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Jiaming Lou

3235

Bold Points

30x

Nominee

1x

Finalist

Bio

"Jump, then fall" — Taylor Swift

Education

Northeastern Illinois University

Bachelor's degree program
2023 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Education, Other
    • English Language and Literature/Letters, Other
  • Minors:
    • Journalism
    • Data Analytics
  • GPA:
    4

Whitney M. Young Magnet High School

High School
2019 - 2023
  • GPA:
    3.8

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • English Language and Literature, General
    • Education, General
    • Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Other
    • Computer Science
    • Film/Video and Photographic Arts
    • Literature
    • Environmental/Natural Resources Management and Policy
    • Graphic Communications
    • Communication, General
    • Journalism
    • Data Science
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Education

    • Dream career goals:

      Empowering younger students and being a positively impactful person for my community

    • Teacher's Assistant, Film and Video (taught film vocab, supervised students' individual and group film-making projects, and made Adobe Premier tutorials for 7th graders - high school seniors)

      Whitney Young Magnet High School
      2022 – 20231 year
    • Teacher's Assistant, American English (helped teach a class of freshman and sophomores; ran discussions, led games, feedback on presentations, graded)

      Whitney Young Magnet High School
      2022 – 20231 year

    Sports

    Dancing

    Club
    2016 – 20171 year

    Awards

    • n/a, though we did perform in my school's end of the year talent show!

    Research

    • Data Science

      Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism — lead researcher; data analyst; published writer
      2022 – 2023
    • English Language and Literature, General

      Whitney Young Magnet High School (for class) — researcher; data analyst
      2019 – 2020

    Arts

    • Whitney Young High School English II (American English)

      Art Criticism
      Co-planned discussions, assignment questions, creative projects, did light grading. Other times I actively ran discussions or led English-themed activities and games. As I stood in front of the class, I felt the room’s energy spike and discourse come alive. Students made eye contact, shout-outs, built on each other’s thoughts, and even dared to disagree. For them, the class became more than just a grade; in that place, you could learn AND have fun–and I’m proud I played a role in fostering such an environment.
      2022 – 2023
    • Whitney Young Magnet High School Film and Video I class

      Film Criticism
      Even in film, students struggled with writing–screenplays, specifically. My greatest learning experience as TA was helping students of all ages–the class ranged from grades 7-12–through their struggles. For older ones, the problem was grammar, formatting, clarity; for younger ones, narrative and focus. I didn't always have answers. Whenever I referred up, I doubted my qualification as TA, but I learned 1–it's equally important how I address students' problems, and 2–to know the concepts myself; so in turn, I can better help future students build a strong writing base at this critical stage.
      2022 – 2023
    • Whitney Young Magnet High School (Film and Video I and II classes)

      Film Criticism
      Screenplays I'd written for my class projects!
      2021 – 2022
    • Illinois High School Art Exhibition

      Painting
      The Magnolia that Blooms in Winter (watercolor painting)
      2018 – 2019
    • Beaubien Elementary School

      Choir
      2016 – 2017
    • Healy Elementary School

      Acting
      Peter Pan
      2014 – 2015

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Beyond Books (reading club) — The only freshman in my grade to found a club; president
      2019 – 2023
    • Volunteering

      Great Books (literature camp) — x5 scholarship recipient; participant
      2019 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Hackathons: TecHacks, CC2L, MLH, Qoom, etc — participant
      2019 – Present
    • Advocacy

      Girls Who Code — Vice President; Secretary; member
      2019 – 2022
    • Advocacy

      summer JavaSscipt camp offered by CodeConnects — Full-scholarship recipient
      2022 – 2022
    • Volunteering

      Quantum Computing course cotaught by MIT researchers Amir Karamlou and Fran Vasconcelos — Full-scholarship recipient
      2020 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      Kode With Klossy (intensive, girl-exclusive summer coding camp ft. downtown Chicago’s Google and WeWork locations, Zoom, guest speakers, Google/WeWork/Ulta Beauty mentors, professional photographers, and video calls with Karlie Kloss) — x5 full scholarship recipient; participant
      2018 – 2024
    • Advocacy

      Yearbook (high school) — Portraits editor; writer; general staff
      2019 – 2021
    • Public Service (Politics)

      Green Team (environmental club) — President; vice president; organizer
      2021 – 2023
    • Public Service (Politics)

      Student Council — Teacher Treats Chair; general assembly member
      2019 – 2022
    • Public Service (Politics)

      Medill/McCormick Excellent Achievement Awards — award recipient for work with high school newspaper as writer, student life editor, and editor in chief
      2021 – 2023
    • Volunteering

      United Nations Association–Chicago (UNAC) newsletter — Published writer
      2022 – 2023
    • Advocacy

      Whitney Young Beacon (high school newspaper) — Editor in chief; Student Life editor; writer
      2020 – 2023
    • Advocacy

      NEIU Independent (college newspaper) — Special Section Editor; staff writer; contributing writer
      2023 – Present
    • Volunteering

      MIZZOU Summer Journalism Workshop — full-scholarship recipient; participant
      2021 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      Teach Chicago Tomorrow — TCT program Finalist and Scholar; newsletter manager
      2024 – Present
    • Advocacy

      IL Audubon Magazine — Published writer; panelist
      2020 – 2021
    • Advocacy

      The Earth Chronicles — Managing Editor; Head of Climate Change; Contributing Writer
      2022 – Present
    • Volunteering

      National Junior Honors Society — General assembly member and Bylaws committee
      2020 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      National Honors Society — Organizer, leader, general assembly member
      2021 – 2022

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Eras Tour Farewell Fan Scholarship
    “I’m not trying to exaggerate” (“Clara Bow,” TTPD), but I barely survived my first year of college. As a first generation and low income student, I’ve had to navigate numerous challenges. As an English major, I was also confronted with what I wanted to do for a career. However, as a loyal, lifetime Swiftie, whenever I’m faced with difficulty or uncertainty, I’ve found her music to be a steady source of solace. This was particularly true during the Eras Tour, the bulk of which happened during my freshman year. While I was juggling and struggling, Swift’s songs continued to serve as an anthem of inspiration, resilience, and hope. As with a mirror, I found Swift’s music through each era very reflective of my own ambitions, drive, and passion to succeed in and beyond my academics. Everything from “I haven't come around in so long / But I'm coming back so strong” (“The Alchemy,” TTPD) to being my own worst enemy (“Anti-Hero,” Midnights) to just a simple “these things will change” (“Change,” Fearless) led to my self-discovery that the strength to overcome is inside me, to not let my struggles define me, and that I am completely capable of turning my struggles into strengths. This self-discovery also came with turning a year older. One of my proudest projects was presenting at a creative writing gathering in which I reflected on my freshman year of college. Each slide was dedicated to a feeling that captured memories and experiences: excitement, ambition, obstacles, determination, frustration, resilience, and repetition. I realized that a lot of what I felt could be expressed through Taylor Swift’s songs, and dedicated each song as its own slide, as if I was going through each “era” of my life. However, just as Swift made rerecordings of her old songs, I revisited each of my emotions/memories with new understandings. Just as Swift would incorporate her old songs into her tour of her then-new album Midnights, while still releasing new music (ie. TTPD), I found certain emotions/memories reappearing while I was also forming new memories and gaining new experiences. My presentation aimed to imitate the structure of Swift’s Eras Tour. Doing this introspection allowed me to approach new experiences with the growth and maturity I gained from old ones. Having gone through this process also enabled me to empathize with Taylor Swift on a deeply personal level. Each “Taylor’s Version” released reflects her growth and maturity since the initial release of those albums. Everything from the stark contrast of the album covers to the tone of her rerecordings show the level of thought and effort she put into her passion. Her incredible songwriting talent and her ability to make money off of it are also testaments to the power of humanities and the arts. As an English major, I am driven to go into teaching with determination to change the view that degrees in the humanities and arts are less valuable in and of themselves, and tremendously admire Taylor for being such a role model. I am extremely grateful that this scholarship exists to recognize the “Timeless” impact Taylor Swift and her music has on fans like me. It would be an honor to be selected; receiving this scholarship would not only mean a lot as a Swiftie, but it would also greatly assist to progress with my education and make the most out of it – by pursuing a career that will empower me to empower others to do the same.
    RonranGlee Literary Scholarship
    John Stuart Mill once said “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.” (Doing Ethics textbook, p.112, 5th edition) Stop ‘Mill’ing Around: Utilitarianism Just Doesn’t Work! To understand this (in)famous quote, we must first understand the premises to its argument. In the opening of the excerpt, Mill makes a powerful claim: happiness is the one and only thing humans should desire. This is because happiness is an intrinsic good – it is the one and only thing, according to Mill, that humans desire for the sake of itself and nothing else. In fact (again, according to Mill), anything else we desire is instrumental in – a means to – bringing us that happiness. He then proposes different measurements of happiness – mainly, in the forms of higher and lower pleasures – and argues that it is always better to pursue the higher pleasure over the lower. This is the context for his quote. However, I disagree with Mill’s view. In this essay, I will first more fully expand on the context leading up to his argument. In the rest of the paper, I will then criticize (as in: argue against) Mill’s argument. While it certainly seems like a convincing one, it relies on the claim that even the tiniest amount of higher pleasures outweighs any quantity, even if near infinite, of lower pleasures. This, in turn, relies on happiness being an objective measurement, but I am skeptical of whether happiness can ever be measured without subjectivity – in fact, Mill himself does very little to argue against it. A positive note about Mill first. Before getting into his argument, he cleverly addresses a counterargument: if there is “no better and nobler object of desire” (96) than pursuit – if humans only live in want of pleasure – if “the sources of pleasure were precisely the same to human beings and to swine” (96), would that not mean human beings have been / would be living “a doctrine worthy only of swine” (96)? After all, if “the rule of life which is good enough for the one would be good enough for the other” (96), then man and beast would be one and the same. But clearly, we know that man and beast have differences. Mill further clarifies that the distinction exists between human pleasure and swine pleasure “precisely because a beast’s pleasures do not satisfy a human being’s conceptions of happiness” (96). To justify his claim, Mill proposes that there are different levels of pleasure: namely, higher and lower. Sex is a lower pleasure. Biting into a very good peach, even if it was the best peach you ever had, is also lower pleasure. In Mill’s view, almost anything that invokes “mere sensation” (97) – or bodily pleasure – is a lower pleasure. On the other hand, the higher pleasures have to do with stimulating the intellect. Networking and successfully building your own business would be a higher pleasure. Debating the merits of Mill would also be considered a higher pleasure. To that point, Mill asserts it is always more valuable to pursue the higher pleasure over the lower pleasure because the quality of whatever the higher pleasure is will measure to be much greater than whatever the lower pleasure is. Indeed, “those who are equally acquainted with, and equally capable of appreciating and enjoying, both, do give a most marked preference to the manner of existence which employs their higher faculties” (97). In other words, Mill simply means something like “anyone who has the ability to choose between higher and lower pleasures for herself/himself/themselves will choose the higher pleasure.” (More on this later.) To put his theory into practice, imagine this: you’ve just been through a long day (withal–an intense and demanding one). You, a person of some intellect, look forward to your recreation time and there happens to be two books in front of you: do you choose War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy or 50 Shades of Gray by E. L. James? One, due to its complex composition and high-level quality, will bring you much suffering and irritation (and remember, you’ve just been through it) while the other, due to its simplicity and straightforward appeal, offers no intellectual labor but still much intellectual content. If you desire happiness, you’d certainly be predisposed towards picking the latter book. And yet, Mill would respond that if you had a preference for the former book (War and Peace), it would not need to come at the sacrifice of happiness. To expand on his imaginary response, Mill would draw an important distinction between the meanings of happiness and content (and yes I may have purposefully misused either word to lead you on in the above scenario…): as he already pointed out in his writing, “the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low, has the greatest chance of having then fully satisfied” (98); on the other hand, “a highly-endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constitute, is imperfect” (98). In modern 2024 English, this translates to something like “people who prefer lower pleasures are more easily satisfied (content). This level of contentment will never be fulfilling enough for people who prefer higher pleasures.” It also seems like lower pleasures can only result in contentment while higher pleasures have the ability to achieve happiness (albeit whatever suffering and discontent the process requires to reach the goal). Yet, despite – or rather, precisely because of – how much more work it takes to perform the higher pleasure, this naturally must make higher pleasures superior to lower pleasures, so much so that if the highly-endowed being can bear the knowledge he might never be fully happy, he will not even have need to envy members of the lower faculty who require so little to be satisfied. – On this basis, Mill introduces the quote that is our prompt in question. He repeats this notion elsewhere too, writing that “no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool” (97) and “no instructed person would be an ignoramus” (97). He attributes this way of thinking to “a sense of dignity,” which he interestingly credits as “so essential a part of the happiness of those in whom it is strong” (97). That is, because the happiness of the members of the higher class comes with a strong sense of dignity, to lose one’s dignity would be extremely undesirable because it would mean losing a lot of happiness. Thus, even if a being of higher faculty wants to be part of the lower lot, the being of higher faculty “can never really wish…to be…lower” (97); knowing both sides, the member of the higher class would obviously want to remain in the higher class, if possible, since the quality and quantity of happiness that results from being in the higher class is greater than the quality and quantity of happiness that results from being in the lower class. Whether this has to do with dignity or not though, I’d like to dispute Mill’s declaration. As I mentioned before, Mill relies on the claim that even the tiniest amount of higher pleasures outweighs any number of lower pleasures because quality outdoes quantity. However, Mill does very little to argue that view. It is more so the case that he glosses over this point just to get to his theory of utilitarianism. A second problem with his argument is his reliance on happiness being an objective measurement; according to Mill, the only ones who truly understand the meaning of happiness are elitists; to elaborate, if the people in that committee or inner circle, who are, one must assume, all familiar with both sides, determine it is more valuable to be a Socrates than a fool, then according to Mill, the matter is objectively settled. However, I’m immensely suspicious this kind of choice is far from objective – due to the reality that each member of that committee has an inherent subjectiveness, whether formed by his/her/their background, beliefs, or otherwise. Whether due to oversimplification, self-assurance that all his readers would understand what he meant, or lack of thoughtfulness, Mill writes “...if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the equation” (98). Obviously “the fool” and “the pig” refer to members of the lower class. Ironically, it is Mill here whose statement only addresses one side of the equation. A caveat: I don’t completely disagree with Mill. For example, I do agree that once someone has been exposed to the higher faculty of life and is able to take part in it, as long as the person has a way of remaining in the higher circle, s/he/they would not opt to join the lower circle. As Mill has already pointed out repeatedly, “no intelligent human being would consent to be a fool” (97) and “no instructed person would be an ignoramus” (97). (Side note: that is, if they can consent or help it. Mill concedes that sometimes, it is the “society into which it has thrown them” (98) that makes humans lose their desire to be of the higher class because “they have not time or opportunity for indulging them” (98). I also agree with this statement, because I’ve seen enough movies and read enough stories in which people become alcoholics or addicts or prostitutes or become obsessed with other inferior pleasures – not out of want or deliberate preference – but because hard work, failed dreams, age, a fallen reputation, and countless other factors have made the higher pleasures no longer accessible to them or no longer worthy of pursuing because they’ve become so inaccessible. It is as Mill says: “before they devote themselves to the one, they have already become incapable of the other” (98). So that’s another caveat.) But, back to my argument, if this is a question of being “better,” or happier, I still maintain that it is not “better,” or happier, necessarily, to remain part of the higher class. It’s simple: if the person of higher faculties is always dissatisfied (and because of that dissatisfaction can never be perfectly happy), while the person of lower pleasures is always satisfied (and because of that satisfaction is therefore perfectly happy), it is obviously happier for that person to live a life of the lower class. Better to be a fool and remain a fool. Also consider: there is a purely theoretical probability, even if it is very small, that if a member – any one member – of the higher faculty were to determine that the quantity of lower pleasures outweighs even the tiniest quality of higher pleasures, that it would be better for that person to be part of the lower class, Mill’s argument would be defeated. If I were in dialogue with Mill here, he’d probably point out that I have confused happiness with satisfaction. But, be warned Mill, I’m not a complete fool. I understand their nuances. However, I wonder if these nuances do not overlap here. Sometimes people voluntarily opt for lower pleasures even when the higher pleasure is readily available, and should, according to Mill’s argument, be the one that we choose. So then – how can being a member of the higher class be “better” if the very people in the higher circle are constantly defaulting to lower pleasures, and doing so by their own choice? I’m no philosopher, but perhaps it is a combination of the higher and lower pleasures that maximizes happiness, and these pleasures need not be completely divided in the ways that Mill suggests.
    Bald Eagle Scholarship
    I don’t hide the fact that I don’t have a phone (because my mom can’t afford the monthly price). Or that we’ve had to save money for her school tuition/fees by frequently skipping meals. Or that because utilities are not included with our rent, my mom hand-washes all our clothes–sparing my smooth hands at the sacrifice of hers. Or that because we have no car, we have to bring back groceries from the nearest store–8 blocks away–by hand. Or that in a rush on the road, my mom once fell down on the side-walk, carrying both our backpacks, hands bleeding–but got up and continued running. Or that we currently attend the same school–my mother because she can finally work on a degree now that she has a grown-up daughter. I used to be ashamed of these implications, even afraid: when my mom fell on the sidewalk, I stood scared and seethed silently, but made no move to help. I felt guilty and angry; I knew that when she got up, she’d turn on me for “making her fall”–that she came to the US for a better life for me, and that if it weren’t for me, she wouldn’t be in this situation. I remember thinking: but it wasn’t MY choice to permanently travel half-way across the world at two years old!! Now I know both of these things are true. And while I cannot change our visa statuses nor get us out of our circumstances so easily, I can change my attitude and take steps to secure a better life for both of us. Now I’m ashamed of not helping her then. When I’m faced with challenges, I think about how my mother’s always done everything she could to encourage my learning and growth. Because of my mom, I am driven to always put my best foot forward. To make all her efforts worth it, that’s the very least I can do. I’d like to think I’ve been aiming at doing the greatest though. To name a few: As a first-year college student, I’m already placed into two graduate level classes. As the founder/president of my high school’s reading club, I arranged a partnership between my club and the international organization Bookfriends; this partnership allowed us to collect and donate 2,000+ books from the local community and ship them to kids in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Malawi who have all the basic reading skills but have not had the resources–books–to exercise them. As the Teacher Treats chair of my high school’s Student Council, I carried through with (different) monthly teacher appreciation projects when my role only asked for a beginning- and end-of-the-year acknowledgement. As current Managing Editor for an internationally-run environmental newspaper, I use my position to bring writers’ advocacy pitches to fruition and spread the word in my school to increase readership. I also realize that in setting ambitious goals for myself and doing more than expected of me, I’ve been embodying my mother’s values all along. She never failed to support me, to persevere through challenges along the way. She also taught me to be moral and kind. In everything I do, I’m also proud that I’m carrying on my mother’s values.
    Top of the Mountain Memorial Scholarship
    It’s hard for me to pinpoint when I developed an environment-conscious mindset. It’s also hard–even after taking college Environmental Science–for me to reductively define it: ES is a field of study; ES does not exist in isolation, but is the combining of fields of meaning; ES informs government policies. However. I believe in ES being as practical as it is theoretical. I believe in ES’s ability to affect small-scale action just as much–perhaps more than–large-scale. Hence, I joined Green Team, a club in its early start of my virtual year. All year, we organized towards our school’s first Earth Week celebration–which would become a tradition. We stretched Earth *Day* into a *week* of educating peers (and staff) about environmental issues–including leading interactive activities to engage our audience. As President, I seized the opportunity to expand GT’s mission, making bigger, more frequent impacts on my school community. Under my leadership and organization, GT hosted monthly guest speakers and partnerships with students and outside organizations–to simultaneously raise awareness and take action about topics like fast fashion, dairy alternatives, and fair trade. Year-round, we ran the school’s recycling system and held a Bingo to celebrate the most sustainable individuals. As a college first-year, I'm continuing this meaningful work. My environmental advocacy manifests outside of school too. After winning “Best Piece” for a newspaper contest, I was invited to become a regular writer for The Earth Chronicles, and am now the Head of Climate Change. Similarly, after being published in IL Audubon magazine, I was asked to speak on a panel about my article: no matter their age, income, race, or identity, natural disasters don’t discriminate. What humans do affects ALL of us. Climate change is happening right now in your backyard: it’s the message I’d broadcast at the top of the mountain–or anywhere.
    Barbara J. DeVaney Memorial Scholarship Fund
    9PM: Library lights flicker as my fingers fly across the keyboard. I know I won’t be able to work on this when I get “home” tonight. 11PM: I unlock the apartment door to distracting noise. Two roommates nod in greeting; looks like they’ll be watching another horror movie. I walk past a third roommate cooking. A dog barks downstairs, voices yell. In our room–the only private space we have–my mom shows me her homework on our one computer. In 2007, my mom came to the US on a student visa, which means that she must continuously: keep her attendance in good standing, pay tuition, complete all her assignments on time–in order to maintain *both* our legal statuses. Because of her visa status, my mom is not allowed to work. Because we can’t afford our own living space, we share a single-unit–living room, kitchen, everything–with roommates. Because we don’t own a car, my mom literally runs every minute on the road to her daily obligations. To save money (and time), my mother skips breakfast and lunch. Sometimes she skips dinner, too. Like today; her homework’s due by morning. I help translate and explain the instructions, sit by her as she works; I know she’ll want tech support, writing suggestions, or more translating. Sometimes, my mom sees me to sleep while she continues working. But I don’t fall asleep. I’m already picturing the day ahead: classes from 9-4, scholarship searching, homework-until-the-library-closes-and-I-can’t-access-a-computer-anymore, commute, sleep (or not); repeat. Every week, I bookmark at least three scholarships; every other week, I submit a scholarship application. Soon that’ll change: with my college tuition and fees due in two months, I’ll have to spend *much more* time on scholarships if I want to avoid late fees–and continue my education. I wish I could break this cycle. And I know a way. Barbara J. DeVaney believed that every *individual*–“regardless of...background[/finances]–deserved the chance to pursue their dreams through education.” That’s why I’m applying to this scholarship–because it acknowledges marginalized *individuals* and recognizes that there are still obstacles for women pursuing higher education. Moreover, it recognizes that within the gender label of “women,” there are still minority groups who “fall through the cracks.” I’m not just trying to “overcome significant barriers that [my] peers don’t face;” from eighteen years of experience, I can confidently say my situation is truly unique–to the point that my peers haven’t even heard of it. Neither has the internet, apparently. In my search for scholarships, I cannot even recount those applications for which I was “ineligible”–not because of my GPA, grades, or extracurriculars, which all exceeded those scholarships’ requirements–but because my visa status is not that of a US citizen, permanent resident, or even undocumented. If I’m being real, $10,000 scholarships are rare; the typical scholarship I see is $500. My tuition is twenty times that. I know there are many people who deserve a scholarship like this one. Yet, even with all these hardships thrown at me–actually, because of them–I’ve grown a lot. I’ve learned to become resourceful. My particular situation has taught me to appreciate all opportunities that present themselves, large and small. If I am chosen for this scholarship, I guarantee I will take advantage of every opportunity that comes with: including simply continuing my education, without the burden of who-knows-how-much-time-of-scholarship-research. Instead, I would dedicate this time to school–not rushing my homework every day, fully participating and being present in each of my classes, engaging with my school community, going to office hours, and reaching my full potential as a student and person. Maybe I could even afford a computer for myself.