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Fatima Barillas


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Hello, I am Fatima Barillas, a queer, first-generation Latinx undergraduate student attending Elon University in North Carolina, pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology. I aspire to attend medical school and pursue a career as a radiologist to provide valuable services to my community. Growing up, I was exposed to the harsh reality that many of my family members suffered from various medical issues, and the feeling of helplessness was overwhelming. This is the driving force behind my desire to pursue a medical career. Learning and understanding the art of medicine will equip me with even the smallest amount of knowledge that can improve the lives of my loved ones, even if just a little. A smile is one of the most powerful gestures, serving as a beacon of hope, a hope I aim to provide. Currently, I am attending Elon University primarily through grants and scholarships, but I do have to cover some expenses out of pocket. Both of my parents are supportive of my college education, but the financial burden would be too much for them, especially since my father is the sole breadwinner. He has been working non-stop for years in labor-intensive jobs, and I want to alleviate the financial burden on his shoulders and take it upon myself. Scholarships would provide hope and a sense of security in my life, knowing that I don't have to depend on my parents or feel guilty, allowing me to focus solely on my education. This will be especially crucial when I graduate with my bachelor's degree and proceed to medical school.


Elon University

Bachelor's degree program
2023 - 2025
  • Majors:
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Other
  • Minors:
    • Neurobiology and Neurosciences
  • GPA:

Graham High School

High School
2019 - 2023
  • GPA:


  • Desired degree level:

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

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Health/Medical Preparatory Programs
    • Medical Clinical Sciences/Graduate Medical Studies
    • Nuclear and Industrial Radiologic Technologies/Technicians
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Other
    • Marine Sciences
    • Medicine
    • Cell/Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
    • Allied Health and Medical Assisting Services
  • Planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:


    • Dream career goals:

      Go to a 4 year institute and go to medical school for continue my education and knowledge growth

    • Team Member

      Elon University Technology and Service Desk
      2024 – Present6 months
    • Associate

      J. Crew Factory
      2023 – Present1 year


    • Band

      2016 – 2022

    Public services

    • Public Service (Politics)

      Ignite Creativity — A leader
      2022 – Present

    Future Interests






    Once Upon a #BookTok Scholarship
    I have had a love-hate relationship with BookTok- with many books being ones I do not gravitate towards. But, the more I foraged through the twists and turns, I found my place! The condition of the human spirit, dark, and insufferably painful main characters! This all began with the chance to read “Tender is The Flesh” by Agustina Bazterrica. I went in with an idea of what the book would be, expecting that the main character Marcos would somehow come out on top and defeat the ugly head of a system made to provide through cruelty- I was so wrong. I was left aghast, quite literally clutching my pearls and pacing around my house trying to comprehend the crazy ass plot twists I had witnessed. It would be an understatement if I said that I was bouncing off the walls in pure dismay due to the book’s ending. From there, I have been adding more and more books to my reading list! Currently, I am in the middle of reading “Lapvona” by Ottessa Moshfegh. Similar to “Tender is The Flesh”, I still need to put this book down and take in what I read and analyze what is happening. It took me a very long time to realize what type of main character I prefer because all my life I have read books of morally correct protagonists who fight for good and are the heroes at the end. I hate that, and hate is a strong word I rarely use. I love the perspective of a character who suffers from the human condition or emotions that are not portrayed in life as often due to their negativity. Marcos (Tender is The Flesh) has qualities that align with my preferences; he is depressed and unwilling to change his ways, but one person begins to make him change, to want to fight against the system, but ultimately he is dragged back into the same depravity that he vowed to hate. Meanwhile, Marek (Lapvona), even though he is only thirteen years old, exemplifies the complex human condition of religion and pain. As for growing my book list and bookshelf, I have a few more books I am interested in reading! “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, “Animal Farm” & “1984” by George Orwell, “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka (live laugh love Kafka!), “Beasts of a Little Land” by Juhea Kim, “How We Disappeared” by Jing-Jing Lee, “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros, “Breast and Eggs” by Mieko Kawakami, “Invisible Man” by H.G Wells, “No Longer Human” by Osamu Dazai, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte, and “The Dove in the Belly” by Jim Grimsley. I believe that these books are below the surface level of what you would find on BookTok tags, and have impacted many once they have ventured past the initial page of the wonderful and fascinating archive of BookTok.
    Sean Carroll's Mindscape Big Picture Scholarship
    To better understand the universe, is to understand ourselves. My beliefs align that individuals are born to forge their places in the universe, no matter how big or small the impact is. My place in the universe is to learn and explore all kinds of things. The passion and drive I feel whenever I learn something new is exhilarating- which I give thanks to my Biodiversity course. I never would have thought that I would love the class and coursework the way I did. My favorite subjects covered were fungi and vertebrates; honestly astounding that I was in awe of mushrooms! But, it was the vertebrates that interested me the most. At times I feel as though my hyper-fixations drive what I want to do in life, but one fixation is recurring. I love marine biology, I love everything about the ocean and the mysteries it hides. My mind cannot comprehend how vast the ocean is, how many creatures, both discovered and undiscovered lie in wait. I was prompted to make my first short research paper about ocean biodiversity, and I chose Killer Whales. I have always been drawn to Killer Whales' minds, behavioral patterns, and familial hierarchy, creating the perfect time to research and see how I felt. The process of reading articles and graphs is tiring, but at the same time, I learned so much from them. It is inspiring to read about the experimentation and data collected, it made me wonder if one day I could be doing this type of research. I hope that during my time at Elon University, I will be able to do some sort of research on Killer Whale acoustics and cognitive behavior, but I know I must focus on my main goal. I aspire to be a radiologist, and just like marine biology, I am in awe of the human body. I have no set field of radiology in mind at the moment, as there is abundant time to dabble in those fields to see what I am most passionate about. From a patient perspective, I find radiology to be a life-saving medicinal career. My mother and I share the same doctor, and I am bluntly honest when I say she CARES so much for us. We have never had a doctor ever make sure we were up to date with all our vaccines or tests- and recently she ordered X-rays for my mother's spleen after years' worth of increased white blood cell count that other doctors have ignored. From her order, the radiologist found that my mother’s spleen was enlarged and covered in malignant lesions. My family and I are incredibly grateful to our doctor and the radiologist for doing the most for us. I want to do the most for everyone as well. I want my place in the universe to be a caring one that helps all who need the help. Funds are tight, and life happens and many people are unable to get the medical care that they need to have a sustainable life. One day, after all the struggle and strife I will have my degrees in hand, and I will use them to heal. Perhaps open up my clinic, but even more enticing- volunteer. Volunteer for programs that offer low-cost, nearly free medical services. I have been inspired by many in my life and community to come to these conclusions. I hope to accomplish great things so in turn I can give back to the people I love and in need.
    José Ventura and Margarita Melendez Mexican-American Scholarship Fund
    Family is my foremost inspiration and driving force on my journey as a first-generation Mexican-American college student. My mother is Mexican, and my father is from El Salvador. Both have faced difficult challenges in their lives to ensure my siblings and I have opportunities never provided to them. I recall sitting with them outside on our porch, basking in the sun, as my father turned to me, “Estoy orgulloso de ti”, words seldom spoken by him. I could see the pride and sadness in his eyes as he continued to talk about how proud he was of me and about his experience in school before la Guerra Civil de El Salvador. Our discussion exposed me to a side of him I’d never known, igniting a deep determination to be as strong and diligent as him. As I approach my final weeks as a college freshman, self-doubt creeps in with thoughts like “I can’t do it, I’m not cut out to be a college student…” However, I stop myself, knowing that repeating them will only weaken my determination. My father’s words echo in my mind, “Sigue luchando, nunca pierdas de vista lo que es importante.” I have no space for self-doubt; I am committed to living in the present and moving forward to pursue my education. I’ve always sensed that my family was different than others, witnessing the conflicts, particularly among my siblings. They’ve led different yet challenging lives, each with their educational background. My older sister, the first-born daughter of a Hispanic household, bore the immense responsibility of supporting our parents and siblings. She would become the first-generation daughter by gaining admission to a private university, but later dropping out. In contrast, my older brother, the middle child, dropped out of high school in his sophomore or junior years, beginning on a troubled path. However, even as a changed man, his past continues to haunt him. As someone nearly 15 years younger, I understand the privilege of having a different life than theirs. Of the two, my brother has been my biggest supporter since the start. He played a significant role in my upbringing, and I remember his teachings, teachings so vital that if I was never taught, I don’t think I would even be writing scholarship essays. He emphasized learning from his and our sister’s mistakes, steering clear of drugs and negative influences, and most importantly- “Make it out and make us proud.” I still remember his words and bone-crushing embrace when I told him about my acceptance to Elon University… “You’re the best out of all of us, now make us even more proud.” The love for my family runs deep; they are the river that has paved the way through the desert, granting me opportunities they never were given. The desert is vast and unpredictable, but I am determined to continue the river, making them proud for giving me life.
    Trever David Clark Memorial Scholarship
    I have always diminished the severity of my mental health journey, accepting that I was not the only one and others have it worse. But looking back, I have realized that has hurt me more than it helped. I was never one to talk about my feelings or thoughts, seeing it as a burden on the listener who might be judging me for being “soft” or “unappreciative” for all the good I have in my life. My family overall were these listeners, but they couldn’t grasp the idea that I was depressed and suicidal because their perspective was that I had everything. I had a roof over my head and food to eat so there was no reason why I should've been unhappy. After these conversations with them, I lost my safe space, I no longer entrusted any feelings or thoughts to them out of fear. The fall of my junior year would be the worst year for me, I was seriously thinking about ending my life. I was disgusted with myself, I hated my body, my face, and my mind, and was afraid for a future I never planned for because I thought I would be dead by then. It got to the point where I reached out to my family for help, something I had not done in years. I was hoping to be met with sincerity and acceptance, acceptance that I was ill and needed help and reassurance. Instead, I was met with the same lines - “You don’t need to be sad, just be happy.” Just be happy…. Just be happy. That was their only response when I confessed to wanting to die. I was so torn after this, all I ever wanted was reassurance that everything was going to be okay, I just wanted their acceptance that I was not okay so I wouldn’t feel alienated and disappointed for feeling the way I did. But, finally, after Thanksgiving, they had a change of heart, moving forward with counseling. I loved my counselor; she was incredibly sincere and kind to me. I remember from the year I spent with her it took me nearly half that year to even look her in the eyes during our sessions. I would stare at the floor or the wall by her head, afraid to see a judging look in her eyes. But I never saw that look from her, her eyes were full of kindness and understanding, something I yearned for. She would always start by asking how my day was before going into heavier topics. I never felt unsafe with her, she made herself and her environment to be very welcoming and open to anything. She helped me so much; she taught me exercises to relax and opened my eyes to things I’d never thought of. But in my senior year, fall, I had to leave her. My insurance was no longer able to pay for the sessions, meaning I would have to pay $100+ for each session, which was something I was unable to do. I remember sitting outside my class building and holding back the tears as Annie said her goodbye to me. Looking back I don’t think I have fully moved on from Annie, but I still hold her kindness and her words in my heart.
    Anime Enthusiast Scholarship
    Jujutsu Kaisen has been my favorite ever since it was released. When I first saw the trailers I just thought oh another mediocre anime that won't last more than a season or two, but I was so wrong. The first season immediately captivated me and I went straight to reading the manga only 3 episodes in. The characters, the world-building, and strong female characters drew me in and I could not stop reading. Itadori Yuji, the main character, is a character I can strongly relate to. He is a happy-go-lucky character who suddenly has to carry a heavy burden due to his circumstances, but either way, he finds a way to enjoy the beauty in life. That is something I admire because, at this moment in my life, I can relate more to him during the Shibuya arc- scared, unsure, and defeated. Going back and watching/reading the manga when Itadori was so happy gives me hope. Another character who gives me hope as well in Hakari. Hakari is a super cool character who is so flamboyant and confident, and I wish to be like that. His cursed technique is also really cool and I can't wait for him to get animated. JJK has also provided me with the best crying sessions I have ever had. There are so many sad departures that have let me healthily release my pent-up emotions.
    Netflix and Scholarships!
    I would have never watched "Lupin" if it wasn't for my high school French teacher. We had finished learning most of the material in class and she wanted to introduce us to an immersive French experience where we only read & listened in French. Her way of doing this was letting us watch "Lupin", Netflix's 2021 retelling of Gentleman Thief Arsene Lupin. Assane Diop is a man of many mysteries, he has many faces and many names, but he has only one mission- to avenge his father. Fourteen-year-old Assane could do nothing as his father was framed for stealing his employer's, the Pellegrinis, precious diamond necklace. Tragically- Assane's father commits suicide in prison due to the shame- leaving Assane alone in a world with only the collections of Arsene Lupin his father gave him. Strings from behind the scenes were pulled, and a "generous donor" provided Assane the opportunity to attend a prestigious academy. Nearly Twenty-five years later, Assane is ready to put his plan into motion- he will avenge his father and rip corruption out of the ground by its roots. This show is phenomenal- When I saw this show has kept me on my toes it has. Usually, I have a good prediction of what's going to happen next but holy shit does Lupin throw you in for a spin. Not even ONCE was I able to predict something because there goes Assane doing the most unpredictable thing ever! Not to spoil too much of Assane's brilliant schemes but there was this one scene where Assane meets up with his father's accusor's daughter (ooooohhh), and he comes disguised as a... uber delivery man on a bike. "Little does he know" that the daughter has a mic on her, letting the police hear everything he's saying (Why are the police interested in him? I don't know :>) Guess what? He knew the entire time the police were going to be there so once the police chase started he already had his plan of escape. As police chased down Assane with his bright orange jacket and bike- he popped up behind them- oh wait now he's to the left of them- now there are ten guys in orange jackets and bikes trying to deliver food to the same area where he and the daughter met up. The police are astounded & frustrated when this diversion helps Assane escape from them. This show is truly amazing- I rewatch it every so often when I get sad or bored because I love both Assane and his actor Omar Sy. Every time I see Omar Sy in a movie or show now I can't hold myself back from freaking out cause like it's Omar Sy! Why wouldn't I freak out?! As I write this Lupin has 2 finished seasons, but October 5th is when the third season comes out! This new season is going to be full of drama and unresolved mysteries and lies- and even more phenomenal schemes by Assane. This show is a 10/10 watch and I feel like you should give it a try if you like mystery, thriller, and in general Omar Sy because that man has got some charisma.
    Donald A. Baker Foundation Scholarship
    Role models are a vital part of any person's life as they guide, advise, and pave roads of inspiration, and my older brother, Omar, is my role model. Growing up, my father was never truly around due to his out-of-state jobs. But when he would be home, I remember his trips to friends' homes to drink for hours, only to come back home to sleep and repeat the cycle of work and friends. Already having no solid father figure, I struggled early in life with support and the lack of paternal affection, but my brother filled that role. He would care for me, teach me, and push me to do my best- there was a point in my life when I truly believed him to be my father. Booksmarts taught me to focus on my academics and future goals, but more importantly- his street-smarts knowledge was the greatest gift. He taught me to protect myself, how to weed out fake toxic people, and to avoid the demons that plagued him in his youth. As a teenager, my brother faced many trials and tribulations that shaped him into the person he is now. My brother was the "problem child" deemed by my parents, who did not understand why their son was so angry at the world. Just like me, he grew up with our father being absent due to work and alcohol- to which he grew resentment for him, but also sadness as he began to seek that father figure in other men. He found those father figures in men who delved into the criminal side of life, which sucked my brother in. The stories of his youth as he robbed drug dealers, sold drugs, and drive-bys were shocking news to me in these recent years. I knew of a few of his offenses from the surface level, such as drug possession and weapon without a permit, but never of this degree. But without knowing his past, my brother taught me things that I look back on now and think- "these are things that he wished he had done." He taught me to stay away from drugs, to stay away from people who want to use you, and most importantly: to respect my parents, despite their flaws. The things my brother committed in his youth may make him unworthy as a role model in the public's eyes, but if they sat with him- he would move their world with wise words and soulful eyes that tell a thousand stories of trauma and pride. As I grew up, I suffered through my traumas and issues- becoming an unstable and angry individual. But my brother's teachings stuck with me, and I abided by them proudly. My actions are not a reflection of his worth & credibility as a role model because my choices were MY choices. My brother has progressed in life to his happiest state. He has a good-paying job, his dance with the law ended years ago, he has cut down on his smoking habits, and has been blessed with a daughter- my niece Katalina. Katalina is now nine months old, with the brightest smile and funniest expressions. As he was a wonderful father figure for me, he is an even greater father for her- Katalina is the luckiest daughter in the world for having the most genuine and humble man as her father. I thank him for guiding me down the path to where I am, and I thank him for bringing Katalina to this world- for she has saved me by simply existing.
    Andrew Perez Mental Illness/Suicidal Awareness Education Scholarship
    As a passionate being about so many things, I look back at the old version of myself and cry at what I have lost. I loved music, playing in the band, and being with my band friends who I grew up with for years- only to have it taken away by selfish people. I have forgiven the two who acted selfishly, the anger is gone, but the memories of that passion linger. I cry whenever I remember the thrill of playing football games and cranking basslines with my friend Tyler. Tyler and I were the "OG" bassline, me playing baritone saxophone and him playing the sousaphone. We would and still talk about our favorite HBCU band, Southern University, and their incredible basslines and horns. I put my all into the music, imagining myself as a loud and powerful sousaphone with my baritone sax, which would make an embarrassing squeak now and then- but everyone reassured me that I did my best. No longer having the band in my life after being in it for six years tore me down to the ground, and watching the people who loved it suffer was more painful. Many saw it as childish when I fell into a depression after the explosive situation full of lies and manipulation. But they did not understand the pain and betrayal of having a friend, who you invited into a space you cherished, end up sleeping with the band teacher. She manipulated everyone and me into believing it was lies, but deep down the truth was obvious, but to see her lie and manipulate me further drove me down into depression. It has been nearly a year now since the incident happened, and I cut her out of my life... which was met with childish denial of her wrongdoings. But leaving her in the past has made me a happier person. Having my passion for the band ripped away from me was crushing, but it made room for new passions and hobbies. Now I have the time and energy to pursue a civic project for youth artists in my county, curating a growing love for pottery and the journey of bettering myself for the ones I love. Coping is still hard for me, whether recent or past trauma. Growing up, I was angry at the world and lashed out at anyone, including my family. I was in and out of therapy but ultimately stopped attending due to the costs. Last year I started attending counseling again because I had gotten to a point in life where my only thoughts were full of anger and suicidal ideations due to the stress of the band falling apart and a stressful relationship. My therapist helped me so much, but again, I had to stop seeing her due to my insurance not covering sessions anymore- which broke me. But the coping skills I learned from her stuck because they calm me. I have other things & people in life who make it beautiful, like my girlfriend, Gabi. Her role in keeping me alive and pushing (even though she doesn't know it) is inspiring. As I grow and learn to become a more stable person, I will continue my journey to becoming a medical professional. I still don't know what I want to be, but all I know is that I want to help people. Sometimes all anyone needs is someone to listen, which is someone I wish I had growing up, but I will be that person for others. A simple conversation is enough to trigger a butterfly effect of avoidable events.
    Career Search Scholarship
    The potential careers that I wish to explore while in college are medical careers that will lead me into medical school. I have had many ideas and plans for what I want in my future- but everything changes like the seasons. My original plan was to attend a prestigious private university, Elon University & major in art! I had very high hopes of being accepted into a scholar's program that provides full-ride scholarships, but sadly I was not accepted into the program. The news hit me hard... and my future became uncertain... so I changed plans. I had to sit down and ask myself "Do I want to go to Elon to major in art and be in debt?" This was somewhat sad for me... but I know art will always be a part of my life, even if I have a different career path. It took me a very long time to figure out a possible plan, but once I did it was game on. I plan to begin a Pre-Professional Medical career path at Elon University, and once I graduate I will continue my education at a medical school, particularly UNC Chapel Hill. The medical field has always interested me since childhood because of science and evergrowing discoveries. Pharmaceuticals, physician assistants, veterinary, and radiology are all fields that interest me. Aside from my deep interest in medicine and science, I wish to help people in their everyday life through health and care. Going to pediatrics growing up, I never felt comfortable with my doctors because of how much I needed to switch pediatric centers, but one doctor was an exception. She was kind and made sure I was comfortable and happy enough to proceed with sick & regular checkups. I can still remember the crayon drawings I would give her as thanks for always making sure I was healthy. Her demeanor and caring soul inspired me to learn about the medical field and take an interest in medicine as a future career. I thank her so much, even though I have not seen her in years- but her nurturing nature still follows me to this day, and I wish to carry on that form of earnest care in a career in the medical field. My life will continue to be fulfilled the more I provide and care for people, whichever medical career I choose I know I will be able to provide that care for people in one way or another. I thank my parents, my past physician, and most importantly my ambition & passions for getting me this far in life.
    Elijah's Helping Hand Scholarship Award
    Growing up in a home where you didn't know whether your parents would shun you or disregard your life was difficult. From a young age, I took note that I never had a genuine crush on a boy. This never scared me, until one day I was called out at lunch by a boy- he had called me disgusting for liking a girl, and from there on I was scared to tell anyone or even accept my identity. Middle school was much more tolerable- I felt as though I could be who I was because of my friends. Many of these friends were part of the LGBTQIA+ community and all were either exploring themselves or had already found themselves. Being with people who understood me and loved me no matter what was a relief for me. But as high school came around I became disconnected from this friend group due to us either moving out of state or moving to a different school. This deeply pained me because I had grown deep connections with these people, especially with one of them. She was my best friend and being apart from her really hurt me, but we still tried to keep in contact with one another. My freshman year was full of strife and struggle as I fought back against my identity- forcing myself to "like" boys. The experiences have scarred me deeply and I get anxious thinking about situations that I could have gotten myself into. After these experiences I finally came to terms with myself- I don't need to force myself to live a life I don't want to live, my life is mine. I stopped forcing myself into uncomfortable situations, but the uncomfortable situations continued at home. My older sister, who claimed to be a kind woman, a "woke" woman would constantly belittle me. One night, I trusted her with my deepest anxieties, only for her to disregard my words and tell me "well you like girls who look like guys, so you actually like guys" & "you just have daddy issues." To have someone who I thought cared for me say this... was horrible... the trust was lost. That trust that was already crushed was annihilated even further when my sister outed me to my parents, after telling me to keep my identity a secret because if my father found out he would kick me out. The anger I felt was unimaginable, I knew from there that I was only being set up for failure out of jealousy. After this I stopped talking to my family about my life, even more than I did, all they knew was that I existed and went to school. I continued living life from here, contemplating cutting off my sister from my life completely. Eventually, I did cut her off due to a situation where she slapped me because I said something rude to her, but she, as a 31-year-old woman should understand that an 18-year-old says dumb stuff. But, aside from this I have been living my life the way I want it, and I am happy. The friend who I mentioned earlier that we kept in contact with despite going to different schools- we are dating now! It has been the best decision in my life to be with her because we bring the best out of one another, and we inspire one another. Without her I don't think I could have made it this far in life, she truly saved me.
    Terry Masters Memorial Scholarship
    The everyday world is an inspiring work of art itself. Nature, people, architecture, and all the fine details that we take for granted or don't even notice. I take great inspiration from the people around me and their stories. My father was born in El Salvador, and he was a young boy when the civil war broke out. The stories of his struggles as a boy/young man inspired me to look towards art from a different perspective, in an activist and storytelling light.
    Book Lovers Scholarship
    Memoirs of a Geisha is a moving and powerful novel that gives a look into the mysterious life of a geisha in Japan. This book follows young Chiyo as a child who was sold off to a geisha house by her poor father who did not wish for her to see him die as her mother did. Her life as a servant and maiko is both saddening but exhilarating. The book gives a sense of empowerment of being a woman because Sayuri accepts her fate but then she turns the table and says that her fate is hers and that she will be the one to gain her success. This book is an excellent read for anyone because of the main character Sayuri and various other characters such as the main antagonist Hatsumomo or the mentor, Mameha. The book also touches on a lot of variety underlying topics such as trauma, love, and being tied to a fate one cannot escape, but making the best of it or the worst of it. Hatsumomo is one of these characters, she was the geisha of the era before Sayuri came along, but Hatsumomo is a bitter woman and wishes to destroy Sayuri. Hatsumomo's trauma and anger rooted themselves deeply... and she became a person that was bitter and resentful. On the other hand, Sayuri took the best of everything and after everything that Hatsumomo throws in her way, Sayuri only comes out stronger due to her perseverance and inspiring strength. It is truly a beautiful book, with beautiful concepts, characters, and life lessons.
    Kristen McCartney Perseverance Scholarship
    I am very passionate about reaching others through art and helping students believe in themselves through art. This passion has come about after learning that art organizations that are targeted to help students in high schools set up connections and make a career out of art are few to none. The passion became a goal and was then set into motion when I attended Elon University's Freedom Scholar program. The program was 2 weeks and we stayed on campus and attended a philosophy class, and workshops, and created our own civic organizations. I and a few others came together to form an art organization whose mission is to support and inspire marginalized artists in our community/county. This is something I don't speak much of because it is a sensitive topic for me. I have struggled with depression since elementary school, and it has been horrible. At times I become shocked when I realize I'm writing essays to go to college, something that I never thought about because I never believed I would still be alive to do. So many things have contributed to my mental illness, family, traumas, and my own self-destruction. But when I am at my lowest I am able to finally snap out and think... but what if I really do take my life and not give myself a chance to actually flourish? I have gotten better due to going to therapy for a year but also finding people who truly love and care for me, no matter what. I honor them as people who have helped me, but I also had to help myself. I had to stay up long hours to finish assignments, essays, and art projects to keep my grades up but also to make myself proud of my work. I have had to drag myself out of my darkest points and tell myself everything is going to be okay and to keep running for the end of the tunnel where my undeniable success will be. I plan to impact the world with my studies in two ways, through my art organization, and by advocacy. These two things go hand in hand with each other, art can advocate the loudest statements, and advocacy can bring and inspire the most artistic of minds. One goal that I wish to complete and have set in the future... is opening a big Latinx/Hispanic art museum/exhibit in North Carolina. I have seen online these beautiful cultural museums in Chicago and California and wonder if NC has any of these places. I want to create this space for young Latinx artists like me to be free of judgment and be themselves, but also to bring communities together.
    Community Reinvestment Grant: Pride Scholarship
    Growing up in the Latinx community as part of the LGBTQ+ community has been difficult. The culture has generations' worth of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community due to machismo, religion, etc. I grew up in fear of what my family would say, but also fear of myself. Hearing them talk about gay people made me feel as though I was strange and not normal. I did something that stunted my development as a person, I pushed my identity away. Now as a high school senior, I regret that choice, but I understand 3rd-grade me because she was afraid of something she didn't know. Now I fully embrace my identity because it is completely normal, I am normal, and reaching out to others and telling them that everything will be okay and that they will be okay is my drive. I hope to inspire people to explore and accept themselves fully and not let ignorance crush them. Another topic I advocate about is letting the individual themselves be the ones to come out if THEY WANT TO. It is something so sensitive to the individual because it is something that they have the right to say or not to, and living in fear of coming out or being outted is horrible. I have experienced this firsthand- My sister had outed me to my dad two days after she told me to be careful about coming out because our dad might kick me out. It was a betrayal and something I don't think I can forgive because that was something for me to do, not her. Another part of my identity is being part of the Latinx community (Mexico/El Salvador) I have struggled with feeling alienated from my family because one half is Mexican and another is Salvadoran. The cultures are extremely similar, but there is bad blood between the two... for what reason? No idea. But growing up with my immediate family I faced different challenges such as machismo, racism, and toxicity. My dad used to be a big "women need to do this that" or "women can't do this or that" and it always bothered me. Now the biggest issue is racism, in both parts. I remember clearly when I was in elementary school I was at Walmart with my mother when an older white man called us a racial slur for no reason. But the most disappointing part is the racism within my family. Hispanics are well known for being anti-black and I wish to not believe it but I will say quite a few are, including my family. They may say they are not racist but when they say the N-word with the hard r and claim it's because back in the day it was offensive to not respond back with it is ridiculous. On New Year's Eve, this conversation happened with my sister, it started because she and my father were claiming that "All black people are hot-blooded and only 1% are civilized" and I did say something bad to them and I got slapped in the face by my sister. I told her straight to her face that she needs to stop being racist and that the N-word is not hers to use, then she proceeds to use it to my face. I can't understand we both have similar issues, I wish to bring our communities together because the Latinx Community and Black community are so beautiful and we can make social change together.
    Palette & Purpose Scholarship
    Art is a form of speaking because I have trouble using words, but with art, I can say the loudest of statements. It is empowering to be an artist because as artists we have control over what we put on the table. We can conjure out creative ideas and express them in thousands of ways that are unique to ourselves. Art as an empowering form of expression has also helped me in my journey of becoming a leader. Before I was more anxious and afraid of taking charge or even suggesting ideas. But with help from others and my art journey, I have become a different person. Over the summer of 2022, I attended Elon University's Freedom Scholar program where we stayed on campus for 2 weeks taking a civics class and creating our civic organization. I and a few others had come together to form an art organization, Ignite Creativity. Our main focus is to help inspire and support marginalized artists within our community. Art organizations that support artists are typically organizations meant for older adults, so our main demographic is middle school-high school students. As an art student in high school, I had always feared that my dream of being an artist wouldn't support and pay the bills. That is a stigma I want others to push away and realize that they CAN make a living off of something they love. I have taken on the role of the main leader of the group, organizing meetings, event dates, supplies, and so on. This experience has made me a more confident and sociable leader. I hope to benefit my community and bring everyone closer together through art. But I also hope to inspire students and help them feel like they can do what they love without feeling afraid. A manga that has inspired me but has also shaped my goals is Vagabond. Vagabond is the story of a reckless samurai named Musashi. Musashi wishes to be the strongest and will cut down whoever is deemed the strongest. He starts off as an arrogant young man who only cares for the rush of battle, but as the manga goes on he becomes more humble and takes in life. His journey and the life lessons he learns have impacted my goals greatly. I wish to be someone who is kind and values all forms of life and arts. It is beautiful to see how Musashi begins to value the arts, and swordsmanship which intertwines.