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BLAKE WILLOUGHBY

2275

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Finalist

Bio

Current U.S. Army Armor Officer with a B.A. in Communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Future JD/MA in Atlantic History and Politics candidate at the University of Missouri - Columbia with a demonstrated past in Communication, Leadership, and Advocacy. Proudly served in leadership roles in Future Business Leaders of America, Speech and Debate, International Thespian Society, Technology Student Association, Mizzou Alternative Breaks, Mizzou Army ROTC, Students for Liberty, Mizzou Students Association, Mizzou Residence Halls Association, Mizzou Residential Life, and Students for Liberty. A proud Active-Duty servicemember of the 1st Infantry Division and trained as a Tank Platoon Leader and Assistant Operations Officer. Looking to fulfill a life-long dream of pursing graduate level education in order to make a positive impact on the world through the legal, political, and historical fields.

Education

University of Missouri-Columbia

Bachelor's degree program
2017 - 2020
  • Majors:
    • Communication, General
  • Minors:
    • Intercultural/Multicultural and Diversity Studies
    • Military Applied Sciences

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

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

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Law
    • Political Science and Government
    • History
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Legal Services

    • Dream career goals:

      Public Defender

    • Private (31B, Military Police); Cadet

      U.S. Army Missouri National Guard
      2016 – 20204 years
    • Associate

      Mizzou Publishing
      2017 – 20181 year
    • Intern

      The Joplin Globe
      2017 – 2017
    • Officer

      U.S. Army
      2020 – 20222 years
    • Residential Advisor

      University of Missouri - Residential Life
      2018 – 20191 year

    Sports

    Football

    Junior Varsity
    2010 – 20122 years

    Research

    • Military Applied Sciences

      University of Missouri - Columbia, Army ROTC — Author
      2020 – 2020

    Arts

    • International Thespian Association

      Acting
      Suessical , Return to the Forbidden Planet, Harvey, Gramercy Ghost
      2014 – 2016

    Public services

    • Public Service (Politics)

      University of Missouri, Residence Halls Assoication — Hall Vice President, Representative, Speaker of Congress, Associate Justice, and Sergeant-at-Arms
      2017 – 2020
    • Volunteering

      Mizzou Alternative Breaks — Associate
      2017 – 2017
    • Volunteering

      Mizzou Alternative Breaks — Site Leader
      2018 – 2018

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Politics

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Bold Joy Scholarship
    Other people bring me joy. In contrast to Satre's famous declaration that "Hell is other people". I believe that other people are, in fact, what makes our world tolerable. I do not write this with naivety. Other people are certainly capable of causing pain to others, but the only thing worse than pain is apathy. The world is occupied with those who can bring joy, empathy, and kindness. The world is also occupied by those that can bring hurt, destruction, and suffering. Most of the time, people are very capable of being both. However, this vibrancy and diversity are what make this world interesting and worth exploring. To use a metaphor, imagine you are in a room in an art museum. Before you are two different pieces. One is a canvas that is painted black, and the other is a Jackson Pollack-esque painting. You may not like abstract art, and you may even appreciate the black canvas. However, the paint-splattered canvas of the Pollack-esque painting offers surprises and different interpretations. You may even interpret death and destruction in that painting, but at least, there is something to interpret. Better yet, imagine you had to live the rest of your life in one of the paintings. The black painting is void and without others. The canvas traps all colors preventing them from letting you see anything else other than the void. However, the Pollack-quese painting provides a world of difference. There is change. There is hope. I bring joy to my life by using this metaphor in real-time. I want to seek out other people and what they create. I am limited in my conscious mind, but through the consciousness of others, I am unlimited in my scope of experience. This vibrancy of "other people" is what brings life meaning.
    Bold Happiness Scholarship
    Contentment and Gratitude. For the last couple of years, I was unhappy. I had a lot of challenges thrown my way. I had some untreated mental health issues. I lost a significant relationship. I was in a career that I didn't enjoy. I was stuck in an aimless, hopeless loop. It was not a great time for me. However, I learned a lot. I was humbled by the trials that came my way, and I found out a lot of things about myself. During that time I learned two important principles: Pain + Meaning = Sacrifice and do not worry about things you cannot control and be content with the things you can. I, surely, went through a lot of personal pain, but once you're able to attribute meaning to that suffering, the pain is much more bearable. After a lot of time searching, I found meaning in helping other people with what I went through myself. My pain was just not simply to endure. It was a guidebook. If I was strong enough to overcome my challenges, I can teach others to be strong as well. I also learned the value of being content. There are some things in life that cannot be changed. We can try our best to influence things, and we can try our best to change things for the better. However, these things take time, patience, and determination. These are all admirable traits, but in the meantime, contentment is vital for well-being. I learned these lessons when I was in a rehabilitation center for alcohol use. I had a lot of time to reflect and think about my achievements and mistakes. Being institutionalized was not exactly pleasant, but at the end of the day, I learned more than I could ever repay.
    Bold Listening Scholarship
    My idea of listening is used to be very simple: receiving a message from another person or object. However, after I graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, I learned that there is a difference between active and passive listening. Passive listening, to me, can be described as just receiving a message. It is devoid of interaction and empathy. It is simply receiving a message the way you would receive an email. One person tells you something, and you remember it. That's it. However, active listening, to me, is much more than that. Active listening not only receives the message, but the listener interacts with the person who is communicating that message. Active listening encourages conversation instead of stifling it, and there are several ways someone can choose to actively listen instead of just passively receiving information. The active component of listening includes but is not limited to a few things. First, the listener should be curious. Retain information that the sender is giving you and ask questions - especially open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Curiosity in the conversation tells the sender you're not only listening, but you're interested in what they have to say. Second, the listener should be empathic. Empathy withholds judgment and seeks to clarify and understand the sender's emotion. Empathy also fosters an environment of trust and compassion, making the sender more likely to disclose things to you that are important to the conversation. Lastly, the listener should be attentive to their body language. Believe it or not, non-verbal cues account for over 90% of effective communication. Your posture should show you're engaged, listening, and you're understanding what the sender is saying. I try to take my own advice in everyday life.
    I Am Third Scholarship
    My ultimate goal in life is the leave the world better than what I left it. I see gaining an education and a skill set as a near means to accomplish this - not the ends. In all of the fields, I've chosen to pursue it was for the betterment of the world as I saw. I first enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard as a military policeman in order to help my home community and state. After finishing basic training, I chose to go to Mizzou to pursue journalism. Journalism, in my mind, is the fourth estate that keeps people honest, and I wanted to contribute to that. After some careful thought, I changed my major to political communication because I saw some issues in the journalism world. In this way, I was hoping to advocate for progressive reforms necessary to make the US a better place to live. Upon graduation, I commissioned as an Armor Officer into the Active Duty Army. In this way, I wanted to challenge myself to some of the harsh realities of life, and in the process, help those that I could in a leadership position. I am now at the point, where I reached a crossroads at the end of my contract. I had to decide what I wanted to do, and after some thought, I choose to go back to school to pursue law. The way I see it, if you're in a poor socio-economic position and are accused of a crime, you are often forced into plea bargains - whether you committed the crime or not. In my mind, this is one of the biggest glaring issues of the justice system, and I want to contribute to ending this disparity. In nearly all aspects of my life, I've decided to pursue confrontational careers. In the military, I'm trained to fight the enemy. In journalism, I was trained not to take no for an answer. In communication, I was taught the art of communicating in order to make a coherent and persuasive message. Now in this last field that I've chosen, I might represent my client against charges brought against them. I have a fighting spirit, and I want to use it to better the world. I might not be able to solve all the problems I see in the world, but through legal education, I can take a step in the right direction to give myself the toolset to fight the good fight. I have personal goals that I want to meet, but as I specified before, I want to leave the world a better place than when I arrived in it. Everyone has differing views on how to accomplish this, but mine happens to be in the legal realm. Socio-economic disparities should never doom someone to live in prison. My client may or may not be guilty, but I have always subscribed to the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but if you do not have the means, it seems you are guilty until proven innocent. There are a lot of criticisms I have of the current criminal justice system, but I don't mean to insult it entirely. The same system that imprisons those who cannot afford adequate defense is the same system that allows those who want to fight the good fight an opportunity to have their day in court. There is a long road ahead in learning the skillset necessary to achieve my goal, but I am more than willing to put long hours in to make it happen.
    Bold Dream Big Scholarship
    My dream life would be a profession where I am able to fight for something I believe in and make a positive change in the world. Even though I have changed my career goals in the past, the one overarching goal is to create a positive impact on the world. As an example, when I graduated High School, I enlisted in the Missouri National Guard to help my community when natural disasters may occur. When I got to college, I choose to pursue journalism at first to expose wrong-doing and give power to the powerless. I shifted my focus to a Communication degree with an emphasis on Political Communication because I felt like my talents were better suited for political advocacy and education. When I graduated college, I commissioned into the Army as an Active Duty Armor Officer. I wanted to fight for what's right and fight for my nation. I had served my role in protecting my state, but I wanted to extend that same thought process to the nation at large. Now that my contract is coming to an end, I wanted to continue this lifelong goal and apply this process to the legal field. It's a sad fact that in the American justice system, innocent people are sent to prison because they simply can't afford an adequate defense attorney. I feel that I can contribute to improving the system by using the talents that I will learn in law school. I have wanted to serve in various fields in order to make the world a better place, but I believe that the legal field is where I will find my life-long goal fulfilled.
    Bold Financial Literacy Scholarship
    The one personal finance lesson I've found to be critical is "start early". This is usually just applied to retirement but can be applied to any and all financial aspects. Nearly everyone has seen the graphs signifying the differences between two people who start at different ages in regards to retirement investment. This lesson is evident, but by starting early in all aspects, people will be bound to see the multitude of benefits of starting early. At a young age, I started early in savings, investments, and building credit. I started my savings at age 16, and I now have a savings account that rivals many of my peers. I started my investment account at 19, and my multiple retirement accounts also rival many of my peers. Lastly, I got started with a secure credit card when I was admitted into college, and since then, I've been able to pay off all student debt and attain a credit score of over 770. I say all of this not to brag. That is not my intention. I say this because, as a 24-year-old who will be returning back to school soon, I am in a place where I do not have to worry much about finances because I started early in all aspects of my financial wellness and readiness. That is my personal lesson that I've found to be monumental in securing a comfortable future for myself, and it's what I would tell anyone else who is just entering the workforce as a teenager or young adult. The sooner you begin to think in terms of financial wellness and readiness, the better you will be.
    Bold Wise Words Scholarship
    Last fall, I was in a challenging position. I was in a career I didn't like. My three-year-long relationship ended the day after I bought her a ring. I was struggling with depression, anxiety, and alcohol use disorder on top of all of the other circumstances. It got to a point where I had to admit to myself that I needed help. When I was admitted into a Residential Treatment Facility, I had a lot of time to think about what I had been through and to sort through my thoughts and feelings. I was swimming in a sea of ambiguity, and I needed some direction - which I found in an unlikely place. I read Man's Search for Meaning, and I found a lot of insightful things in the book that helped me understand through my what I was going through. I learned a lot from the book, but the wises thing I heard was actually from my psychiatrist at the facility. I was talking to him about what lessons I was learning from the book, and he said that the book could be summed up into a simple formula. "Pain without meaning equals suffering. Pain with meaning equal sacrifice." This didn't take away from what I had learned from the book, but it was simple enough of a motto that I could use it as a sort of mantra. I learned that through my previous pain, I was able to learn from my journey and help others who might be in a similar position. When I look back now, I'm not exactly happy I went through what I went through, but it's given me empathy, compassion, mental toughness, and a whole lot of other tools I can use to make a better impact on the world.
    Bold Persistence Scholarship
    I was at my rock bottom in the Fall of 2021. I was in a career I didn't like. I was in the throes of depression, alcoholism, and anxiety. Above all, I bought my girlfriend of three years a ring. The next day she broke up with me. She moved all of her things out of the apartment the very same day. In the following weeks, the bottle became my only friend - more than it already had been. A bottle can't leave you. It can't talk back to you. It's always available, and the effects are nearly instant. I don't disclose this information to get sympathy points. I'm trying to explain I wasn't facing just one obstacle. I was facing many at once, and it broke me down. Even at my darkest moments where something really bad could have transpired, there was always something that saved me. Call it luck, God, or karma, but there was something that pushed me onward despite my deteriorating mental state. I soon decided to check myself into rehab in order to change the course of my life. In those four walls at the care facility, I realized I was the captain of my own ship. My body was my vessel, and I could use it to create damage to myself or others or to help the world in some way. Perhaps the thing that inspired me most was reading A Man's Search for Meaning. I needed a purpose. If I can't live for myself, I must be able to live for others. In short, that's why I'm pursuing law in the first place. So I can use my "vessel" to help people who are at their most challenging moments. I might not change the world, but changing one person's world is enough.
    Bold Hobbies Scholarship
    Since I was a young boy, I've always had a passion for one thing: stories. Stories can teach us lessons. They can transport us to worlds unseen. They allow us to play with ideas that are simply impossible in our waking material life. Stories are even the closest thing we have to an ultimate machine that can travel space, time, and dimensions. However, these are not the only powers that stories can give us. There's no doubt that the ideas that are embedded within any stories have serious implications. A person can take inspiration from one story and become a hero or a villain. Science fiction can inspire future inventors to make technology in science fiction a reality. Even a story that a friend tells you has an impact on how you perceive that friend and the situation they were in. The far-reaching effects of stories can take a heavy toll on you if you sit down and think about how much simple tales have impacted our lives. That's why video games, movies, and reading are three hobbies that I've always enjoyed from even a young age. Just because these hobbies are common does not mean they are not powerful. These hobbies are simply mediums from which I and many others can experience different stories. I relish the fact that I can pick up control, remote, or book and jump into a new foreign and unexplored world. I also take immense joy in stripping a medium down to its basic parts to try and understand what its creator is trying to convey. Through every page turn, scene passed, or button clicked, I learn more about myself, others, and the world at large. While these hobbies are commonplace, they are powerful mediums to experience the world.
    Bold Gratitude Scholarship
    The past two years have been challenging for me. In high school and college, I was a great student, attained over 15 leadership positions in 8 short years, and was physically in shape, but I hit a wall. A combination of depression, anxiety, and alcohol use disorder left me despondent, unmotivated, and with no real sense of a future. The day after I bought my girlfriend of three years a ring to propose, she broke up with me. I hit rock bottom. I was in a career I didn't enjoy, I was separated from my friends and family, and I was left with no purpose (or it felt like it) for the first time in my life. Alcohol became a close friend for me when I had no others. It got to the point where I could not go a single weekend without experiencing at least two blackouts. I knew I needed help, but I was afraid to ask, but my coworkers and the friends that choose to stay by my side helped me in ways I cannot payback. I finally gathered the courage I needed to get help. I went to rehab, got into therapy, and got on some medicine. Little did I know, that making the first step is what saved my life. After the help I received, I learned the appreciate the smaller things in life that I had taken for granted. I learned that even if I feel down at times, my presence and support can help others from going down the same path I did. Some days the cravings and depressing thoughts come back, but I am more equipped than ever to combat them. It's not easy, but I'm back on the right track, and I'm thankful for all that helped me to get there.
    Bold Bravery Scholarship
    I was getting yelled at and was lying facedown in the tire pit at Ft. Lenoardwood questioning my decision to join the Army. I was 18 at the time. Just two years earlier, I battled clinic depression and overcame a close friend's suicide, and I was now facing even more challenges. However, I overcame basic training just like I did my challenges in high school. After this, I decided to go to the University of Missouri - Columbia to challenge myself even more. I won four different awards, and I attained over 10 leadership positions in various organizations in just three short years. After I graduated, I was commissioned into the Active Duty Army as an Armor Officer to continue my military career. I was trained to become a leader of a Tank Platoon in Ft. Benning. During this time, I began to develop some mental health issues with anxiety, depression, and alcohol use disorders, but I pressed on until I got to Ft. Riley. Although I continued to struggle with these issues, I sought help, and I continued to be a helpful asset to my unit. Now that I'm facing the end of my contract, and the Army has helped me immensely to help with my mental health issues, I decided to make a choice. I wanted to continue making a difference in the world to help those who are disadvantaged. I was recently accepted in law and graduate school, and with the newfound tools I will learn, I plan to make the criminal justice system a more equitable place. I want to learn the skills to represent clients who often have to rely on public defenders and are forced to take plea deals. Changing the criminal justice system is a big task, but I'm up for it.
    Bold Career Goals Scholarship
    I've always wanted to fight for what's right, and that's exactly what I wanted for my future. When I first graduated high school, I made the decision to enlist in the Missouri Army National Guard. There, I went on a flood relief mission to help local Missourians. I then made the decision to attend Mizzou to major in Political Communication to fight for much-needed reform in our government. After I graduated college, I commissioned as an Armor Officer in the Active Duty Army. I trained for much needed skills as a tanker, and I've worked in Headquarters at Fort Riley to help train soldiers to be the best that they can be. Now that I'm getting towards the end of my contract, I had to decide how I wanted to continue to fight for what's right. I found my answer in law. One of the most unfortunate things about our criminal justice system is that people who cannot afford to have their case heard have to rely on public defenders who are often overworked and overbooked. As a result, many clients have to take plea deals instead of getting their side heard. Through law and public advocacy, I wanted to change this. I wanted to give quality representation to people who could not afford it otherwise. Whenever someone is sentenced to prison, we as a society deny their rights. I want to ensure for my future career that anyone who is charged with a crime has their fair day in court. I've spent my entire adult life fighting for what is right, and I want to continue doing this by preserving people's rights by any means I can.
    Bold Books Scholarship
    The most inspiring book I read was Man’s Search for Meaning. When I read it, I was in rehab for alcohol, hopelessly depressed, and I was looking for any advice or guidance to keep treading the path of life. When I read Viktor Frankl‘s word. It gave me hope. It gave me a sense of purpose. He created a new way to look at life through a tolerable and even fulfilling lens. His book spoke to me in ways I could not fathom otherwise. Specifically, his passage about a client whose wife had died recently really stuck with me. In the book, he talked to his client about his wife’s death. This man was hopelessly depressed after losing his life partner, but Viktor asked him a simple, yet enlightening question. “Would you have preferred that she went first?” The man said no, almost immediately. Then Viktor said, “Well, this is why you must keep on living. Your life is a testament to the fact that your wife is now not having to live with the pain you are going through.” Viktor said the client continued to suffer, but not nearly as bad because his suffering had been given meaning. In my personal experience, I saw that although I had suffered and I had points that I wanted to take my own life, I had to continue living. Why? Because my living is a testament that you can get better. My connection with others can be a way to save them from what I had to go through. Viktor had given purpose to my suffering, and for that, I am forever indebted to him and his book.