, maybe some khakis if they’re trending), and face the world head-on. What is this “thing” we all have in common? Absolutely zero sense of danger and an unbreakable human spirit. Rephrased professionally, we are all very brave and self-determined despite the situations that are handed to us. I mean, we’re the generation that ate tide pods and our gene pool was funneled to get us here after our parents went through their own recession in 2008. So facing worldwide economic collapse is quite literally inherited for us. Seriously though, we are all very brave and self-determined. The dark side of how Gen-Z was raised and brought up in the world hides in the umbra of what we are today. Many of us are not here because we are the generation who decided to unapologetically be ourselves. Being ourselves loud and proud in front of the world began with being ourselves, loud and proud, in front of our parents. In front of parents who were either really accepting of this, neutral, or downright kicked us out into the abyss that the U.S. was. We bonded over being ourselves in school, sports clubs, or any other social setting other than home. The collective comfort of knowing we were not alone kept us all going. And it is this collective, our generation, my generation, that started the beginning of the end of many stigmas in America’s society. Our pain, frustration, impatience, annoyance, internal passion for success and being ourselves, combined with some TikTok humor is why we are still here and excited to be a part of life! It was like we were so loud and obnoxious about the world around us, that society HAD to adjust to us. Our Berlin walls were tearing down mental, emotional, and physical health stigmas. People can openly talk about their identities, sexualities, mental health, and physical ailments without being paraded around or bullied for it. Every day is a new day for us to continue to insight into these changes in stigmas. We also advocate more for fair wages, participate in strikes or protests, quietly quit terrible jobs, make fun of politicians, and so much more. The best part, and arguably the scariest part about all of this is that this is only the beginning, literally and metaphorically. We are so young and so much change has already happened that any issue in the future is one our generation will fix head-on. That includes all of the terrible insurance rates, healthcare systems, employment rates, world economy, Elon Musk, and student loans, the list feels infinite. But it isn’t, we know that the burdened list of responsibilities left for us isn’t infinite, and that is another huge reason why we can continue to keep going. That excitement for life is the excitement of completing that list. I love my generation, and I’m unapologetically myself every day, even when my parents have mixed feelings about it. My unbreakable human spirit and self-determination allow me to follow my passions. Specifically, my passion to change the healthcare world. I'm a student double majoring in biochemistry and bioanthropology degree. Simply put, one part of my degree helps me understand how genes work while the helps me understand how different subtopics in genetics relate to different cultures and communities. Sure, there are many well-known genetic diseases that are easily diagnosable. However, what about research for commonly known disorders? Or more importantly, what about accessibility to finding out this information about oneself? That was the idea that clicked in my head all those years ago when I first started pursuing my passion in high school. Accessibility of genetic healthcare in impoverished or isolated communities. I grew up watching these communities slowly get more urgent care clinics. These clinics, however, popped up slowly over time compared to better-off communities. What about the nearest emergency room or in this case, the closest genetic counselor/clinic? All communities, whether it be the Mardu in Australia or the towns where I grew up, deserve affordable and accessible genetic health care. My plan is to help make that happen. Positively impact the health of all types of communities one at a time. So yeah… at first when reading the Ode To Millennials-GenZ, my gut hurts when there is praise given to our generation. However, it is immediately flushed out with overwhelming pride, bravery, and gas thrown onto the flame that we are. At the end of the day when I think about worldwide economic collapse and student loans, I panic a bit but remember it’ll be ok. Because I know that if we’re here today panicking, we’ll be there tomorrow making change.
Margaret Michel
Northern Michigan UniversityMARQUETTE, MI
Becoming someone who makes a change, and makes a difference, seems to be what I see in every face as I sit at the table in my laboratory classroom. My peers are here to become something, many of us were told that we could not do what we wanted because it wasn't what our parents saw in our futures, which they had meticulously and carefully planned from the moment of our birth. Notebooks and laptops cover the tables, keys type, and pens scratch as the professor notes the importance of different geological and ecological periods millions of years ago, and describes why they matter even today. There is a focus on learning these, taking them to our permanent memory bank, and being able to apply the concepts in papers, research, and exams. To us, this is more than rote memorization. It is learning the past to avoid the same things happening again. It is noting climate change and the path to destruction humanity seems to be dangerously speeding toward, and calculating diversity to compare with accounts from decades ago to prove what we are doing to the environment. It is more than simply classwork, it is what we hope to change with our careers. As a high school senior, I struggled to pick a path. I wrestled with the idea of a path where I would be guaranteed a salary, benefits, and minimal stress, but that wasn't right for me. I instead leapt with faith and hope toward a career with the objective of changing the tone of the future, of bettering the environment. I can't know what may happen, but I do know that I, and all of my peers, will fight towards a future where there is no longer concern over a crisis of environmental health. We are on our way.
Timothy Borland
Bay Shore Senior High SchoolBay Shore, NY
I feel excited to be a member of Gen Z. Many people have a pessimistic view of this crossroads in America’s history but I couldn’t be filled with any more hope for our society. Pain is the path to progress. In many ways, some Americans are suffering from social injustices like inequity in the health care system, economic insecurity, food insecurity, racial discrimination, gender bias, and political polarization. Nothing that grows in the dark can be changed. The pandemic and the political arena that my generation and I have had a front-row seat to witness as we enter adulthood has been a call to action. I accept the challenge. The social issue that would be the focus of my efforts to effect change would be implementing a code of ethics for the use of artificial intelligence. Recent media has cast a tone of suspicion and fear about the future use of AI. The current writers' strike is just one example that perhaps justifiably begs the question of what role should AI play in our future. Gen Zers should be critically examining this question. I believe AI has great potential to usher in an age of increased social justice. I recently watched a recording of this very topic being discussed at a UN special event entitled, Artificial Intelligence for Social Justice, recorded on April 14, 2023. The discussion convened a panel of experts such as UN Ambassadors from India and Singapore, an AI scholar from Johns Hopkins, the CEO of AI for Good Foundation, a representative from the W.H.O., and a representative from the UN’s International Telecommunication Union. The message I gleaned from these distinguished public servants was a hopeful one. AI has tremendous potential to help the world reach the 17 Sustainability Development Goals of the UN. Goals such as no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, gender equality, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities, climate action, and peace, justice, and strong institutions. This is the potential legacy of Gen Z. Z-not end of the line, but rather, the last time a child dies of hunger or our last chance to slow down climate change. There are also potential risks of an AI future. AI relies on the quality of the data it uses. This is a true crossroad. The precipice of an opportunity to correct immortal practices, even the scales of justice, and share resources equitably. This can be done if thoughtful, deliberate, and explicit policies are made now. I can be part of this vehicle of positive change. I am fascinated to have the opportunity to study this issue in depth and use my craft to effect change in the world.
Miley Utsch
Saint Cloud State UniversityBuffalo, MN
The song ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire”, both versions, tells everyone that history is always moving and changing. The state of the country/world is not the fault of those who are currently living this timeline. Even though all generations have contributed to ‘the fire’, there is a difference in how the generations approach the fixing of problems in society today. Previous generations, especially the Boomers, have played the blame game. They seem to blame everyone else but then don’t fix anything. The Boomers tend to focus on what is wrong and place the blame. Even on top of that, the Boomers tend to be more self-centric. They are passing legislation that benefits them, without the thought about those that will follow behind. Millennials and Gen Z see the world that they are living in, all the problems in society, the corruption in business and government, and the climate crisis. Both of those generations know we cannot change anything about it right away, but if we worked together we could slowly try to make it better. More than ever before we see two different generations working together to make the world a better place. Millennials got the ball rolling with all of the activism and social issues that they have taken on. They have made mental health a priority. Millennials are also reinventing what a family is defined as. They have done all of this while just starting to enter government positions and work from the inside on all of these issues. Gen Z has taken when Millenials have started and expanded the progress and continued the fight. We see that the economy is going downhill at an exponential rate while prices are going up with inflation. We know this and are accepting the fact that this is happening because we can’t do much about these things, for now. This is a reason so many Gen Z are excited to vote. They have seen how if Millenials come together to vote, they can make a difference. By voting Gen Z knows they will have a say on who runs the government and that will have an impact on their lives. There are many things this generation, Gen Z, realizes early on and accepts because there is nothing we can do about it now. Through social media and the internet, we are more aware of social, environmental, and political issues at a younger age than anyone before us. Instead of blaming those before us, Gen Z is ready to take charge and change things for the better. Think about the good of society as a whole instead of seeing benefits only for themselves.


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The application deadline is Nov 15, 2023. Winners will be announced on Dec 29, 2023.

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