For DonorsFor Applicants
user profile avatar

Breanna Ross

6145

Bold Points

3x

Nominee

4x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

One thing people should know about me is that I’m insane when it comes to birds. Ironically, my ‘insanity’ is what kept me sane when I was younger. Whenever I was lonely, my pet chickens, Martha and Maggie, were always there to comfort me. I was their sole caretaker and loved them as if they were my children. I thought they couldn’t be more perfect. My bond with my chickens helped me develop a deep love for birds in general. Even the common pigeon is absolutely stunning and deserves more appreciation than it receives. I’ve never lost sight of the beauty that every bird has. Except now, instead of my passion consisting solely of child-like wonder, I now also have the education and drive needed to protect endangered bird species. For my career, I plan to conduct research on endangered avian species. I’m especially interested in rehabilitating injured birds so I can study them up-close and directly help them recover. My dream is to one day use my research, speech, art, and writing skills to form a plan to save endangered species and convince the public to take action. I’ve begun the first step towards reaching my goal by pursuing a Bachelor’s in Ecology. I also joined “Bird Campus” and “The Society for Ecological Restoration,” where I’m learning more about ongoing conservation efforts and am assisting my peers with their research on bird collisions with windows. Additionally, as a disabled LGBTQ+ woman and member of Delta Alpha Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, and GLAD, I push through my struggles and help other minorities find the resources they need to reach their goals.

Education

University of North Texas

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2026
  • Majors:
    • Ecology, Evolution, Systematics, and Population Biology

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

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

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Ecology, Evolution, Systematics, and Population Biology
    • Zoology/Animal Biology
    • Biology, General
    • Natural Sciences
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Test scores:

    • 1450
      SAT
    • 33
      ACT
    • 1410
      PSAT

    Career

    • Dream career field:

      Environmental Services

    • Dream career goals:

      To save endangered avian wildlife species

    • Elementary Math, Accuplacer, and PSAT/SAT Tutor

      Wyzant
      2023 – Present1 year

    Sports

    Soccer

    Intramural
    2022 – 2022

    Soccer

    Club
    2011 – 20121 year

    Awards

    • Participation Throphy
    • Finalist Team Member

    Research

    • Physical Sciences, Other

      Independent — Independent (at-home)
      2016 – Present

    Arts

    • Celebrating Art

      Drawing
      2021 – 2022
    • State Fair of Texas

      Drawing
      2021 – 2022
    • Celebrating Art

      Visual Arts
      Summer 2021 Anthology Published Artist
      2021 – 2022
    • Youth-Be-Heard

      Drawing
      2021 – 2021
    • Independent

      Drawing
      Art Museum at Fair Park
      2015 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Sigma Alpha Pi: The National Society for Leadership and Service — Member
      2023 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Independent — Math and Writing Tutor
      2023 – 2023
    • Volunteering

      Bird Campus — Historian
      2022 – Present
    • Volunteering

      OK2BX: It's Okay To Be Extraordinary — Volunteer at events
      2022 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Phi Kappa Phi — Member
      2023 – Present
    • Advocacy

      Delta Alpha Pi — Member
      2023 – Present
    • Advocacy

      GLAD: Queer Alliance — Member
      2022 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Society for Ecological Restoration — Member
      2022 – Present
    • Volunteering

      SEM Volunteering Club — Leader and Event Organizer
      2019 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Soup Mobile — President of Volunteering Club
      2021 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      Texas Conservation Alliance — Tag butterflies and clean litter
      2021 – Present
    • Advocacy

      Townview Gay-Straight Alliance — Leader, Mental Health Guide Manager, and Drag Show Manager
      2020 – Present
    • Volunteering

      The Mel Keystone Program — Mathematics Tutor for 3rd-4th Grade
      2020 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Heifer International — Donor
      2016 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Zooniverse — Counting Penguins by Age
      2020 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Independent — Tutor
      2016 – Present
    • Volunteering

      PeliCams — Document Pelican sightings
      2020 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Smithsonian Museum — Transcriber
      2020 – Present
    • Volunteering

      IntelliChoice — Tutor
      2018 – 2019

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Politics

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    Barbara J. DeVaney Memorial Scholarship Fund
    Education illuminates my path to a brighter future. There are more chapters to my story than I can ever describe in an essay, but, at my core, I'm a kind person who wants to take the pain she's been through and use it as a force for change. Pursuing higher education will allow me to gain the necessary skills for my career, but financial hurdles have left me reliant on scholarships to continue this path. As a survivor of relationship abuse, I'm determined to lead an independent life. I didn't think highly of myself at the time, so I was under the impression that I deserved everything he did to me. If it weren't for the love of my two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie, I think I would have continued to accept everything he did to me without challenge. However, thanks to their kind love, I looked within myself and realized that love shouldn't hurt and began working on escaping his grasp. Now, I'm determined to never be trapped with anyone again. To do this, I plan to get an education and start a career that I'm proud of. If I can maintain a proper career and fend for myself, I'll never need a partner to survive. I aspire to gain a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and work as an ornithology professor who does research on the side. Birds, such as my pet chickens, have always been there for me in my life. I'd like to return the favor by conducting research on endangered species. Teaching and research will allow me to share my passion for birds with others, which can help them find passions of their own that motivate them to lead independent lives as well. As a professor, I also plan to work with students who have personal issues that get in the way of their education. When they struggle, I want to help them find a fair solution that allows them to continue their education while they work through what they’re dealing with. As a first-generation student, as much as my parents care for me, the support I'm able to receive from them is minimal. I had to work extremely hard to support myself in the college application process to make sure nothing fell through to cracks. Now that I'm in college and my family doesn't have the funds to help me, I'm working hard to earn merit scholarships and to tutor on the side so that I can afford my education. I'm determined to succeed no matter what it takes, but any financial assistance I receive, I'm extremely grateful for because it allows me to focus more on my familial responsibilities and my studies. Overall, using the funds for education will allow me to create a life for myself where I’m self-reliant and pursuing my passions. Teaching will also allow me to help students who are struggling, so I can turn my pain into power for others. I’m determined to succeed in my goals no matter the challenge, but any assistance I receive, I’m eternally grateful for.
    Will Johnson Scholarship
    Anyone who knows me knows that I am insane, at least when it comes to birds. As a future ornithologist, I plan to ultimately earn my Ph.D. and dedicate the rest of my life to finding new ways to protect endangered bird species. While that will be an epic feat in itself, as a disabled person, I also plan to work to make STEM fields more accessible to people with disabilities. I’ve had to work twice as hard to get where I am today, and I want to help make it easier for future generations to succeed. For eight years, my two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie, were the loves of my life. I loved to sit outside with them, photograph them, and write notes about their behaviors. After spending a few years observing my chickens, I noticed similar behaviors in wild birds. This inspired me to begin observing the pigeons I came across as well. I recognized several individual pigeons and kept special notes regarding how their behaviors changed over time, how they responded to different environmental conditions, and how their role in their flock evolved. Thanks to my love for my chickens, I had now developed a deep curiosity about all birds in general. While my chickens are no longer alive, my passion for birds still burns bright. To satisfy my growing curiosities about avian wildlife and to honor the memory of Martha and Maggie, I plan to major in ecology and become an ornithological researcher. I’ll use my observation skills to study endangered bird species and work with a team to create new ways to protect endangered species from extinction. As straightforward as pursuing this career path may sound, it’s been a massive challenge. I have multiple autoimmune disorders and am disabled due to the amount of chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and brain fog they cause me. I’m an intelligent person, but my body causes me to have a hard time keeping up with my peers in my courses while also studying, working, caring for my family, and nursing my own health conditions. For a while, I worried that college wasn't for me. However, the online disability community helped me advocate for myself and get the accommodations I need to succeed. By contacting my campus' Office of Disability and working with my professors to find reasonable accommodations, I've been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA and am on track to succeed in my goals. I am also a member of Delta Alpha Pi, an honor society for high-achieving disabled students. This organization dedicates itself to normalizing the success of disabled students and helping disabled students gain access to the accommodations they need to succeed. As a member, I’ve been able to help other students better manage their disabilities and find the resources they need to succeed. STEM is currently able-bodied dominated which deters many disabled people from pursuing their passions, but I hope my presence in STEM will change this. By being open about my disability, my goal is to inspire more people like me to follow their dreams. I also plan to speak directly to disabled students, encourage them to set realistic goals for themselves, and help connect them with the resources they’ll need. While I'm thankful for my accommodations, I've still had to work hard to succeed in STEM. By being open about my disability, STEM will slowly become more accepting of disabled people. I love birds with all my heart, and I will do everything I can to make sure endangered bird species stay around for future generations to enjoy.
    WCEJ Thornton Foundation Low-Income Scholarship
    While to some this might not sound extraordinary, my greatest achievement so far has been graduating high school. There were countless times when I worried school wasn't for me and that I should just give up. However, I pushed through, and I couldn't be more proud of where I am today. During my freshman year of high school, I went through a horrible breakup. I was with my ex-boyfriend for three years that were full of mental and emotional abuse. I finally had enough, so I broke things off with him. He didn't take it well and began to stalk me, going so far as to show up at my house and send me photos of himself outside my window in the middle of the night. Needless to say, I feared for my safety, which made it hard for me to focus on school. I felt too afraid of him to seek help; I was scared that people wouldn't believe me and that he'd treat me worse for getting others involved. I considered dropping from the advanced program I was in so I could avoid him; however, I knew that without that program, my chances of being accepted to a good college were slim. My determination to succeed in school gave me the courage I needed to seek help so I could safely stay in my academic program. As more people came to my rescue, slowly, my ex finally left me alone and I could once more focus on my studies. When I entered sophomore year, I thought that surely my struggles were over and school would come easy to me. I could not have been more wrong. Depression hit me hard, and on only the third day of school, I had a breakdown so intense that my mother had to come to comfort me. Because the school feared I would hurt myself from stress, I was removed from my advanced programs. However, because school was not the reason I was depressed, my situation didn't improve. I didn't feel like doing anything, and despite how deeply I once valued my education, I began to consider dropping out and started gathering the necessary paperwork to do so. I didn't want people to accuse me of giving up, so I decided that I would wait until I genuinely could no longer handle school before submitting the papers. Luckily, while there were multiple close calls, that day never came. By the end of my junior year, after seeking help, my depression finally let up and I was able to re-enter my advanced programs. After having had a miserable few years, I was determined to finish my senior year strong. Unfortunately, fate had other plans when one morning, I woke up in immense pain. After months of doctor's appointments, I was diagnosed with multiple incurable autoimmune disorders. I would be in pain for the rest of my life. At first, I resented the world. I had already gone through so much, worked so hard to overcome it, and the second I got a sense that my life might be changing for the better, I discovered that I was going to be sick for as long as I live and there's nothing I can do about it. I didn't feel like I could keep going. However, before making any rash decisions, I joined a support group for chronically ill people where I met disabled people in all types of professions living happy lives. While it wasn't easy for them, they were still able to chase their career goals. Meeting them gave me hope, and I began to do my best to push through the rest of the school year. Balancing my health and my education has been difficult, but I'm glad I pushed through. Come graduation day, I couldn't believe I was actually done. I learned that no matter how strong I think I am, I'm actually ten times as strong. Every time I think I can't take another step, I can actually run a mile. Each time I feel broken, I'm being rebuilt. I learned to never underestimate myself. In the future, I plan to become the person I needed back then. I hope to share my story and help other students learn that no matter what they're going through, no matter how different their path might look from their peers', they can still succeed in their goals and should never count themselves out.
    Taylor Swift ‘1989’ Fan Scholarship
    "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift has been a recovery anthem for me. I used to be in a horrible relationship that I didn't have the strength to leave. However, listening to "Bad Blood" helped me discover that I don't deserve to be with someone who hurts me, and my life has been better ever since. I started dating my ex-boyfriend 6 years ago. While I was never physically harmed, I was emotionally tortured. At the time, I didn't know what emotional abuse and mental abuse were, so I just thought that was how relationships worked. My friends and family only ever saw the good side of him, so they told me that any negative feelings I felt were because this was my first relationship and I just wasn't used to dating yet. I pushed my feelings down, nodded my head, and died inside more with every passing day. After three years of being with him, I couldn't take it anymore. I didn't care what anyone else thought. I just knew that if I stayed with him, I wouldn't be able to handle living. The first time I tried to break up with him, he apologized for every horrible thing he said and did to me. He threatened to harm himself if I left. Despite everything, I still loved him, so I gave him another chance. Unsurprisingly, he continued to behave the same as before. His apology meant nothing. After another month of being with him, I broke up with him for good. For another year after we were done, he continued to beg me to come back, even going so far as to stalk me at my house and text me photos of himself standing outside. I never told my friends what had happened between us because I didn't want them to think less of him, so they always reminded me of how I broke his heart for "no reason." I began to feel incredibly guilty and started gaslighting myself into believing that he didn't actually abuse me and I was being overly sensitive. However, listening to "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift helped me remain firm with my decision. Like Taylor says, "Band-aids don't fix bullet holes." He gave apologies "just for show," and that doesn't fix the pain he caused me all those years, especially since his actions never changed. When she asks if her partner had to "ruin what was shining," I began to realize that I wasn't the one who ruined our relationship and that his begging for me back in the most abusive way possible was only rubbing "salt in the wound." As Taylor Swift states, "Baby, now we got bad blood." Feeling that I deserve better, I decided that if he wasn't going to be kind to me, I was going to stop playing nice. I began to tell everyone the truth about how he treated me, and suddenly they were no longer on his side. He was upset with me for bringing up the past, but if he wanted me to talk about him nicer, he should have treated me better. Thanks to "Bad Blood," I found the courage to stop accepting horrible treatment for the sake of keeping things civil. If someone has wronged me and hurt me, I have the right to be honest about how they made me feel and to not get along with them; I also don't have to accept their apology if it didn't fix the pain they caused me. Overall, I've become a stronger person, which easily makes "Bad Blood" my favorite song on the '1989' album.
    Learner Calculus Scholarship
    While not every career will consist of sitting down and solving math problems, calculus concepts can be found in every STEM career. An understanding of calculus will better prepare a student majoring in STEM to succeed because it will prepare them for the challenges they will face and to understand the reasoning behind what they are learning. "When will we ever use this in real life?" Why do football players run a mile during practice when the field is only a fraction of that length? The answer is that it makes everything else seem easier. When they have to run the ball across the field, they can since they're used to pushing themselves to run further than that. While we might not take derivatives every day, the knowledge of calculus helps us feel better prepared for the day-to-day math we face. When we have an algebraic calculation that we cannot get wrong, because we are used to working on calculus, we are better prepared to pay attention to the smaller details and get a correct answer. Calculus is like training your brain for the math concepts it will face during your career. Many concepts used in STEM careers are based on mathematical concepts. Most modern technology exists thanks to concepts from calculus. An understanding of calculus helped programmers write the correct codes that are needed for modern-day programs. For example, math is the basis for modern ecology. As ecologists, we often use geographic location technology, which uses calculus to determine our location on Earth compared to what we are tracking. However, when technology goes down, we might have to use known locations, speeds, and other data to perform the math ourselves to give us an idea of where what we are tracking is located. Ecologists also often do math regarding population densities and how they change over time, which involves complex math, such as calculus. While we do have technology that can perform calculations for us, if it ever fails, we must still do our jobs, and we need calculus to do so. However, even if the technology we use in our STEM careers doesn't fail, understanding the calculus behind what we are studying will help us explain our results better. When we don't understand the mathematical concepts behind certain laws or theories, we're unable to properly explain the law or theory we are witnessing, which causes the validity of our research to decline. If we can understand the math behind what we're trying to explain, we can draw more conclusions, which will make our research more valid and worthwhile. Overall, while we might not use calculus itself every day, understanding its concepts will help us perform better in our careers. Every STEM field has concepts rooted in calculus, so understanding calculus will allow us to better understand the work we perform as a whole.
    Learner.com Algebra Scholarship
    "When will we ever use this in real life?" This is a question every math teacher has heard at some point. While we might not be solving equations in our day-to-day lives, we do use principles learned in math in various ways every day. I love math because of how an understanding of it can benefit one's life in so many ways. Every time we make a decision, even for something as simple as what to wear, we use math. When we're making choices, we're calculating the probability of the choice we make having the outcome we're hoping for. For example, let's say we were talking to our crush yesterday and couldn't quite tell if he said we look good in blue or in black. We do know that he said we always look good in a crop top. If our outfit choices are a blue t-shirt, a black t-shirt, or a green crop top, we would choose the crop top because there's about a 100% probability that he would like it. If we were to wear one of the T-shirts, there's only a 50% chance he would like our outfit, so we chose the crop top because that's the choice that was more likely to give us the desired outcome of him liking our outfit. Another thing I love about math is that I get to compare rumors to viruses. As an autistic person, I have a hard time understanding social rules, but when I get to compare social rules to math, they make sense to me. For example, initially, I didn't understand why being honest about other people's lives wasn't okay. But then I learned that, like a virus, secrets and rumors tend to jump from one person to another exponentially until soon the whole school knows about it. Because I understand this mathematical concept, I'm more inclined to hold my secrets close to my chest, which makes me a better friend. I've been able to apply math logic to other areas of my life as well, and overall it helps me navigate the world. Additionally, I love math because it teaches us that there is no one right way to do something. When solving a math problem, there are many different techniques one can use to get the correct answer. In life, there are so many paths someone can take, but just because someone took a different path from you doesn't mean their life will be any less happy or successful. Understanding math is key to understanding life. Its concepts can be applied to almost every aspect of life and can be used in explaining social situations for people who otherwise wouldn't understand. Math is a valuable skill that everyone should learn.
    Healthy Eating Scholarship
    "Beware of the freshman fifteen!" My grandma said this to me throughout my senior year of high school, and I always told her that I was sure it would never happen to me. However, once I got to college, I realized what my grandmother was getting at. As a person with Celiac Disease, I was used to cooking salads, grilled chicken, and other "healthy" foods at home since they were guaranteed to be gluten-free. However, my diet at college turned out to be much different. On weekdays, my campus had a dining hall open that was 100% Celiac-safe, and I had access to all types of foods. There was gluten-free pasta, gluten-free pizza, and gluten-free cupcakes; there were so many delicious foods that I had never been able to eat before. I did have to cook for myself on the weekends, but because we only had a fridge and a microwave, I often bought pre-made meals that were unhealthy instead of cooking healthy meals as I did at home. After a couple of months of enjoying nothing but all the foods I was never able to eat before, I started feeling tired and sick all the time. I thought that since I walked about 5 miles to go to class each day my diet wouldn't matter so much, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Going forward, I decided I would only eat healthy foods like I used to. In the dining halls, I visited the salad bar and selected non-fried food options in the food line. For the weekends, I made sure to buy only meals that were healthier. However, eating nothing but healthy foods became exhausting, and I would occasionally give up on trying, which led to me eating unhealthily again and making myself sick. I then realized that I shouldn't try to eat healthily all the time. I did some research and realized that it's okay to have pleasure foods in moderation. From then on, when I visited the dining hall, I told myself I could either choose a "treat" entree and go to the salad bar for side dishes, or I could choose the healthier entree, a side dish that was in between being healthy and unhealthy, and one side that was a "treat." On the weekends, I made sure to buy mostly healthy meals and only a few "treat" meals. This approach was much for sustainable, and I continued it for the remainder of the school year. I noticed that by allowing myself to have pleasure foods in moderation and trying my best to make healthy choices when possible, my body felt better than it had before. I was able to walk to class faster than I did at the beginning of the year, and I was able to focus better in class as well. I also noticed that I felt a lot less stressed than I had at the beginning, which was impressive considering my tasks only grew more demanding as the year went on. Overall, both my physical and my mental health were better thanks to my improved diet. From this experience, I learned that an unhealthy diet can happen to anyone. It's nothing to be ashamed of, it just needs to be worked on so that you can feel happier and healthier. By eating different foods in moderation, a sustainable healthy diet can be achieved.
    Mind, Body, & Soul Scholarship
    As a future ornithologist that loves birds with all her heart, I'm excited to major in ecology, gain hands-on experience, and learn as much as possible about birds during college. I know it will be a lot of hard work and it'll be easy for me to get caught up in the moment and forget about my health, so I'm going to set aside an hour each day to dedicate to myself. I'll spend this time meditating and journaling, moving my body, and performing any self-care I neglected during the day. When I was younger, my two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie, the loves of my life, were the inspiration behind all of my success. No matter how hard of a day I had, I was excited to go home and spend time with my chickens. They listened to me vent with nothing but love in their eyes, and it gave me the strength I needed to keep going through all of life's challenges. The love I had for my chickens led to me gaining a deep passion for birds in general. While my chickens are no longer alive, the love they instilled in me for birds burns bright. Because of Martha and Maggie, I plan to dedicate my life to researching endangered bird species so I can find ways to save them from extinction. As the historian for my school's "Bird Campus Committee," which is dedicated to protecting birds on campus, I'm gaining knowledge on what is currently being done to protect native bird species in Texas. This knowledge coupled with what I'm learning in my classes will set me up to be prepared for my future career. I'm also excited to gain research experience this upcoming year to further prepare me for my career. I work hard in school, which means I need to be careful and make sure I save time to work on myself. No matter what I'm doing, from 8 PM to 9 PM, I put away my phone and my work and take time to care for myself. By then, I'm back in my room, have already eaten dinner, and have finished most of my homework, which makes this a perfect time of day to set aside for self-care. If I haven't moved around much, I use this time to go for a walk and meditate. If I'm feeling especially stressed, I use this time to journal and make a plan for how to handle it so I can get it off my mind. If I know I haven't trimmed my nails or washed my face yet, I use this time to groom myself. After this hour passes, I take a shower and go about the rest of my night. If I used my self-care hour to make plans for solving a problem, I go ahead and begin working on the solution. Otherwise, I finish my homework or other tasks that I needed to work on with a clearer mind. At first, taking an hour to dedicate to myself felt like wasting time, but I've found that it's made me more productive. As excited as I am to be learning how to care for birds in college, I need to remember to take breaks and care for myself as well. By dedicating an hour per day to myself, I'm able to relieve some of my stress and keep my mind, body, and soul healthy. Self-care has made me a better student and a better person.
    Your Health Journey Scholarship
    Since becoming disabled, staying healthy has been challenging. I no longer have the energy to work out or cook healthy meals like I used to. However, over time, I've found ways to work with instead of against my body, which has helped me stay more active and eat healthier again. When I first was diagnosed with multiple, genetic, autoimmune disorders, working out was out of the question. Every time I sat up, I felt like fainting. Even with my medications stabilizing me, too much physical labor could cause me to feel faint. This caused me to give up on working out for a while, but after a few months, I realized that not trying to exercise made me feel worse. From that point forward, I made a deal with myself that if working out wasn't possible, I would at least find small ways to be more active. If going for a run was impossible, I would at least walk. If walking was impossible, I would at least swing my legs back and forth in my seat. If sitting up was impossible, I would at least lift my arms and legs up and down while I lay in bed. I also made a list of exercises I could do depending on which of my body parts ached. If my back hurts, I can still do leg-ups. If my legs hurt, I can still lift weights. If my arms hurt, I can still do squats. By working with my body instead of trying to force my body to stick to a schedule, I was able to be more active, which has helped me live a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, when I first became disabled, cooking was hard for me, so I often ate foods that were easy to make. Many of these foods weren't healthy, which led to me feeling more sick, so I realized I needed to make a change. I noticed that one problem I had was grocery shopping. Walking through the store to find ingredients was difficult for my disabled body, so I made two plans to remedy this issue. On days when my pain wasn't so bad, I would make a shopping list of the ingredients I needed so I could only do one trip through the store instead of having to visit the same aisle multiple times because I forgot something. On days when I couldn't handle walking through the store, I could order my groceries. While having to order groceries felt defeating at first, it was a better option than only buying frozen or unhealthy foods because those were easier to grab. Going forward, I also decided that I would choose one day when my pain was less than usual to make my meals for the week. By sitting down while I cooked, my pain was manageable. These prepared meals helped me eat better on other days of the week when I simply didn't have the energy or strength to cook. Having healthy meals available to eat has helped me feel less sick overall. Overall, learning to live a healthy lifestyle with a body that's constantly in pain has been difficult, but I'm proud of myself for not giving up. I'll never be as fit as able-bodied individuals, but that's okay; I shouldn't be comparing myself to people with different abilities than I have. By working with my body instead of fighting it, I've been able to make small, sustainable changes to my habits, and it's made a huge difference in my life.
    Learner Math Lover Scholarship
    I love math because it's like playing a game. Like how in games I get to make different choices that lead to different results, in math I can change different variables to yield different answers. I experience joy when I'm able to solve a problem, so by bringing this passion to life, it helps me love my reality as well. Math mirrors life. Because math makes sense to me, I'm able to use logic when life gets hard, and it's helped make me a better person. For example, I know that when you share a secret, it's bound to be shared with someone else, who will then tell someone else, and it forms an exponential function where soon the entire school will know. Therefore, I'm incredibly careful with my sensitive information, and when someone trusts me with their secrets, I never share them. By using logic like that, I'm able to avoid having issues with my friends arise. I truly love the people my passion for math has led me to meet. My friends all experience joy when doing math, and we love to tutor other people to help them discover the joy of math as well. Because I believe that education should be free since it promotes a healthy life, I was glad to tutor underprivileged students without charging them anything. I took pride in knowing that I made a difference. Now that I'm in college, the demand for my tutoring has increased so I do tutor as a side job now to help me afford tuition; however, I'm still always glad to provide my services for free or at least at a reduced cost when I know a family genuinely cannot afford to pay for my help. I do my best to charge a reasonable price for my help, even if the most reasonable price is offering my services for free. Everyone deserves to understand math and learn how its concepts can help them in their everyday lives. Math is all around us. Even though we might not run numbers or solve equations every day, we think about the probability of events occurring and use logic to make smart choices. I'm fascinated with the way math improves people's lives, so I'm proud to use my tutoring skills to teach others math and, hopefully, change their lives for the better.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    Having depression is like walking through quicksand at the bottom of a dark pit, but no one else seems to be able to see your struggles. I experienced this feeling for years, but eventually, I managed to escape the grasp of depression, and now I do my best to help others gain freedom as well. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky as I am to have made it through. Depression first hit me when I was only 9 years old. I was horribly bullied at school and couldn't imagine a future that looked any different, so I wanted to just give up already. I knew I was smart, but I didn't have any passions that I felt were worth sticking around for. When I turned 10, my parents gifted me two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie, the loves of my life. I was their sole caretaker, which meant their health completely depended on me. Every day, I spent several hours with my chickens, working hard to make sure they were properly cared for, which gave my life meaning again. While in the coop, I would talk to my chickens about my day. Of course, they had no idea what I was talking about, but just having someone to talk to who I knew wouldn't judge me made me feel better. Eventually, my love for chickens expanded to a love for all birds. This passion helped me escape my depression. Even though my chickens are now gone, my love for birds has never faded. Because birds saved me, I plan to return the favor by becoming an ornithologist and researching ways to protect endangered bird species. My goal is to gain a Ph.D. so I can become an ornithology professor and help others gain the gift of loving birds while also dedicating my life to research. In high school, a student I knew was having a hard time, but nobody could tell. He would always come up to talk to me, but never in a friendly way. His interactions with me were overly sexual, and I was afraid to be around him, so I did my best to hide from him. Other students at school hid from him as well for a variety of reasons, such as his temper causing him to go off on students that were trying to be kind to him. I felt awful that he was always alone, but he seemed fine and it wasn't worth risking my own safety, so I did nothing. Eventually, he started missing so much school that there was no way he wouldn't be held back a year. He told everyone he was just tired, and since nobody was especially close to him, we believed him. Unfortunately, during the spring break of our sophomore year, he took his life. Everyone felt horrible; if someone had just talked to him or got him help then maybe he wouldn't have felt so alone. He always seemed like he was fine, and his actions caused everyone to think he was just a "jerk." In reality, he was masking his depression and his actions were red flags for the pain he was feeling inside. This experience taught me how to better recognize when someone was in pain. If I could go back in time, I still wouldn't have been friends with him out of fear for my own safety, but I would have spoken to a counselor about his actions so he could have gotten some help. Now I'm more sympathetic towards people. Instead of assuming someone is just mean, I assume they need help and do what I can to provide it for them. I'm also more kind in my relationships with others, as you never know what someone is silently going through. After learning how to recognize signs of declining mental health, I realized that many of my peers were depressed but afraid to get help. Because of this, I used my various leadership positions to implement a "mental health guide" for my campus. This digital "guide" featured anonymous writing from students relating to their mental health struggles and advice on how to manage poor mental health, how to recognize when someone is struggling, and how to seek help when you need it. This was then posted for other students to read anonymously, which allowed all students to vent and get help without feeling shame. Slowly, my school's mental health began to rise. I might not have been able to save my peer, but I was able to help others. Now that I'm in college, I am a member of GLAD (my campus' LGBTQ+ organization) and Delta Alpha Pi (an honor society for disabled students). As a member of these organizations, I work to promote diversity and inclusion on campus, which helps ensure that students don't feel alone in their struggles. We also have mental health resources to help students when they need it. I plan to continue to do work to help promote the mental health of those around me and to provide both resources and support to those who need it most. Overall, my personal experience with depression resulted in me having a newfound love for birds and the goal of working to protect them. However, for my peer, depression resulted in his death. Because of this, I've started approaching all of my relationships with as much love as possible, because you never know who might need it. I know the world can be a cruel place to navigate, so I'm doing my best to guide struggling individuals through their pain.
    Learner Education Women in Mathematics Scholarship
    I know the phrase "math is all around us" sounds like something you'd find on an inspirational poster alongside a picture of Albert Einstein, but it's true. Doing math is like playing a game. By changing different variables, the whole equation changes, and I get to play with parts of the equation until I find an answer. This is similar to problems in the real world because there's always a variety of ways one can logically approach a problem depending on their skill set. Because of this, I believe that an understanding of math is the key to having a successful life. After going to a science-focused academy in middle school, I attended an engineering and math-focused magnet high school. I am currently an ecology major, and I've learned an understanding of math is the basis for understanding all modern ecological concepts. Because of the heavy emphasis my schools placed on learning math, I completed both AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC by my Junior year of high school. In my free time during my senior year, I studied some basic concepts of Calculus 3 and Linear Algebra with my friends. I am thankful that I was placed on this path because I believe it's made me both a better student and a better person. With my friend group being "a bunch of total nerds," most people expect us to be great at school but failures in life; however, that assumption could not be more wrong. When you reach higher levels of math, you have to have a solid ability to reason and make logical choices. Personally, the ability to be logical made me a better friend. For example, I know that when you share a secret, it's bound to be shared with someone else, who will then tell someone else, and it forms an exponential function where soon the entire school will know. Therefore, my friends know that I'm trustworthy with secrets because they end with me out of fear of the way rumors spread. Logically, I also know that I should never do anything to hurt my friends because, as humans, we need to work as a team to succeed. When in doubt, I try to think logically about my problems, and it's steered me in the correct direction thus far. My passion for math led to me becoming a volunteer math tutor on weekends. Because I believe that education should be free since it promotes a healthy life, I was glad to tutor underprivileged students without charging them anything. I took pride in knowing that I made a difference. Now that I'm in college, the demand for my tutoring has increased so I do tutor as a side job now to help me afford tuition; however, I'm still always glad to provide my services for free or at least at a reduced cost when I know a family genuinely cannot afford to pay for my help. I do my best to charge a reasonable price for my help, even if the most reasonable price is offering my services for free. Everyone deserves to understand math and learn how its concepts can help them in their everyday lives. Math is all around us. Even though we might not run numbers or solve equations every day, we think about the probability of events occurring and use logic to make smart choices. I'm fascinated with the way math improves people's lives, so I'm proud to use my tutoring skills to teach others math and, hopefully, change their lives for the better.
    Johnna's Legacy Memorial Scholarship
    Your senior year is supposed to be one of the best years of your life. Everyone is focused on who's going to prom with who, what you're wearing for your final yearbook photo, and "Hey, wanna skip and hang at the mall?" Instead, I was stuck in endless doctor appointments, terrified to learn that my life was never going to be the same. One random morning, my entire world changed. I woke up feeling deathly sick and in unbearable pain. I went from having perfect attendance to risking truancy. My friends and I prayed that once I got a diagnosis, I would be cured and feel well again. However, when diagnosis day came, it felt like my life was over. There's no cure; I will be sick and in pain for the rest of my life. Upon learning this, I told my friends that I might have good days and bad days, but I'll never feel how I used to. I asked them to please accept me how I am because it's not going to change. Unfortunately, a lot of my friends got angry at me for having "such a pessimistic mindset." They didn't understand that "hoping for a cure" would just cause me more mental damage in the long run because I can't waste my life waiting for something that might not happen. I told them I need to just learn to be happy with my life as-is, and they stopped being my friends. The chronically ill lifestyle is incredibly lonely; however, I'm thankful for the friends I do have. Even if I'm not feeling well enough to visit them, I know they're always by my side. My diagnosis made me question my entire career. I had always wanted to study birds and become an ornithologist like Túlio from the animated movie "Rio." How can I ever go into the wild to study birds when I struggle to walk long distances and must avoid sunlight? However, I realized that helping birds doesn't always mean I have to do fieldwork; I could always play a more supportive role. Now, I've decided that I'd like to be an ornithology professor and do research in a lab. This way I can be involved with saving birds without having to risk my health. Instead of letting my disability ruin my life, I found a way to work alongside my disability instead of fighting it. Now that I have a career goal again, I'm determined to keep up with my studies. It's incredibly difficult, but when I work while I have energy and rest when I can feel my energy falling (before I crash), it's manageable. I've found ways to move forward and live a life that makes me happy, so now I'm determined to help others do the same. As a member of Delta Alpha Pi, an honor society for high-achieving disabled students that focuses on normalizing disability and connecting disabled people to the resources they need to succeed, I'm helping others learn to build lives that will make them happy by working with instead of against their bodies. I'm proud to be an example of someone that's been able to succeed despite being chronically ill. I know I'll continue to face new struggles as my conditions progress, but I also know I'll find a way to get through it and live a life that makes me happy. By listening to my body and trying my best each day with the energy I have, I'm proud to be an example for others and to help them keep living their lives.
    Szilak Family Honorary Scholarship
    When you're a senior in high school, you expect all of your family's attention to be on who you're taking to prom, what you should wear in your yearbook photo, and "How come you're not valedictorian?" Instead, with me becoming disabled and my grandma being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, my family was focused on the tragedy all around us. My first few weeks of senior year could not have been more exciting. I was confident in my decision to become an ornithologist and ready for a relaxing year of fun. However, one morning I woke up and could not have felt more sick. After countless doctor's appointments, I was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases and learned they could never be cured. I wanted to give up on everything. I quit talking to my friends. I quit studying birds. I quit everything that made me happy. How could I ever chase my dreams if I was struggling to even walk? About a month after finding out I would never feel well again, my grandma called my mom to give us some news. "She has cancer." Those three words made all of my problems seem to fall away. All I wanted to focus on was being there for my grandma. Chemotherapy was incredibly hard on her body; she was unrecognizable. She couldn't eat or sleep. All she felt was pain. She wanted to give up; she didn't think she was strong enough to keep going. Every doctor's appointment she had, her nurse would tell her "You never know how strong you are until you don't have a choice." Over and over, we'd repeat these words, and my grandma would sit up, eat what she could, call the friends she loved, and read her favorite books. Some days all she could do was lay down, but she did her best to keep living her life. After about a year of treatment and surgeries, my grandma was officially cancer-free and was crying tears of joy for having made it through. My grandma's journey inspired me to live my life to the fullest and not let my disability hold me back. Now, I'm determined to continue living my life. Every time I have an awful flare-up and I feel like I can't make it through, I remind myself that I never knew how strong I was until I didn't have a choice. If I made it this far, I can handle this too. Now, I approach all my relationships with love. I make time for my friends and family when I have the energy to spare, and it keeps my morale up. I'm still determined to save birds; however, now instead of fieldwork, I plan to be a professor and conduct research in a lab. This way, I can teach others who want to take a more hands-on approach, and I still have an important role to play, even if it's less direct. Because of my experience in caring for my grandma with cancer, I have a much more loving approach to life and am no longer scared of my disability. My grandma beat cancer, and I can beat my condition as well. I will approach all my relationships with love, and I won't give up on my dreams so easily. I'll never know how strong I am unless I keep going.
    Ventana Ocean Conservation Scholarship
    The ocean is one of the most important keys to maintaining a healthy planet. So many organisms, including land creatures, rely on the sea for food and habitat. If the ocean isn't healthy, none of the organisms that rely on it will be healthy, which would lead to a chain reaction where more and more organisms fall ill. Because I understand the ocean is a core part of the environment, I'm passionate about protecting it. I've always had a love for birds. One of my favorite things to do on vacation as a kid was to go to the beach, watch the seagulls, and see how much trash I could clean up. I know it might be weird for a kid to enjoy cleaning trash, but I felt a sense of satisfaction knowing that for every plastic bag I picked up, the probability of a bird getting wrapped in trash decreased. By majoring in ecology, I can keep that same sentiment by working to protect the ocean so I can help save shorebirds. If I were to solely focus on shorebirds because they are what I'm mainly passionate about, I would only be putting a bandaid on the problem instead of fixing it. Instead, I plan to research what specifically is causing the decline in shorebird populations and work to solve the root of the problem. So far, I know that some of the main threats to shorebirds include a decline in habitats, polluted habitats, and a lack of ocean creatures for them to eat. If I were to solely focus on the birds, I would provide them with man-made habitats and artificial food. However, as previously stated, this is not a sustainable solution. Instead, I should focus on maintaining ocean health so that the birds can live in their natural habitat and catch food for themselves. If the ocean is less polluted, then trash won't wash up on beaches, which serve as the habitat of many shorebirds. If the ocean's climate is maintained, schools of fish will be able to thrive, which will serve as a food source for shorebirds. Keeping the ocean healthy by limiting climate change will also help prevent the loss of habitat for shorebirds due to the currently rising sea levels washing away beaches. All of these solutions solve the root of problems, which will help shorebirds thrive in the long run better than "bandaid" solutions. Additionally, protecting the birds will also protect the ocean. Birds help provide population control to schools of small fish. If birds were to die out and fish were allowed to keep breeding, the fish would eat up all of their food sources, then causing the fish to begin to die out. This would then affect all of the other aspects of the environment that rely on the fish. Therefore, by protecting the ocean for the sake of protecting birds, the birds will also help keep the ocean healthy, thus requiring humans to need to be involved less in restoration over time. The environment is a massive web, and all parts of it connect back to the ocean. By maintaining the health of the ocean, the rest of the environment will be one step closer to being allowed to thrive. I plan to use my ecology degree to protect the ocean so that all ecosystems stand a better chance at recovery.
    Rivera-Gulley First-Gen Scholarship Award
    If you ever see me "spaced out," chances are I'm just looking past you at a bird flying or walking by. I love birds more than anything, so I plan to dedicate my career to studying them as an ornithology researcher. The first step towards this is to attend college and major in "Ecology for Environmental Science." I want to make an impact on both the lives of birds and the lives of others wishing to pursue STEM. My love for birds began with my two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie. My parents got them for me to keep me company while they worked to support my family. They were the loves of my life and every second I had free, I would either be caring for them or observing them and taking notes. Eventually, this passion expanded to include all birds. On campus, I'll often sit somewhere and watch the common pigeons and crows, trying to see how many recurring visitors I can recognize. I take photos and write down their behaviors to see what I can learn from them. I compare my observations with notes I've taken during class and see how I can apply what I learned in class to the real world. Taking college classes has allowed me to conduct much more effective research. Not only is this "research" fun, but it's good practice for when I conduct official research during my career. After I graduate, I plan to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to research where endangered bird species are located, where hazards to their health are located, and where abnormal behaviors for the species have been witnessed. This data will allow me to determine how different habitats affect each species of bird, which will help me find more solutions to them being endangered. Additionally, I plan to work with a team to design a user-friendly app that detects a user's location, compares it to the data I have collected, and gives the user advice on what they can do to help birds. Advice will be information such as ways they can make their home more bird-friendly, sanctuaries near them where they can take injured birds, what upcoming propositions they should vote on, and who their representative is so they can contact them about implementing more protective legislation. Overall, this will help birds survive. Even if I don't succeed, my being present in STEM alone will make a positive impact. Currently, STEM is largely seen as being white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, and male-dominated. As a biracial, LGBTQ+, disabled woman in STEM, I hope that my presence will inspire others like me to pursue their passions. During my free time, I plan to go into communities to speak to minority students about STEM and help connect them with the resources they need to succeed. This will help diversify STEM, which is a positive thing for the world because with more diverse minds working together, more and better solutions to current problems can be made. Overall, I plan to help birds thrive. By helping people learn what they as an individual can do to help birds, more birds will be able to be saved. By me being present in STEM, I can also make human lives better by helping others like me realize that STEM is for everyone. By going to college, I will learn the skills I need to reach my career and life goals.
    Connie Konatsotis Scholarship
    I get along with birds just as well as, if not better than, I do people. Because I would do anything to protect birds, I plan to become an ornithologist and conduct research on better ways to go about protecting endangered bird species. By majoring in ecology, I'm beginning the first step toward my goal. One interesting thing about STEAM is that science allows me to better understand the behaviors and habitats of animals. Growing up, I loved observing and taking notes on my two beloved pet chickens, Martha and Maggie. I spent almost all of my free time studying them and learning about their different preferences, habits, and personalities. Now, I do the same with other birds I see, such as common crows or pigeons I recognize as I walk around campus. I want to learn more about animal behaviors as a part of my education. This will allow me to be better prepared to conduct research in my career that will enable me to use known avian behavioral patterns and compare them to patterns I witness birds displaying to determine how changes to their habitats are affecting the way they survive. Additionally, the technology aspect of STEAM fascinates me because I plan to use GIS technology to advance my research. I'm beginning to study GIS in school, and I'm learning it's a very useful software. By plotting the locations of endangered species, known hazards to birds, and where abnormal behaviors were witnessed on a map, I can, hopefully, determine the root cause of what's causing populations to decline and which behaviors are the biggest indicator that harm is being done. Moreover, I can use technology to help design a user-friendly app that detects a user's location and accesses data on what species live in the user's area, how they can improve their home to be more bird-friendly, and what upcoming environmental legislation propositions they should show their support for. I can use the art aspect of STEAM to help make the app visually appealing and to make presentations for communities more engaging as well. I plan to go out into communities to explain why they should care about avian wildlife. I can use both my scientific and artistic knowledge during presentations to grab the attention of and inform citizens of what they can do to help endangered bird species. By making the app and my presentations pleasing and creative to view, more people will be interested in what I have to say. Obviously, I want to change the world for birds and help people love birds, but I also want to help diversify the demographics of STEAM. Currently, STEAM is largely white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, and male-dominated. As a biracial, LGBTQ+, disabled, woman in STEAM, I hope that by making my face present and by going out into communities to not only talk to them about birds but also help people like me find the resources they need to succeed, I can inspire more types of people to have the confidence it takes to be a minority in STEAM. With more diverse people and more diverse ideas working together, society can only improve. Overall, because of my love for birds, I plan to dedicate my life to protecting them. With my education, I'll be better equipped to do so. Additionally, by being a present face in STEAM, hopefully, I can help other minority students like me realize that STEAM is for everyone.
    William Griggs Memorial Scholarship for Science and Math
    One thing everyone knows about me is that I'm crazy when it comes to birds; I love them with all my heart. I plan to contribute to science, ornithology to be specific, by using my research to invent a new way to protect endangered bird species. I'll make the public more aware of what they can do to help, and, hopefully, my presence in STEM will inspire others to follow in my footsteps. Birds have always been there for me. When I was younger, I was bullied and didn't have many friends. However, my two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie, were always there to listen to my problems and loved me unconditionally. Because of them, I developed a massive love for birds in general. I feel that even a common pigeon is absolutely gorgeous. This passion inspired me to pursue a degree in "Ecology for Environmental Science," and, ultimately, I plan to receive a Ph.D. so I can properly research endangered bird species. During my career, I plan to collect data regarding where injured birds are found, where endangered bird species reside, and where hazards to birds are located. Using GIS technology, I can then plot this data by geographic location and use it to research new solutions to the problems birds are currently facing. After having the data and brainstorming a few solutions, I can make creative and engaging presentations to go into communities and before politicians with to explain why caring for birds is important and how they can help. This will help spread the message of loving birds, encourage the passage of protective legislation, and spread the word about new ideas my research team came up with. Also using the GIS data, I plan to work with a team to design a user-friendly app that helps citizens know what they can do to assist wild birds in their area. The app will access their geographic location and compare it to the data we have stored. Using this information, it will tell them what environmental regulation propositions they can vote on in upcoming elections, what representatives they can contact to express their opinions on what's currently being done to protect birds, and how they can improve their home or yard to be more bird-friendly. This will further assist in getting new protective legislation passed and having fewer hazards to birds exist. Additionally, as a disabled LGBTQ+ woman, I hope that my face being present in STEM will encourage more people like me to see STEM as being inclusive, thus helping more people pursue their scientific and mathematic passions. During my free time, I'd like to speak to minorities about my experiences in the scientific community, encourage them to pursue their passions, and help connect them with the resources they need to be able to do so. More brains in STEM will allow for even greater advancements in the field to be made. My research and efforts will help more protective legislation be passed and more solutions get implemented, which will help save endangered bird species from going extinct. Additionally, my presence in the field will help others like me feel more confident in their abilities to find success in STEM careers. Overall, I plan to contribute to science both by working to save endangered bird species and by helping diversify the demographics of scientific fields of study.
    Phoenix Opportunity Award
    With the echoes of poverty and seemingly unreachable goals ringing in the back of my mind, I'm determined to carve a new path for the future of my family. My childhood wasn't the most glamorous, but it taught me how important family is and encouraged me to look to my surroundings for joy. One day, I hope to find success as an ornithologist and create an easier life for my family. I might not have had all the toys other kids did growing up, but I didn't care; I loved birds and wanted to spend my time with them. My parents noticed my skill in caring for birds and appreciated that I found a hobby I can do for free, so they encouraged me to continue my observations and find a career involving birds. Because of their help and this long-lasting passion of mine, I plan to continue to study birds during my career and help prevent endangered varieties from becoming extinct. I want to make sure that birds stay around so future generations can have the opportunity to love birds as much as I did. I'm grateful for the sacrifices of my parents that made it possible for me to focus on my studies. Growing up in a low-income neighborhood, by the time high school started, almost all of my friends had to get jobs to help support their families and were unable to focus solely on their schoolwork. Meanwhile, my parents put in extra hours to cover our expenses so I could continue studying birds, keep my grades up, and get into a good college. Knowing how hard they worked for me to have a better life than they did pushes me to not let them or any of my other ancestors down. Overall, I'm thankful that I have supportive parents who allow me to focus on my schooling. My success isn't just mine, it's for my entire family: past, present, and future. By working to save endangered birds, I'm setting an example for other first-generation students and showing my parents how thankful I am for their support.
    Pool Family LGBT+ Scholarship
    Being LGBTQ+ means being part of a beautifully supportive community, but it also means navigating a world that's not designed for people like you. My identity has been the root of my highest highs, as well as my lowest lows. However, I wouldn't trade who I am for anything in the world. I first realized I was genderfluid in 7th grade. The second I made this discovery, I told my ex, my boyfriend at the time, and he told me that he would support me regardless of whether I was his girlfriend or boyfriend. In 9th grade, I asked him if he would still support me if I decided to come out, and he encouraged me to be myself. However, once I came out, he publicly embarrassed me and accused me of "forcing him to be gay." His behavior turned a lot of people against me, especially since my school was largely LGBT-phobic to begin with. When I talked to him about the situation privately, he didn't have a good reason for doing what he did but was still able to gaslight me into apologizing and staying with him. I was miserable. However, that pain was nothing compared to the pain I felt when I learned a peer tried to commit suicide. Her situation was incredibly similar to mine, and it inspired me to find a way to make my life better. I broke ties with my ex and joined a small group at school for LGBTQ+ people where I was able to be openly and unapologetically part of this amazing community. They helped me learn that love shouldn't hurt and made sure I was never alone so my ex couldn't bother me anymore. They helped me learn to love myself, which gave me strength. Over time, I learned that it wasn't being LGBTQ+ that was causing me pain, it was just the people I was associated with. This safe place allowed me to explore all parts of myself, which helped me develop my love for birds. Even though most people think I'm weird for wanting to spend my life studying birds, everyone I know in the LGBTQ+ community supports my goals and wants to see me succeed, especially since seeing LGBTQ+ people in STEM is so rare. For my career, I plan to take in injured birds and provide them with medical care and a safe place while I study them. What I learn from their injuries and behaviors will help me learn what threats birds are facing today. This will help me come up with new ideas for how to protect them and help me argue for the passage of new legislation designed to protect endangered bird species. Like how all people deserve to feel safe, all birds deserve to be safe as well. While being LGBTQ+ can be scary at times, overall, it's something I'll always be proud of. The LGBTQ+ community is one of the most supportive and loving communities that I know of, and I'm glad to be part of it. With the strength of knowing I have an entire community who loves me behind me, I will pursue my career goals with all that I have, thus furthering the presence of LGBTQ+ people in STEM.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    When I was younger, depression and PTSD controlled my life more than I did, and it made me feel like the world was an awful place. However, my obsession with birds has given me a new place in the world and more control over my life. Those around me don't understand why I'm so into birds, but it makes perfect sense to me. Throughout middle school and part of high school, I had a boyfriend that was incredibly abusive toward me. He successfully gaslit me and made me think everything he was doing was my fault because I made him angry. He separated me from my worried friends by scaring them away with pocket knives and nooses; they never reported him to the school because I begged them not to because I didn't want to hurt him. I would always find a way to blame his behavior on myself. Needless to say, I was miserable. I felt like life wasn't for me if that's what love was supposed to look like. The only things that kept me going were my two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie. Their coop was my safe place when I wanted to hide because life was overwhelming. I was able to talk to them about my problems, and they would quietly listen while loving me unconditionally. Because of my chickens, I developed a love for birds in general. Even at school, where it wasn't possible for me to escape my ex, I could still look out the window, see a crow or pigeon, and feel loved. My chickens helped me begin to realize that what my ex was doing to me wasn't a sign of love, but, by then, I was already trapped in the relationship because it wasn't safe for me to leave. Come my senior year of high school, my ex dropped out and ran off with a girl he cheated on me with. I was finally free! However, the effects of his abuse were long-lasting. Every time I felt joy, I was afraid to be happy because I assumed it would never last and; therefore, joy must not be worth feeling. Feeling joy also reminded me of how whenever I was happy about something in my life, my ex would find a way to hurt me and make it so that I was no longer proud of myself. Even though he was gone, the flashbacks from the PTSD he gave me kept me down. Upon entering college, after going to therapy, I managed to stop being afraid of joy and decided to pursue my interest in birds by working towards becoming an ornithologist. Birds are a symbol of love and freedom for me, so I'd love to be able to work with them every day. By joining Bird Campus, an organization dedicated to protecting birds on campus, I was able to find other bird nerds like me. The new friends I made there and in my classes allowed me to finally realize that feeling joy is awesome and love isn't supposed to hurt. As my mental health improved, I realized that the world isn't all bad, I just happened to be in a bad situation with my ex. Life is going to have its ups and its downs, but I won't ever allow anyone to hurt me the way my ex did again because I won't allow abuse to continue anymore. I now value my own well-being more than the feelings of someone who is acting toxic toward me. I've met new friends that like me for who I truly am and support my happiness. Whenever I'm ready to date again, I'll remember that love shouldn't hurt and that I deserve a relationship where my partner loves me the way that I love birds. Birds have always been there for me, so I'm glad that I'm planning to study them for a career. While those who don't know my past don't understand the significance I place on birds, I'm thankful for the role they've played in my life. I also know that all of my future relationships (romantic, platonic, and professional) will have respect for me, or else I won't continue to be part of them. I'm thankful I realized that it's okay to allow myself to be happy. Life might not always be good, but as long as you don't accept the darkness, it'll make the good times that much better.
    E.R.I.C.A. Scholarship
    I'm interested in science and technology, ornithology and GIS to be specific, because I want to show the world that I'm not crazy. Strangers think I've lost it every time they see me following a pigeon around because I'm studying its behaviors. My parents think I'm insane for wanting to be an ornithologist despite my disability. My friends think I'm nuts for not choosing a safer career for LGBTQ+ women. I hope that the more work I do, the more people will realize why my research goals make sense and that everyone deserves a place in STEM. My career in ornithology will begin with me showing society that birds are in trouble and explaining why they should care. I'll do this by finding where individual injured birds are found, where endangered bird species as a whole are located, and where hazards to wild birds are located. I'll plot that data using GIS technology, and I can use the scientific information I gather to research what is harming birds most and where the harm is happening most. Using the GIS data and studying injured birds, I can help find a way to save endangered bird species, one region of the United States at a time. Ideally, I hope to make an app that tells users how they as an individual can help wild birds in their location. Once I've conducted my research, I can also use the GIS software to create a map that the public and politicians can understand. Using the map and other research materials, I can creatively explain what's happening to birds. Additionally, I'll explain why birds are important to the ecosystem using other research I've collected. If more people are made aware of what is happening to birds and understand how it's affecting the entire ecosystem, more protective legislation can be passed and more people will support future plans on how to save endangered avian species. Even if I'm not as successful at protecting birds as I'd like to be, my presence in STEAM alone will spark change. Because STEAM is not currently known for being accepting of disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, or women, others seeing me in the field will hopefully lead to them pursuing their passions, thus changing the demographics of STEAM to be more inclusive. In my free time, I plan to speak to minority groups and help them locate the resources they need to jump-start their STEAM careers. By being vocal about all of my identities and by showing that I have a real potential to succeed in my field, I hope others will have less anxiety about their futures and will be inspired to work towards the STEAM career they want. I'm interested in science and technology because I want to make a difference for endangered birds and for minorities who want a place in STEAM. By showing people why birds are important and what they can do to help, they'll understand why I care so much about all types of birds. By being a visible face in STEAM, more people like me will feel safe to pursue their passions. With more people loving birds and more people feeling free to work in STEAM, the world will improve.
    Muir Way Scholarship
    I want to show the world that I'm not crazy. Strangers think I've lost it because one of my favorite things to do is follow pigeons around and record their behaviors. My parents think I'm crazy for wanting to be an ornithologist even though I'm disabled. My friends think I'm nuts for not choosing a safer career for women and LGBTQ+ people. I hope the more work I do, the more people will realize that my work makes sense and that everyone should be welcome in STEM. I'll start a career in ornithology by showing society that birds are in trouble and why they should care. I'll do this by finding where individual injured birds are found, where endangered bird species as a whole are located, and where hazards to wild birds are located. I'll plot that data using GIS technology, and I can use the information I gather to research what is harming birds the most and where the harm is happening the most. Using the GIS data and studying injured birds, I can help find a way to save endangered bird species, one region of the United States at a time. Once I've conducted my research, I can use the GIS software to create a map that the public can understand. Using the map and other research materials, I can creatively explain what's happening to birds. Additionally, I'll explain why birds are important to the ecosystem using other research I've collected. If more people in the public are made aware of what is happening to birds and understand why birds dying affects the rest of the ecosystem, they'll understand why endangered birds need human help and will support my plan to save them. Even if I'm not as successful in changing the mind of the public as I hope to be, my presence alone in the field of Ecology will spark change. Because STEM is not currently known for being accepting of disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, or women, others seeing me in the field will hopefully inspire them to pursue their passions. In my free time, I'd like to speak to minorities and help them locate the resources they need to jump-start their STEM careers. By being vocal about all of my identities and by showing that I have real potential to succeed in this field, I hope others will have less anxiety about their futures and will be inspired to work towards the STEM career they want. I will make a difference by showing up for endangered birds and by creating space for minorities to enter STEM. By showing the public why birds are important and what they can do to help, they'll understand why I care so much about all types of birds. By being a visible face in STEM, more people like me will feel safe to pursue their passions. With more people loving birds and more people feeling free to work towards their goals, the world will change for the better.
    Elijah's Helping Hand Scholarship Award
    Discovering that I'm LGBTQIA+ originally felt like the worst thing that could happen to me, but, over time, it's proven to be the best. While the journey has been difficult, finally understanding myself has been freeing and I've used my experiences to help others find their place in the community as well. From the moment I realized it, I communicated with my ex-boyfriend that I was genderfluid and bisexual. When I was only out to him, he told me he accepted me and would love me regardless of whether I was his boyfriend or girlfriend. However, once I came out publically (with his permission), he embarrassed me by getting mad at me for "forcing him to be gay." When I asked him why he did that, he told me he thought I would "come to my senses before that" and "not actually tell anyone else." The worst part came when, even after me coming out, he was still convinced that I would change my mind one day and "go back to being a girl". I saw that we weren't going to work as a couple, so I tried to break up with him, but every time I told him that we were done, he made it clear he wasn't done with me because he knew I would change my mind and we'd be happy again. I tried to tell other people that we had broken up, but he managed to convince everyone except for my closest friends that I didn't know what I was talking about. (The fact that my school was LGBTQ-phobic and thought I was mentally ill for being nonbinary did not help my case). He successfully gaslit me into blaming myself for upsetting him, so I wound up letting him abuse me in secret. He showed up outside of my house at 3 AM multiple times a week, he sent me off-guard photos of myself to let me know he was always watching me, and he scared away all of my friends with pocket knives he had. I was trapped and terrified which caused me to avoid telling anyone and become incredibly depressed. However, when one of my former friends was hospitalized for almost a month due to attempting suicide, I realized I didn't want to follow in her footsteps. Her boyfriend was silently abusing her and she couldn't take the bullying she faced for being LGBTQ+; I was one of her only friends until my ex isolated me from her and left her all alone, which led to her attempting to end her life. From the moment I heard the news, I knew I had to do something. Despite my fear, I began to reach out for help from teachers I trusted and from my close friends. Slowly, I was able to build a wall of people who loved me for me, and my ex began to leave me alone more often. Thankful for having good people in my life, I decided to pay the kindness forward and help others. As president of my high school's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), I was able to tell my story and create a safe space for students who had nobody else, which improved the mental health of students at school. Now that I'm at college, I still talk to the friends I made in GSA and make sure the club survives because I know first-hand how helpful it is to have community. I'm now part of GLAD, the GSA at my college, so that I can continue to be part of a loving community that makes sure nobody struggles alone.
    I Can Do Anything Scholarship
    Be it happily married or chronically single, successfully rich or painfully poor, incredibly popular or socially awkward, I will be myself, live life unapologetically, and begin each day with the goal of simply being happy.
    Mikey Taylor Memorial Scholarship
    "It will get better." I don't believe that's always true. When I got diagnosed with multiple, progressive, chronic illnesses, it felt like my life was over. Everyone kept telling me that it was okay, "it'll get better." But, the truth is, it won't. I'm only going to get worse over time. That was something I struggled to learn to be okay with, but, even if it never gets better, it will get easier, and that keeps me going. While everyone else was excited about their futures, once I got diagnosed, I couldn't imagine a single scenario where I would ever be happy. As my ability to do things both physically and mentally slowly deteriorated, the size of my friend group did as well. I lost count of how many people told me they couldn't spend time with me anymore because looking at me "reminded them that they're mortal." Others left me because they didn't understand that depression is something I'll always have on and off because being in physical pain 24/7 takes a massive toll on your mental health no matter how hard you try. Their commentary as they left made me feel so alone. Watching my body get worse and knowing nobody I knew could relate to me was incredibly isolating. The fact those "friends" left me so easily made me feel almost invisible. However, it taught me that those people were never really my friends to begin with. I learned that true friends will support each other during times of need, and those are the type of people I need in my life. After that experience, I made sure any new friends I found were supportive of my situation, which helped me slowly feel less alone in the world. Additionally, I learned that my life is too short to spend time doing things I hate. Because birds have always made me happy, I decided to major in Ecology so I could spend my time studying birds and working to save endangered species. This led to me joining Bird Campus, an organization dedicated to protecting birds. Here, I found more people who accepted me for who I am. However, the experience I gained in this organization also taught me that most STEM fields aren't very accommodating of mentally ill or disabled people. I recently got elected to be an officer of Bird Campus, so I plan to use my leadership position to make more events that are accommodating and inclusive of everyone. I was also invited to join Delta Alpha Pi, an honor society for high-achieving disabled students designed to help advocate for disabled people in society. As a member of this organization, I'm able to meet more people like me who are living amazing lives and not allowing their disabilities to hold them back. They taught me that it's okay to need accommodations to succeed, which helped me not feel like a helpless burden anymore. I plan to use what I learn in this organization to help me make STEM fields more welcoming to people with depression and disabilities during my career. Being a part of these organizations helps me turn my pain into power by helping other people and finding a place in society for myself as well. I no longer believe things always get better, but I've learned they can get easier. Because my illnesses will never go away, I'll always be depressed and scared for the future, but that doesn't mean I can't keep living my life. My situation may never get lighter, but I believe it will get easier to carry with time.
    Maverick Grill and Saloon Scholarship
    "You have a messed up idea of fun," I can remember my ex telling me repeatedly. (Apparently, I just had a 'messed up' taste in men). I know I'm "weird," but I love myself for it, so I choose to surround myself with people who love me for it as well. I'm thankful for the friends who have supported me throughout my life, so I plan to return the favor by never changing who I am for anyone and encouraging others to be themselves. To the surprise of nobody who knows me, I'm nonbinary and bisexual. I know I'm not alone in how I identify, but most other LGBTQ+ people I know are scared to be 'out' publically due to the reactions of others. I've reached a point in my life where the violence doesn't personally bother me anymore, so I've chosen to try and help others find the same strength. By joining GLAD, the LGBTQ+ Alliance for my campus, I've been able to be part of a community that supports those who need it most. By participating in events and openly being myself, others don't feel so alone. Additionally, by volunteering at events for OK2BX, a non-profit that supports LGBTQ+ individuals, I'm able to help run events that encourage self-love and provide a safe space for people to exist as their true selves. For the last year, I've also been exploring my identity as a newly disabled person. Fortunately, I've been lucky enough to find a strong online support system that's helped me navigate my new world and stay positive. However, I know others aren't so lucky and are often ashamed to be disabled in public. Because of this, I accepted my invitation to Delta Alpha Pi, an Honor Society dedicated to shining a light on disabled individuals, uplifting them, and showing them that, with the right accommodations, they can live a very successful life. As a part of this organization, I get to be open about my disability and my successes, which helps to minimize the stigma that exists against disabled people. I also get to help organize events that help other disabled students find the resources and encouragement they need to succeed. This helps me give back and share the wisdom that my support system has shared with me. Additionally, on a goofier note, I am insane when it comes to birds. They're just so beautiful and perfect to me, I'm obsessed. Because of this, I've chosen to major in Ecology so I can work as an ornithologist and share my love of birds with the world. I'm also a member of the Bird Campus Committee (BCC) at my university and the Global Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). These organizations allow me to gain experience working to protect the environment, which allows me to put my passions to use. Most people think I'm weird for how much I love birds, but my friends in BCC and SER understand me. Events we do are open to the public, which helps me find other bird nerds and encourage them to put their passions to use and find a safe space with us as well. I'm LGBTQ+, disabled, and a bird nerd, but I'm also caring, hard-working, and proud to be myself. None of those things are unique, but the specific combination makes me unique. I plan to use all aspects of myself to unapologetically pursue my interests, and, hopefully, inspire others to do the same.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    "These are the best years of your life." Those words echoed in my head as I cried myself to sleep, thinking "If these are the best, I'd hate to see the worst." Everyone has a different path, the best years for one person might be the worst for another. Having recovered from my own darkness, I do what I can to stay healthy and be a light for others. Like many others, high school wasn't easy for me, and it put me into a depression. I didn't have many friends and I struggled with my self-esteem after a bad breakup, discovering that I'm transgender, and gaining some body-image issues. However, after feeling sorry for myself for the first two years of high school, I decided that I had to do something to try and make a change. I knew I had a lot of peers who were struggling as well, so I devoted myself to finding a way to improve the culture of my school so that, hopefully, I could make life better for everyone. This led to me becoming the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance during my Junior year of high school. This position allowed me to host events where students were safe to be themselves and get advice, post encouraging flyers so that students could learn more about LGBTQ+ and POC history, and implement a "Mental Health Guide." The 'guide' featured writing from students about mental health, LGBTQ+, neurodivergent, and POC experiences so that other students could read it, feel less alone, and know how to seek help if they need it. This led me to believe that, when people come together and are able to feel safe enough to be themselves, it can be a very healing experience. In addition to helping my peers, what helped my mental healing was focusing on raising my two loving pet chickens, Martha and Maggie. They were dependent on me, which motivated me to get up each morning and stick to a schedule. Martha and Maggie were the loves of my life and never judged me no matter what I told them. When they died, at first, it felt like the end of the world. However, that lead me to learn that I never want to see a world without birds in it, so I decided that, to honor my chickens, I would spend the rest of my life fighting to maintain biodiversity among birds. I am studying Ecology and plan to become and ornithologist so I may research endangered bird species and help others learn to love them as much as I do. Things became harder for me again during my senior year of high school when I was diagnosed with several, disabling, chronic illnesses. While the rest of my friends were looking forward to the rest of their lives, it felt like mine was ending. Learning to navigate my life as a newly disabled person with limited energy took time, and, unfortunately, a lot of my friends didn't want to be around me. They told me I reminded them they're "mortal" and they couldn't look at me without feeling sad. This was upsetting at first, but then I realized that if they were willing to drop me so easily when I needed support the most, they weren't real friends. My real friends were the people who wanted to be with me no matter what and were willing to accommodate my needs and understood that being cheery was hard for me right then. Thanks to the people who loved me, I was able to learn what true friendship is and keep going. Now that I'm in college, I want to continue to help others. As a member of GLAD, an organization supporting LGBTQ+ students, and Delta Alpha Pi, an honor society dedicated to normalizing and uplifting those with disabilities, I can continue to help others meet people like them and learn to love themselves exactly as they are. It's taken a long time, but I learned to love myself, and now I want to share the gift of self-love with others. Overall, my mental health journey has been a unique path, but the road taught me what types of people I want to have in my life, that I love helping others, and that my world is better when birds are in it. Because of my struggles, I now know how I want to spend the rest of my life. I know my future won't be easy either, but based on how much I've already overcome, I'm determined to make my goals come true.
    Si Se Puede Scholarship
    If I were asked to talk about perseverance two years ago, I likely would have given a story about a challenge my competition teams faced and ended the essay saying something corny like "I can do absolutely anything and everything I put my mind to!" However, now, my most significant example of perseverance is the simple fact that I get out of bed in the morning and usually make it to class, hopefully with combed hair and a smile. While perseverance most often means "to push through, no matter the challenge," to me, it currently means "doing what needs to be done so you can make it in the long run." A few weeks into my senior year of high school, my entire life changed. One night I went to bed perfectly fine, and the next morning I woke up in debilitating pain and was eventually diagnosed with multiple chronic, debilitating, progressive medical conditions. While my friends were all excited about their futures after graduation, it felt like my life was ending. It's difficult to have a motivated mind and a body that's unable to keep up with everything the brain wants to do. Despite everything, I chose to continue on the path I had planned and go to college. I figured that I could just push through everything and be fine. However, after a few weeks of struggling, my condition significantly worsened and, for several days, I was too ill to even sit up and scared everyone who loved me. Trying to "persevere" only made me sicker. I emailed my professors to explain my situation, and they had sympathy but also urged me to register with the Office of Disability so I could get accommodations so, hopefully, this didn't happen again. I did as they suggested, and was also told that I should try using a mobility aid. While I was reluctant to do so at first, eventually, I began to wear leg braces to help strengthen my joints and stabilize me when I walk. Wearing them made me feel like a failure for not being able to push through the pain, but a support group I joined taught me that it's only human to need a little help sometimes and that I don't always have to "persevere" through everything. They taught me that it's healthy to rest or make tasks easier when I need to. My painful symptoms, brain fog, and fatigue are always working against me; I'm a warrior fighting a battle that nobody else can see. While I might look rude walking so slow, look lazy taking the elevator instead of the stairs, look silly with my 'robotic' leg braces, or look exhausted showing up to class after being unable to sleep all night due to pain, every day, I get up and I give it my all. Some days, my all might allow me to go to class and ace everything, and other days my all might consist of sitting in bed and watching a recording of the lecture because I was too fatigued to make it in person. However, regardless of what it may look like day to day, I'm always doing my best. Over time, navigating life as a disabled person has taught me that, unlike healthy students, I physically can't push through every obstacle that comes my way. By extension, I've learned that perseverance doesn't mean doing every little thing you think of, sometimes it involves doing your best each day, choosing your battles wisely, and resting when needed to maintain the strength to keep going in the long run.
    Freddie L Brown Sr. Scholarship
    Bird is the word, Because a bird is a bird. A toucan was laughed at, And told he's better off as a boomerang. But his beak had a reason, They didn't know it was for courtship dancing with a bang. Next, a hummingbird was bullied, She was told she was too small. But her size helps her pollinate, If they knew her importance, they wouldn't laugh at all. But the same bully, Told the ostrich she was too big. She's the fastest runner around, They didn't know that's the nature of her gig. Even common pigeons are commonly oppressed, Often called dirty, And blamed for making cities depressed. If they knew pigeons were doves, would they be more flirty? Finally, a budgie was bullied, He was told he was too quiet. A friendly nature worked best for him, They didn't know he had enough allies to easily riot. Also you, I'm sure you can relate to the bullied birds too. If you want to help, Understanding how they're each important is what you can do. All of these birds, Laughed at so easily, Because people don't understand their purpose, The purpose of biodiversity.
    Environmental Impact Scholarship
    My goals are defined by a phrase that’s often hurled my way: “Ew, it’s that weird kid that’s obsessed with chickens.” To most, this may seem tragic, but it’s the beginning of a dream come true for me. My chickens, Martha and Maggie, were the loves of my life for seven years. When they died, it rocked me to my core, but, ultimately, inspired me to discover a deep passion for avian wildlife. To honor their memory, I plan to work in avian wildlife conservation so I can create a world where no more avian wildlife species needlessly go extinct. Due to environmental problems, such as poaching and pollution, many species become endangered because their habitat becomes increasingly difficult to survive in. As part of my research to save their lives, I'll be solving other environmental problems, such as global warming, that are the root problems behind the loss of habitat causing their extinction. By doing this, humans will also benefit from having fewer of the negative effects of global warming. Additionally, everyone will benefit from the increased biodiversity caused by fewer extinctions. Every species and human is connected via the food web, and having species die out damages the food web, which harms the ecosystem not only in its beauty but in its function as well. By majoring in Ecology for Environmental Science, I'll learn more about the current problems avian wildlife are facing and what can be done to correct them. This will help me in my career as I'll know where to direct my research so I can make my own, unique, discoveries that will revolutionize the field. Additionally, this will help me know how to care for wildlife as I work to rehabilitate injured animals. My findings from my research and work in rehabilitation will help me develop an argument to use and I try to convince legislators to pass laws to protect endangered species. By minoring in Studio Art and Writing, I'll be able to share my findings from both my research and work in rehabilitation with the public. I'll creatively share my message and get people interested in birds, learn why they should care about them, and discover what they can do to help. This will help me gain support and I work to convince legislators to pass new bills designed to protect avian wildlife. By furthering my education and gaining experience, I'll learn what can be done to save endangered avian wildlife species. By using creative methods to get the public on my side, I'll help work to get more legislation that protects endangered species passed. Through my own work and the aid of this future legislation, fewer species will have to go extinct.
    Bold Listening Scholarship
    As a student leader, listening to those I work with and caring for my peers is highly important both for the success of my projects and in upholding my morals. To me, listening to someone helps me achieve my team goals and allows me to find joy in helping others. As president of my school Volunteering Club, to create engaging activities that students will want to participate in, I have to listen to my team members when they give input. If I ignore them and just do what I feel is best, when the event occurs, students don't like it as much since I only used my opinions to create it. However, if I let my members give input and hold a discussion with them, making sure to listen and take their ideas into account, the events are much more enjoyable and we get a lot more done for our community. Additionally, as president of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, part of my role is to aid the mental health of students on campus, which requires great listening skills. I'm known as someone that others can lean on, so I usually have a lot of students come to me to vent and seek advice. When they talk to me, I make sure I understand what they're saying and let them know their feelings are valid, asking questions to help me better understand their point if needed. This helps me think of an appropriate piece of advice to give them if they want it, which can help them start to feel better. By actively listening to my peers, I'm able to get what they're saying and better know how to help them. Overall, by listening to others, I'm able to do my work better and help others on campus feel better.
    Bold Acts of Service Scholarship
    As someone who's low income, I often have to rely on the kindness of others to meet my needs, which often leaves me feeling helpless, dependent, and as if I'm a burden. Because of this, when given the opportunity to give back to my community, I jump at the chance to help others. By organizing donation drives, leading volunteering events, and providing free tutoring to those who need it, I'm able to give back to my community in my own way. As president of my school's Volunteering Club, I spend my free time finding pre-existing volunteering events and donation drives to share with my team members so we can help our community. However, I also use my leadership skills to organize my own events designed to help the community. For example, a simple volunteering activity we've done is cleaning a park. On a larger scale, for the holiday season, students donated snacks, toiletries, hygiene items, and winter weather items. We then spent two days wrapping the items in boxes and had them distributed to about 50 homeless people, which helped them significantly. Additionally, as a current tutor and content creator for the MEL Keystone program and a former tutor for the IntelliChoice program, both of which provide free tutoring to younger students, I'm able to help those who cannot afford tutors get an education. By working with them each weekend to catch them up on what they failed to understand while being taught during the week, they're able to go into each new week and each test they take with a better understanding of the previous material, which helps them move forward with their education. As someone who's often needed the help of others, I'm proud to pay forward the kindness I was shown when I needed it most.
    Bold Simple Pleasures Scholarship
    When I was at my lowest, seeing no reason to keep going, I found no joy in the world and wanted my life to just go ahead and end. This dark state only caused me to continue to spiral down an increasingly dark path, which left me in a position where I could no longer function or relate to my friends. I was completely numb and incredibly isolated. My chickens were what pulled me out of this. Going home to them every day, knowing their survival depended on me caring for them, gave me a reason to live and something else to focus on besides my sadness. I loved them more than life itself, and their requited love caused me to start feeling something again. They always listened to me when I talked about my day and let me cuddle them, and it made me feel loved and needed, thus showing me the world can be truly beautiful if you know where to look. This push in the right direction helped me slowly start climbing my way out of my depression. While my chickens are no longer with me, they placed a love for all birds in my heart. Any time I see a bird, even if it's a common pigeon, I feel a sense of joy because I loved my chickens so dearly and will forever be grateful for their role in helping me escape depression. Avian life is beautiful, and simply seeing a bird outside is often enough to remind me that the world isn't such a bad place after all.
    Bold Giving Scholarship
    As someone who's low income, I often have to rely on the kindness of others to meet my needs, which often leaves me feeling helpless, dependent, and as if I'm a burden. Because of this, when given the opportunity to give back to my community, I jump at the chance to help others. By organizing donation drives, leading volunteering events, and providing free tutoring to those who need it, I'm able to give back to my community in my own way. As president of my school's Volunteering Club, I spend my free time finding pre-existing volunteering events and donation drives to share with my team members so we can help our community. However, I also use my leadership skills to organize my own events designed to help the community. For example, a simple volunteering activity we've done is cleaning a park. On a larger scale, for the holiday season, students donated snacks, toiletries, hygiene items, and winter weather items. We then spent two days wrapping the items in boxes and had them distributed to about 50 homeless people, which helped them significantly. Additionally, as a current tutor and content creator for the MEL Keystone program and a former tutor for the IntelliChoice program, both of which provide free tutoring to younger students, I'm able to help those who cannot afford tutors get an education. By working with them each weekend to catch them up on what they failed to understand while being taught during the week, they're able to go into each new week and each test they take with a better understanding of the previous material, which helps them move forward with their education. As someone who's often needed the help of others, I'm proud to pay forward the kindness I was shown when I needed it most.
    Bold Driven Scholarship
    As someone who deeply loves birds, I’m incredibly passionate about avian wildlife conservation. I want everyone to have the same opportunity to love birds that I’ve had, and working to minimize extinctions is the best way to achieve that. Therefore, my goal in life is to both protect endangered avian wildlife and use my findings to show others why they should care. Currently, I work to educate both myself and others on the environmental factors negatively impacting avian wildlife. By taking courses both in and out of school, such as Advanced Placement Environmental Science or a Migration course from the Texas Conservation Alliance, I’m able to push my knowledge as far as possible, which I take pride in and find pleasure in. I use what I learn to create art and make informational posts to help people understand what birds are going through, why they should care, and what they can do to help. By majoring in Ecology for Environmental Science in college, I’ll be able to explore my passion more deeply and learn how I can best help avian wildlife. In my classes, I’ll push myself to learn all I can and talk to my professors to find additional material I can learn. By doing research projects, I’ll be preparing myself for a career in conservation, where I’ll be able to share my findings with people and convince them to love birds enough to want to help them. I love birds, and doing anything involving them is a passion of mine. My true niche in life is to work to keep them safe and healthy and to help others learn to love them as much as I do, which is exactly how I plan to spend my future as I pursue my goals.
    Bold Passion Scholarship
    As someone who deeply loves birds, I’m incredibly passionate about avian wildlife conservation. I want everyone to have the same opportunity to love birds that I’ve had, and working to minimize extinctions is the best way to achieve that. Currently, I work to educate both myself and others on the environmental factors negatively impacting avian wildlife. By taking courses both in and out of school, such as Advanced Placement Environmental Science or a Migration course from the Texas Conservation Alliance, I’m able to push my knowledge as far as possible, which I take pride in and find pleasure in. I use what I learn to create art and make informational posts to help people understand what birds are going through, why they should care, and what they can do to help. By majoring in Ecology for Environmental Science in college, I’ll be able to explore my passion more deeply and learn how I can best help avian wildlife. In my classes, I’ll push myself to learn all I can and talk to my professors to find additional material I can learn. By doing research projects, I’ll be preparing myself for a career in conservation, where I’ll be able to share my findings with people and convince them to love birds enough to want to help them. I love birds, and doing anything involving them is a passion of mine. My true niche in life is to work to keep them safe and healthy and to help others learn to love them as much as I do, which is exactly how I plan to spend my future.
    Bold Make Your Mark Scholarship
    In the future, I want to minimize the extinction of avian wildlife species by using my knowledge of ecology to help lobby for legislation designed to protect endangered species. People always tell me “You’re so smart and you’re wasting your talents doing this,” but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Thanks to my two pet chickens, who I love more than anything, I developed an interest in birds, and now learning about avian wildlife has evolved into a true passion of mine. I’m known as a “crazy bird person” around school because I know so much about avian life and love them so dearly, so it wouldn’t make sense for me to do anything except help birds in the future. I want to work to save their lives because I was future generations to experience the same joy I feel from birds, but they can’t do that if endangered species keep going extinct. Birds are an important and beautiful part of the ecosystem, and I don't want to imagine a world without them. With my help, bird lives wouldn’t needlessly be lost, which would increase biodiversity and help the environment as a whole, thus making the world a more beautiful place thanks to my efforts. I know this will be a lot of work, but it’s what I’m passionate about, so I know I’ll succeed in my goals. By dedicating my life to avian wildlife conservation, I’ll be able to save many endangered lives.
    Bold Turnaround Story Scholarship
    Throughout my life, I battled depression, but it was at its worst during high school. When you're fighting suicidal thoughts, it's hard to focus on anything else, so it left me isolated from my friends and struggling in school. Once I saw the path I was going down, I vowed to do anything it took to start feeling well again. I stepped back from my responsibilities and focused more on myself. I took the time to fix my sleep schedule, meditate, and reach out to my friends to talk to them about how I was feeling. Caring for myself helped me feel happy again. While taking that break did set me behind initially, with my newfound energy, I’ve not only caught up to where I should be but exceeded that. I’ve been able to achieve great things, and now it’s my passion to help others do the same. I know not all people have the ability to recognize how they’re feeling and to do something about it, so now I do what I can to try and notice hints that others are struggling and to help them find help. Additionally, I created multiple mental health resources for my campus to help students who might be too shy to seek help to find support. Overall, I took my battle with depression and turned it into strength, and now I’m working to help others overcome their own struggles.
    Robert Lee, Sr. and Bernice Williams Memorial Scholarship
    When I was younger, I knew I never really "fit in" with or acted like the other girls in my class. My parents, wanting me to be happy but also hoping for me to have as normal a life as possible, labeled me a "tomboy" and left their help with my identity at that. I knew that label didn't feel quite right, but I didn't want to tell them they were wrong, so I played along. As I aged, increasingly hated myself. It started small, with me wishing I was "like other girls," and evolving into me outright hating my body but not understanding why. I couldn't imagine how anyone could possibly enjoy having a female body, and I was scared to let people find out that I hated being a girl because I didn't want people to hate me for being so weird or wrongly assume that I hated women in general. When I finally got the courage to talk to someone about how I felt, they informed me of what it meant to be transgender, and it was like a lightbulb went off. I finally knew who I was! As I did my own research on the LGBTQ+ community, I also discovered that I was gay, but then discovered the hatred surrounding the LBGTQ+ community, which caused me to fear "coming out" for a few years. When I did come out, I received a mix of love and hatred, which caused a lot of mixed feelings for me. However, overall, I was able to ignore the hatred and love myself for finally being brave enough to be who I truly am. From this experience, I've developed a desire to help others recognize their identity and love themselves for who they truly are. I know not all people have someone they can talk to, so I want to help educate everyone on what it means to be LGBTQ+ so more people can recognize their identity. I also want to work to spread education about and normalize LGBTQ+ culture to minimize hatred against the community due to misunderstandings. Finally, I want to help LGBTQ+ individuals find others in the community to relate to so they don't feel so alone and can feel braver about who they are. Currently, as president of my campus' Gay-Straight Alliance, I organize events designed to help people love themselves, be safe, and feel welcome on campus. Through events such as Drag Shows and Nail Painting Parties, students are able to explore LGBTQ+ culture, which helps to normalize it. Through educational flyers, posters, and information sessions, we're able to educate people on how to recognize their identity and treat others with respect. Additionally, our meetings serve as "safe spaces" for all people to either speak or quietly listen, which gives them a better opportunity to get to know others like them and learn more about themselves. In the future, I plan to continue my current efforts and expand them to help even more people. Because I'm also president of my school's Volunteering Club, I definitely have the experience needed to organize large-scale events and work with outside organizations to achieve a goal. Using my LGBTQ+ knowledge and my experience, I'll help others know they're not alone and minimize all types of hatred in the community.
    Bold Technology Matters Scholarship
    As someone who's incredibly passionate about wildlife conservation, I look forward to the development of technology that will better help researchers understand how to save wildlife. Most likely, the technology used for tracking and observation will be enhanced first. With new versions of current animal trackers, scientists will have a better idea of how wildlife behave, which will help them understand how to use those behaviors to an advantage. As these trackers improve, they'll likely have improved audio and visuals, which will allow scientists to check in and see how these animals are doing in their different locations, without bothering them or interfering with the choices they make. Similarly, as satellite and drone technology improves, scientists could silently and discreetly look down on animals in their natural habitat, allowing them to get observations that are completely natural. With current technologies, animals might know that the observer is there, which could affect how they behave. Being able to conduct observations remotely would allow for a better understanding of natural behaviors. Additionally, advancements in veterinary technology could aid rehabilitation efforts. When researchers or naturalists remove animals from the wild, it's typically because they have some type of injury or behavioral problem that needs to be studied and corrected. For some animals, current technologies can correct the injury and the animal may be released. However, other animals, such as birds, may have more extensive injuries that cannot be fixed with current remedies. For example, when a bird breaks a bone, it cannot heal properly, which makes it where they can't be released back into the wild as their chances at survival are low. If technology could be developed that would fix a broken wing, these birds would be able to be released, which would help endangered species have a larger population as the released animals would be able to breed better. Moreover, improved surgical technologies would allow for injuries that may have been a death sentence in the past to now have surgery available to treat it. For example, if an avian species has cancer of the GI tract, the operation to remove the tumor is often fatal, especially if the animal is old, due to them typically not responding well to anesthesia and because causing damage in surgery is likely. With new technologies making surgical procedures easier and better methods of sedation allowing more patients to survive, more animals will be able to recover and be released back into the wild. Overall, wildlife tracking, observation, and rehabilitation technology would allow researchers and naturalists to better understand, care for, and save endangered wildlife.
    Cruz Events Community Impact Scholarship
    Being a first-generation student means that I'm a role model for others. Coming from a background with minimal support yet still being able to attend college will help me guide others on their journey through their own unique struggles. Because I'm the first person in my family to go to college, this means that I'm creating a path for future generations to find success in their educational goals. When I started my college applications journey, it was incredibly difficult to navigate the applications process on my own. This required me to work harder than my peers, who had parents to guide them through the process. Now that I've made it and know how hard that process is, I'll be inspired to find younger students who won't have additional support and help them understand how to succeed with their applications. Not only is it hard to apply to college, but it's hard to know what colleges want to see without having someone tell you what helped them get accepted. This forced me to think logically about every choice I made and how it would affect my applications throughout my high school career. If I would have had a family member to talk to, I would have known which clubs or courses would look best on my application alongside just my high grades. Because of this, I'm inspired to help younger students know what colleges are looking for so they can start properly preparing for the applications process before they even need to apply. Additionally, this experience has taught me to better tackle new problems on my own. The college applications process was an entirely new topic for me that I had no idea how to approach at first. On my path to success, I realized there was a specific set of steps I followed to tackle the problem. By going online and reading the advice from strangers, I got a general idea of how to approach the task. From there, I used my logical reasoning skills to try and navigate the applications. When I had specific problems that I couldn't solve on my own, I'd reach out to my peers or to online forums for advice. These same steps of researching a task, approaching it logically, and then not being afraid to ask for help can be used to solve any problem. Because these steps worked for me, I'd like to be able to share them with others. To be able to help others in the ways I've described, I'd like to create my own website designed for people to discuss the college applications process in an organized manner. I'll make my own posts with advice from my experiences, as well as general advice students should follow to succeed in both their careers and in college, and viewers would be able to make their own posts to ask or respond to questions. As a first-generation student, it's my duty to be a role model and help others with their educational journey as much as I can. To do this, I'd like to create a forum for those who have no one else to ask questions and provide advice that will help other students succeed. I'd like to use my experiences to help others avoid the same difficulties that I faced.
    Bold Patience Matters Scholarship
    Being patient is important to me because it allows me to better help others. I take pride in offering assistance to anyone who needs it, but to do this, not only do others need to be patient with me as I find free time for them, but I need to be patient to be able to properly help those I'm working with. I never charge people for my help, so it upsets me when those asking a favor of me get angry when I ask them to wait a few minutes or a short time for me to finish what I have in front of me before helping them. When people are patient with me and let me find a spot where they can be my main focus, I'm less stressed and more willing to do what it takes to help them. As I'm performing helpful acts like tutoring, it's important for me to be patient with my peer. I have to remind myself to calm down and remember that the reason they're here is that they don't understand something, so I can't get upset with them if they don't 'get it' after the first time. By taking my time to explain concepts and pausing periodically to ensure the information is being retained, the person I'm working with will better be able to grasp the topics. Patience makings giving help and receiving help infinitely easier. By having others be patient with me, I'm in a more helpful mood, and, by being patient with others, I'm better able to assist them in the ways they truly need.
    Bold Growth Mindset Scholarship
    To keep a growth mindset, when I notice myself begging to give up or go astray, I pause and meditate, trying to weigh each of my options for how to proceed. When I do this, I almost always find at least one path where things could work out, which helps me keep moving forward and improving myself. For example, in school, when exams don't go my way or projects feel like too much effort to be worth it, I'll often want to accept failure and stop trying so hard. However, when I sit down and think logically, I see how far I've already come academically and realize it doesn't make sense for me to stop now. I then figure out what exactly is making me feel like giving up, find a way to cope with it, and plan a new course of action so I can get back to working hard. This has allowed me to continue to achieve success no matter the size of the obstacle in my path. Even with life situations, this "pause and reflect" system helps me keep working towards happiness. As someone who struggles with depression, it can be hard to see the light in life at times. When everything seems dark, it's hard to find the motivation to keep improving since it all just feels pointless. However, by recognizing my intrusive thoughts as being false, I can start thinking logically about my situation. This allows me to realize things aren't all bad and find a way to keep trying to make life better for myself. By pausing and reflecting when I feel down, I'm able to realize life isn't as bad as it seems. Doing this allows me to find ways to continue to improve myself, thus helping me uphold a growth mindset.
    Bold Friendship Matters Scholarship
    A friend will stay by your side, no matter the circumstances; therefore, friendship is an unspoken agreement to care for one another. Personally, my friends and I care for each other by sitting with each other when times get hard, never letting anyone suffer alone. While we might not always have the solutions to each others' problems, we'll at least sit with each other until the storm passes. One of my friends and I both battle fits of depression, and during our 'lows,' it can be hard to feel wanted or imagine that there's any light left in the world. When I notice my friend feels down, I check in and remind him that life will get better. I listen to his problems, and if I have any relevant advice, I'll try to help, but otherwise, I just let him know he's not alone. He does the same for me when I need him most, and it makes a world of difference. Additionally, when one of our friends was in the hospital, everyone in our friend group came together to find ways to cheer them up. We couldn't heal their pain, but we were at least able to take their mind off of it for a while, which helped them find the motivation needed to continue on their path to recovery. Friendship is a bond that reminds you you're never alone in the world. During good times, friends will laugh and enjoy life; when things get hard, they'll tackle the problem together. It ensures that everyone will make it, no matter how rough the times may get.
    Bold Self-Care Scholarship
    When life gets overwhelming, it's important to take a step back and clear your mind. To do this, I spend time sitting in front of my fish tank and listening to music I enjoy. This creates a calming environment that relaxes me and helps me slow my racing thoughts. The area around my fish tank is a safe space for me. The floor has a pillow for me to sit on and I'm surrounded by bookshelves, a window, and the tank, which makes it feel like I'm in my own world. This helps me forget the stressors of my day-to-day life, which allows me to focus on the calming movements of my fish and forget my worries. To further relax, I listen to music I enjoy to make me feel happier. Listening to music helps remove any remaining intrusive thoughts from my mind, allowing me to give all my attention to my fish. Doing this helps me put new, better thoughts in my head, which is refreshing. By the time I'm done watching my fish and listening to music, I feel recharged and am ready to take on the world again. Taking a step back helps me keep taking steps forward.
    Richard Neumann Scholarship
    When I used to look around campus, I would more sad faces and harmful "jokes" than I was comfortable with, which led to a decline in student mental health and an increase in students feeling like they didn't 'fit in.' Because this is unacceptable, as president of my campus' Gay-Straight Alliance, I implemented a "Mental Health Guide" in an effort to relieve the situation. This guide allows students to anonymously send in art, writing, or advice related to being mentally ill, LGBTQ+, POC, neurodivergent, or a part of another community being harmed for other students to anonymously view. Doing this gives students a place to talk about their experiences so that they always feel like they have someone listening to them while also allowing students who might otherwise be too shy to seek help to know they're never alone in their struggles. My solution has given students a place to feel accepted without having to face the anxiety of reaching out for help, which has improved their lives. Nobody deserves to feel alone, so I'm glad I'm able to help the students on my campus. However, I wish I could help more people who are left feeling alone in their lives. If I had more resources, I would implement a city-wide mental health guide for citizens to submit to and read. While this might sound similar to the positive "connection" or "sense of belonging" aspect of any other website or social media platform, it would be different in the fact that it would be completely regulated to ensure no harmful content is posted. Any posts or comments would have to be appropriate, on-topic, helpful, and approved by someone with proper counseling training before being made visible. While regulating all content on a citizen-driven website would be difficult, if we hire enough staff and ensure they're trained properly, it would be made manageable. Additionally, while a city's worth of responses could be hard to sift through, a filter could be placed for viewers to see so they can easily find relevant advice, shared experiences, and resources they might be looking for, with posts that are deemed to be 'most helpful' being shown near the top of the page. Because people using the platform solely to vent rather than to also help others could be an issue, part of the website the guide is on would feature a chat where visitors can connect with a trained counselor if they need to simply talk. This feature would be similar to a mental health hotline; however, with most hotlines, you're often left sitting on hold for long periods of time due to the number of callers. Because this guide would only be city-wide, the hold times, if any, would be much shorter. Additionally, limiting the span of the guide to only a city, as opposed to a state or nation, allows people to feel more connected with what they read. When references to locations are made, they're more likely to understand them and feel a sense of connection. While larger platforms can also be helpful, knowing someone else within the same city as you has gone through similar problems feels much closer, which can help you feel even less alone. Overall, providing people a safe space to connect with people and find helpful resources is vital to improving mental health. If my mental health guide could be scaled up to help the entire city, then more people would relate to one another and feel less alone in their lives.
    Sloane Stephens Doc & Glo Scholarship
    Throughout my life, there have been many times when those around me thought I'd finally give up. However, I always managed to bounce back and make the best of the situations I was handed. Because of this, I value my resiliency and know it will be enough to ensure I succeed in life. The largest hurdle I’ve faced is depression. I always just felt so worthless, like nothing I did made a difference and nobody cared about me. Despite this, I knew I didn’t want to just sit around and do nothing, so I still tried to leave a mark on the world, even if I didn’t think it would make a real difference. As president of both my campus Gay-Straight Alliance and school Volunteering Club, I created events designed to increase diversity, help those in need, and educate others on existing social issues. To my surprise, I found that my actions actually helped people, and it helped me start to feel better about myself as well. Because of my hard work despite knowing I’d likely fail, I was able to create a great change in my community, and I’m proud of myself for not giving up. This will aid me on my journey because I hope to always continue to help others. Even if I can't see an impact, I'll keep trying until I do make a real difference. Additionally, being low-income has made it hard for me to succeed in life. I didn’t have the internet at home until I reached high school, and even now, it’s still somewhat unreliable. Because my family also can’t afford textbooks, it’s made it harder for me to study when at home. This has forced me to make the most of what the school provides me with to learn. Every lecture, notebook, and worksheet, I make sure to save for later. When we can check out books, I always make sure that I use the opportunity to get resources to study. While it’s been difficult, I’ve managed to maintain a high GPA in school. Because I’ve always had to work hard for my grades, my life journey has now turned down a path where I'm proud to offer free tutoring to kids who need it. I know not everyone has the determination I have, so I’m glad that I’m able to serve as a resource for them and make their lives a little easier. Currently, I’m battling the issue of being chronically ill. It takes my energy away and forces me to always have to work ahead because I never know when I’ll suddenly be unable to function. While this is exhausting and is taking me a lot of time to figure out how to work through, with my determination, I know I’ll find a way to still succeed in life despite this disadvantage. Additionally, I know that my strength will allow me to overcome and work around any other future obstacles I encounter as well. Overall, it’s my ability to get back up and try again that’s allowed me to make it this far in life, and I know it will lead me to a good future. Because of this, it’s my resilience that I love most about myself.
    Tyde Memorial Scholarship
    Who I am can be defined by a phrase that’s often hurled my way: “Ew, it’s that weird kid that’s obsessed with chickens.” To most, this may seem tragic, but it’s the beginning of a dream come true for me. My chickens, Martha and Maggie, were the loves of my life for seven long years. When they died, it rocked me to my core, but, ultimately, inspired me to find a deep passion for avian wildlife. To honor their memory, I plan to work in avian wildlife conservation so I can create a world where no more avian wildlife species go extinct. To do this, I plan to continue working hard for my education by majoring in Wildlife Conservation. This will allow me to gain the foundational knowledge necessary to conduct meaningful research in the future. Additionally, being able to attend college would grant me access to new resources and internships, which would help me begin to make a difference in my field as soon as possible. However, because my family is low income and has extensive medical bills to pay, I'm not sure if I'll be able to afford college unless I get enough scholarships to cover the extra costs. My mom, dad, and grandma are each battling different illnesses right now and I'm chronically ill, so it makes it hard for us to be able to afford anything since our insurance doesn't cover enough of the cost of our medical bills and medications. I want this scholarship because it will help me actually be able to afford college and gain the education and experiences needed to succeed and make a difference in my career field. I know I have the passion to save the lives of endangered avian species, but if I don't have the funding to attend college, it will be incredibly hard to achieve my dream. I'd have to work long hours, which would be incredibly difficult to balance with studying and also being chronically ill. Winning this scholarship would allow me to spend more of my limited energy on studying for my future than working and worrying about how I'm going to be able to afford college. This would change my life because, right now, every penny counts as I'm unsure if I'll be able to afford to finish college. Winning would impact my life by allowing me to gain the education I need to succeed in my goals. It would mean the world to me if I could worry a little less about covering the cost of tuition and focus more on my academics and caring for my physical health.
    Bold Optimist Scholarship
    I’ve faced a lot of obstacles, but I’ve never given up before, and I don’t plan to anytime soon. I keep going because, despite everything, I have hope that something will work out and know that my future will be better if I can just keep moving forward. When times get hard, it's normal to feel like giving up. However, times like these are when it's most important to keep going. By staying stagnant, there's no way that life will improve. If we take time to reflect on what's wrong and then plan a new course of action, we at least have hope for a better tomorrow. No matter how many times you may fail, if you stay still, then you'll be forced to stay a failure. However, if you remain optimistic and keep trying, you're sure to find success eventually. For example, optimism was most important to me in my battle with depression. Each day, I would wake up wishing the day would already be over, which is no way to live your life. Everything felt so dark, and it made it hard to keep going, especially when I would relapse every time I got close to finally being free. However, eventually, I realized that if I stopped trying to get better and gave up, I would always be stuck feeling that way. Hating being depressed, no matter how deeply my mind wanted me to stop, I still got back up each day and kept trying to get better. Eventually, I made it out of that dark place and have found hope. Because of this experience, I know I'll never give up. By staying optimistic and hoping for a better future, I'll be inspired to keep moving forward, which will allow me to find happier things in life.
    Bold Art Matters Scholarship
    My favorite piece of art is "Lobster Telephone" by Salvador Dali. By today's standards, it's nowhere near being a "normal" art piece, but it still has a deep meaning, and I genuinely connect with that. According to Dali, telephones are meant to carry messages from the "beyond" and lobsters are meant to be sexual. By using the lobster telephone, you'd be able to call a dream. While this might sound weird, during the period when surrealism was popular, works such as this were common for Dali to create. What I love most about this is that it's simply just there. There's not a political statement or ulterior motive, the phone just exists for you to be able to call a dream. This can serve as commentary on how the human mind works, which is equally as weird as the artwork we see. I connect with this so deeply because my mind is always in weird places, which I try to express with some of my art, as Dali did when he was alive. As a result, people always either connect with my art or just think I'm looking for an excuse to be "quirky." Because "Lobster Telephone" invokes different emotions from different people as my art does, it's a piece that I love. Overall, "Lobster Telephone" is a beautiful and humorous commentary on human nature that I love due to how simple yet deep it manages to be.
    Bold Influence Scholarship
    Given the ability, I would want everyone to be aware of what they can do to support avian wildlife conservation efforts. By using my platform for good, I would be able to show people why they should care about biodiversity and the environment. Currently, while I might not be influential, I am still working toward conservation efforts. By volunteering with the Texas Conservation Alliance and taking science-based courses, I'm learning what I need to understand why species become endangered and what's currently being done to fix these issues. After majoring in Wildlife Biology in college, I'll be able to gain a career as a conservation researcher and find new ways to save these species. While I might not ever become famous, I'll at least be working in the background and making a difference. However, if I were influential, I would be able to create an even bigger change in my field. I would be able to gain support for my ideas easier, which would help increase the amount that people care about saving avian wildlife. This would help me as I work to gain support for new legislation geared towards saving endangered species. While I might not be highly influential, I'm already doing my part to stand up for wildlife conservation. If I had a platform, I'd use it to convince people to do their part and help me save endangered avian wildlife from extinction.
    Bold Independence Scholarship
    To be independent isn't to not need ever anyone's help, but rather to be in a position where the help needed is minimal. Humans are meant to work together, so it's normal for us to need help from time to time. Being independent comes into play when someone is able to get by enough of the time and having extra help only lift them higher. To me, being independent means that I'm either able to do everything on my own or am working towards being able to do so. Being self-reliant allows me to be able to do more with my life. Because I want to move on to bigger and better things, being independent allows me to follow my dreams without having to worry about needing others to be available to care for me and only need them for extra support as I go about my tasks. Additionally, being independent allows me to help others when they need it. As I get closer to being able to care for myself, I learn more about what it takes to be self-sufficient in life. As I go through my journey, I'm proud to be able to share my tips with others who might need the extra support. While it's not possible to never need help from anyone else, it is possible to get to a point in your life where you're able to care for yourself. To me, drawing closer to this point means I can do more to help both myself and my community.
    Bold Impact Matters Scholarship
    When someone needs me, they can usually find me helping another student with their mental health. As someone who's struggled with loving themselves in the past, I know how important it can be to have someone support you, so I always do what I can to help others feel good about themselves. On a personal level, I've become known as someone people can talk to around school. No matter how close I am with someone, even if they're a complete stranger, if they tell me they need help, I'll try my best. Whether they need advice or someone to just sit and listen, I'll provide any amount of comfort I can, letting them know that they're not alone, not a burden, and their feelings are valid. This helps them feel better about themselves, and can slowly lead to improved mental health. Additionally, as president of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, I have the authority to create events that promote diversity in school. A large part of helping students feel more accepted in school is working to improve their mental health. Because of this, I implemented a "Mental Health Guide" for my campus, which allows students to anonymously submit artwork, advice, or writing relating to experiences with being mentally ill, POC, LGBTQ+, or neurodivergent, for other students to anonymously view. This allows students who otherwise might be too shy to reach out to see they're not alone in their struggles, which can help them feel better about themselves. I know how difficult mental illness can be, so I do what I can to make sure no one has to go through it alone as I did, and I plan to continue to do so throughout my life.
    Bold Dream Big Scholarship
    Who I am can be defined by a phrase that’s often hurled my way: “Ew, it’s that weird kid that’s obsessed with chickens.” To most, this may seem tragic, but it’s the beginning of a dream come true for me. My chickens, Martha and Maggie, were the loves of my life for seven long years. When they died, it rocked me to my core, but, ultimately, inspired me to find a deep passion for avian wildlife. To honor their memory, I plan to work in avian wildlife conservation so I can create a world where no more avian wildlife species go extinct. I dream of a world where everyone understands how amazing birds are and does their part to ensure the ecosystem maintains its biodiversity. I want everyone to understand the joy I feel when I see even just a common pigeon on the street, find the beauty in its feathers, the love in its eyes, and the cuteness of its tiny little feet. I want macaws and other endangered species to not have to worry about how much longer their species has left on this planet. I want all birds to live long, happy, fulfilling lives. More selfishly, I want to be able to make a living by being around birds all day. I'm planning on being happy in my future, no matter what that might mean, and the best way for that to happen is by being around the creatures I love so dearly each day, working to prolong their lives. While ending extinction for avian wildlife species is a truly ambitious dream, I have the passion to make it happen. With my love for birds driving me, I know I'll never give up until I reach my dream.
    Bold Be You Scholarship
    In a world telling you to be anyone except yourself, being unique is an act of rebellion. I stay true to myself by remembering that no matter what I do, someone won't like it, and if I'm going to get messed with regardless, I might as well be comfortable with myself. I face the most judgment in my life for being LGBTQ+. Many people mock me, saying it's weird or wrong for me to feel the way I feel. However, not only have I learned to ignore their words, understanding that I simply am who I am, but I've embraced the labels they give me and choose to proudly display my identity. While this does paint a large target on my back, I keep going and being who I am when I see others like me find comfort in knowing that I'm proud enough to let the negativity roll off my shoulders. Additionally, people generally think I'm too "weird" for them. I was bullied when I was younger, but it was always my two pet chickens who made me feel better. Because of this, I've grown to have an obsession with birds, so I tend to talk about them often. This obsession and the 'quirky' manner in which I carry myself can cause others to pick on me, but I wouldn't change who I am for anything. When I feel down, I remember how much I love myself, my chickens, and my friends who appreciate me for my true self, and it helps me keep being proud. Overall, I'd prefer to get picked on for who I genuinely am than fake a personality and still get treated poorly. By being myself, I see other "weirdos" find comfort with me, and it helps me know I'm doing the right thing.
    Bold Memories Scholarship
    Who I am can be defined by a phrase that’s often hurled my way: “Ew, it’s that weird kid that’s obsessed with chickens.” To most, this may seem tragic, but it’s music to my ears. I live my life with the label of “geek” floating above my head, a blessing for my GPA, but a curse for my social life. I’ve faced a large amount of criticism for the way I carry myself, people telling me I’m too weird, too proud, or too nerdy to fit in with them. However, my beloved chickens, Martha and Maggie, sweet M&M, the loves of my life, helped me pull through whenever I felt like letting go. Because of this, I developed an almost unnatural obsession with birds, especially chickens. When they died due to old age, it felt like my life had shattered into pieces; I didn’t know who I was without my birds. While my hens might no longer be with me, the passion they placed in my heart will never die. To honor M&M and because birds are something I will never grow tired of, I want to work in Avian Wildlife Conservation and spend my life advancing the world’s knowledge of these beautiful creatures. Everyone deserves to experience the wonder of birds, so I need to help make sure endangered species survive so that future generations can enjoy them as well. Birds are my lifelong passion. Throughout high school, they’ve been what’s kept me going, and I know they will continue to push me through college. I will succeed in my pursuits towards Avian Biology because, with the memory of M&M always encouraging me to never give up, it simply won’t be possible for any potential failures or obstacles to tie me down for long.
    Robert Wechman Mental Health Scholarship
    Everyone always hears how depression can leave you feeling lonely or a little extra sad, but you seldom hear how physically painful and isolating it can be. It rocked me to my core, but I was lucky enough to have to strength to pull through, so now I do all I can to stay afloat while also providing others with the support I never had. When I was at my lowest, and it felt like things would never look up, I began searching for anything to take my mind away from the pain I felt. I was too scared to seek help because I had always been taught that having a mental illness was a horrible thing, so I needed to find another way to process my emotions. Luckily, I discovered my love of birds and spending my time researching avian life gave me a way to cope. Even when I'd see a common pigeon outside, I'd grow excited and become fascinated by it. Having this interest to cling to helped me realize life isn't so dark and gave me the courage I needed to seek help, which was a step that helped me climb my way out of depression. By seeking help and talking about how I felt, I realized mental illness isn't something to be ashamed of, and that's something I wish others could know as well. Due to this experience, seeing how hard it can be to pull yourself out of a slump, I believe that society should take better care of their peers. Because not everyone has a passion to cling to, I do what I can to check in with people and ask how they're really feeling inside. I try to let people, even strangers, know that I'm always here for them when they feel down, and I try to provide support or advice when they need me. By talking about mental health, it slowly takes the stigma away, which can help others get the courage needed to seek help. More broadly, as president of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, I implemented a "Mental Health Guide" that allows students to anonymously share art, writing, or advice relating to mental health topics for other students to anonymously read. This allows those who might otherwise be too shy to have a place to come to, learn about the experiences of others, get helpful advice, and know that they're never alone in their struggles, which can help students feel better about themselves and their experiences. Additionally, this makes mental health more visible, which helps to destigmatize it in the community, thus encouraging people to seek help once they realize that battling a mental illness isn't so rare and is nothing to be ashamed of. At this point in my journey, I plan to continue to care for my own mental health by working towards becoming an avian wildlife conservation researcher so I can spend my days working with birds and only keeping friends who I know will lift me higher. On this journey, I'll continue to provide support to others, doing what I can to ensure no one else ever has to suffer alone again.
    Graduate Debt-Free Scholarship
    Who I am can be defined by a phrase that’s often hurled my way: “Ew, it’s that weird kid that’s obsessed with chickens.” To most, this may seem tragic, but it’s music to my ears. Starting from as early as I can recall, I never really "fit in;" others my age often said I'm too loud, too nerdy, or too weird to hang out with them. While I did have some close friends, I was still lonely. However, when I got my two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie, M&M, the loves of my life, everything changed. With them by my side to support me, I received the courage to keep trying each day. No matter how badly I embarrassed myself or how unlovable I felt, my birds cared about me unconditionally. Others might say it's crazy to love chickens as much as I do and even crazier to have them love me back, but it makes perfect sense to me. When Martha and Maggie passed away due to old age, I was left heartbroken. Who am I without my birds? After taking time to grieve, I began to realize it wasn't only my hens that brought me an extra source of joy, but birds, in general, were enough to lift my mood. From that moment on, when I needed to cope with something and my friends were unable to help me, I would take a break and either find a bird to interact with or go online and research all I could about different exotic species. Learning new information and spending time with birds, even ones that are "common," always gives me enough of a thrill to make me feel better. While my chickens may be gone, my love for birds will never die. To honor their memory as well as pursue my passion for avian life, I plan to become an avian wildlife conservation researcher, working to prevent endangered species from going extinct. This will allow future generations to be able to experience the wonder of birds as I have in my life. While I might be hard working and have the determination to make my dream happen, I fear I may not have the funds to do so. It's no secret that college is expensive, so, to help minimize my debt, I'm working hard to seek help from my financial aid offices, applying for every scholarship I can, and will try to get a part-time job in college if I still lack the needed funds. However, there's not much my financial aid offices can do to help, so I'm truly relying on and giving my full efforts towards scholarships right now so I'll have to work fewer hours in college. While every scholarship might not be worth a full ride, it'll at least help me have a little less to pay back myself. Overall, no matter what happens, I'll work hard to make sure I get the education needed to work in avian wildlife conservation. After having had my chickens give me so much love over the years, I'm determined to honor their memory by pursuing my passion and saving endangered lives.
    Hobbies Matter
    One of my favorite things to do is to draw. I'll draw just about anything, really. As long as my hands are moving, my mind is thinking, and it's like free therapy for me. When I get really stressed, it can be hard to put how I'm feeling into real thoughts, even more so to try and put it into words. To express myself, I get out some paper and something to draw with and just let my mind take over the page. As I'm making creative decisions, I'm forced to think about how to represent each emotion I'm feeling, which helps me understand my feelings. Doing so helps me relax and show others what's going on in my mind as well. Because of this ease in showing my otherwise indescribable emotions to others so they can either relate to my work or know how to support me in my struggles, art is a favorite hobby of mine. However, even during times when I'm doing well, I still have a deep passion for art. Being able to create something, even if it doesn’t look “beautiful,” is just such a pure, human, experience. Something about having the ability to be able to communicate without words gives my mind a thrill, which encourages me to keep practicing at any point in time. In the future, I'd like to use drawing as a way for me to relieve the stress of what I learn as I work in conservation as well as be able to directly communicate with people about why they should care about avian wildlife. Because extinction is a dark topic, it will be healthy for me to take to art in my leisure time to process those complex emotions. When the piece is done, I can then share it with others, showing them why they should support me in my efforts as well as why they should care about conserving avian wildlife. Overall, art is a favorite hobby of mine because it helps me communicate with both myself and others.
    Dylan's Journey Memorial Scholarship
    Having untreated ADHD has made it hard to keep up in school, but, thanks to my determination, I've done my best to turn my ADHD traits into positive traits. I use my coping methods and allow my unique mind to fuel my creativity and pursue my special interests with passion. Oftentimes, it can truly be hard to focus, and that creates a giant amount of frustration for me when I need to study or listen to lectures. When I'm honest about my struggles, most neurotypical people I meet simply don't understand my problem and tell me to "try harder," "snap out of it," and "just be normal already." Because of this, I've learned to find ways that allow me to cope in secret. Using quiet fidget spinners or pop-its during lectures, I'm able to stim and it allows me to focus better on what's being said to me without distracting my peers. Additionally, when I need to study a certain topic but my brain wants to be anywhere else, I make it interesting for myself by trying to relate what I'm learning to other things my mind is interested in right then. While this can lead to people growing sick of me being "too weird," it helps me study better without torturing myself. This also serves to help me find new, creative ways of looking at things. When I look at a given topic through the lens of trying to connect it to a separate topic, this allows me to find relations that others might not even think of, which can help me get ahead and turn in unique projects. Because I've found unique ways to cope and learned that relating other topics to my special interests will help me learn, I know I'll be successful by majoring in Ecology in college. I'm truly passionate about avian wildlife, especially chickens. So, if I relate what I learn in my other lessons to what I know about chickens, I'll be able to learn the material I need to succeed with relative ease. Moreover, when I was younger and hadn't learned how to "fit in" yet, I was an outcast and didn't have many friends in school. However, my two pet chickens, Martha and Maggie, the loves of my life, were always unconditionally there for me. No matter how "weird" I was, they gave me all the attention I needed, which led to chickens becoming a special interest of mine. They recently passed away, so, to honor their memory, I've promised myself that I'll become an avian wildlife conservation researcher and work to prevent endangered avian species from going extinct. Majoring in ecology will allow me to succeed in this goal. I'm a good candidate for this scholarship because I know I'll be able to succeed in life if I can gather the funds I need to attend college. Coming from a low-income family that couldn't afford to help me while I battled ADHD, I've had to find my own ways to cope and truly crawled my way to where I am now. I've worked hard, and it's made me a better person. Because of ADHD, I've grown to have more compassion for others, which I plan to carry with me both in college and throughout life. I want to pay forward the kindness I've been shown and honor the memory of my chickens, and the first step in doing so is to gain an education. Overall, my experience with ADHD has been an uphill battle, but, seeing how far I've already come, I know I'll build a successful future for myself.
    Carlynn's Comic Scholarship
    In the online LGBTQ+ comic "Rain," Rain, a transgender woman, secretly explores her identity while living with her loving aunt after having been abused by her unsupportive father and risking getting kicked out of school if her assigned gender at birth is discovered. As she lives her life to the fullest, makes new friends, and gets a girlfriend, the viewer sees how, despite her hardships, she winds up making a beautiful life for herself. Seeing another trans person represented so positively helps me feel better about my own life. While my situation is different from Rain's, I still relate to her intense fear of being outed and struggles as she slowly comes out to those she trusts. Thanks to the comic, I know that, while life might be a struggle, if I keep moving forward and finding people to trust, I'll have a beautiful life in the end.
    Educate the SWAG “Dare to Dream” STEAM Scholarship
    While Art and STEM are often thought of as rivals, I'd argue that both must co-exist for society to progress. STEM would not be able to succeed without art and art is based on concepts from STEM. When they are actively placed together, they become stronger and can create more change in the world. Firstly, to make art, STEM must be applied. To make images realistic, one must have a basic understanding of how light behaves in a space and what the environment around their subject would look like. A basic understanding of geometry and anatomy is also needed to create proper proportions for the subject being drawn or sculpted. Moreover, an artist will often draw inspiration from STEM topics for their pieces. Due to a love for the physics of how things move, the chemistry behind the textures of objects, or the understanding of how organisms all interact with one another, artists can be creative with the things they see. Additionally, having an understanding of STEM opens up what mediums someone may use. By knowing the chemistry of how two different substances might interact with one another, an artist can mix substances and create their own, unique, mediums. By understanding STEM, an artist will be able to be more creative and grab more attention with their pieces, which will help them create world-changing works that inspire creativity, kindness, and passion in others. Likewise, art is present in STEM and necessary for its success. In the form of diagrams, charts, and drawings of different situations, art is immensely present in the STEM field, yet often overlooked for what it is. Without these illustrations, it would be incredibly difficult for people in STEM to be able to get their points across. These references are something that many people can understand with ease, and that, in itself, is beautiful. Moreover, art can give people in STEM inspiration for new ideas or inventions. When viewing a creative piece, inventors or researchers can clear their minds and be free to get creative with what they're working on, which can help them get through a slump. Additionally, in order to raise awareness for causes, such as conservation, common people wouldn't want to read long research papers. They would rather see a poster or other type of art explain the concepts to them. Because of this, we can understand that art is what makes STEM popular, relevant, and easily understood, which helps its findings change the world. Personally, I plan to combine STEM and art in my career. I'm someone who's always had a creative spirit, but I never really knew what I wanted to do with it when I was younger. However, when my two pet chickens, who I loved more than life itself, passed away, I knew I wanted to do something to honor them. As a result, I promised myself that I would become an avian wildlife conservation researcher that works to mitigate the extinction of endangered avian wildlife species. To help the public learn to love birds as much as I do to encourage them to support saving them, I plan to use my creativity, art skills, and understanding of STEM to create pieces of art that grab the attention of the viewer and move them to care about saving avian wildlife. In college, I'll be able to major in Ecology and minor in Studio Art, which will prepare me for success in my future career. Together, art and STEM combine logic with creativity, allowing the best of both worlds to come together to bring change. STEM is nothing without creativity and Art is nothing without a sense of reality.
    Bold Empathy Scholarship
    During my sophomore year, I fell victim to a combination of problems that made it hard for me to function. Battling severe depression, stress from a pandemic, and a broken family, each day, I still managed to always do my best with the energy I had. Even when my mother was in the hospital, I still tried to be brave and put a smile on my face as I went about my day. Understandably, many tasks in my life were simply too much for me to handle and some things fell through the cracks. When this happened, most people, not knowing all that I was carrying in silence and dealing with behind closed doors, would grow incredibly sick and frustrated with me, which made me feel infinitely worse. However, I became incredibly grateful for those who always assumed I was doing my best and helped me when I needed it most; they made all the difference in my life and have helped me get to where I am today. Seeing how large a difference the empathy of others made in my life, I've learned to pay the kindness forward and be empathetic of others because I'll never know the true depths of what they're going through. When someone makes a mistake, I talk to them about it and work with them as best I can, which usually leads to us laughing it off and working to fix the problem together. I might not have every answer when someone comes to me with a problem, but I'll at least sit by their side and support them as long as they need me. Feeling it's better to assume the best of people, I plan to continue carrying this life philosophy throughout college and in my career.
    Lo Easton's “Wrong Answers Only” Scholarship
    (1) I should win this because I'm the best person ever; nobody else even comes close. I do way more than anyone else could even dream of and I'm the smartest person alive. Nobody else ever worked for their goals, so, of course, I deserve to win! I actually worked hard in life and dealt with a lot. I should win this on pity points alone! (2) I want to study birds because I’m absolutely insane. Honestly, a lot of my friends are really concerned about how addicted I am to birds. I’m going to save every bird in the world and make all birds immortal with my future research. Sure, this might sound impossible, but I know I can do it simply because I love them so much! (3) I used to be really depressed. Honestly, I was such a sad sack and I lost all my friends. My anxiety made me physically incapable of talking in class, and I was such a useless excuse for a person. No wonder people stayed away from me! Eventually, I realized it was all in my head and just snapped out of it. Now I’m so amazing and useful!
    Freddie L Brown Sr. Scholarship
    "Father, father," my child came running in one day. He was six years old, and especially creative, even for his age. Many times his personality is just too much for people, so, despite his kindness, he's always struggled to make friends, and it tends to dim his glow. "Father!" he exclaimed again. It was a pleasant change to see him this happy. "You seem radiant this day, my boy," I chuckle. "Well, duh!" "Why is that, my son?" "Father, I've made the best friend in the whole world!" "Oh my! Is that so?" I say, slapping my knees in excitement for the boy. "How did you meet this friend?" "Well, I was at the river, and I just saw him, and we started playing for a while," he says looking down at the floor, which I assume is because he's shy to admit he finally made a friend. "He didn't run away from me like the other kids." "That's good! What all did you two play?" "Hopscotch! Duh, it made the most sense. I figured he'd really enjoy it," he says as if the answer was obvious. I guess I really am out of touch with the kids these days. That game always seemed boring back in my day. "Did you win?" I ask, trying to be cool and show some excitement. "No, I really tried, but I couldn't keep up. His body was honestly so much better than mine." "Hey now, you're pretty cool too!" "No, papa, not like that." "Then what?" "He just had strong legs!" he says, sounding agitated, which is unlike him. "Oh, well don't worry, I'm sure your body will be like his one day." "Will I have green skin too?" "Will you what?" I ask, hoping I heard wrong. "Green skin! He was real funky lookin', papa." "Are you sure this boy really had green skin or is this another story?" "It was green!" he yells, swearing he's telling the truth. "Alright, I believe you." "He also had no ears." "What!?" "Yep. I think they fell off." "Did this boy have a name?" I ask, wondering who this bizarre child is. With features like that, surely I'd have seen him before. "I don't know, he wasn't able to talk. Honestly, he didn't move at all except for when I poked him, so I just called him Jimmy." "Then how did Jimmy win hopscotch if he never moved?" I ask, growing increasingly concerned. "I don't know," he says, looking bashful. "We didn't actually finish the game, I just forfeited it and assumed he woulda won if he had moved his legs." "Why did you forfeit? Didn't you want to play with him?" "He smelled really bad; I wanted to leave." Green skin, no ears, unable to speak, and a terrible smell. I'm starting to wonder whether or not this was a living boy my child played with. "Where is he now?" I ask. "He's laying down on the river bank. He was probably really tired since the river is where I first found him floating. I saved him, papa!" After asking my son to take us there, he frantically searches for Jimmy. When we're unable to find him, I call the police, and the officer looks increasingly concerned, sick even, as my son repeats his story. Immediately, his team begins to search the area. "Is there anything else you can tell us about Jimmy that can help us find him?" the officer asks, with his anxiety at an all-time high as they frantically look for the boy. "Jimmy is a frog."
    Sloane Stephens Doc & Glo Scholarship
    Throughout my life, I've faced a lot of hardships, and there have been many times when those around me thought I'd finally give up. However, each time, I got back up and made the best of the situations I was handed. Because of this, I value my resiliency and know it will be enough to ensure I succeed in life. The largest hurdle I’ve faced is depression. I always just felt so worthless, like nothing I did made a difference and nobody cared about me. Despite this, I knew I didn’t want to just sit around and do nothing, so I still tried to leave a mark on the world, even if I didn’t think it would make a real difference. As president of both my campus Gay-Straight Alliance and school Volunteering Club, I created events designed to increase diversity, help those in need, and educate others on existing social issues. To my surprise, I found that my actions actually helped people, and it helped me start to feel better about myself as well. Because of my hard work despite knowing I’d likely fail, I was able to create a great change in my community, and I’m proud of myself for not giving up. Additionally, being low-income has made it hard for me to succeed in life. I didn’t have the internet at home until I reached high school, and even now, it’s still somewhat unreliable. Because my family also can’t afford textbooks, it’s made it harder for me to study when at home. This has forced me to make the most of what the school provides me with to learn. Every lecture, notebook, and worksheet, I make sure to save for later. When we have the ability to check out books, I always make sure that I use the opportunity to get resources to study. While it’s been difficult, I’ve managed to maintain a high GPA in school. Because I’ve always had to work hard for my grades, I’m proud to offer free tutoring to kids who need it. I know not everyone has the determination I have, so I’m glad that I’m able to serve as a resource for them and make their lives a little easier. Currently, I’m battling the issue of being chronically ill. It takes my energy away and forces me to always have to work ahead because I never know when I’ll suddenly be unable to function. While this is exhausting and is taking me a lot of time to figure out how to work through, with my determination, I know I’ll find a way to still succeed in life despite this disadvantage. Additionally, I know that strength of mine will allow me to overcome and work around any other future obstacles I encounter as well. Overall, it’s my ability to get back up and try again that’s allowed me to make it this far in life, and I know it will lead me to a good future. Because of this, it’s my resilience that I love most about myself.
    Bold Great Minds Scholarship
    Being openly LGBTQ+ takes a lot of courage, and in the past, it was even harder for these people to simply exist. Because of this, Marsha P. Johnson has always been someone I've admired. Johnson was a transgender woman of color, drag queen, and LGBTQ+ rights activist. She is best known for her participation and leadership in the famous Stonewall Riots, which helped draw attention to the injustices the LGBTQ+ community faced. She was one of the founders of "The Gay Liberation Front" and co-founded "Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries" (STAR), both of which are organizations that help LGBTQ+ people find places to live and work to advocate for their rights. Her work helped make the lives of so many LGBTQ+ people bearable and helped shape pride and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole into what it is today. She's such an admirable figure because she was able to do all this work to create positive change in a time when doing so would result in immense violence and punishment. She was seen as a mother figure of STAR house, which she helped pay for with her own earnings. As both a sex worker and activist, she faced a lot of danger and had to work hard for everything she achieved. Knowing this about her makes her all the more admirable. I hope to become as influential in the LGBTQ+ community as Marsha P. Johnson was one day. She worked her hardest to make life better for people, and I plan to do the same. I already work with my campus Gay-Straight Alliance to make my community more inclusive of all groups of people, and I hope that by continuing and expanding this work, I'd be able to make someone like her proud by creating a lasting impact in the community.
    Bold Financial Freedom Scholarship
    One thing my father told me from a young age is that the only way to stay afloat financially is to always work your hardest and to avoid splurging during times of success. This way, when a rainy day comes and you’re down on your luck, you’ll have enough funds saved up to make the situation a little easier. I would only come to realize this advice actually held importance when my family suddenly fell into poverty. We had extensive medical bills that blew through my parents’ savings and our other expenses ate up what money they made from working. Because of this, we struggled to afford additional items I needed for school and had little food at home, which made life rather miserable. However, because I took my father’s advice and always saved the money I earned and worked hard to do what I could to earn extra money, I had a decent amount saved. I used my own savings to pay for things I needed for school and to buy my own meals, which allowed me to not have to struggle without and helped my parents afford our bills because they didn’t need to worry about me as much. On occasion, I would even pay for my parents to eat, which made all of our lives a little easier. Overall, this advice of making sure to save money for a rainy day truly changed my life. Had I lived a life of luxury when I got the money, I would’ve been forced to suffer when I was without. Having those savings allowed me to live a better life when I was down on my luck.
    Bold Learning and Changing Scholarship
    Learning new information, even one small fact, can completely change someone’s life. For me, learning how little time it’s been since the original Civil Rights Movement really changed my perspective on life. In school, we’re shown countless photos in black and white that make it seem as if racism is something that existed hundreds of years ago when, in reality, segregation very much still existed within the past 100 years, and racism still runs rampant in our society. Previously, I’d been skeptical about supporting movements like Black Lives Matter because I didn’t understand what more it was that people of color wanted after having already gained their rights “so long ago.” However, after seeing how recent the Civil Rights Movement actually is and seeing how racism still hasn’t gone away in our society, it feels like a light bulb went off in my head and everything makes sense. I’m thankful for my US History class for showing me the timeline for how long it’s taken people of color to even gain basic rights. Because of this, I now not only support the modern Civil Rights Movement but do what I can to try and point out the inequalities that still exist in society give people of color a voice so they can share what they have to say and actually have people listen and understand the problems that remain. Had I never learned the dates where major Civil Rights events occurred, I never truly would have understood how deep of a problem racism still is in our society. Learning these facts changed my life, opinions, and actions for the better.
    Bold Community Activist Scholarship
    As a leader of multiple organizations on campus, it’s my duty to bring about positive change in my community. By looking for needs to fill and working with my peers on projects designed to help those in need, I’m making my community a better place. Primarily, as president of my school’s Volunteering Club, I look for gaps my community has and then create events or donation drives designed to fill those needs for my members and fellow community members to participate in. So far, my organization has helped the homeless, healthcare workers, the disabled, and chronically ill children receive the supplies they need. We’ve also helped those who are low-income receive education and a place to play sports to stay fit as well as helping the Texas Conservation Alliance in their efforts to protect the environment. This assistance makes our community a better place in a variety of areas, thus making it better to live in. Additionally, as president of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, I work to make both my school and the broader community a more accepting place for all groups of people. By organizing events that promote LGBTQ+ culture and encourage the interaction of different types of people and creating sources of information that educate others on diversity, I’ve helped minority groups feel more seen and comfortable within the community, which makes it a better place. Overall, I help my community be better both physically and socially, which makes it a better, safer, more welcoming place for everyone.
    Bold Mentor Scholarship
    Mentorship can be vital in changing the lives of others. As a mentor, I hope to help those who look up to me not only learn to help themselves but feel encouraged to pay the kindness forward and help others as well. As a tutor, I’ve found that the reason younger students need my help is that they lack confidence in their intelligence and don’t find learning interesting, causing them to fall behind. By improving their self-perception and finding creative ways to make learning fun, students then begin to perform better in class with greater ease. When my students perform better, I then encourage them to try and get their friends interested in learning as well, and it gives them great joy to see their friends succeed alongside them. As a student leader on campus, I lead my peers for the purposes of my own organizations and projects, but in doing so, I also work to teach them to start their own projects if they ever choose to. For example, as president of my school’s Volunteering Club, not only do I organize events to help my community, but I help my members find something they’re passionate about and guide them as they make their own projects to help their cause. Additionally, as president of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, not only do I teach LGBTQ+ youth to love themselves, but I encourage them to stand up for their peers and become a voice for the community as well, which helps them also bring about positive change. Overall, as a mentor, I try to help students learn to thrive on their own and encourage them to use what they learn to help others, which helps them develop leadership skills as well so they can better succeed in their future endeavors.
    EDucate for Eating Disorder Survivors Scholarship
    Eating disorders can be cruel and make you want to shut yourself off from the world. My eating disorder took away from my high school experience, making me lose time that I'll never get back. To help others, I try to show them that they can still lead beautiful lives, even if they are currently battling an eating disorder. My experiences with eating disorders began when I was in 7th grade and would binge-eat from stress. Nobody around me understood that I didn't want to be eating, that I'd much rather put the food down and live my life, but I couldn't stop. As I gained more and more weight, people eventually gave up on me. This lasted until I was in 9th grade when I then began to hate my body and feel disgusted with food, causing me to become anorexic. I couldn't stand the thought of eating and always denied offers to go out to eat with my friends because of it, which only further isolated me from my peers and left me feeling alone throughout high school. Currently, I've gotten to where I now tend to cycle between healthy eating, binge eating, and anorexia, but, overall, I'm doing much better than I was. At some point, I realized that I needed to stop thinking of food as a reward or way to socialize with people, but rather simply as a way to fuel my body. When I think about food as a reward, I then either want to indulge to make myself feel better or avoid food because "I don't deserve it." However, by thinking of it as a source of energy, I was encouraged to try and just do what's healthy for my body. This allowed me to be able to eat around friends again because I found that energizing my body with company was a lot more fun than doing it alone. Because of this, I'm now in a more stable place. Since my relationship with food has been unstable for a long time, I have a large amount of compassion for my friends who also struggle with eating disorders. On a personal scale, I do my best to talk to my friends and try to encourage them to, if nothing else, then just eat the food they need so they can keep living because I love them and want them around and I offer to eat with them if they need help controlling themselves. More broadly, I've implemented a "Mental Health Guide" for my campus that allows students to anonymously submit art or writing about problems they face for other students to anonymously view. The problems students write about include eating disorders. This allows shy students who otherwise wouldn't seek help to read about the experiences of others and know that they're not alone and that it's possible for them to recover and lead happy lives, which can help them find the courage needed to recover. In college, I plan to continue the work I'm currently doing and expand upon that by hopefully making my "Mental Health Guide" creation more widespread to truly help as many people as possible. Overall, having an eating disorder took a large part of my life away from me and made me feel like losing hope. I never want anyone else to feel that way, so I'll do all I can in the future to make sure that others who struggle know that they're never alone in their battle.
    "A State of Mind" Texas Scholarship
    Being a Texan means that you have the courage it takes to stand up for what you believe in, and this courage creates a sense of shared trust and community. While we might not agree on every subject, we're brave enough to speak our minds and sensitive enough to admit when we're wrong and adjust our actions accordingly. To be a Texan is to be free, and being able to speak our minds is what helps us maintain this freedom. Because we all have respect for each other, we do what we can to help each other out, which makes our state truly beautiful.
    Tyrell Terry "Challenge and Opportunity" Scholarship
    During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, my school implemented distanced learning, which caused a great amount of stress in many students, myself included. Dealing with such stress in a healthy manner was a learning curve, but in the end, not only did I still manage to succeed through these times, but I helped those around me succeed as well. I had unreliable internet, which made it incredibly frustrating to keep up with my assignments. I could feel myself falling behind, and reaching out for help was immensely difficult in such a self-taught environment. My friends had formed small, in-person, study groups to work together to avoid falling behind, but, due to having a weakened immune system, it wasn't safe for me to go work with them. Eventually, after enough stress, it began to feel impossible to get motivated to do anything and I felt immensely alone. To combat this, I tried to see if more of my friends wanted to start regularly texting each other and having Zoom calls. Once I found more ways to socialize and realized I wasn't the only one who felt so down in the pandemic, my mental health began to improve, which helped me find the motivation to continue my studies. I began watching more YouTube videos and spending more time trying to think my way through my problems, and it helped me get through all of my difficult classes. Upon noticing others were going through a similar struggle to me, I organized several, virtual, community events for my school, the first and most impactful being a Mental Health Guide for my campus. This guide allowed students to anonymously submit art or writing relating to mental health, LGBTQ+, POC, neurodivergent, or other shared experiences they may have for others to anonymously view. This allows those who otherwise would not have anyone to reach out to to be able to know they're not alone in their struggles and learn from the experiences of others. Additionally, I implemented several virtual social events for people to feel more connected. Firstly, our weekly Gay-Straight Alliance meetings on Zoom became "safe spaces" for anyone who just needed someone to talk to, regardless of what was on their mind or their identity, so long as they were respectful of others. Secondly, we hosted virtual game and movie nights for people to be able to choose activities and play with one another digitally to feel a sense of belonging. Finally, we hosted a virtual Drag Show that allowed students to use items from around their house to make an outfit and perform, which gave them a fun project to work on when they felt down. Ultimately, while the pandemic was still a struggle due to the stress of having a weak immune system myself and due to my device constantly crashing when I tried to attend my zoom lectures, seeing others benefit from the events I created made it all worth it.
    Bold Talent Scholarship
    Making art allows me to express myself in a way that words won't allow. Because of this, I have a plan to continue developing my skills so I can creatively captivate audiences in the future. Since I was a little kid, art's always allowed me to express myself. I was constantly making drawings, although I admit I wasn't very skilled then. As time went on and I entered school, even as I started learning to communicate with words, art was always something I could rely on to allow me to truly express myself in a way I couldn't with words. This led to me always trying my best in my art classes and often staying after school so I could keep working on my projects. Upon entering high school, I was what others would consider "talented," but I still wanted to keep pushing the limits of what I could make. Since I enjoy art, I opted to take as many art courses as my schedule would allow for, even taking summer classes so I could learn more. Once I felt I was ready, I began to enter (and win) art competitions for further motivation towards practicing this skill. With my newfound confidence, since I hope to do work in Avian Wildlife Conservation, I plan to use these skills to make artworks that show viewers why they should care about the lives of birds and what they can do to help. These pieces will evoke emotions in the viewers in a way that I otherwise would not be able to share with them. Overall, art has always been there for me and will always be something I practice. It allows me to express myself, which will aid me in my career as I try to win over the public towards conservation.
    Bold Goals Scholarship
    For the longest time, I've loved nature, but when I adopted my two pet chickens, this evolved from a general love for nature to a true passion for avian life. My chickens were the loves of my life; when they died, it truly rocked me to my core. After spending a long time grieving, I finally realized they wouldn't want me to keep mourning, so I began to think about how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Eventually, I realized that part of the reason I was sad was that I'm not ready for a world without birds in it. To combat this, I promised myself that I would honor the memory of my chickens by becoming an Avian Wildlife Conservation Researcher so I can work to mitigate the extinction of endangered avian species. To do this, I will major in Environmental Science/ Ecology to gain foundational knowledge of the dangers that endangered species face. As I find internships, I’ll be able to gain a more in-depth, hands-on, specific learning experience in avian life. This will prepare me for success in learning about the dangers avian species face and generating ideas for saving them. To gain support for these ideas, I plan to create art that shows people how amazing birds are and why they should care about their lives. These creative pieces will capture the attention of viewers and truly persuade them. By minoring in Studio Art and continuing to practice my skills, I’ll be prepared to engage viewers and make them care about avian wildlife. By gaining experience in college, I’ll be giving myself the foundational skills I’ll need to reach the goal of honoring the memory of my chickens by working to save endangered avian wildlife species.
    Normandie Cormier Greater is Now Scholarship
    "Chronic illness has ruined my life," or that's what everyone would expect me to say. While days can be hard, overall, I know I'll never back down. Entering senior year, I got incredibly busy with college apps, grades, and everything else a teenager must deal with. On top of this, I began to feel incredibly sick and spent much time with doctors, only to find out that I am chronically ill, but they can't determine with what exactly. Frustrated, with absences slowly adding up, it was hard to stay caught up in my classes, especially with my illness leaving me fatigued and having cognitive difficulties that make it hard to focus, which caused me to feel depressed. Nonetheless, I knew I didn't want being sick to stop me from what I have worked my entire academic career for, so I always managed to get up, study, and turn my work in within a reasonable amount of time. While some days I might wind up laying on the floor in pain and needing to go home, other days I'm able to tolerate it and act as if I'm alright. I listen to my body and work as I'm able, doing all I can on my better days to make sure I don't fall behind overall. This has allowed me to maintain a 3.8+ GPA and get accepted into top colleges while also taking care of my body and my personal health. Because of this experience, I've learned that I'm not a quitter and I'm strong enough to handle anything that comes my way. Since I have a passion for birds, I plan to become an Avian Wildlife Conservation Researcher with the goal of working to ensure no endangered avian species has to go extinct again. I know this is a monumental task, but considering everything I've already overcome, I know I have the drive to do whatever it takes to save as many avian lives as possible. Overall, I've come to expect myself to never give up, no matter what comes my way. After seeing everything else I've been through and having come out on top, I know I'll succeed in ensuring endangered species stick around for future generations.
    Bold Hope for the Future Scholarship
    When life gets me down, knowing that there are people out there who care gives me hope that tomorrow will be better. Often, people can be down on their luck and feel alone in the world. In those moments, even a smile from a stranger can be enough to make a big difference in someone's life. The more I see people being kind to each other, be it sharing nice words or hearing about larger acts of charity on the news, it gives me hope that, due to humans loving one another, the future will be better. I believe that if people would just work together to overcome barriers, the world would be a better place. Personally, I work towards this future in two ways. The first way is through my work with my campus Gay-Straight Alliance. The main purpose of our organization is to work to allow all groups of people to feel better understood and safer on campus. One simple way we do this is by having our meetings serve as "safe spaces" where everyone is free to come together and get the support they need to feel included and talk through their troubles with others who can relate, free of hate or judgment. Secondly, we host campus-wide events, such as Drag Shows, LGBTQ+ Movie Nights, or Nail Painting Parties, that promote LGBTQ+ culture. These events serve to destigmatize being LGBTQ+ by making our interests more normal. As cisgender and heterosexual students participate in the activities alongside LGBTQ+ students, it works to decrease prejudice, thus making the school a safer environment. Finally, for those who won't attend meetings or events, we hang up informational posters teaching people to handle bullying and teaching others how to treat people better, overall working to promote equality. However, we also have taken this one step further by implementing a "Mental Health Guide" on campus. This guide allows students to anonymously submit writing or artwork relating to mental health, LGTBQ+, POC, or neurodivergent experiences for other students to anonymously view. This serves to allow people of all stigmatized groups, no matter how shy, to indirectly get advice and know they're never alone in their fight. This increases their mental health, which makes the campus a more equal and diverse place as students feel less alone and freer to be themselves. Secondly, my work with my school's Volunteering Club has allowed me to work with my members to make a larger impact on multiple areas of the community. From organizing donation drives for the homeless to aiding wildlife conservation efforts to making goodie-bags for healthcare workers, we help people who need it most and work to make their day a little better, encouraging those who can to pay it forward and help someone else in return. Due to the actions of myself and people like me, I have hope that the world will become more loving, which will make the future a better place for all.
    Bold Gratitude Scholarship
    I've learned that life is a very fragile thing; everything you never knew you had can change in an instant and you'll realize how amazing life was before. Because of this, I always take time to meditate on all that I have and remember to feel proud of where I am in life. Throughout my life, I never really thought to stop and appreciate what I had; I was always moving forward to the next phase, trying to make it even better. However, when I got diagnosed with a chronic illness, it felt like time stopped. Simple things I could do before, such as eat without pain or open a water bottle, I could no longer do. To make matters worse, my grandma was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, which took away much money and free time I had. Because of this, I've learned that I need to appreciate what I have while I have it, because I could wake up tomorrow and it be gone. Every Friday night, I make sure to sit down and think about my week. I remember to be grateful that my grandmother and I are still here despite our health issues and that I'm glad my parents are healthy and around to care for us. I'm grateful that I'm able to go to school, because I know a lot of kids in other places can't. I try to list every small thing I can do that I know one day I could possibly lose, and it makes me feel like my life is pretty great after all. Overall, I live each day grateful to even be here and I do my best to stop and appreciate where I am. While I still have hopes to improve my life, I'm proud of where I am now.
    Bold Hobbies Scholarship
    One of my favorite things to do when I relax is maintaining my fish tank. While I also love to read, write, look at birds, and make art in my free time, each of those things is also something I do when I work; caring for my fish is nothing but pure bliss to me. My fish are there to calm me when I need them most, so caring for them is like caring for myself. Their water has to maintain a specific pH and chemical balance, so working to make sure their water stays within a healthy range of conditions takes my mind away from the other troubles in my life. I always feel so proud when my fish look happy in their aquarium and dance when they see me; it brings me great joy in life to know they're completely dependent on me yet doing amazing. However, with my other aforementioned hobbies, even though I also do them when I work, they can be fun to do in my free time too. Independently, I'm more likely to try a new style while writing or making art since it doesn't have to be perfect, or read a book that's not related to anything but seemed fun. I can also just look at birds and go "oh that one's cute," rather than feel the need to analyze them. These things can be more freeing for me because I'm able to express myself more, so I feel less suffocated when I do them for work. Overall, my hobbies allow me to express myself in ways that I otherwise wouldn't be able to. They serve to keep me calm and collected so I can function throughout the rest of my life.
    Bold Selfless Acts Scholarship
    Being selfless is a perfect way to spend time because when I get to make other people happy, it fills me with warmth. My favorite way to achieve this is when I help others get through their mental health struggles and get to see them start to find light in their lives. On a personal scale, I always try to talk to others when I notice they're feeling down. As someone who's struggled with depression in the past, I know how important it can make you feel when someone genuinely wants to hear about your life, so I always try to listen to anything they feel like sharing and offer advice if they ask for it. I've had several people tell me I'm the only person they feel safe enough to talk to, which is an odd combination of sweet and heartbreaking. It makes me feel amazing when I'm able to help others see that life is never as bad as it may seem. More broadly, as president of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, I facilitated the creation of a Mental Health Guide for my campus. This guide allows students to anonymously submit art or writing related to mental health, POC, LGBTQ+, or Neurodivergent experiences for other students to anonymously view. This allows those who are down but not comfortable enough to reach out to know that they're never alone with anything they face. When people thank me for making it easier for them to get advice, it feels amazing to know that something I've done is helping people who I don't even know. Overall, helping people learn to love life is one of my favorite things to do. The warmth it gives me when I see the light come back into someone's eyes is truly beautiful and worth any effort.
    Bold Meaning of Life Scholarship
    The meaning of life is simple: Do what makes you feel the most fulfilled. To me, a fulfilled life is one where I'm happy, and I'm most happy when surrounded by birds and working to help others. In an effort to have a loving, bird-filled life, I'm working to become an Avian Wildlife Conservation Researcher. Because I have such a passion for birds, my best life will include me being able to care for them each day. With this career, I'll not only care for the birds that I'm studying but will be working to save their species as a whole, which will bring me more satisfaction than anything else could. Currently, I'm happily taking classes on birds independently as well as science classes in school so I can be prepared to further my knowledge and gain internships in college that will prepare me for the next stage of this journey. Additionally, I always work to help the people around me. Through my work with my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, I've been able to make my school a more accepting and safe place for students of any identity. Through my work for my school Volunteering Club, I've been able to organize events and donation drives to help many groups of people who need it most. As I continue this work in the future, seeing the happy faces of those I've helped makes my life feel meaningful, which contributes to making me feel fulfilled. Overall, life is what you make of it and involves enjoying the journey along the way. To me, this involves being around birds and helping others so I can feel fulfilled, and I'm proud to continue this journey in college and throughout life.
    Bold Bucket List Scholarship
    Before I die, I'd like to live a life that I'd be proud to share with others. To achieve this, I've set a list of goals for myself that will make me feel both happy and successful. On the happier side, I've done things like getting a wild goose to voluntarily hug me, teaching my fish their names, and coming out as bisexual. While some of these were small tasks, such as hugging a goose, they've made my time here brighter and served as wholesome moments for me to look back on. Meanwhile, the larger tasks, such as coming out, have made my future look brighter by allowing me to be freer or better understood. In the future, I plan to continue this by performing tasks such as getting a parrot to talk to me, learning to crochet, and coming out as transgender at home. In efforts to be successful in life, I've managed to become a leader in each of my clubs, which was a goal I set for myself. I wanted to find a place to belong, so I joined and worked to become President of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance. I wanted a creative outlet, so I joined and led my school's writing competition teams and found great success there. I set the item of helping as many people as possible, so I became the leader of my school Volunteering Club. Each of these has taught me something that will help me in the future, where I plan to work to take as many birds as I can off of the list of endangered species. Overall, I've used my life to make both myself and others happier. In the future, I want to spend my life doing what makes me feel like I've lived a good one.
    Bold Reflection Scholarship
    My entire life, I've struggled to keep up with everything; however, I've never backed down and have managed to make it quite far despite my difficulties. Because of this, I know I'll be able to make my future bright. For one, I've faced bullying and depression throughout my life. Each day, it was a fight to get up and try again. However, I didn't want all of my hard work up to that point to go to waste, so I did my best to work on myself and get through the challenges I faced. With my two pet chickens supporting me and giving me love, I was able to overcome the feelings I had and move on in the pursuit of being successful one day. My chickens were the loves of my life and their death honestly broke me. After spending a long time grieving, I began to think about how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Eventually, I realized that part of the reason I was sad was that I'm not ready for a world without birds in it. To combat this, I promised myself that I would honor the memory of my chickens by becoming an Avian Wildlife Conservation Researcher so I can work to mitigate the extinction of endangered avian species. To do this, I will major in Ecology to gain foundational knowledge of the dangers that endangered species face and generate ideas for saving them. To gain support, I plan to create art that engages viewers and makes them care about avian wildlife. Overall, the struggles I've faced in life have prepared me to tackle any future obstacles. Because I've worked so hard to overcome my past, I know I'll find the needed strength for my future.
    Bold Study Strategies Scholarship
    "I taught my fish calculus last night," I say as my breakfast table looks at me as if I've sprouted antlers. While it might sound crazy, the best way I learn is through trying to explain topics to someone who obviously doesn't understand them. When around other humans in my classes, I'm always the first to jump up and volunteer to tutor them. This gives me the opportunity to go over the material and do practice problems with them, which forces me to focus and review the material as well, and, the more times I recite it to them, the more likely I am to remember it and find details that I missed the first time. Additionally, they often ask me questions about the material that I never would have thought to ask myself, which forces me to undergo critical thinking and learn even more than I would have had I not chosen to help them. However, a lot of times I'm alone when I need to study, which means my method of learning through teaching needs to be adjusted. In instances such as these, I try to just pretend I'm teaching someone, which can work, but often leads to me becoming distracted. When that happens, I sit in front of my fish tank and start explaining topics to them. When they just stare at me, I pretend that it's them listening and do a run-through of the material. When they look confused as to why I'm talking to them, I pretend that they're asking me a question and go over the same section again, which also helps me find details that I missed the first time. While teaching fish is certainly an unorthodox learning method, it's truly what helps me understand topics when I'm blocked and simply can't focus.
    Next Young Leaders Program Scholarship
    To be a leader is to be able to adapt and make life better for both yourself and others, which requires one to be motivated and focused on their goal. A leader must be able to adapt to any situation and work with others to accomplish their tasks. Throughout my life, I’ve worked hard to achieve my goals, but I’ve always felt confined in what I could or could not do. When I took over the Volunteering Club for my campus, being able to reach out to various organizations on my own was a freeing experience that made me confident in my abilities to achieve my goals, which truly helped make me a leader. I’ve always been a motivated person, but the adults in my life would constantly worry that I was biting off more than I could chew, which limited what I was allowed to do and the impact I was allowed to make on the world. However, once I earned the leadership role over the Volunteering Club, I was given almost total freedom. The club itself was designed to ‘make the community a better place.’ “Community,” being a very broad term, gave me the freedom to organize nearly anything designed to improve the lives of others. I took this freedom and I ran with it. Previously, with my other clubs, when I wanted to partner with an outside organization, I had to have an adult review my work and often reject it before it was even fully planned because “that will never work out.” However, with this club, I was allowed to reach out to outside organizations on my own, such as the Perot Museum of Nature and Science or the Texas Conservation Alliance, to organize days for my club to get together and assist them in their work. While some organizations, as my previous mentors had hypothesized, did not want our assistance, others were glad to have someone offer them help. Additionally, I was able to organize my own events from scratch, ranging from donation drives for homeless shelters to teaching underprivileged youth to play sports. While doing this on my own, again, as my previous sponsors had predicted, was a lot of work, it proved to be worth the effort. The pride it instilled in me carried me through any challenges or obstacles that stood in my way. Being given the freedom to make a large impact and being left alone to do the work on my own allowed me to prove to myself that I’m a leader who can handle big projects on their own. Because I also have a passion for birds, I discovered that becoming an avian wildlife researcher with the goal of mitigating the extinction of endangered avian wildlife species, a massive task that will have a massively positive impact, is the perfect career for me. To start, I've begun independently taking classes about birds so I can formulate ideas for saving their lives. As I go through college, I'll gain more knowledge and internships that will allow me to put my ideas into use. My career will allow me to use my learned work ethic to help birds around the world while also helping ensure that future generations will be able to love birds as much as I do. Overall, this experience has made me a leader by giving me the skills to better both myself and those around me. Now, with the skills and confidence I will need to succeed, I know I'll be able to save many avian lives in the future.
    Bold Equality Scholarship
    As the President of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, I use my power to make small, meaningful changes that add up over time. For example, the main purpose of our organization is to work to allow all groups of people to feel better understood and safer on campus. One simple way we do this is by having our meetings serve as "safe spaces" where everyone is free to come together and get the support they need to feel included and talk through their troubles with others who can relate, free of hate or judgment. Secondly, we host campus-wide events, such as Drag Shows, LGBTQ+ Movie Nights, or Nail Painting Parties, that promote LGBTQ+ culture. These events serve to destigmatize being LGBTQ+ by making our interests more normal. As cisgender and heterosexual students participate in the activities alongside LGBTQ+ students, it works to decrease prejudice, thus making the school a safer environment. Finally, for those who won't attend meetings or events, we hang up informational posters teaching people to handle bullying and teaching others how to treat people better, overall working to promote equality. However, we also have taken this one step further by implementing a "Mental Health Guide" on campus. This guide allows students to anonymously submit writing or artwork relating to mental health, LGTBQ+, POC, or neurodivergent experiences for other students to anonymously view. This serves to allow people of all stigmatized groups, no matter how shy, to indirectly get advice and know they're never alone in their fight. This increases their mental health, which makes the campus a more equal and diverse place as students feel less alone and freer to be themselves. Overall, by taking the stigma away from being "different" and helping people feel more understood, I've worked to make my campus a more inclusive place.
    Bold Creativity Scholarship
    I will use creativity in my life by coming up with unique ways to solve problems that only I could be able to think of. In the constantly evolving field of STEM, this will be vital to my success. I plan to work in Avian Wildlife Conservation by working to save endangered avian wildlife species from extinction. However, many people have been working towards conservation for many years, and there’s been minimal success with the same methods being used repeatedly. Because of this, I know I’ll need to have a unique approach. I plan to learn more about what specifically is impacting Avian Wildlife and then come up with a unique solution for how to save them. To gain the support of the public, I’ll use my creativity and art skills to make artworks that show why people should care about birds and how they can help. This unique approach will get people talking about the problem at hand to raise awareness for conservation, thus promoting support for my solution and allowing me to work to save even more lives. Overall, from coming up with solutions to finding ways to grab the public's attention, I'll have to be creative every step of the way to succeed in my career.
    Terry Crews "Creative Courage" Scholarship
    My pet chickens were the loves of my life for seven years; they helped me through everything. When they passed away, I was completely heartbroken and spent months mourning their loss. Eventually, I realized that my passion for birds is a key part of who I am, and I never want to see a world where they don't exist. I then promised myself that I would honor the lives of my chickens by working to prevent endangered avian wildlife species from going extinct. One way I plan to do this is through using my passion for art to promote a love for birds and an awareness of the challenges that birds face. By creating art, I'll be able to use my free, creative, and unique styles to grab people's attention and get them talking about these issues. I'll create pieces that will allow everyone else to view birds as I do and understand why they should care about them, yet also discuss topics that place their lives in danger and what can be done to help. These pieces will not only serve to help individuals work to keep birds safer but can spark additional support for larger strides in the conservation effort, such as the passage of additional legislation to protect wildlife. With my passion for art and birds working together and the memory of my chickens keeping me going, I know I'll make a big change in the world one day.
    Bold Success Scholarship
    For the longest time, I've loved nature, but when I adopted my two pet chickens, this evolved from a general love for nature to a true passion for avian life. My chickens were the loves of my life; when they died, it truly rocked me to my core. After spending a long time grieving, I finally realized they wouldn't want me to keep mourning, so I began to think about how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Eventually, I realized that part of the reason I was sad was that I'm not ready for a world without birds in it. To combat this, I promised myself that I would honor the memory of my chickens by becoming an Avian Wildlife Conservation Researcher so I can work to mitigate the extinction of endangered avian species. To do this, I will major in Environmental Science/ Ecology to gain foundational knowledge of the dangers that endangered species face. As I find internships, I’ll be able to gain a more in-depth, hands-on, specific learning experience in avian life. This will prepare me for success in learning about the dangers avian species face and generating ideas for saving them. To gain support for these ideas, I plan to create art that shows people how amazing birds are and why they should care about their lives. By minoring in Studio Art and continuing to practice my skills, I’ll be prepared to engage viewers and make them care about avian wildlife. By gaining experience in college, I’ll be giving myself the foundational skills I’ll need to honor the memory of my chickens by working to save endangered avian wildlife species.
    Bold Confidence Matters Scholarship
    Winner
    To be confident is to live your life in a manner that makes you happy without regard to what others might think. In my life, I choose to live unapologetically, which requires bravery, thus helping me become confident in myself as I succeed more in helping both myself and others. To the surprise of no one who knows me, I am transgender and gay. Due to a large amount of homophobia at school, I know this is rather dangerous; however, I'm someone who knows who I am and is proud of my identity, so I'm strong enough to ignore any hate I receive. Other LGBTQ+ students on campus are not so confident or open, so, by putting myself out there, I make myself more of a target for bullying so that others who are still struggling to love themselves get left alone. This helps me become confident in myself as I realize I'm getting better at handling everything with time and still love myself. Additionally, I'm unapologetically myself. It can make me insecure at times, but overall I still choose to be openly "weird." Because of this, people try to dim my glow, occasionally resorting to violence in an effort to get me to "just be normal already." But what type of life is that? There will always be people who dislike me, so I'd rather be disliked for being myself than for a fake persona, which, ironically, helps me gain friends as other "weird" people find comfort with me. Doing this allows me to feel more confident because I realize that I'm perfect as-is. By being myself, I'm put into a place where I'm going to be judged, but as I overcome every negative comment, I realize that I still love myself, which helps me remain confident.
    Bold Bravery Scholarship
    To be brave is to live your life despite being afraid of what that might mean. By choosing to be openly LGBTQ+ and "weird," I also choose to be bold and stand out, which, while scary, creates a better life for both myself and others. To the surprise of no one who knows me, I am transgender and gay. Due to a large amount of homophobia at school, I know this is rather dangerous; however, I'm someone who knows who I am and is proud of my identity, so I'm strong enough to ignore any hate I receive. Other LGBTQ+ students on campus are not so confident or open, so, by putting myself out there, I make myself more of a target for bullying so that others get left alone. I'd rather bullies pick on me, who can handle it, rather than anyone else who's still struggling to love themselves. Additionally, I'm unapologetically myself, which sparks additional hatred from people. I'm someone who's obsessed with birds, who likes to find unique ways to express myself, and who isn't afraid to be a little "loud" (during times where it's appropriate). Because of this, people try to dim my glow; they want me to be quiet and fit in better, occasionally resorting to violence in an effort to get me to "just be normal already." But what type of life is that? There will always be people who dislike me, so I'd rather be disliked for being myself than for a fake persona, which, ironically, helps me gain friends as other "weird" people find comfort with me. By being myself, I am performing an act of bravery; it's not always safe to be open, but that's never going to stop me from doing what feels right.
    Bold Speak Your Mind Scholarship
    It can be hard to find a place to step in and speak in a world of conflicting voices, but using your voice is essential for society to evolve. Personally, I hold a variety of leadership positions in my community and I use them to create a voice for myself through speaking for others. As I go through life, I often come across people who have strong opinions similar to mine, but not a strong will to share them. As I find these people, I work with them and put myself out there for all to see and judge. When people inevitably work to try to get me to back down, I fight back to create a place for myself. While I might want to let go and give in, knowing that others who can't speak for themselves are relying on me helps me stay true to my beliefs. However, on topics where I know I'm truly alone and don't have people relying on me, I must work to remember that I rely on myself to keep going. I don't want to live in a world where I'm always wrong, so even though others might not agree with me now, I'll stay true and try to explain my point. When others are able to understand my point of view, it helps me realize that there is a benefit for society as a whole when I stick to my opinions. And, on occasion, because I spoke my mind, others can explain where they find my views problematic, which, in turn, can allow me to understand where I might be wrong and grow as a person. Overall, speaking my mind allows me to improve the lives of myself and others, which encourages me to always stay true to my own voice.
    Bold Nature Matters Scholarship
    As the wind blows, I look to the sky; I know that I'm home. Being in nature is therapeutic; the calmness reminds me that nothing in life really matters so long as I have food, shelter, and a little bit of love, which connects me back to reality. As I find wildlife and either observe or interact with them, I feel understood and safe; it's a magical feeling. I feel most at home when I'm outside and loved around animals, so I do my best to make sure nature stays around for everyone to enjoy as much as I do. Because of this, I plan to work in conservation research as I age, which will include writing papers for others to view and making artwork that raises awareness of things relating to conservation. This will allow me to not only work to preserve the environment but to show others how amazing it is as well. Appreciating the environment through sharing it with others will allow legislation designed to protect the environment to have more support behind it, thus allowing nature to remain intact in the future. Many call me a hippie, and I'm honestly fine with that. I love the environment because it helps me get through my life and I want to show my appreciation for it by allowing it to survive, and my niche in doing so is to show others how amazing it is through my research and art.
    Bold Relaxation Scholarship
    "Are you sure that's a good idea?" I ask Iris, who's hinting I should try to sleep as Shellsea lovingly dozes off in the corner. "You're right as always," I say as I hit the light and curl up in my bed, listening to music to calm my nerves. Who knew fish could be so persuasive? When I get overwhelmed, you can be sure to find me sitting on a pillow in front of my fish tank. The calming sound of the water takes my mind off of anything that troubles me and it allows me to be alone in my room to think. I tend to isolate myself when I get overwhelmed so I can clear my head, but that quickly becomes a lonely life. However, this is when my fish come forward and stare at me, almost as if they're trying to tell me that life shouldn't be taken so seriously. I mean, how can I take things seriously when I realize I have a glass box of water in my room with creatures living in it? I often talk to my fish because they're always there, and it helps me think my way through my troubles. I know they have no idea what I'm saying, but it looks like they're listening as they stare and wonder why I'm on the floor, so it helps me know that I'm never alone and always encourages me to get back up and try again. While my fish might not know it, they're experts at helping me recharge my energy. The calmness of their environment helps my mind slow down, and their presence allows me to think my way through things, overall allowing me to work my way through any mental health struggles that come my way.
    Bold Encouraging Others Scholarship
    When those around you feel down, it's a human urge to want to lift them up; however, knowing how to do so can be difficult. Through both direct and indirect means, I work to let others know that I understand and support them, which helps them get back up and try again. When I see someone who's down and wants to give up, I have a talk with them and hear them out so I can understand what exactly is bothering them. As people talk, they're able to really think about their problems, and as I ask more detailed questions, it helps them narrow down exactly what their issue is. Once the main issue has been identified, we can work together to brainstorm ways to overcome it. While it might be difficult, I let them know I'm here to help them however I can, which allows them to keep trying. More broadly, it's not feasible for me to be able to directly help everyone who needs it, so I established a "Mental Health Guide" for my campus that can serve as inspiration for others. This guide allows students to anonymously submit art or writing relating to mental health, LGBTQ+, POC, neurodivergent, or other experiences for other students to anonymously view. This allows those who don't want to open up to see what others have gone through, thus making them feel less alone and allowing them to indirectly learn from the experiences of others, which helps encourage them to never give up. Overall, I work to let people know they're never alone because oftentimes, just knowing someone's in your corner can be enough to encourage you to keep going. But, during times when that's not enough, I never give up and work to help others see the light in their problems.
    Bold Persistence Scholarship
    "Chronic illness has ruined my life," or that's what everyone would expect me to say. While days can be hard, overall, I've still worked hard to create a beautiful future for myself. Entering senior year, I became incredibly busy with college apps, grades, and everything else a teenager must deal with. On top of this, I began to feel incredibly sick and spent much time with doctors, only to find out that I am chronically ill, but they can't determine with what exactly. Frustrated, with absences slowly adding up, it was hard to stay caught up in my classes, especially with my illness leaving me fatigued and having cognitive difficulties that make it hard to focus. More than anything I wanted to give up and rest. Nonetheless, I knew I didn't want anything to stop me from what I have worked my entire academic career for, so I always managed to get up, study, and turn my work in within a reasonable amount of time. While some days I might wind up laying on the floor in pain and needing to go home, other days I'm able to tolerate it and act as if I'm alright. I listen to my body and work as I'm able, doing all I can on my better days to make sure I don't fall behind overall. This has allowed me to maintain a 3.8+ GPA and get accepted into top colleges while also taking care of my body and my personal health. Because of my work ethic, I've been able to live life almost as if I'm not ill. While I certainly feel the pain, I've been able to weather the storm and overcome it by being patient and listening to my body. Despite everything, I've managed to make a beautiful life for myself.
    Bold Empathy Scholarship
    Making others feel understood is the best way to show empathy. Having been through the same things makes it easy, but when someone is facing a challenge you've never experienced before, that requires you to place yourself in their shoes before you're able to show an understanding. When I notice someone feels down, I always try to talk to them about it, which, alone, can show that I see how they're feeling and care, thus making them feel more understood. If they feel like talking about their problems, I provide a trustworthy, judgment-free ear, nodding when appropriate to let them know that I'm listening. When they've gotten out what they need to say, if they want, I tell them a similar story that I've been through so they can learn from my mistakes. Regardless, I think back to a similar situation I've been in and think about what I would have wanted to hear back then, which allows me to respond in a manner that helps others feel understood and safe. However, sometimes, someone will be going through something you've never experienced anything close to before. In these cases, you can listen to their problems, but it's hard to relate to them. In instances such as this, I try to ask questions about what they're going through so I can better understand, and my engagement helps people know that I'm trying to empathize with them. Once I have a better idea of the scenario, I imagine myself there and it makes it easier to find ways to relate to them and have a response that can help them feel better. Overall, I try to place myself in the shoes of others and imagine what I would want to hear in their situation, which makes it easy to show empathy.
    Bold Fuel Your Life Scholarship
    My life can be defined by a phrase that’s often hurled my way: “Ew, it’s that weird kid that’s obsessed with chickens.” To most, this may seem tragic, but it’s music to my ears. My chickens have been a driving force in my life and will continue to drive my career. When I was younger, I was bullied horribly and didn't have many friends, but my two pet chickens. Martha and Maggie, M&M, the loves of my life, were there for me through it all. My friendship with them caused me to develop an almost unnatural obsession with birds in general, especially chickens. However, when M&M died, I felt broken. What was I supposed to do? Who am I without my birds? After meditating for a few months, I realized that my passion for birds could be a source of good in the world. To honor the memory of my chickens, I promised to become an avian wildlife conservation researcher so that I can work to ensure endangered species of birds survive for future generations to enjoy. Because I want everyone to have the same chance to love birds that I’ve had, I’ll work to raise awareness of the dangers avian species face and let people know what they can do to help. This will allow them to learn more about birds and love them as much as I do, which can also help me get support in working to lobby for legislation that will protect endangered species. Overall, with the memory of M&M pushing me to never give up, I hope to make it so that no avian species has to die out due to human negligence or greed ever again through raising awareness of avian wildlife.
    Bold Career Goals Scholarship
    My life can be defined by a phrase that’s often hurled my way: “Ew, it’s that weird kid that’s obsessed with chickens.” To most, this may seem tragic, but it’s music to my ears. My chickens have been a driving force in my life and will continue to drive my career. When I was younger, I was bullied horribly and didn't have many friends, but my two pet chickens. Martha and Maggie, M&M, the loves of my life, were there for me through it all. My friendship with them caused me to develop an almost unnatural obsession with birds in general, especially chickens. However, when M&M died, I felt broken. What was I supposed to do? Who am I without my birds? After meditating for a few months, I realized that my passion for birds could be a source of good in the world. To honor the memory of my chickens, I promised to become an avian wildlife conservation researcher so that I can work to ensure endangered species of birds survive for future generations to enjoy. Because I want everyone to have the same chance to love birds that I’ve had, I’ll work to raise awareness of the dangers avian species face and let people know what they can do to help. This will allow them to learn more about birds and love them as much as I do, which can also help me get support in working to lobby for legislation that will protect endangered species. Overall, with the memory of M&M pushing me to never give up, I hope to make it so that no avian species has to die out due to human negligence or greed ever again through raising awareness of avian wildlife.
    Bold Love Yourself Scholarship
    My entire life, I've faced numerous struggles which have taken a toll on my mental health, causing me to wonder how there could possibly be anything good about me left. However, with some help, I realized what I love about myself is that I've managed to get through all of it while still having the ability to keep myself together. I was hit with a wave of depression starting from a young age, and it made it hard for me to see the light in life, so I lost a lot of friends. Things were only made worse when I got to high school and my grades began to fall while many things I planned simply went as wrong as they could have possibly gone. One night, when I was speaking to a friend and reflecting on my life, I made a comment about how there must just be something wrong with me to have had so many struggles. He then pointed out that, yes, I have had many struggles, but almost none of them were things I could have controlled, yet I'm still here and trying my best in spite of all of it. He later went to sleep and I stayed up pondering this perspective and realized he was right. Any time something went wrong, I got back up and tried again. Whenever I got bullied or hurt, I only used it as motivation to be kinder and more helpful to others. Even though I was burnt out, I still managed to take and succeed in multiple advanced courses each year. It was then that I realized what I love about myself is my resilience. No matter what comes my way, I always keep going, and that's something I find truly awe-worthy and will always love about myself.
    Bold Loving Others Scholarship
    In a world full of screens and empty-hearted people, often the best thing to do for someone is to just let them know you're there for them. I always let the people in my life know that, no matter what, they have me at their side, which helps them feel loved. When I notice someone feeling down, I make a point to talk to them. While sometimes they might not want to talk about what's wrong, just the fact I care can be enough to make their day brighter. If they do wish to talk, I'm always willing to provide a listening ear that's trustworthy and free of judgment. If they ask me for advice, I'll try my best to not only advise them but relate to them so they know they're never alone on their journey. Outside the realm of having problems, I also let my friends know I'm here on a daily basis. Be it something small like sending a meme that reminds me of them, or something large like baking them a cake for their birthday, I make sure people know I'm thinking of them and that they matter to me. Letting people know that they matter to you and that you're there for them is the best way to show love. When you do this, it allows people to know they're never alone, which is a beautiful feeling.
    Bold Wisdom Scholarship
    In life, it can be scary to stand alone, but often it's necessary in order to move forward. As people grow older, I hope they learn, "Never little yourself to fit into someone else's life." Socially, youth often have a group they want to fit into. They want to be with the "sports kids" or the "book worms," or wherever they think they'd 'fit in' to avoid being alone. However, often, it winds up so that while they're chasing a group, trying to fit in, they change themselves. If you want to hang out with the sports kids, you'll have to drop your love for art so you can play games. If you want to hang out with the book worms, you'll have to drop your love for movies because "they're just not the same!" By rewriting yourself to 'fit in,' not only do you cut yourself off from finding others who would love the authentic you, but you cut yourself off from different paths for your future. What if you could have been a famous artist with practice but you stopped practicing what you love so you could play sports? What if you could have been a movie critic but instead you wind up a librarian? When you drop activities, it makes it harder for opportunities involving those passions to come along. While it can be embarrassing to be alone, it's only temporary. Eventually, someone will come along who wants to take part in your interests and you can start a new group. Changing yourself requires cutting parts of yourself away. Doing so makes it so those parts will never be able to grow, and you never know what the future could have had in store for them.
    Bold Perseverance Scholarship
    "Chronic illness has ruined my life," or that's what everyone would expect me to say. While days can be hard, overall, I've still managed to create a beautiful future for myself. Entering senior year, I got incredibly busy with college apps, grades, and everything else a teenager must deal with. On top of this, I began to feel incredibly sick and spent much time with doctors, only to find out that I am chronically ill, but they can't determine with what exactly. Frustrated, with absences slowly adding up, it was hard to stay caught up in my classes, especially with my illness leaving me fatigued and having cognitive difficulties that make it hard to focus. Nonetheless, I knew I didn't want being sick to stop me from what I have worked my entire academic career for, so I always managed to get up, study, and turn my work in within a reasonable amount of time. While some days I might wind up laying on the floor in pain and needing to go home, other days I'm able to tolerate it and act as if I'm alright. I listen to my body and work as I'm able, doing all I can on my better days to make sure I don't fall behind overall. This has allowed me to maintain a 3.8+ GPA and get accepted into top colleges while also taking care of my body and my personal health. Because of my work ethic, I've been able to live life almost as if I'm not ill. While I certainly feel the pain, I've been able to weather the storm and overcome it by being patient and listening to my body. Despite everything, I've managed to make a beautiful life for myself.
    Bold Art Scholarship
    Art is a talent that's often overlooked and with so much repetitiveness, it can be hard to stand out. However, "Comedian" by Maurizio Cattelan is a piece that is inspirational due to truly sticking itself out there for judgment and changing the world in doing so. "Comedian" was made in 2019 and features a banana that's been duct-taped to the wall. Because other popular art during this time period was blandly and repetitively either minimalist, surreal, or realistic, a banana being taped to a wall reignited earlier debates about what can or can't be considered art. However, a banana taped to a wall has beauty, meaning, and requires a certain level of intent, which makes it art, regardless of how 'untraditional' or 'odd' it might be. This piece was able to redefine art and make it popular again. Additionally, this work was able to get people talking about more than just art itself. As the debates ran on, people began to look closer into the meaning. One common interpretation of the work was that workers should be better treated. Because bananas are a symbol of trade, we can infer the piece may be about the economy. Because the banana would slowly decay, we can infer that the piece is making a negative statement about something. Because simply taping something to the wall is considered "lazy," we could begin to wonder what made the worker so lazy. Ultimately, we can draw one conclusion that they are mistreated in their field. This work was then able to aid debates for workers' rights. Being able to change the world in multiple ways with a simple action is something astounding, and, because "Comedian" was so simple, yet somehow so brilliant, it will always be awe-inspiring, no matter how ripe it might grow to become.
    Bold Happiness Scholarship
    My chickens were always the loves of my life, my reasons for existing. When they died, it rocked me to my core. Now, I make myself content with all species of birds and stay happy by knowing I’m providing them with a better future. Despite how shows and ads may make it seem, staying happy is a lot of work. Self-care and rest can help, but sometimes it’s just not enough. When my chickens, who were more like my children than my pets, died, it took a lot for me to overcome it. I tried taking breaks from school and caring for myself in general, but nothing eased the pain at its source, which made it nearly impossible to improve. However, once I came to realize that my chickens won’t be coming back, but I can help make it so other birds live lives of peace as my chickens did, it gave me something to live for again. Having the goal of bringing safety to all birds keeps me going through life, and knowing that I’m really going to help so many birds once I’m older makes me feel happy. I love birds with all my heart, so knowing that all of my efforts and perseverance will pay off in that I’ll be giving them better lives makes everything worth it.
    Bold Best Skills Scholarship
    I’m currently talented at art; however, I haven’t always been this way. It took years of practice to get where I am, and I know it’ll take years more to get to where I’d like to be. When I was young, while I loved to draw, I was always horrible at it in my opinion. My parents loved what I did because it was on-level with the other kids my age, but I didn’t feel like that was good enough. I always continued to practice, often staying after school with my art teacher since she allowed me to use her supplies, and, slowly, my skills began to improve enough to where I felt confident enough to enter art contests, sometimes even winning. Now that I’ve learned I can be good at art as long as I continue to apply myself, I stay motivated to keep practicing by taking Advanced Placement Drawing in school, dual credit art courses, and continuously participating in art contests. This allows me to always be creating works so that I can meet my deadlines, which forces me to learn, practice, and improve. In the future, I plan to minor in art in college so that I can continue to have the motivation to practice and improve my skills. Upon graduation, I’d like to work part-time as an artist and take on commissions so that I can always have a tie to art and an excuse to keep practicing at it. While I’d like to think I’m perfect, I know I’ll always have room to improve with my craft. To make sure I never give up, I’ll always leave room in my life for art.
    Bold Legacy Scholarship
    My entire life, I've worked hard to try and make a name for myself. I've done a variety of activities, ranging from art to robotics, and while I've been successful at several things, I've never really developed a reputation for any skills. Instead, I've become known for being hardworking in itself, which is something I hope to leave to the world. Staying motivated can be a challenge, especially in high school where every distraction in the world exists. However, because I have the end goal of living a life I can say I was proud of, I always manage to stay focused. I do my best with everything, hoping that at least something will work out if I just keep trying, and it leads me to a variety of successes. Conversely, many of my peers have the tendency to give up or fall behind. When I notice them struggling, I try to allow them to speak to me about it if they’re willing to share. I let them know that it can be hard to stay on track and that I’m here to help if they ever need advice. Consequently, I’ve been able to aid my peers by showing them what I do to stick on track with all my tasks, which has only further spread my reputation of being a hard worker and further helped others learn to stay focused as they pursue their goals as more and more people share my advice. Because of this, I've helped many people become hard workers as well, which has helped me become known for being persistent and kind. I hope to continue this path throughout my life so I can keep being a role model for others.
    Bold Motivation Scholarship
    With depression, it's hard to get out of bed each day, much less do anything useful with my life. When I look around and feel like I see nothing but problems, it only makes it worse. However, I always try to remind myself that I have the ability to make things better, which helps me stay on track. Oftentimes, I struggle to keep going academically. I work hard constantly, and it makes it easy for me to feel burnt out, which causes me to wonder if it's really worth all the effort. However, when I look around and see that I live in a rough neighborhood and see that my family is poor, it makes me want to be able to have a better life for myself. The easiest way to achieve a better life is through becoming educated, so each time that I want to just give up, I remind myself that I'm working towards a brighter future for myself, and it keeps me going. Additionally, it can be hard to want to continue helping others. When "no good deed goes unpunished" and it feels like none of your efforts are making a difference, it's normal to start to wonder why you bother with the effort. However, those moments where you're able to see someone's face light up because you helped them make it all worth it, so I keep striving for them. Not only am I trying to build a better life for myself, but I'm trying to build a better life for others. Because of this, I know that I need to keep working as hard as I can, so when I feel like giving up, I remind myself that the end goal will all be worth it, and it puts me back on my feet.
    Bold Know Yourself Scholarship
    My entire life, I've faced numerous struggles which have taken a toll on my mental health, causing me to wonder how there could possibly be anything good about me left. However, with some help, I realized the best thing about me is that I've managed to get through all of it while still having the ability to keep myself together. I was hit with a wave of depression starting from a young age, and it made it hard for me to see the light in life, so I lost a lot of friends. Things were only made worse when I got to high school and my grades began to fall while many things I planned simply went as wrong as they could have possibly gone. One night, when I was speaking to a friend and reflecting on my life, I made a comment about how there must just be something wrong with me to have had so many struggles. He then pointed out that, yes, I have had many struggles, but almost none of them were things I could have controlled, yet I'm still here and trying my best in spite of all of it. He later went to sleep and I stayed up pondering this perspective and realized he was right. Any time something went wrong, I got back up and tried again. Whenever I got bullied or hurt, I only used it as motivation to be kinder and more helpful to others. Even though I was burnt out, I still managed to take and succeed in multiple advanced courses each year. It was then that I realized the best thing about me is my resilience. No matter what comes my way, I always keep going, and that's something I find truly awe-worthy and will always love about myself.
    Bold Helping Others Scholarship
    Helping others is a perfect way to spend time because when I get to make other people happy, it fills me with warmth. My favorite way to achieve this is when I help others get through their mental health struggles and get to see them start to find light in their lives. On a personal scale, I always try to talk to others when I notice they're feeling down. As someone who's struggled with depression in the past, I know how important it can make you feel when someone genuinely wants to hear about your life, so I always try to listen to anything they feel like sharing and offer advice if they ask for it. I've had several people tell me I'm the only person they feel safe enough to talk to, which is an odd combination of sweet and heartbreaking. It makes me feel amazing when I'm able to help others see that life is never as bad as it may seem. More broadly, as president of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, I facilitated the creation of a Mental Health Guide for my campus. This guide allows students to anonymously submit art or writing related to mental health, POC, LGBTQ+, or Neurodivergent experiences for other students to anonymously view. This allows those who are down but not comfortable enough to reach out to know that they're never alone with anything they face. When people thank me for making it easier for them to get advice, it feels amazing to know that something I've done is helping people who I don't even know. Overall, helping people learn to love life is one of my favorite things to do. The warmth it gives me when I see the light come back into someone's eyes is truly beautiful and worth any effort.
    Bold Books Scholarship
    "No Dogs Allowed" has been the most inspiring book in my life since I first read it in 4th grade. Tackling the topic of learning to love again, I simply liked the book's story plot as a child, but now that I've experienced more in my life, it's been a driving and relatable force. The book is about a girl who insists she does not want to ever have a pet again after her horse passes away; she can't handle the process of loving something only for it to die a few years later once she's become attached to it. However, as a birthday gift, she is given a puppy. Her grandfather encourages her to love the dog, but she knows she can't get attached to another animal, so she does anything to avoid loving it. While facing other hardships alongside mourning her horse, a friend attempts to help her, but she only pushes him away. Ultimately, after taking time to process her emotions, she learns to love the dog and accepts help from her friend. Analyzing the plot, we notice the core topic of the book is coping with loss and learning to love again. This book taught me about pain before I ever had to experience it, which helped me cope later in life when my beloved chicken, Martha, died. The pain was unbearable and I never wanted to love again, going so far as to even push all of my friends away. However, similar to the story, I soon accepted help and adopted a frog, who I love with all my heart. Overall, this book helped guide me through the lowest point in my life, giving me something to inspire me when it felt no one else in the world could give me hope.
    Bold Deep Thinking Scholarship
    Mental Illness is an impending crisis on the world, causing numerous other global problems, which must be tackled before it grows out of control. Over time, increasing numbers of people feel alone and lose their love for life, which is a preventable tragedy if only people would talk to one another. Personally, I've battled both depression and severe anxiety, and the entire time, I felt alone, as if no one else in the world understood how I felt. It was only after I began reaching out to others that I knew that, not only was I not alone in how I felt, but that those who didn't know I felt loved me and wanted to at least try to understand. However, many people will never get the courage to reach out, so it's up to those around them to notice the signs of mental illness and ask how someone is doing. If people would take the time to learn about mental health, learn what and what not to say, and ask others about their day, letting them know they genuinely care, it would solve at least half of the exhaustion caused from having a mental illness, which could be enough to mean to difference between someone choosing life or death and seeking help or suffering alone. Additionally, if mental health was simply a common topic of discussion, not only would more people open up and feel less alone, but the stigma surrounding seeking help would slowly disappear and more people would seek care, which would save lives. Overall, if people were mentally healthy, the other problems the world has, such as crime or hatred of others, would decrease; therefore, mental illness is the biggest problem in the world. To solve it, we must work together and learn to reach out.
    Bold Great Books Scholarship
    "No Dogs Allowed" has been the most influential book in my life since I first read it in 4th grade. Tackling the topic of learning to love again, I simply liked the book's story plot as a child, but now that I've experienced more in my life, it's been a driving and relatable force. The book is about a girl who insists she does not want to ever have a pet again after her horse passes away; she can't handle to process of loving something only for it to die a few years later once she's become attached to it. However, as a birthday gift, she is given a puppy. Her grandfather encourages her to love the dog, but she knows she can't get attached to another animal, so she does anything to avoid loving it. While facing other hardships alongside mourning her horse, a friend attempts to help her, but she only pushes him away. Ultimately, after taking time to process her emotions, she learns to love the dog and accepts help from her friend. Analyzing the plot, we notice the core topic of the book is coping with loss and learning to love again. This book taught me about pain before I ever had to experience it, which helped me cope later in life when my beloved chicken, Martha, died. The pain was unbearable and I never wanted to love again, going so far as to even push all of my friends away. However, similar to the story, I soon accepted help and adopted a frog, who I love with all my heart. Overall, this book helped guide me through the lowest point in my life, giving me something to relate to when it felt no one else in the world could possibly understand how I felt.
    Bold Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    While I am currently in a good place, I used to feel like I was walking through hell each day. It took a lot of time and energy to get to be where I am now, but I'm proud that I put in the effort, and now I want to help others overcome their struggle as well so that, hopefully, it won't be as hard for them as it was for me. Oftentimes, the best solution is the most simple one. In this case, the best way to help people with their mental health would be to simply start talking. Talk about your problems. If you can't do that, then talk about mental health in general. If you can't do that either, then make small talk. The important thing is to just learn how to feel connected to another soul. If we, as humans, would talk to each other and have real conversations, then, naturally, we would learn from one another, teaching us how to get through life. Previously, I was very closed off from my peers. I preferred to stay alone because I felt that no one would understand what I was going through. However, eventually, I began to grow bored with myself and talked to others about how classes were going. From there, I began to talk with them about plans for the weekend. Then we talked about our lives, our hopes, our dreams. Slowly, these new friends I made gave me advice on how to better myself, and I was able to slowly climb out of this hole my depression had thrown me into. Overall, talking to people is the best way to get through life. For those who feel alone, even a simple smile and wave could be enough to make them want to keep going.
    "If You Believe..." Scholarship
    In my life, I am driven by the fact that one day, I will be a massive force for good in the world. I've walked through what felt like hell on my own and came out on top, so now I want to help everyone else who's gone through a struggle in their life learn to do the same. Throughout my youth, I was easily able to stay happy and make good grades. I never had to worry about my future or work for it because only good things would ever come my way. I was always told that mental illness was something that only happened to the weak, so I assumed I was just incredibly strong. However, upon reaching high school, I began to feel burnt out and became depressed. It was an absolute blow to my ability to do anything. I did not know how to function; all I wanted to do was disappear. I was ashamed of how I felt because surely falling ill to depression meant I was weak. Because of this, I kept my feelings hidden and barely survived for almost a year. Eventually, I couldn't hide it anymore and my friends told me to seek help. From reaching out, I learned to work on myself to unlearn everything I thought I knew about mental health. Feeling better, I began to look for my purpose in life because I knew I needed a goal to work towards in order to stay mentally healthy. By looking around myself at school, I noticed a lot of other students seemed depressed or otherwise unwell. This gave me the idea to do something to help others with their mental health. I began by asking those around me how they were feeling and letting them know they can be honest with me. Slowly, I became someone that was well-known as a good shoulder to cry on, to where even strangers came up to me asking if they could vent. I was proud to be such a positive influence, but I knew there were so many people I would never be able to help if I continued to only work one-on-one with my peers. This gave me an idea: I should make something anonymous and widespread that can help people. This way, those who aren't ready to reach out to another person can still get help and know they're not alone. Using the resources available to me as leader of my campus' Gay-Straight Alliance, I established an online Mental Health Guide for my school. This guide would feature writing and artwork made by students, for students. Published work, reviewed by me, would be made available in the guide for people to look at on their own. This would help others by giving them advice or by simply helping them know they're never alone in their struggles. It's a lot of work to keep the guide running; however, I am proud of this success. When I was on my own with my depression for a whole year, I would have loved for something like this guide I'm making to have existed, because perhaps then I would have been able to feel better on my own before my mental illness got so bad. While I can't go back and help my younger self, I'm proud to be able to prevent others from feeling the pain I went through.
    Mental Health Movement x Picmonic Scholarship
    I am a leader in my own mental health movement. I am a well-known shoulder to cry on. I am someone strangers feel comfortable enough to vent to. Little does everyone know, I have a lot of my own demons to face and sometimes it's all I can do to just hold on. For years, I never knew what "mental health" was. My family lives by the concept of 'either you're strong or you're not,' never talking about mental health, which quickly led to me becoming burnt out. From then on, I was completely lost in my life. I had no purpose or direction to go in; all I wanted to do was lay down and disappear. Eventually, a friend suggested I reach out and seek help. I was told I had severe depression, but I didn't believe it until I became suicidal. Eventually, after working to unlearn all of the wrong information I knew about mental health, I was able to find some ground to stand on to keep my head above water. Never wishing for others to feel the pain that I felt, I made a vow to myself that I would never allow anyone to suffer alone again. I started by asking people how they were really doing and letting them be honest, but I knew there was no way I could help everyone individually. Then, suddenly, it hit me: Books are a perfect way to reach a wide audience of people. As the leader of my campus' Gay-Straight Alliance, I used the resources available to me to create an online Mental Health Guide, which would feature writing and artwork by students for students relating to the topic of mental health. This would allow students at school to anonymously read from the guide to get tips on how to manage their emotions or to simply know they're not alone. Overall, I grew from my own negative experiences and learned it's my place in this world to help people. I plan to try to make the Mental Health Guide more widespread if I am given the chance.
    Cat Zingano Overcoming Loss Scholarship
    Loss is a painful experience that causes one to either crumble or flourish; however, in my case, I've done both. It rocked me to my core, but then forced me to take a look at my life and work harder than ever before towards success. I remember the day vividly. I woke up to prepare for the day ahead and looked out the window to see my chicken, Martha, wasn't acting right. Immediately, without needing to see it, I could sense that something was wrong. I ran outside to see her intestines hanging out of her rear-end; she had a prolapse. I was home alone, so I had to call my parents to come home and help. I felt sick. I couldn't stop crying, to the point I was gagging. I did my best to comfort her until my parents came home to drive me to take her to the vet. Ultimately, the vet couldn't save her. They reassured me that it was natural and nothing I did wrong, but I still felt awful for the loss of Martha. I know she was a "pet," but not to me. She was the light of my life. I raised her for six years, starting when she was a baby; even when I felt alone, I could always count on her to be there for me. She never judged me and always made me feel safe. She made me forget about the bullies. She gave me comfort when I needed it most. She helped me learn to love myself. She inspired me to always try my best in everything I do. In all honesty, Martha was more like my child than a chicken, and that concept was solidified when I found myself grieving as I've seen other mothers grieve. I was heartbroken; I couldn't eat or sleep for days, I would only lay down and cry. I tried to go to my classes, but no matter how hard I tried, I would just zone out and get nothing done. After a week of nonstop crying, I felt completely numb, falling back into sobbing any time I tried to feel anything because all I could think about was Martha. After a while of falling behind in school, I knew I had to do something. Martha wouldn't have wanted me to mourn her for so long, so I got up, and I reached out to some of my friends, who had been worried about me. From that point on, when I hit another low, I would reach out for support instead of allowing myself to wallow in sorrow. Eventually, after a lot of self-work, I was able to support myself emotionally for the most part. While I was starting to feel better, my grades were still feeling the pain. I had always done well in school and I didn't want to give that up. I've always wanted to become a professor so I could help people, but I need good scores to achieve that dream, so I worked hard to get back on track. I knew Martha would have wanted me to keep living my life to the fullest, so I chose to study for long hours to get my scores back up. Not only did this help me towards my goal, but it kept my mind off of her loss for a while as well. As of now, it's been a fair amount of time since her death. However, if I'm not careful, it still hurts as if she died only yesterday. Even though it's gotten better, there are still some days that I have to take off because I can't imagine life without her. However, I know I won't give up. Even though it hurts, I keep pushing forward. Because of her loss, I've learned to work harder. Life is short and unexpected events happen, so I've been inspired to work for my dreams like never before; I know she would want me to. I'm fighting to become a mathematics professor. Not only do I have a genuine passion for the subject, but I have a passion for helping others. I loved Martha deeply, and she helped me through many struggles in my life. Now, I'm hoping to pay that kindness forward and help others. Becoming a teacher would provide me the perfect opportunity to make a difference in someone's life, as she made in mine. Therefore, I will never stop fighting until I achieve that goal.
    Act Locally Scholarship
    In my community, those who struggle, be it academically or emotionally, are often left to find their way by themselves. To me, this is unreasonable, especially taking into consideration that there are people able to help. I want this community to change by learning to help those around them. Academically, I try to help my community by providing free tutoring to anyone who needs it. Prior to high school, I would tutor my peers that I noticed needed help, even going as far as to spend my lunchtime just tutoring them and staying after school with my own lesson plans to help them catch up. While I continued to do this during high school, I also began to reach into the community more. In my Freshman year, I volunteered with the IntelliChoice Program, which tutored students in mathematics from grades Pre-K through 12. Since I was in a Pre-Calculus math class in my Freshman year, I tutored students that were in Algebra 2 or lower. One 2nd grader that I tutored often struggled with learning to count, which made math difficult for him. Because he felt poorly about himself, he often lashed out at others, causing the other tutors to give up on him. However, this made me want to help him more. Since he was uninterested in his workbook, I made him his own worksheets and rewarded him with stickers for good behavior and for genuinely trying on questions. After about a month, he was not only able to count but able to add and subtract at his expected mathematics level as well. I helped other students during this time period too, but this was the largest stride I was able to make. In my Junior year, due to COVID, I tutored virtually with the Mel Keystone Program, which provided free math tutoring to grades 3 through 9. I was in charge of the 3rd and 4th-grade sections because they were the hardest to handle. However, with a bit of extra effort, I was able to make learning fun for them. I would start by asking them what they wanted to learn, and after having done a certain amount of practice, I would reward them with a brain break. This helped them to both behave and to learn math, thus helping them in school, whereas without our program, they would have continued to struggle since their teachers were unable to get through to them. Socially, I have always helped others. I make sure to check in on everyone every so often so that they know they're never alone. Because of this, a lot of people tend to open up to me. When people want to vent, I hold space for them and lend an ear, only giving advice if they express that they want it. When people want a distraction, I have a list of funny topics that I try to bring up to help them feel better. I've developed a reputation on campus as the kid that genuinely cares, and, due to that, I even have complete strangers come to me for help. However, this is only a small-scale, one person at a time difference being made. When I realized I wanted to have a bigger impact, I began to think. I realized that, as leader of the Gay-Straight Alliance for my campus, I had the resources to do something campus-wide. After putting thought into it, I began the facilitation of a "Mental Health Guide." This guide allows any student from any of the six schools at my campus to submit writing or art related to mental health, which I then review and place into the guide. The guide can then be anonymously accessed by any student on campus. The goal of this is that, while they read the writing and artwork, the student that is struggling will realize that they're not alone in their battles. While they might not know who the writer is since students have the option to submit anonymously, they at least know that one other person on campus feels the way they do, and oftentimes, the works in the guide include advice, which can help the reader drastically. So far, a few of my peers have admitted that this guide has helped them. To further aid students, those who submit something to be published receive community service hours, which can aid them in their college applications. While the guide is currently a local service, I am hoping to make this a district-wide creation one day. Outside of the realm of academics and mental health, I am also making efforts for increased inclusivity. I managed a Drag Show for my campus, which focused on freedom of expression for all who desired to participate. The Gay-Straight Alliance also made sure to congratulate all participants and compliment them, even if they did not win, so that it would increase their confidence and pride levels. Encouraging others to complement all people who entered as well, the Drag Show became a large center for positivity on campus. This helped promote the idea that people should be allowed to be themselves and to be proud of it. After making strides for the LGBTQ+ community, I learned that I wanted to help those who experience racism as well. Helping the LGBTQ+ community was easy for me because, while my family is not supportive, I've known that I am Gender-Fluid and Bisexual for a long time. However, because I am White, I did not know where to begin at first to aid the fight against racism. After attending a Youth Racial Equity summit to gain ideas for how to make a difference, I decided to open my Mental Health Guide to include racial and neurodivergent stories alongside the stories of the mentally ill. This will further allow kids at my school to feel seen and normal, thus making a difference. Overall, I want to see my community learn to be more caring for others, and I'm working to see this happen.
    Art of Giving Scholarship
    I've always been a motivated child, but I remain held back by my lack of resources. With poverty affecting many areas of my life, it's been difficult to keep up or plan for the future. Winning this scholarship would help me to solidify my plans for college. My parents haven't been able to help me academically since 4th grade and were too poor to afford books, the internet, or tutors for me to learn from, so I've had to be self-reliant and resourceful using items I could find for free to stay ahead in school. For example, any time that my teachers offered free workbooks, extra worksheets, or textbooks to check out, I jumped at the chance to have additional resources to use at home. From this, I built a life for myself and educated myself enough to be placed into the magnet system. However, despite knowing I can succeed in college, I fear I won't be able to pay for it. If I cannot find the funds for college, it might not be reasonable for me to attend unless I take on a large sum of debt. This impacts me because I know that I belong at college. I am aiming for UT Austin due to its ability to support me academically without forcing me to leave Texas since I must remain close to care for my family. However, this school costs more than I can afford at this moment, so I would have to take on debt unless I can earn scholarships. I have a fascination with learning and a genuine passion for the subjects of writing and mathematics, which is why I plan to become a mathematics professor and a part-time author. While I can become an author without a college degree, I need to go to college to become a professor. Therefore, not attending college would be out of the question - I need to find a way to succeed in raising the funds so I can avoid debt. While I have tried looking for jobs to raise funds, they are difficult for me because I cannot drive and I have many responsibilities at home, so I haven't been able to find one I could commit to. Any scholarships I can earn are highly important to me so that I can fulfill my dream of attending college and pursuing my dream career. With my motivation to succeed, I know that I will find a way to raise the funds, and this scholarship would put me one step closer to success.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    I am a very emotionally aware and compassionate person, both towards myself and others; however, I have not always been this way. When I was younger, I was never taught about mental health, so it took me a long time to accept that I needed help once I realized I was depressed, but it's only shaped me for the better. Throughout elementary and middle school, I always thought that depressed people needed to try harder, anxious people needed to "get over it," and other mentally ill people were "crazy." While I didn't realize it at the time, I suffered through depression for a short while in elementary school, but I just pushed myself to ignore it because "there's no way I'm depressed." However, upon reaching high school, from halfway through my Freshman year to the present, I fell into a severe depression that I could not deny. I lost all motivation and wanted to just lay down and disappear. These feelings forced me to change my beliefs regarding mental health. I quickly realized I was wrong and that mental health is something that cannot be cured by telling someone to "get over it," it takes a lot of time and care. Socially, I lost many friends during this struggle. Once it got to a point where I couldn't force myself to smile anymore, people told me that I had changed and they no longer could stand to be around me. I always did my best to fake happiness for them, but it was never enough. The few friends that stayed by my side grew closer to me. While I was upset to have a smaller friend circle, I was proud to know who my real friends were. Academically, my grades began to feel the pain I felt inside, and I allowed them to fall because I felt powerless to help myself. Even when I reach out, I only hear that I'm too young to feel this way or that I'm only exaggerating. I tried to reach out to my campus psychologist, but he only insisted that I lose weight rather than help me mentally. After hearing almost nothing but "These are the best years of your life, enjoy them while they last," I wanted to give up. Determined to make it through this era of my life, I made school less of a priority so I could focus on myself. After a while, I found new coping methods and began to put them into action. By Junior year, I was able to simultaneously raise my GPA and work on myself. By realizing that my depression has days that are good and days that are bad. I've learned that on my better days, it's okay if I push myself a little bit to work harder. On my bad days, I've learned I need to take more breaks, even if it means I fall behind a little bit. Finally feeling some relief, I made it my mission to make sure no one else ever had to suffer and find their own way alone as I once did. Over the course of working on myself, I became a more compassionate person, so I decided to put this new skill to use. I developed the habit of checking in on my friends, and I was shocked to see how much good came out of such a simple action. By simply asking someone how they were doing, they seemed to feel better, with many telling me that checking on them alone made them feel better because it made them feel like they matter, and, whenever someone felt bad, if they wanted to vent, I gave them a shoulder to lean on, or, if they wanted a distraction, I did my best to entertain them. I began to develop a reputation around campus as someone that genuinely cares, which led to even strangers at school coming to me for support. I was proud to be making a difference, even if it was only one person at a time. However, I wanted to make a bigger impact. As a leader of my campus Gay-Straight Alliance, I decided to make the club mission to be more inclusive of all students, while also working to help all students feel proud of themselves, which includes both LGBTQ+ pride and pride in their mental health. To achieve this, I facilitated the creation of a "Mental Health Guide" for my campus. The guide has a submissions page where people, anonymously or publically, send us writing or art related to the topic of mental health. After I review and edit it, I add it to the guide, which can be anonymously viewed by anyone at my campus. The goal is to allow those who struggle to know that they are never alone because the guide allows them to see that there are others who face the same struggles that they do. From this, I've learned that any career I choose needs to be one where I can help people, which led me to realize that I have to become a mathematics professor and a part-time author. As a professor, I'll be able to help troubled students while also helping others love math as much as I do. I'll be able to support my students and never give up on them. As an author, I can write creative novels that include topics relating to mental health, thus allowing the messages I have to share to reach a wider audience, while also getting mental health more talked about, thus making it less taboo. These careers will allow me to make a larger impact on a broader scale. Overall, while depression has been a Goliath that I still have yet to completely slay, it taught me to care about others, which has only shaped my life for the better. Now I know that I will never give up, and, if I can help it, I will never allow another person to give up either.
    Pride Palace LGBTQ+ Scholarship
    My "professional" social media is @breanna.sa.r I am proud to be LGBTQ+ because this community is truly beautiful. Everyone is welcome in it and is made to feel special, which gives me a sense of belonging. Being LGBTQ+ makes me glad to be alive because I know that when something goes wrong, this entire community, which is more like a family, will always be behind me to support me through my struggles.
    AMPLIFY Mental Health Scholarship
    My battle with depression has been like climbing a mountain, some days I make a lot of progress, while others I slide down to be even lower than where I started. Fighting an invisible war has been exhausting, making it hard to keep up with all of my responsibilities, but, in the end, I've learned that if I can achieve all that I have while at my lowest, I can't wait to see what all I can accomplish once I get back to being at my best. My struggle with mental health began before the pandemic when I was in the 9th grade. I would spend long periods of time alone, wondering if I was even worthy of feeling better. I was tired and burnt out, but it felt like no one cared. It felt like I was the only person in the world to feel like that. Alone on this invisible mountain, all I wanted was for someone to reach out and tell me it was all going to be okay. Now that I am in the 11th grade and am still mentally ill while in quarantine, I have noticed that a lot of other students are starting to feel depressed as well due to the pandemic. Not wishing for anyone else to ever feel the way I do, I started looking for a way to help others in the way that I wished someone would have helped me. Not sure what to do at first, I began to speak with the people I knew that were struggling. I let them know that they weren't alone, and they responded by being grateful for having someone who cares and that can give advice in their life. From this and my own experiences, I learned that the best way to help someone that's struggling is to simply start the conversation and to be there for them. Since I am the leader of my school's Gay-Straight Alliance, which focuses on helping all students to feel accepted, I knew I had to use my leadership position to make a difference. Our club already had space for people to come to for venting and advice, but there was no option to be anonymous, which kept a lot of people from seeking help. Additionally, I've learned that a lot of mentally ill people avoid reaching out due to feeling like a burden, which is why it's so important for others to notice when people are struggling and to start the conversation. Since it's simply not possible for me to personally check in with every struggling student at my campus, I attempted to come up with a better, less direct approach to the situation. Ultimately, I decided to propose we begin a campus-wide "Mental Health Guide" that would feature writing and artwork made by students, for students. Anyone is welcome to submit an entry, publically or anonymously, that discusses the topic of mental health. After being reviewed, entries are posted for students to read anonymously. The goal of the Mental Health Guide is for students who are struggling to know that they are never alone and to get advice from their peers on how to better handle their emotions. Working on the Mental Health Guide has helped me to realize my true passion for writing. Working on my own entries and revising what other people have shared has served as a healthy outlet for me to express myself. While I am still depressed, I am proud of myself for being able to help so many people. Because of this, I plan to become a best-selling fiction author that tells captivating and accurate stories regarding the topic of mental health. I want to be able to get the conversation going about mental illness on a national scale so that others can learn that it's okay to feel how they do and to know that they are never alone in their battle.
    SkipSchool Scholarship
    Rosalind Franklin is often a forgotten hero in the field of biology due to the fact she was female, giving space for Francis Crick and James Watson to claim the credit. The first person to take a photograph of DNA, she discovered its double-helix structure. A major breakthrough at the time, her work advanced humanity's knowledge of genetics despite the fact that her name is not as well known.
    "Your Success" Youssef Scholarship
    I want to further my education so that I can be as knowledgeable as possible in the subjects that I care the most about. With my passion for both writing and mathematics, I plan to receive a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education. Currently, to further me as far as possible in creative writing, I am trying to take all writing courses that are offered by my school. However, since my school is majorly math-based with few English courses, I also participate in University Interscholastic League writing competitions. I have been captain of my school's Ready Writing team since my freshman year and I have captained our News Writing, Feature Writing, Editorial Writing, Headline Writing, and Copy Editing teams since my sophomore year. As captain, not only must I teach myself how to be a good writer and Journalist, but I must understand the material enough to be able to teach it to my team members as well. Under my leadership, my team recently won the honor of being the best in the district. This experience has taught me leadership and how to work with others, while also advancing my own personal knowledge of the subject. Additionally, to further my knowledge in mathematics as far as possible, I am taking the hardest math classes that I can handle in an order that works best for my learning style. By the time I graduate, I plan to have taken every math class that my school offers. I am currently a Junior that is thriving in AP Calculus BC. Next year, as a senior, I have signed up to take both AP Statistics and Advanced Topics of the Theory of Applied Mathematics (A.T.T.A.M.), a course that is on the college level and is unique to my school. Moreover, to gain additional experience in mathematics education, I am a tutor for a non-profit organization called the Mel Keystone program, which provides free tutoring to students in grades 3 through 9. I am the main tutor for the 3rd through 4th-grade group and I tutor every Saturday via zoom. Using an IXL account and the screen-share feature, I create lessons with practice problems that supplement what the students want to learn or are learning in class, doing my best to make lessons as fun, engaging, and educational as possible. With my educational passions combined with my passion for helping others, I know that I can be a best-selling author and high-ranking professor. Pursuing higher education will allow me to gain the knowledge required to be the best author and professor that I know I can be. This is how I plan to make my mark on the world. Through my books that will feature characters from different minorities and that will not shy away from the topic of mental health, I will help readers to know that they are normal and that their experiences are valid, while also working to de-stigmatize conversations about mental health. Additionally, as a professor, I can work with my students to aid them in achieving their goals. By growing the minds of the next generation, I will have an impact that goes beyond myself and into how those I have helped choose to pay their experience forward. To me, higher education is a chance to achieve my goals and make the world a better place. By educating myself, I will be better able to achieve my dreams that I've worked hard for and to help others in the future.
    WCEJ Thornton Foundation Low-Income Scholarship
    Thus far in life, I feel that my greatest achievement is earning my middle school a trip to the VEX Robotics World Championship, teaching me to be a leader and to accept receiving attention on a global scale. Throughout competition season, our team struggled, only making it to the Regional Tournament due to the teams we were partnered with earning enough points to advance us alongside them. By the week of Regionals, seeing that our robot was still not fully repaired, I realized that our team would have to focus on a different aspect of the competition to have any hope for advancing. With our eligible award categories being for points earned, the team skit, and the engineering design logbook, I chose to take over the creation of my team's logbook, which was previously left untouched. Despite feeling it was obvious why I was focusing on the logbook more than building the robot, my team constantly told me that I was wasting my time with the logbook because "nobody ever wins that." After fighting over which task was most important, as leader of my team, in an effort to be fair, I delegated responsibilities such that, on my five-person team, one person would focus on our play, three would focus on building our robot, and I would assist with programming, writing the play, and building, but have my main focus be on creating the logbook. My team agreed to this compromise. When competition day came, while my team's script for the skit was excellent, we had bad luck and did not do well while presenting it, so we were unable to win in that category. Additionally, due to still having issues that we could not fix in time with our robot, our team was in the last place on points, which gave us no hope of winning that category either. With our only hope being in the engineering logbook and my team still not believing in my abilities to write a good logbook, two of my team members chose to leave early, knowing that we had no chance. I was beginning to agree; nothing had gone right that day, so I wondered why I thought I could achieve something that no one on my campus had ever won before. Wanting to be a good sport, I went to the awards ceremony regardless to cheer on the winners. However, when the announcer called the engineering logbook award winner, my team and I were utterly shocked to hear our team name called. My coach cheering so loud that he was screaming, we ran down to collect our award. Once we got our celebrations out of the way, my coach pulled me aside to inform me that not only had nobody on our campus ever written a good logbook before, but my logbook was good enough to be the best in the state of Texas. Additionally, he informed me that my team was the first team from our school to ever make it to the World Championship. This helped me realize that I should never have doubted myself, learning to always know I can do great things. At the World Championship, I was quite anxious to be competing alongside the best teams in the world. When it came time to select which one student from our team deserved to walk in the Parade of Nations, I was unanimously selected. I nervously accepted the honor. When it was time to walk out and represent Dallas, Texas in front of the entire world, I embraced being seen as everyone began to cheer. Previously, any time I would win something, I would be too anxious to accept praise. However, now that I have had the entire world cheer me on, my anxieties regarding success have almost disappeared and anything seems possible. After the competition ended, when I learned that, while it did not win, that my logbook was in the top 20 out of the entire world, I could not have been more proud of myself. Realizing that I am a better writer than I thought, I set the goal of continuing to write in my life, which helped me realize that I want to be a best-selling author when I am older. From this experience, I gained the skills of self-confidence and anxiety management. Additionally, I gained an insight into a new career that I can hope for, and, now knowing that nothing is impossible, I know that I can achieve my career goals.
    Ocho Cares Artistry Scholarship
    Being an artist gives me a voice that I otherwise do not have. Born female and naturally timid, it can be hard to convince people to listen to me despite being motivated and intelligent. When I do use my physical voice, I am talked over, silenced, or ignored. However, through my art, I have had the ability to make my voice heard. With my realistic, colorful, and bold two-dimensional drawings, I am able to capture the attention of those around me. My work forces them to stop and to listen. As viewers examine my artwork, they begin to look for a deeper meaning, which, sometimes, can be determined through careful examination. Other times, the viewer will ask me about my work, giving me a chance to speak, which I otherwise would not have received. My art has given me a tool that I can use to grasp the attention of those around me so that they will be willing to listen to my voice. However, it can be common to wonder why I, someone who is shy, want to be heard. Despite my quiet voice, I, like all humans, am still a force capable of making a change in the world. I see the injustice and the pain that others face, and I want to do my part to help stop it. My art, my voice in this world, motivates me to keep working for the equal treatment and happiness of all people because, as I see others learn to treat people better and find comfort in my work, I know that I am moving in the right direction in life. From making a statement on morals to simply making one individual happier, my art serves a purpose that I can not otherwise fulfill. I am connected to my work in that it represents how I feel inside, as depicted by my choice in line, shape, and color choices. When I speak unprompted, it can be difficult to find the right words. However, through my art, every step I take is intentional and will always deliver the correct message. My work represents my passions, making my feelings clear to the intended audience. For future generations, my work will serve as a story, telling them what once was. While humanity may grow out of needing mental health reminders and my friends may grow out of finding joy in my depictions of their pets, my art will remind those who look upon the past that, even in the dark times, hope is never lost. My goal is to spread a positive message that all can relate to and that all can find comfort in, so that, when future generations look back, they can expand upon the message and find inspiration for their own movements.
    A Sani Life Scholarship
    In March of 2020, my world seemed to shut down all at once, leaving no time for me to adjust before I was thrown into a whole new lifestyle and routine. With school closed and all shopping done online, locked in my house, I grew lonely and had to learn to take a new approach to life. When my school suddenly closed without warning (meaning: we showed up at 9 AM and by 1 PM we were told to gather our things and be out of the door by 5 PM), I was forced to navigate my learning on my own. With my teachers not allowed to hold zoom meetings, they resorted to only giving us work and telling us to just try our best. With my passion for learning, I deemed "trying my best," to mean that I should teach myself, so I began spending long hours on educational YouTube and Khan Academy since I had nothing else to do in quarantine and did not want to fall behind. This helped me to learn to develop a better work-ethic to avoid falling through the cracks when left on my own in the future. Additionally, outside of school, it was difficult to not see any of my friends as I began to feel depressed to the point my parents were checking in on me every so often to make sure I was okay. Since I was alone in my room doing "school" all-day, I adopted fish to keep me company. They have since learned my routine and support me through my daily activities as if they know when I need a friend the most. In the most extreme scenario, I was sitting on the floor near their tank gently crying, and they swam to where I was to be near me. I will never forget this because it shows that it's natural to be kind, which has taught me to always assume the best about fellow humans because if a fish instinctually knows how to be kind, then surely my peers do as well. Moreover, I have learned to treat others with kindness since, given the situation of the world at the moment, it's common knowledge that everyone is struggling in one way or another. So far in this pandemic, when I have had to go out in public, I've seen how small gestures can make other people's day. The most remarkable moment was when I walked by a homeless woman and simply smiled because I did not have any money. She began to cry with joy at the thought of being seen as an equal despite her economic status. This was honestly heartbreaking because I knew this woman to know that she was a kind soul, so the thought that others would not even smile at her was painful to bear. Since that moment, I have always done my best to wave, smile, greet, or offer assistance to my fellow humans. Each time I do so, at least half of the individuals have made a point to tell me that I made their day better and how others have seemed so heartless since being forced to put on a mask. I have learned that a small act can mean the world to a person that is going through a struggle, and I will carry this with me as long as I live. Similarly, I have learned the hard way to never assume what someone is going through. At the very beginning of lockdown, I was a sophomore, and someone that I had known since the 6th grade committed suicide. We never knew he was struggling because no one thought to ask if he was okay. This broke my heart because I wished that I had done something. Rather than wallow in my self-pity, I chose to make a pact with myself to always check in on others. Whether the person is close to me or unknown, cheery or drained, I always ask how they're really feeling. To make a larger impact, I facilitated the creation of a "Mental Health Guide" for my campus that helps students to realize that they are never alone in their struggles. This experience has taught me to always make sure mental health is a topic that stays in discussion and to never let someone else fall through the cracks if I can help it. In the future, I will not take for granted the small pleasures that are available to me. The joy felt when hugging my friends will be greater, the simplicity of being able to ask my teacher a question will feel sweet, and the smile of a stranger will feel that much warmer.
    Misha Brahmbhatt Help Your Community Scholarship
    I give back to my community by providing a safe space for my peers to come to when they need help. I help others with their mental health, both individually and on a broader scale, impacting them so that they can slowly become more content themselves and able to help others as well. I believe that no one should ever be left to suffer from their mental health alone, especially not if they are in my community and I have the ability to help them. Currently, to individuals, I offer a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. When any person is upset, whether I know them or not, I ask them if they need someone to talk to and I provide a criticism-free environment to discuss their struggles in. By giving people space where they can be honest, I help them to realize they are not alone and assist them in finding a path that will allow them to solve their struggles. I help them to realize that they are never alone in this difficult journey and that it is okay for them to struggle and to reach out for help. If they desire it, I offer advice, kind words, and tips for how they can manage their mental health at times they are alone. This allows them to feel better, which will help them lead an increasingly content and productive life. Additionally, in a broader sense, I currently am working to improve the mental health of my campus in order to improve the mental health of my community. I am the project manager for a "Mental Health Guide" at my school, which features writings from students that either discuss topics related to mental health or give advice on how to manage one's emotions. This helps students to know that they are never alone in their struggles and that even people at their own school, whether they know them or not, face the same issues that they do. Additionally, it provides a source of peer-made and peer-edited "how-to" guides that serve to teach students how to manage their mental health. Overall, this will serve to help the community as a whole because then students will leave with a better understanding of themselves and their own feelings, which will help them learn to support and help others in their lives as well. In the future, I hope to become a best-selling fiction author with stories that involve and discuss the topic of mental illness. I hope to bring this typically taboo topic into discussion so that those who suffer can learn they are not alone and that it is okay for them to feel how they do, which will help them seek support. This will allow me to help a wider range of people because I will be able to help many despite never making personal contact. The people my work helps can then use what they learn from my books to move forward and help others, thus making the world a better place.
    Nervo "Revolution" Scholarship
    My biggest artistic ambition is to use creative writing, poetry, and 2-Dimensional artwork to reach those who need to learn to love themselves and to help them find the light in their life. I hope to use my unique voice to teach others that they are perfect exactly as they are while also helping them to realize new methods to improve their mental health on their own. Using creative writing, I can create detailed works of fiction that illustrate what it is like to face challenges in life to show readers with similar struggles that they are never alone and to teach the audience who doesn't face adversity more about it. This will work to help normalize minority experiences while also minimizing the stigma surrounding adversity. Using this method, I can improve the mental health of all of my readers by showing them that there is always hope for society to learn to accept those who are different. Using poetry, I can create a calming rhythm using written words to help people see that their experiences, while they may feel horrible, can lead to something beautiful. Oftentimes, those who are facing adversity get so caught up in the emotions of the moment that they forget to focus on how this experience will only serve to help them grow. This leaves room for me to take those adversities and to accurately, yet beautifully, portray them to help people realize things are never permanent or as bad as they seem. Similarly, using 2-Dimensional art, I can turn painful experiences into a thing of beauty. By taking misunderstood struggles that people often face and representing them with accurate works of art, I can work to help people to feel better about their own issues while also destigmatizing discussions of difficult topics, such as poor mental health. Each of these artistic methods will help me achieve my larger, broader goal of making the world become a better place. If people can learn to love themselves without needing input from others, then they will be happier and more able to navigate life. Once they are feeling better, they will be nicer to other people as well, which will then create a chain reaction where society works together to ensure that everyone is having all of their needs met, including emotional. My current efforts towards this goal include the establishment of a "Mental Health Guide" for my campus, which includes student-made works of either written or visual art that either discuss mental health or work to bring attention to the adversities minorities face in their day-to-day lives. As the project manager, I review the submissions of others and work on my own submissions as well. The guide can be viewed by anyone on my campus so that they know they are never alone in their struggles and can learn new ways to manage their emotions. This scholarship will help me to bring this vision to life as an adult by helping me afford college so I may become an author and create art as a hobby. This will allow me to get the education I need to succeed in my dream by making it easier to afford my necessities in college. After gaining additional education, I will be greater skilled and therefore better able to create work of quality, which will allow it to be seen by a larger audience and help more people. Achieving my ambition to use art to help others is important to me because I have struggled with my mental health for a long time and always felt alone in my journey. I'm lucky to have been able to create my own methods to manage my negative emotions, but I realize this is difficult for others to do on their own, and it pains me to watch others suffer as I once have. In general, my goal in life is to ensure no one else is ever left to heal alone, which will help me achieve the larger goal of making the world a better place.
    Nikhil Desai "Favorite Film" Scholarship
    My favorite film is "Big Hero 6," because it is a movie that contains elements that are both academic and emotional. The combination of relatable character development and comedic relief makes the movie a pleasure to view. Academically, "Big Hero 6" discusses the topic of robotics, which is something I have always been fascinated with. Since 5th grade, I have taken a passion for building functioning robots, so when I saw this movie was so heavy on the topic of robotics, I was instantly drawn in. Emotionally, one can find the topics of family, loss, friendship, and being accepted in the film. The main character, Hiro Hamada, loses his brother, the only family he had left save for his aunt, in a fire and has to learn to cope with his absence. He does this by learning to lean on his friends, who help to keep him away from illegal activities and to support him. Finally, his brother's robot, Baymax, teaches Hiro to love again and to be kind to everyone regardless of how much pain he may be feeling at the moment. I relate to the struggles that Hiro faces in the film. I may not have lost a close family member, but I know what it is like to simply not fit in and to need support from my loved ones but to also not know how to ask for it. Similar to how Baymax taught Hiro to reach out, my friends taught me to come to them in my times of need. The accurate, relatable, and comedic representation of learning to develop a healthy lifestyle makes this movie my all-time favorite film.
    Darryl Davis "Follow Your Heart" Scholarship
    My goal is to benefit the world as much as I can in my career. I hope to do this by becoming both a best-selling author and a top-percentile Mathematics Professor due to my burning passions for English, logic, math, and helping others. I also plan to continue performing volunteer work and to continue helping those who struggle to rise past their adversities since I never want people to struggle as I once did. Currently, in efforts towards my career as an author, I participate in several writing competitions. I have been captain of my school's Ready Writing team since my freshman year by starting the club and captain of my school's Journalism team since my sophomore year when I took over from the previous captain. I teach my fellow students to write and our team has been winning for several years. In life, I will use writing to share advice and helpful stories with a wide audience. For example, currently, I am the project manager for a campus "Mental Health Guide," which features writings made by students, for students, about ways to manage their mental health. This guide helps anyone reading it to know they are never alone in their struggles and to learn how to manage their emotions on their own. This has brought great hope for the world to my life because I am able to see how people are coming together for a shared project to achieve a common goal: using English to make sure no one ever feels alone. I hope to continue this practice in my writing as I age so that those who struggle can become self-reliant and learn how to help themselves through my writing. Additionally, in efforts towards my career as a mathematician, I am in my school's "Fast Track" for math classes and am currently taking Calculus BC as a Junior in high school. My goal in becoming a mathematics professor is to be able to inspire my students to love their education and to improve their critical thinking skills. Both of these are necessary for life and can be learned through math; however, due to boring and monotone teachers, most students claim math as their least favorite subject. Due to my vast passion for mathematics, I am working to change this. Currently, I am a mathematics tutor for the Mel Keystone program which provides free tutoring to students who need it the most. Making learning easy and relating knowledge to life has always been a passion of mine, and I hope that as I become more skilled in math, rise in rank as a professor, and teach more students, that I can have a real impact on the world by helping the next generation of students learn to love learning as much as I do. Finally, in general, I am passionate about volunteer work and helping others when they need it most. Any time my peers look down or sit alone, I sit beside them and provide a listening ear. When someone is being picked on, I stand beside them and am strong for them until they can be strong for themselves. Once I am an adult and have more means to do so, I will work more on projects made for the entire community regarding both mental health and other societal issues. I hope to make it so that, one day, in the near future, no person will ever be left alone to struggle on their own.
    AMPLIFY Chess Masters Scholarship
    Chess has taught me to acknowledge the fact that every step I take will push me into new consequences, thus teaching me to always look several steps ahead before I make my next move in life. I have learned to be strategic and plan everything I do to avoid being placed in a tight spot, while also learning that logic can be the solution to any problem. A major impact it has made on my life is by relating to my love of Mathematics. Similar to how one must think ahead on the chessboard because each move your piece makes will give you a new adventure to tackle, one must look ahead when solving an equation to avoid making the problem more difficult. Both Chess and Mathematics require logic and critical thinking skills to be successful. This has inspired my goal to become a Mathematics Professor when I am older. I am actively working towards this goal by learning as much math as possible. Currently, I am a Junior in High School taking AP Calculus BC. I hope to become talented in as many areas of math as possible so that once I am in charge of my own classroom, I will always be able to make my students as passionate about learning as I am and anticipate their questions ahead of time so I can know how to answer them. Additionally, Chess-based logic has fueled my love of English. While, at first glance, Chess seems to have nothing to do with English, this could not be more false. For one example, when reading a book, especially in the genre of mystery, one can look at the clues given and attempt to predict what will come next in the book. In fact, this is what one is supposed to do while reading because this is how suspense and surprise are built. Like on the chessboard, one must use clues given along with their skills in logic to think ahead with each turn that is taken, when writing a work, an author must think several chapters ahead with each action a character takes. Each word they write has an impact on the reader which can make or break their interest in the work as they come to set expectations for what will happen next. Like how in Chess one must think ahead with what their action may bring until they reach their goal of winning the game, in the worlds they have written, authors must be able to have a logical consequence follow each action of their characters until the desired conclusion is brought forth. With this knowledge in mind, I hope to be a part-time author soon. I currently compete in writing competitions using my knowledge of logic and critical thinking that I gained from Chess to drive my stories forward, oftentimes winning. By doing this, I am slowly and carefully able to build a name for myself as a writer. Finally, Chess has helped me achieve a new view on life. With each move on the board, a new consequence or danger will place the King in danger. Similarly, in life, each risk taken brings one closer to their demise. However, the most important thing to do in both situations is to use logic to think around the problem and to overcome it. One must keep moving forward and never look back. Past actions cannot be undone, so one must use the knowledge gained about their opponent from the game to look forward and to overcome the challenges to be thrown their way. With this in mind, I am working to achieve my dream of becoming both a best-selling author and top-percentile Mathematics Professor by never giving up and never letting anything stand in my way for long.
    AMPLIFY Digital Storytellers Scholarship
    I will write about the adversities faced by those with poor mental health because I want to make a real difference in the world and this is the best way to do it. There are a great number of groups that face adversity and suffer on a daily basis; however, there is one common issue that unites them: poor mental health. Those who are bullied or treated differently, no matter the reason, are more likely to have poor mental health, so by working to improve the mental health of everyone struggling through my writing, I can help all suffering groups at once. Helping others with mental health is the most important thing that can be done because if you are of a strong mind, nothing others say can hurt you and you can become self-reliant and work towards your own freedom when you previously could not have. My work will be different from others who wish to focus on the issue of mental health because my work will not only focus on uplifting the mind but will also focus on helping those reading my work learn to be self-reliant in managing their emotions. Obviously, I would want people to feel better while reading my work; however, once they are finished, I would like them to be able to go about their life and know how to manage their emotions without my assistance; this would be a more effective method. Currently, I am managing a "Mental Health Guide" with my school's Gay-Straight Alliance which features student writings and advice columns related to mental health. The goal of the guide is to allow students to learn to manage their feelings and to know they are never alone in their struggles. My work will be groundbreaking as I help people to never feel alone and to be strong when they are tested. Rather than working on my own to fix the problems of society, I will give others the strength needed to do so on their own.
    Sander Jennings Spread the Love Scholarship
    My journey with self-love has been long and complex. When I was young, I did not realize that being LGBTQ+ was an option, and it was hard as I struggled to put a name to the feelings I was having. I thought that people who were different were weird, but soon I began to realize that I myself was different, which made me realize that being "different" is actually quite normal. It is those who are "different" who are often the most loving and kind, so I was proud to learn I did not have to be strictly feminine and "boy-crazy" like the popular kids of my age. However, despite knowing I did not have to be like everyone else, I still felt incredibly alone for most of my journey. Upon learning there were more options than just cisgender and heterosexual during my Middle School years, I began to love myself and slowly embrace my identity. At first, when I learned the word for how I had felt my entire life was "transgender," I felt disgusted because I knew there was so much hatred revolving around that word. I was scared to come out and did so slowly, telling my closest friends first. However, to my surprise, I was met almost entirely by support, which encouraged me to come out publically. Now that I am a High School student, I am a leader in my campus' Gay-Straight Alliance and am working to ensure that those who are LGBTQ+ have the support they need to learn about themselves since I know how difficult it is to navigate life alone. This has led to me losing several friends who do not support the community, but if they don't love me for who I am, then I do not want to be friends with them in the first place. By creating a safe place for people like me to exist, I have made new friends and found a community of people who support each other that would have felt alone otherwise as I once did. Now that I have confidence in myself, I work to ensure that no other person has to struggle with loving themselves as I did, which is why I am facilitating the creation of a "Mental Health Guide" for my entire campus. Essentially, this guide will be made by students, for students and can be read by anyone who needs it. Any student can submit prose, poetry, narrative, or visual art regarding any experiences they face. This will allow anyone who reads it to know they are never alone in their struggles. By learning to love myself, my entire world view changed. By losing hatred, disgust, and fake friends, I found love, joy, and a community of support. My goal is to help as many people as possible learn to love themselves, and nothing will keep me from this.
    Rosemarie STEM Scholarship
    To me, a degree in mathematics education means I can help to make the world a better place. Often, when people think about careers that change the world, what comes to mind are doctors, lawyers, and politicians. I disagree with this mindset, for, truly, it is teachers which change the world. By educating the next generation to become better and brighter, teachers have more of an impact on the world than any other career. My goal is to encourage critical thinking skills that can be used in both a classroom setting and in life in general. When solving a math problem, one must be able to look at an equation and be able to solve it by using previous knowledge to predict what will come next. When navigating the world, one must be able to use previous knowledge and experiences and tie them with the challenge ahead of them, being able to predict what each new step will force them to face. By honing in on these skills and relating mathematics to real life, I can make a real impact on my students and the people around them. Additionally, mathematics is a very important subject to learn, as it is used every day. However, sadly, math is often students' least favorite subject due to teachers making it feel boring and monotone. When students get bored, they stop paying attention and fall behind, which leads to further hatred of the subject. My goal is to make learning as fun as possible, which will help more students to succeed and to be able to use their skills in the real world. However, I will also ensure that if a student falls behind, they will receive one-on-one attention to catch up. I will ensure every student assigned to me will pass with flying colors, not due to the work being easy, but due to being given the support needed for success. As more of my students grow as people and succeed in life, my ranking as a professor will increase, which will give me the ability to impact even more lives as I am presented with a wider range of speaking and educating opportunities. Ultimately, my success will be measured by the number of lives I am able to improve, so the more I am able to help my students, me successful I shall be as they grow to solve problems in the world around them which my generation has yet to think of.
    Bold Activism Scholarship
    I strive to impact my community so that no person is ever truly alone in their experiences. The action I hold most close to my heart is being a shoulder for others to cry on, a safe place free of judgment, while empowering others to allow them to be self-reliant. When I see someone struggling, I always make effort to reach out and I allow them to vent to me while I provide a listening ear that will never tell them they are wrong for feeling how they feel or deserving of any negativity they face. I provide them with the support they need and I give them advice on how to no longer allow the mean voices of others or their own thoughts to affect them. However, because I cannot personally help every person I come in contact with, I am taking action against the adversity minorities and those who struggle face by facilitating the creation of a "Mental Health Guide" for my campus. This guide will be made by students, for students. Essentially, anyone can submit a prose, poetry, narrative, or visual art regarding any adversity they face. Their submission is then reviewed by myself and added to the guide which can be viewed by anyone on my campus at any time. The intention behind this is that anyone who struggles or feels alone can view the works of other students and either get advice from them, or at least know they are not alone in their fight. The set-up for this project has been difficult and I know as time passes this will become a large project to manage, but this is worth it if it helps at least one person to feel better about themselves. I hope this makes an impact on the community as well. By working to eliminate mental health stigma, we create an environment where all minds and types of people are free to flourish and grow, which will propel society forward. In addition to the "Mental Health Guide," I work as a mathematics tutor for an organization called The Mel Keystone Program which provides free tutoring to any student who needs it. Since any student is able to receive help, this helps to break down the learning barriers of kids, who are often minorities, who would be left to struggle on their own due to their teacher being unable to help and not being able to afford a personal tutor. Also, outside of the program, I offer tutoring to anyone who asks me. Often, I see fellow students struggling in class, so I reach out to them and ask if they would like assistance in their studies. If they agree, I set up a lesson plan tailored to them to allow them to catch up to the rest of the class. I refuse payment from any student because I feel that if I have the ability to help someone, I should do so, free of charge. By working to end mental health stigma and to break down the barriers keeping people from education, I hope to have a positive impact on the world by helping the next generation be more educated and peaceful, which will result in a kinder planet overall. If we can learn to be kind to one another, we can achieve anything.
    Mental Health Movement Scholarship
    Throughout my sophomore year of high school, I faced an uphill battle with severe depression. Feeling alone, I longed to reach out for help but was held back by fear of what would happen. I thought having depression meant I wasn't strong and my school psychologist seemed more concerned with me joining a gym than helping me find out why I was feeling distraught to begin with, which led me to feel hopeless. I spoke with my mother and counselor about my mental health concerns, but they were unable to help me because I did not feel I could be honest with them without being judged. Eventually, I made a friend I could trust and be completely honest with, and this helped me to recover and to get to where I am today. I want to take the kindness I was shown and pass it forward by always providing an ear for those who need to get something off of their chest. I want to use these experiences and tell people going through a similar struggle that they are not alone. I want to be someone that people can relate to, trust, and find comfort in. I'll tell them everything that I would have wanted to hear when I was struggling. In efforts to help others, I revived my campus' Gay-Straight Alliance and helped create a Discord Server that allows people to vent their troubles and gain support, regardless of sexuality, gender, or another status because everyone deserves to be happy. I hope to create a guide to distribute around my school later this year that will assist others in their mental health journey and help them to feel less pain than I had to face.