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Ayla Calamusa


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I am passionate about acquiring knowledge for the sake of using it to make life better. My idea of success is improving the quality of life for as many people, or even animals, as I can! I won’t stop until my task is complete, and I don’t quit even after my goal is met. I always strive to reach higher.


Youngker High School

High School
2023 - 2024


  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Psychology, General
    • Veterinary/Animal Health Technologies/Technicians
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:


    • Dream career goals:

    • Crew Member

      2024 – 2024


    • Maricopa High School

      2022 – 2023

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Maricopa Food Pantry — Volunteer
      2021 – 2023
    Jake Thomas Williams Memorial Scholarship
    Though I haven't physically lost her, my mother is gone. She has struggled with mental health for over 20 years. I watched as she slowly lost pieces of herself. She used to glow- she would light up a room with her smile. She would sing and dance to any song. Over time, she began to lose that spark, and every song sounded sad. Our relationship changed in ways I didn't understand. I was too young to understand what it meant when she told me, “Mommy is sick.” I watched her scream at non-existent people. My stomach would grumble as she rotted away in bed for 2 days straight. I would struggle to stop her from harming herself as she cried that it was all too much. In January of 2020, my mother left the house and what returned was nothing but her phone and some clothes, bloodied in plastic bags. The police handed us her items and told us she was airlifted to the hospital. My mother had ended up on the train tracks, and the train didn’t stop. I waited weeks to see her, and once she was stable enough to transfer out of the ICU, I had to prepare myself to see her again. She had lost both of her legs in the incident. Her recovery was long and hard for all of us. She had to struggle with the impact of the incident on her body and her mind. My siblings and I had to watch their mother struggle in ways they never imagined. My grandparents watched their own baby escape death by mere seconds as the whole town posted on Facebook to gossip about how “some woman ended up on the tracks.” It took a lot of time for us to recover from it. This incident taught me some important concepts. For one, any moment could be your last, so don’t take people or things for granted. And secondly, my mother felt she had nowhere to go that night, except for one place. I know that there are millions of people out there right now who are battling that decision right now. I know what it feels like to lose someone physically and emotionally. It was a hard pill to swallow, realizing that my mother was going through that much pain right in front of me. I want to be able to understand people in her position so that I can help. She struggled with schizophrenia bipolar-active. She has severe depression and she also struggles with anxiety. I myself struggle with depression and anxiety and I still battle past traumas. I believe that if people took the time to truly understand mental health, we could be a lot more proactive and save a lot of lives. If not that, then improving the quality of life at least a little bit for those struggling. With knowledge and understanding comes change and compassion, and I truly believe that taking the time to understand and listen could make a difference in someone’s life.
    Marian Haley Memorial Scholarship
    To me, education is power. Education can get you places in life that you never expected to get to. Education can save your life and get you out of difficult situations. Education doesn't just mean "being smart" and "obtaining knowledge," but it also means "voice" and "opportunity." And with that, education means success. I have set many goals for my future. Small ones, such as getting into the ASU Barrett Honors College, to big ones like retiring by the age of 60. My biggest goal is achieving happiness. This doesn't necessarily mean being wealthy or traveling the world. I want to have a job that I love, and I believe with every step further into my education, I am makin that more and more possible. I want to wake up most days excited for work. I do want to be able to travel. I don't believe I was put onto this Earth not to explore it! The world offers so much, and I want to experience that. In the field I am going to study, Psychology, I hope to help people, whether it is helping them understand, or just helping them make progress. By furthering my own education, I am going to help others do so as well. Learning doesn't stop inside of the classroom or lecture hall. In my preferred occupation, I can help teach people about their minds and help them understand them better so that they can achieve a higher quality of life every day. Throughout my whole life, my mom and I have struggled with mental illness. She deals with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and schizophrenia bipolar-active. I struggle with anxiety, depression, and mild PTSD. Depression is the mental illness that has weighed my mother and I down the most. Depression makes it hard to wake up or sleep. Depression makes every day activities seem pointless and every day just feels the same. Watching my mother go through what she had while taking care of 3 kids was eye-opening. It got to a point where she couldn't care for us anymore and had to give up custody. She worked very hard and made the right choice. I want to be able to help others like my mother and myself and help guide them down the path they need to go on. Mental illness makes it difficult to see that path and it makes it difficult to get yourself up to walk down that path. So I want to help people achieve their goals and live their lives using the advancement of my education.