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Freddie Taylor


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I would describe myself as a self-taught artist determined to make a name for themselves in the field. Despite most of my experiences and upbringing being related towards enhancing my knowledge through rigorous studying, I would say that pursuing art would be my passion; art is definitely the one thing that I would say I'm determined to learn everything about, and is my whole-hearted passion. Everything surrounding art, including everything from understand the piece itself, to understand the artist's intentions behind the art, has always been something that has captivated me since I was young, since I considered pondering the arts one of the ways I could break outside my logic of thinking since I was a child. I believe that I would be a great candidate for this scholarship because while art is definitely an ever-expanding field, the possibility of making a sustainable future in creating art always feels like a risk. Every piece of financial advice and assistance that I have been offered, and hopefully will be offered, has been playing a part in chasing my dream of being an artist, and this scholarship would play a huge part in pursuing this career path. I have my eyes on one of the best art schools in the United States, because I know that I have the skill and motivation to make this a reality, and I want all of the experience and connections possible to make my future the best it can be.


School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Bachelor's degree program
2021 - 2025
  • Majors:
    • Fine and Studio Arts
  • GPA:

Illinois Mathematics And Science

High School
2017 - 2020
  • GPA:


  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Fine/Studio Arts, General
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:


    • Dream career goals:

      Creative Director

    • NFT Project Manager / Digital Illustrator

      Urban Intellectuals
      2021 – Present3 years
    • Customer Support Specialist

      Urban Intellectuals
      2020 – Present4 years



    2016 – 20171 year


    Junior Varsity
    2016 – 20171 year


    • Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

      2018 – 2020

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy — Tutor
      2018 – 2018
    • Volunteering

      Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy — Tutor
      2018 – 2018

    Future Interests





    Devin Chase Vancil Art and Music Scholarship
    Art and music has dictated the direction of my adolescence and early adulthood. Some of my earliest memories include listening alongside and watching my parents dance for hours to music of all genres; some days were soul and house music, others were modern rap, and the occasional car ride was full of jazz and blues. Thoughts about the melodies and instruments that I heard throughout my days subtly led me down creative avenues to pass my time. Doodling and sketching on loose papers, old assignments, and getting into my parent's press stamps were some of activities I indulged in growing up. As I started to age, I continued to attempt to deconstruct the world around me, looking for inspiration, reasoning, and explanations. Art and music has dictated the direction of my adolescence and early adulthood. Once I got into high school, I only started to play around with the idea of creating art consistently more. First it started with random ideas and thoughts that flew through my mind, but quickly evolved into the expression of my life and my reality. Being able to have complete control over how my life was depicted was something that felt liberating to me. Creative liberty and expression has been proven to be essential since the start of mankind; the oldest humans were known to create drawings on walls to represent the world around them, similar to how artists and musicians now use art and music in several mediums as a way to convert their perspective of the world into a space that others can see it, hear it, recognize it, and relate to it. Art and music have been two of the most popular ways for people to "escape" the melancholy of their life, or to simply express their emotions. Movie theaters and concerts place people in environments with like-minded individuals where they come together to learn about something, to have an experience, and to overall release some of the stress from the rest of their life. On a daily basis, we as people interact with art and music constantly; there's music playing on your elevator ride, or in the lobby of your building, the same way that the wallpapers and labels on products that you're surrounded by was meticulously created by someone. The purposes in which each art piece and musical composition is created varied, yet they all hold purpose: there's an emotion that is being appealed to. Attempting to create emotional connections through products and sounds is what all society has been built upon. It brings identity, life, and variance to everyday. Stories are told, traditions are passed down, and history is recorded all through art and music.
    Giving Back to the Future Scholarship
    My adolescence has been defined by the presence of mental health. My childhood called for me to grow up a little bit faster than the rest of my peers, and as I continued to develop, I started to recognize trends in the behavior of both myself and the people around me. Observing the damage outside influence can have on one's mental health, the self-destructive habits that were being passed down to my generation are something that I have grown to have a keen eye for. It became important for me to acknowledge these signs, not only for the people I care about but for myself. My battle with mental health has been one that molded me into both a more resilient and compassionate individual. While being aware of the struggles people faced and the skill of being empathetic is one to be cherished, mental health is something that you truly cannot understand until you experience it, as unfortunate as it seems. The problem is excessively rampant in the African-American community; a majority of the people in my life have turned to some type of substance as a method of coping with stress. Whenever I get around that type of behavior, it becomes clear that they're using drugs and alcohol to run away from their problems, instead of for "the purpose of further enhancing their happiness". These substances are becoming normalized in our culture as a way to stimulate serotonin, which only leads to darker emotions once it wears off. Conversation with my friends, as well as with myself; both victims of the cycle of using and occasionally abusing substances, made me realize the lack of emotional support both offered to us as children and as adolescents. We all learned our initial approaches to stress from our parents; people from an era where their resources were even more limited. As a result, we have become a product of our environment. While nothing can ever be spoken in definite terms, I believe that we have become accustomed to using substances due to the stigma in our community surrounding therapy and mental health as a whole. It's seen as a sign of weakness by some; the same that continue to perpetuate this belief are the same people running away from their problems by constantly indulging in self-destructive habits. As a way to start to mitigate and hopefully start to solve this rampant problem, I would love to start providing accessible mental health assistance to people in my community; free online resources, affordable therapy and counseling services, and even workshop classes that help people find passions that could be chased instead of seeking drugs to pass the time. My plan would start with free online resources such as creating a podcast and an online information hub alongside building an online community for those to be connected with others that might be dealing with similar struggles or with people that would be able and willing to assist them, answering any questions and creating action plans to help continue pushing the ball forward. From my efforts and my connections, I would then like to create online and eventually in-person classes where we teach and inform disciplines that can be pursued both as a career or as a stress-alleviating hobby, such as art therapy and origami. Giving back and assisting others in life fulfills our human-nature-driven focus on being social creatures, and allows for us to create communities that continue to develop within itself into the future.
    Theresa Lord Future Leader Scholarship
    My life has always felt like one continuous hunt of my passions; at times, I've changed directions, caught the right dream at the wrong time, or ultimately achieved what I set out to do. Growing up, I was conditioned to dream higher and to chase my dreams. It's a mindset that I still hold myself to. There's a type of internal drive from pursuing the idea of turning your passion into your career that has been empowering my efforts, yet I don't know how to describe it. Most recently, my primary goal is creating a life for myself defined by art; a career that is looked down upon by all of my friends. There's this stigma that art is for the rich and the carefree, ignoring the fact that the majority of the art movements since impressionism was influenced and created by the common man; people who dedicated themselves to their craft in the face of adversity and managed to shift the world. The stigma of others fueled my self-doubt when I first started to consider declaring myself as an art major, and it all played a substantial part in the downfall of my mental health. My head became an echo chamber of discouraging words and self-deprecating statements. Battling the thoughts in my head was one of the hardest obstacles I had to face because I was blinded by the voices to a point where I couldn't see the support system offering to help me. Between trying to balance work, progressing my dreams, and managing a healthy level of social activity despite my anxiety, I started to deteriorate. It was one of the first times in my life where I was tasked with solving a problem that I have never seen, nor had I seen any healthy methods of managing my stress. As a result, I led myself down an unexplored corridor in hopes of finding the light: I started to shift my social activity towards exploring my passion, and I spent more time creating art as an outlet for my stress. Being able to combine those two aspects of my life allowed me to feel like my life was more connected, instead of bringing strung out in three separate directions. From being able to be comfortable sharing my art with others, I was able to create stronger support systems for myself, as it was a window into my head for them that was previously inaccessible. Looking back on that period of my life, it was a point of development into my skills of staying true to myself, being confident with my creations, and where my interest in taking art seriously started to blossom. Throughout my life, I had never had a dream for myself that would be a passion, offered the opportunity to help others, and had the potential to help myself as well. All my other aspirations, such as being a boxer, a computer scientist, or a mathematician, never managed to fulfill all three of the aforementioned aspects. It's for those reasons that I have taken everything I've learned to chase my passion with more intensity.
    Bold Mentor Scholarship
    Mentors and role models have an opportunity to act on the behalf of someone else for their benefit. Being able to articulate the risks, possibilities, and benefits of events that you have already experienced so that they can either save themselves the time, effort, or struggle, has the potential to greatly improve the quality of one's life. My outlook on the potential benefits of being a mentor to someone is something that I strive to achieve consistently throughout my lifetime; using my experience and my influence to positively change lives. I hope through my efforts I can manage to guide people through issues and questions that I never got answered in my life. I took risks, leaps of faith, and made bad decisions because I either didn't listen or didn't understand what situation I was getting myself into. These decisions have both had positive and negative outcomes on my life, but I am now able to use hindsight bias to look into my past, understand everything that was both presented to me and hidden from me, and communicate this information to someone that might be in the same position that I used to be in. If I can guide them to the "correct" decision, then I know that my errors weren't made in vain.
    Bold Investing Scholarship
    The best tip I've received for investing is to never put money into something that you don't understand. Being able to recognize the developments and flaws of the industry that you want to invest in provides you with an advantage, as you start to establish connections between certain events and perceive indicators ahead of time that might alert you of something to be aware of; whether it be a price drop or increase. Investing into areas that you don't understand becomes more of a gamble instead of an educated risk; putting your faith and your money into the words of other people blindly, hoping that you can get lucky and profit instead of losing everything you put in. While some people enjoy the idea of gambling, investing can have long-term benefits and provides you with more resources than a casino to succeed in the market. Since the information is given to you, there's no reason to not take the time to fully understand it, then give yourself an advantage along the way.
    Bold Be You Scholarship
    Staying true to yourself means accepting any downfalls that might occur due to the consequences of your actions. What matters the most is not letting these problems define you or shape you into something you don't want to be. This includes accepting moments where your will might've weakened to a point where you fell to temptation, as well as moments where you accidentally pushed someone to the side to fulfill a goal that you wanted to achieve. I am someone that fits both of the aforementioned descriptions; I have my own mental image of myself currently, and a strong idea of who I want to become in the future. For myself, I continue to keep the ball moving by acting accordingly to my motives on a daily basis, accepting when I move off the line but always adjusting myself back. I chase the dreams that I want to, regardless of outside opinions or obstacles in my way. Everything that I do must be for the purpose of advancing myself, as it will only continually make me more of the person I want to be. To keep myself on track with my personal developments, I have countless amounts of notes and thoughts surrounding me both physically and digitally; short-term and long-term goals, ideas about how my future might look, and plans on how to get there. Over the last couple of years, I have developed a relatively strong sense of self, and I have been working tirelessly to maintain it at whatever cost.
    Bold Friendship Matters Scholarship
    Friendship is the primary emotional connection that humans yearn for on a daily basis. Regardless of socioeconomic factors, it is human nature to want to be around others. Community provides a feeling of worth that cannot be replaced. It's rather unfortunate to see people who have managed to accumulate unnatural amounts of money struggling to understand this concept since greed has a way of corrupting those around you. You will see this manifest in one's behavior, as people start to feel desperate and irate when their social needs aren't met. To those who have a sense of community, or friends at the very least, life starts to feel more clear and easier to navigate. There's a sense of mental clarity granted when you recognize that both life isn't met to be dealt with alone and that you no longer have to try to do so. Understanding that is what makes me so grateful for the friends I have today; they have been an amazing support system, from alleviating stress by having fun, to being there when I'm at my limit, talking me through my emotions, and helping me develop a plan to get back on my feet. The outside perceptive friends have of your life allows them to create paths for you, guiding you through your darkest moments. Friendship is the ultimate end goal of life, to me. A life full of compassion and being able to connect truly to those around you has always seemed more desirable than trying to fill those voids with manmade objects or attempting to purchase the loyalty of people.
    Bold Deep Thinking Scholarship
    The ever-rising focus on gathering materials and resources to further develop and advance countries and organizations already ahead of the rest of the world is forcing the rest of the world to suffer as a consequence of their selfish actions. Relentless advancement of technology and reinforcing the ease of life for those already benefitting from the system is coming at the cost of those who lack the basic needs defined by the United Nations. Every single day, corporations and nations alike are invading foreign land and utilizing inhumane treatment to acquire the resources they want so that they can sell off the fruits of the labor for their own benefit; and never to adequately pay those who gathered the materials and minerals. Additionally, the focus on constantly draining lands and people already less fortunate has further developed two issues: providing these basic needs to those who do not have them, and the global climate change that has been accelerating throughout the recent years. These selfish efforts of industrialization at the cost of everyone and everything would have to be the largest issue we are facing as a global society since it seems to be the catalyst. I believe that the solution to this problem would be cutting back on consumption and consumerism in developed countries, as well as to further develop methods of clean energy to create more distance on our reliance on fossil fuels. Once we can solve the mentality issue of never adapting in our society, we can then properly shift our focus on aiding these countries that are being used and exploited, since there will be less of a focus on what's in the land, but on the people who live there.
    Bold Self-Care Scholarship
    Managing my stress and mental health is the most important aspect of self-care personally, so I take notes of my mental state throughout every day to gauge how I feel. When I start to feel especially stressed, I make efforts to re-arrange my daily schedule to allocate time to just relax, whether that be to catch up on sleep, read a book, or the occasional Animal Crossing session. Most of these habits are also assisted by music and the occasional cup of tea; two major things that have historically always allowed me to reminiscence, instead of just thinking. Being able to designate specific actions that tend to soothe my mind is something that I'm very fond of, as it allows me to regain control of my mind whenever I feel like I'm starting to slip off of the deep end. As a result, once I start to return to my work, I feel more focused and confident, making me much more efficient than the previous work session.
    Bold Dream Big Scholarship
    My dream life would involve keeping all of my hobbies and focuses the same; only acting on them at a higher level. I spend my days currently within a mixture of creating and developing my art, and trying to assist and tend to my friends in any manner possible. My future currently will be continuing my studies with creating art, eventually creating a podcast that is focused on advocating for the importance of mental health, primarily aimed towards younger generations and those unaware of the dangers of ignoring the state of their mind. The dream situation would be able to balance a proper social and romantic life with my work as a business owner, managing and hosting a podcast, creating art, and hosting introductory art therapy courses to teach others about the possibilities and benefits of expressing thoughts their art.
    Bold Fuel Your Life Scholarship
    My primary motivator throughout my entire life is the hope of improving any aspect of someone's life, whether it be academically, socially, or mentally. While I prefer to have my personality described by others, I'd like to believe that my friends know that I always strive to myself available in case they need assistance with anything they might be going through. The feeling of knowing that you've made an impact in someone's life, little or large, is an incomparable emotion that I can't fully describe. Humans are social creatures, and as humans, we strive when we are in groups. Being comparatively adept in managing and handling mental health and stress to my friends, I often offer my ears to anyone willing to talk, as I have learned through personal experiences that the majority of the roadblocks people face on the path to success are all created in their own minds. Luckily, with a little bit of encouragement and the occasional connection, it's always possible to continue to move forward. Seeing other people succeed motivates me to continue down my own paths; similar to a reminder that I'm doing the right things.
    Bold Independence Scholarship
    Independence is the freedom to do as you please. While this doesn't necessarily mean that you are free from negative reactions to your actions, there's no one that can prevent you from performing said action in the first place. I think independence is a very strong status to have, as it allows for an individual to act on their own behalf; there's a type of personal development that can only be achieved through one's own experiences with trial-and-error, instead of simply being told what might happen. The experience itself, instead of the outcome, is always valuable, as it holds potential for tremendous personal growth, which is why I value the idea of independence so strongly. Those who grew up in relatively strict households in comparison to their friends, neighbors, and classmates understand the mental struggle of seeing the people around you able to experience things that you haven't had the freedom to experience. Once you start to gain independence, it only makes these missed out experiences even sweeter; child-like glee that can only be obtained through very unusual circumstances. Since gaining more of my own independence, I feel like I have gone through several adaptations of myself, each one always better and different than the last, as I continue to get closer to the person I believe I will end up to be.
    Shine Your Light College Scholarship
    My childhood and the beginning of my adolescence were molded by the lack of awareness around mental health from both a personal and interpersonal level. Like all people, my parents have their flaws and moments where they don't recognize the impact their words and actions might have on someone else, especially their impressible child. Many situations caused by interactions with classmates and my parents fueled my anxiety to a dangerous level; I can recall a point in my life where I started to break down crying after my dad told me to ask the cashier at Mcdonald's for a barbecue packet since I wanted one. Spectating hostile and demeaning outbursts, having jokes made at my expense, and being used as an academic example child forced me into a mindset that I just wanted to make my presence as small as possible; if no one notices me, I can simply run away from all of my problems. As I started to get older and recollect on my past, I've seen a lot of dangerous and destructive habits in both myself and those who surround me. My first two years in high school is where everything rampantly went downhill, as I became stuck in my deteriorating mind, constantly undermining and belittling myself at every moment. Luckily, since I transferred schools after my first year, I found myself in an environment where I was able to utilize proper mental health resources and receive the help I direly needed. While I am fortunate enough to receive counseling and therapy without the stigma affecting me, I know that most people don't have that opportunity, which is something that I have started to pay close attention to. My experiences with my mental health have only made it more apparent to me how important it is; ignoring it will simply make it worse down the road, and regardless of how mentally resilient one might regard themselves, it's only a matter of time until it catches up to you, if it doesn't already show in your habits. Substance abuse as a coping mechanism is a very popular habit for the people I grew up around. One of the ways I started to make progress on my own was expressing myself through art; a hobby that I am currently in school for, hoping to make it my full-time profession. When left to my own devices, I tend to create art pieces that reflect my mental state at the time, either through abstract representation or creating a piece with details that point towards events in my life. While there are a lot of talented impressionist and realist artists, I still think there is a lack of mentally-expressive artists in the limelight. I have only just started to discover some artists in this field, years after my interest fully developed. However, I want to expand further than just art, as to reach as many people as possible. My plans for the future involve creating my own business focused on advocating and pushing for the importance of mental health, using a podcast as the primary platform to discuss personal experiences, including professional advice and documents. Hopefully, with my efforts, I will be able to go full circle, eventually starting an introductory art therapy course aiming to not only get more people into creating as a form of managing their stress but to fully realize that having full creative control, painting and sketching whatever comes to mind, is a form of freedom in itself. The only way for change to occur is to make active efforts towards opening the public's eyes.
    Jack “Fluxare” Hytner Memorial Scholarship
    Influence is the psychological pull that something gives you in a certain direction. You can be influenced into almost any path in life, such as following a career in computer science or becoming a firefighter; it's only as strong of a pull as you let it. To be susceptible to influence, or to influence another, there must be some type of connection. Most people wouldn't listen to a stranger on the street as closely as they would a strong father figure in their life, so as long as someone values your opinion, you have influence over them. My worst case of adversity came in the form of the person in my mirror. For years throughout my adolescence, I struggled with identity issues and social paranoia, which clouded my vision for the future and my perception of those around me. During my darkest times, I made a stretch for any light I could hold onto, which was confiding in my friends, slowly overcoming my anxiety. As time continued and I started to regress, I eventually reached out to my counselor, who put me into some well-needed therapy sessions and allocated me time to properly heal some of my deepest mental cuts. I came out of the daunting situation a more mentally-resilient individual; one capable of maintaining his footing in reality while being able to both deconstruct and analyze problems handed to him. More as I realized that I used to run away from all my problems, I now stand in the face of them, completely aware that I am more than capable of handling anything bothering me. I am currently pursuing a "Bachelors of Fine Arts in Studio" at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Art started as an old hobby of mine, but as I started to have more mental problems, I turned to it as a method of alleviating stress. Now realizing that art was somewhat of my hidden savior, I have become deeply attached to art, hoping to use my experiences and skills alongside my passion for playing video games to start a career as a concept artist for major game and movie companies. Concept art, specifically for video games, has always left me awe-struck; the idea of having these wonderfully created yet fully fictional characters feel real is a skill that I hope to develop, and have always respected. This scholarship would help me reduce the number of student loans I am bound to take on attempting to chase my dreams. While I plan to pursue my passions at any cost, the school that I am currently attending has proven to be a substantial financial burden. Being able to secure any additional funding outside of my efforts would be both heavily appreciated and would alleviate some of the weight on my shoulders.
    AptAmigo Innovation Scholarship
    Growing up, I've realized that there are two types of households that create the most amount of drive in an individual; households where the parents are fiercely passionate about something, and households where the parents are disgusting dispassionate about everything. Fortunately, I grew up in an environment where both my parents had a mutual passion for entrepreneurship. My father walked out on the first day of his first job and has spent his entire life self-employed; driven by the idea of ownership. My mother worked as an online teacher then at a desk job to support the family as much as she could as well, before finally starting her own business as well and working self-employed full-time currently. To be born into a family where I got to watch two separate businesses get built from the floor up, experiencing and spectating all of their highs and lows trying to navigate through complete ownership, as given me known, resources, and potential professional relationships that many would pay thousands and fight for. Since my father started his business first, he was the primary source of encouragement for starting and owning my own business; a lesson that has been repeatedly told to me as early as my memory goes. While I've had my fair share of small ventures and ideas growing up, my experiences through adolescence and now working as a part of my father's business have started to drive home the fact that I want to create my own business. I've been told my entire life, especially due to my strong academics, that I have always been one to solve a problem, regardless of how daunting it might seem, or how out-of-the-box my answer might seem. But the trait that I have always shown a liking to is the compassion that others say they find in my actions and intentions. I would like to believe that I tend to act in favor of those around me, as I don't believe that many things, if anything at all, can truly be accomplished alone. Most importantly, the idea of having a community creates a non-egotistical flame inside one's spirit; both simple and challenging accomplishments feel like you did it for a purpose greater than personal satisfaction. My plans for the future are to combine the aspects of my passion with my greatest motivator: community. I plan to create a business centered around both art and the importance of mental health, first starting with a podcast, then eventually branching into sponsored and partnered events about art therapy and the benefits of using art as an expressive therapeutic tool. One of the largest issues I have come to recognize in our society is the lack of mental health resources for the common person, partnered by the dream-crushing stigma that art can only be a profession for those already wealthy. I truly believe that any person can become an artist and that any person can profit from their works as well; some of the world's most well-known artists started as regular civilians who devoted time to their craft, regardless of social acceptance. This type of stigma also plays into mental health, as there is potential for damage to be done to one's mental health when there's a disconnect between chasing their dream, and being told that their dream is "outlandish" or "impossible". There needs to be more support given to the people looking into joining the industry, as that is how the world evolves and adapts.
    Deborah's Grace Scholarship
    Adversity can be found in the face of anything. I have found my greatest challenge staring back at me in the mirror; myself. Growing up very shy and anxious, I have struggled with identity issues and paranoia for the majority, if not all of my adolescence. My greatest fear wasn't that someone might've thought lowly of me; I assumed so, and thus only started to think lowly of myself as well. Not being able to communicate confidently with others, I often found myself in a situation I could only describe as being waterboarded by a clone of myself. This clone worked effortlessly to destroy every last piece of you, despite the fact that the clone could not exist without you. For years, that was my reality. I was being backed into a corner, losing a fight I didn't have any hopes of winning. As my mental health continued to deteriorate, I started to resort to an old hobby that I had when I was younger; I used to draw and sketch on any blank spaces possible as a method of passing time. Whenever the fight would resume in my head, I would start to draw, doodle, or even just make random marks on paper as a way to reroute my brain back to reality. Eventually, I had an informal catalog of my mental state that started to resonate with the outside world; proof started to come to light that something was going on behind the scenes and that I was in dire need of assistance. Eventually, I had an epiphany; a moment that I would recall as one where I displayed a large amount of mental strength: I finally called out for help, as I felt as if I was finally at my limit. Despite the negative emotions that came immediately, I am forever grateful for it, as I am certain I wouldn't be here today without it. This cry for help came to me in the form of a one-month removal from school and the rest of my responsibilities while bouncing between therapy programs, which gave me the much-needed opportunities to finally sort out the trauma that I was running from. In the end, the lessons I learned molded me into a stronger individual; one that was able to maintain his place in reality while simultaneously able to deconstruct and understand a problem plaguing him. This resilience has shown itself in a multitude of situations, from dealing with my mental health to handling any work or responsibilities suddenly given to me. I had become someone who didn't immediately flee at the thought of conflict, but yet faced it head-on with confidence and an overwhelming understanding of the situation at hand. For these experiences, I am now a portion of the man I had always dreamed of becoming, and I'm only moving closer towards an idealized version of my mental state.
    Paige's Promise Scholarship
    My interest in art, a hobby that I have fully committed to turning into my profession, started from personal experiences drawing and sketching whenever I would get stressed. The subconscious messages I received telling myself to create as an outlet to ease my mind has put me into a position where I want to dedicate my life and my skills to the importance of mental health in general. Substance use and abuse are and have been a large part of both my mental health and my personal life. I have watched people close to me fall victim to substances, alongside their family members, and eventually, myself. While my usage of substances was relatively limited, I recall hitting a stage in my development where I was extremely aware of the potential consequences, yet I still indulged due to my manic state of mind. While I can still look back at my personal experiences and somewhat laugh about my situation, some of my worst and deepest memories have come from being a spectator to the effects substance abuse had on my friends. I can recall many nights where my friend would knock on my door and call my phone in a frenzied state until I would open the door in the middle of the night, regardless of how much time passed as I tried to urge him to sleep. When I would eventually budge, every one of these occurrences was related to nicotine, regardless of whatever substance he was on that night, whether it be alcohol or Adderall. These encounters would be relatively short, but the worst was when he finally attempted to quit nicotine; whether he was forced to due to a shortage of nicotine, or by his personal choice, is reasoning unknown to me. To spare the details, I found him in a bathroom, very obvious that the mental demons that he was running from had finally caught up. Luckily, I can say that after receiving the proper help he needed, he is alive and doing better than before. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same happy ending, which is something that I would like to change. All substances inflict some type of psychological damage or change onto the user, which makes them more unlikely to quit. On the same hand, I'd argue most people turn towards substances as a means of escaping some type of psychological pain that they are experiencing. While it might seem like the substance is easing the problem, it's only pushing it off and just like a snowball, only making it larger. I believe that the primary solution to combating the rampant substance abuse issue plaguing both the United States and the world starts at addressing the lack of resources available to the general public about mental health; addressing, understanding, and eventually resolving any trauma and grief so that they don't resort to unorthodox and experimental methods as a way to overcome their problems. Listening to people and reading books regarding mindsets and psychological problems was one that I started to get a firm grasp on my problems, alongside having a powerful yet small support system. For this reason, I plan to start up my own business centered around a podcast, using it as a way to directly relate to listeners using personal experiences as a means to opening their minds up to the idea of receiving professional help and informing them about certain terms and methodologies about dissecting their mental health. This avenue would hopefully then evolve into hosting events around using art as therapy as well; a practice into expressing personal thoughts.
    Finesse Your Education's "The College Burnout" Scholarship
    Album Title: Nowhere To Go by: [[UNNAMED unknown]] TRACKLIST 1. Lost Files - Polo G 2. POWER - Kanye West 3. End Of The Road - Juice WRLD 4. Burn - Juice WRLD 5. Bring Me Down - Kanye West (ft. Brandy) 6. These Worries - Kid Cudi (ft. Mary J. Blige) 7. GREY - Saba College has been an experience that has been very conflictual internally; I'm wholeheartedly grateful for the opportunity and the connections that I've been able to make, but the financial burden and mental stress of having to decide to commit to my major has left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Everyday seems to be bouncing between the ideas of leaning completely forward into my craft or just abandoning ship, which has made burnout very easily achieved, personally. This crafted album was curated to be able to played on loop; which would coincide with my experience with college in the last year: A quick incline followed by a slow descent into feelings of inadequacy and fear about the future. "Lost Files" is a quick tempo song that hones in on individualistic strength; a feeling of conquering despite the odds being against you. "POWER" is broken into two parts: the first leans heavily into this theme that spiritually ascends the listener above the doubts and hate from everyone around them, but the second part somberly sends the listener back to reality, where they are tasked with realizing that once you reach the top, you can only go down. The final lyrics from Kanye on the song, "You got the power to let power go?", starts to knock the listener off of their golden-plated pedestal. Both songs "End Of The Road" and "Burn" by Juice WRLD grasp with the idea of existing while recognizing your reality, trying to overcome adversity in the face of self-caused issues. Just as you start to hit a low point in the listening experience, "Bring Me Down" by Kanye West starts to play, a song all about Kanye recognizing the struggles of his life while always following these thoughts with him recognizing that chasing his dreams is the only motivation he needs to continue, supported by the lyric: "But they gon' have to take my life 'fore they take my drive, 'Cause when I was barely livin', that's what kept me alive." "These Worries" by Kid Cudi follows similar themes, with Kid Cudi constantly recognizing his mental issues while still managing to keep an uplifting theme, telling himself that he'll fight back at anything thrown at him. However, the most defining feature of this album, as with most albums, is the final song. "GREY" by Saba is a beautifully crafted song that focuses around the title; the bland and emotionless color grey. Throughout the song, he mentions both some of this best and worst moments in his life, studying the history of hip-hop and and the people around him, yet it all comes back to one word: grey. The final section of the song changes the beat to a less somber tone, and progressively gets more "chaotic" as Saba starts to rap faster. This section of the song can be seen as a descent into madness, trying to fight the idea that he ends up repeating several times as the final lyrics: "Everything is grey."
    Robert Lee, Sr. and Bernice Williams Memorial Scholarship
    The idea of "adversity" is close to the idea of "comfort" in my mind, if not even stronger. I have been both told and reminded constantly by life itself that if something can go wrong, it will. As of 2022, I identify as an African-American bi-sexual artist; three defining features of myself that are all subject to immense ridicule and harassment, depending on what situation I find myself in. The feeling of being ashamed of who I am have been found in all environments, from my home life, school, and even walking around my hometown. Despite the issues that I've faced throughout my childhood and adolescence while coming to terms with these parts of my identity, I have managed to continually persevere, only finding comfort in who I plan to develop into. The lessons I have learned, both from my parents and through trial-and-error, have molded me into a rather resilient and persistent fighter, with an ironclad mindset on how to continually advance towards my wishes and passions, despite outside influence. It's been these lessons that I have been constantly utilizing to pursue an art career and to develop relationships with whoever I choose to, regardless of the stigma surrounding the circumstance. That being said, I'm aware that the true beauty and significance in a lesson isn't from learning it, but imparting it upon others, and seeing the benefit that it brings to their life. In the future, I hope to be able to share my personal experiences and understanding of the world we live in upon others to hopefully positively impact other lives; a goal that will be communicated through both my art and my dream of eventually creating and hosting a podcast that advocates for the importance of mental health and acceptance, especially in my community. Looking back on my childhood, I've come to realize that I never had an outlet or advocate for expressing what's stressing me out or speaking what's on my mind. As I talk to more of my friends who are either also African-American or don't identify as heterosexual individuals, I see parallels between my upbringing and theirs when it comes to the importance of mental health. There seems to be a lack of communication and support in these communities, which is something that I hope to focus on soon. Being able to relate, connect, and improve someone's life has been the driving point of my personality since birth, and I want this theme to continue through my passion.
    Artists and Writers in the Community Scholarship
    One of the first experiences I've had after defining myself as an artist was during my Junior year in high school. It was my first proper art course since elementary school, and putting myself in front of both my peers and my accredited art teacher, receiving both positive feedback and suggestions on how to improve my work, alongside being able to watch other creative processes and their results, truly changed my perspective on artistry. It was my first experience with like-minded individuals who were aware of my intended message through my work, while also knowing how to improve upon it without significantly changing my intents. The most valuable lesson I learned was that all art created doesn't have to be completed solo; having outsider feedback on how something might be interpreted is always very valuable information, even when creating a piece that is supposed to be solely created under the guise of complete artist digression. My favorite teacher is named Dr. Lee Eysturlid; a history teacher I had the fortune of being a student under for half my time throughout high school. I learned various historical topics from him, from ancient war strategies that are still being used and developed in the modern age to conflicting philosophies from varying time periods. While the philosophical class he thought had the most impact on my art as a whole, I've come to realize that the teacher himself was a large role model in how I try to conduct myself daily. Dr. Eysturlid is a well-mannered and extremely educated individual, but his sometimes overwhelming confidence when referring to both the topics he's teaching and his accomplishments is something that I look up to. After presentations and reading my paper, he has told me countless times that my information is correct, but I seem to shy away from presenting what I know sternly as if I have second thoughts about everything that I say. The mannerisms in which he conducts himself is something that I look up to, and a style of presenting myself and my work that I consistently strive to work towards. I think that art, in general, is one of the only mediums where someone's personal experiences can influence others. The expression of emotions and thoughts into art always comes out rather abstract, with subtle hints throughout that tell a story about the artist's process of conceptualizing the piece. My biggest dream in life is to create my own company and community, where the main goal is to enrich the connection between creating art and the importance of mental health. This would be accomplished through holding events, where I would contract and collaborate with other artists in various spaces to both share our art and art-making processes, but also teach others how to use artistry as an outlet for any thoughts or emotions that they might be going through. For those who wouldn't be able to participate in these events, I also would like to host a podcast through the same company focused more on interpersonal conversations about mental health and the importance of treating it seriously; conversations aided by both professional research and personal experiences. I want to be able to create an environment, both physically and virtually, where people can feel safe to both release some of the weight on their chest, but to also learn how to further trek through life while being able to handle any negative situations that they might encounter later. The winter after the first semester of my senior year in high school, I was informed that I failed my calculus class; the first and only class to date that I've failed. Both of my parents were quick to express their unhappiness with the situation; close to the same emotions that I was feeling at the time. However, I felt most ashamed, because I knew that I was going to disappoint my roommate, a gracious and extremely helpful individual that offered his time to assist me with that specific course, and each time that he asked to help me, I continuously blew it off. And when it came time to tell him, he felt bad for me, as if he could already tell from my emotions that it was eating me up mentally. The following semester, as I was retaking the course, I started to re-wire my brain towards being more productive and impactful with my time; I was well aware that I had a bad tendency to waste my time doing nothing but procrastinating work that needed to be completed, yet I never acted on it, since my actions never blew up in my face, before failing a class. The entire experience was the push I need to finally start making changes in my life when I recognize that there's an issue in my workflow, or how I respond to any issue that I face in life. Instead of being complacent if something barely works, I should be pushing myself to figure out what I can change to ensure that something properly works, regardless of if I want to or not, but simply because I know subconsciously that I need to. Failing the course, while it did bring additional issues into my life, only molded me into a stronger and more focused person.
    Terry Crews "Creative Courage" Scholarship
    Both my life and my artistic vision have been molded by experiences I would consider out of my control. While I don't allow these situations to define me, they have all been monumental in my development. To further regain control of my life, and to express these discomforts that I've felt throughout my childhood and adolescence, I turned to artistic creation as an outlet; using these low moments to create pieces larger than me. I find art as a way to both alleviate tension and stress, as well as a method to relate to other people, using rather vague depictions of similar issues and trauma to help others find relief and sympathy. It's for this reason that I have chosen to devote my life to the creation of art; a common ground between helping myself, and helping others. Looking into the future, I hope to continue carrying this passion and confidence, further creating more elaborate yet empathetic artworks that also present this theme of hoping to help those who suffer in silence some type of peace in their own mental spaces. To supplement this, I also plan to start a collaborating podcast with both my art and my motivators, focused on shining a brighter light on both casual and serious conversations regarding the importance of mental health, using personal experiences, to hopefully assist at least one individual in recognizing that just because it's bad now, doesn't mean that it always has to be bad. It's these thoughts, aspirations, and personal goals that motivate me to continue creating and to continue developing myself further and further, into someone aware of the trials and tribulations of the average person, while placing myself in a position to assist them.
    Brady Cobin Law Group "Expect the Unexpected" Scholarship
    A legacy is the reputation left behind when someone passes or steps down. Hearing their name automatically creates a certain emotion or thought when brought up, whether it be for the better or the worse. When you hear the "Mamba Mentality", you think about the almost inhuman work ethic that Kobe Bryant brought to every practice, game, and press conference. His legacy has been forever left on our society, most notably the basketball community. I think that legacies are just the emotions tied to a specific name of a group or individual, and they can vary heavily. Some are remembered for their contributions to their peers or society, while others are simply local heroes, remembered for the deeds that they did to assist the common man. Leaving behind a legacy is a way of knowing that you had an impact on the world around you, whether it be one man, or one hundred. I think that it is human nature to want to be remembered for something that you accomplished while you were still alive. The drive to feel influential is one of mankind's largest innate motivations. When it's my time, I hope that people think of my compassion and my willingness to be there for anyone when they hear my name. I've spent the last couple of years developing an image around being an advocate for the importance of mental health assistance and have spent countless hours engaged in conversations with those around me, trying to help them alleviate any of the stress they have been carrying. Being there for my friends has been one of my largest motivations for getting out of bed when I wake up, and all I hope for at the end of it is that they remember what has been done for them, and they pass the favor along.
    Taylor Price Financial Literacy for the Future Scholarship
    Reminisce. A rather positive word about remembering past events, but inapplicable for me whenever I have introspective sessions about my past. While some of my days were nice, a lot of days were covered in a lot of emotional rain, where I spent most of my time stressed and haunted by the thoughts in my head. Unfortunately, I grew up with minimal to no awareness on how to appropriately alleviate stress, and I had no outlets for trying to dispel some of my thoughts. Everything I dealt with up to my sophomore year in high school was handled by any means, by myself, and as a result, I developed some self-destructive habits that I felt were necessary to stay afloat. My freshman year in high school was riddled with trials and tribulations around every corner. My home life was being torn apart, where I would spend the weekdays at one house, the weekend at another, but all seven days of the week were filled with either constantly arguing or the overwhelming sensation of being left alone for the entire day. All of my best friends growing up were in different residential zones for high school as well, so I didn't get the regular relief of seeing my closest friends' faces on a daily basis. Midway through my freshman year, one of my friends, unfortunately, took their own life, and it left me very isolated. My anxiety went through the roof, and I lost a lot of the energy and motivation that I barely had left as a direct result. A lot of my spare time was idly spent, as I didn't have many hobbies or friends to interact with. Developing several self-destructive habits was the only form of suppression I could think of, as the idea of mental health assistance is still a taboo in my hometown, so I felt like I couldn't use any of the services barely provided to me, due to me not wanting to be labeled as "feminine" or any lesser than I actually was. These habits stayed with me until my sophomore year, because living day by day was both easier and preferable at the time than setting myself up for a promising future. Sophomore year, I finally received the support that I desperately needed. After reaching what I would consider my "rock bottom", I was off-campus for an entire month to receive therapy for everything that I had been going through. The time off helped me both comb through all my thoughts, and find an appropriate outlet for alleviating my stress and issues, instead of indulging in the same behavior that commonly destroys the people around me. Every time that I would start to feel overwhelmed, I would start to draw. Even if it was just random scribbles, to words, to actual sketches, drawing allowed me to feel in control of my emotions and my thoughts, and helped me keep everything organized. It has been the sole reason why I have been able to overcome many issues in my life, such as anxiety, death, and other random passing thoughts. As a result of all the issues that I both faced and heard from all of my friends, I decided to dedicate myself to being an advocate for mental health assistance. Being open with my friends and myself has allowed me to be more genuine, more confident in being candid, and has strengthened all of my relationships. The start of my downfall came from the lack of support and information I had when everything started to crash down. As I started to have more candid conversations with my friends, I realized that this is sadly a common occurrence in the male population, where they feel completely alone in their mental issues because they are afraid of how they might be perceived if they go to therapy, or try to talk to someone about what's bothering them. It's a cycle that I do hope to break eventually, because it only enables more able-bodied and stressed individuals to pick up habits, such as alcoholism, that will eventually destroy their psyche. Being an advocate for the importance of mental health is necessary when everyone feels like every battle is only their battle to face.
    Charles R. Ullman & Associates Educational Support Scholarship
    Support. In the "African-American Male" community, having a strong support system is something that a lot of my peers lack. As a result, I see the people I grew up with falling victim to the same trials and tribulations that the elders around them failed to properly warn them of. There's a large presence of mistrust in my community that we often segment and group ourselves into sub-sections, allowing us to feel different from one another, even if we grew up on the same street. All of this plays into the same system that has allowed the people of my community to be a laughing stock in the eyes of established individuals, as the behavior can be easily and appropriately labeled as "self-destructive". If I could force one wish to come true that would benefit my community, I wish I could explain the importance of mental health to those around me. I've watched on countless occasions of my friends and classmates, and even teachers, indulging in selfish and toxic mannerisms as a way to either avoid or "fix" any issues that they might be trying to overcome. It's considered taboo to have candid conversations about mental health issues in my community, as it makes you a target for being ridiculed for being "feminine". As this common complication continues to remain unaddressed in my communities, we will continue to lose able-bodied and capable men to the struggles of depression and substance abuse. Unfortunately, I have made little progress on addressing the problem, at least on the surface level. Since I spent my tenth to twelfth years of high school out of my town, surrounded by individuals that I primarily don't identify with, most of my communication with my hometown was through the small number of contacts I kept. On-campus, however, with the small number of African-American friends I had, I stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy mental state. I constantly encouraged my friends to use the mental health resources available on campus and told them that I would always be available if they needed to vent out their thoughts. I've done the same with my friends back home; I spent countless hours texting and calling my friends, making sure that they were doing okay, and that they knew that I'm always around if needed. Hopefully, my attempts in helping my friends have created a ripple effect, where they also become a form of encouragement to their non-mutual friends. My current career path is pursuing artistry, with my ideal situation being an independent artist with a platform built around the importance of mental health. Through various initiatives, I hope to provide resources that I would consider scarce in my hometown, such as substance abuse facilities and therapeutic services. My biggest goal would be removing the stigma around mental health in general, as I have felt a large amount of shame trying to be transparent with certain organizations and peers about my trials and tribulations throughout my life. There is a part of our social culture that still resents being open about your emotions with your friends, and I hope to play a role in dismantling the taboo. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I want to make sure that every word of mine is focused on improving the lives of those struggling with anything that they feel uncomfortable talking about.
    RushOrderTees Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship
    Entrepreneurship has been one of the key traits of my father that has rubbed off on the rest of my family. Growing up, I have heard one story of my father being employed, in which he quit on the first day because he knew that working for someone else wasn't his purpose. Throughout my entire childhood, and to the modern-day, I have seen my dad build up several companies, maintaining the status of "self-employed" my entire life. Since my older brother and I both grew up under him, this passion towards creating your own opportunities has been a core aspect of our upbringing. I can recall being happy to run a donut and lemonade stand in our front yard for a summer, and the joy that I felt with every successful transaction was a feeling that stuck with me for years to come. Recently, the passion has reached my mother, and she was finally able to quit her corporate job last year to work full-time on her personal fitness business, which is an idea that I'm very proud of her for, because I've seen the effort she's put into her own fitness and her business over the years. I've seen first-hand the benefits and trials of being an entrepreneur, and I think that it's an amazing and fulfilling journey to create your own opportunities in life. The importance of mental health has been a staple in my personality for the last couple of years. Dealing with my own trials and tribulations is how I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in artistry, and assisting my friends with their own mental health issues has been one of the ways that I've greatly strengthened our friendships into something that will hopefully be lifelong. That being said, I want to be able to intertwine my artistic passion with my advocacy for mental health by starting a business that would be at the forefront of mainstream attention for mental health assistance through selling various merchandise, prints, and even creating a commentary-focused podcast discussing all the importance of mental health. In both the African-American and the male communities, the importance of mental health is seen as a taboo, where they would rather indulge in substance abuse instead of having open conversations with their friends and peers, in fear of being judged and labeled as either "weak" or "feminine", which both have negative connotations. I don't think there's enough conversation about the importance of improving your mental health, and how the amount of stress a person carries will ultimately affect both the quality and the quantity of the work they put out. I hope by creating the necessary dialogue around expressing the benefits, and providing easily-accessible information for those in situations where they can't seek immediate help, will improve the state of our society, as the statistics around suicide, especially for college-aged teenagers, is concerning. By being an advocate for mental health assistance through pushing both my artist and being transparent with my supporters and sponsors, I hope to usher in an era where the new generation feel more comfortable expressing their sorrows instead of feeling that they need to bottle up their emotions until they eventually burst. By accomplishing this goal, I would both improve society, and successfully intertwine my love for both artistry and mental health positivity along with my inner drive and passion with becoming a self-made entrepreneur.
    Elevate Black Entrepreneurs Scholarship
    Entrepreneurship has been a concept that I grew up experiencing first-hand. My entire life, I've never watched my father work as an employee; he's always been on the move creating his own opportunities and developing several companies. The ideas and drive that he has when it comes to creating his own platform to stand on have been a trait that I've started to develop even stronger in recent years. I can recall one of my earlier memories starting a donut and lemonade stand with my older brother outside of my house, and being excited every time that we made a sale; the thrill of success in that regard was exhilarating, and it was a feeling I enjoyed thoroughly until we got temporarily shut down for not having a vendor license. Since that time in my life, I haven't had any other dedicated entrepreneurial stints, but I have been known for always finding money by any means necessary by a majority of my friends. Since the idea of creating a business is deep-rooted in my system, I have decided that I want my career path in artistry to intertwine with my desires to own and manage my own finances and business. Being self-employed offers a wide range of both opportunities and chances to fall apart at any given moment. I believe that the chance of failing only makes every victory feel better, and I am prepared to dedicate my time, effort, and resources to creating a sustainable way of living for myself by building my own idea from the ground-up. I want to utilize my capabilities as an artist to create a line of products that not only promote my artistry but also have a large premise around the advocacy of mental health assistance. Deep introspection in my most recent years had led me to realize that my love for drawing stems from using art as an outlet for my stress and my thoughts. I think that it's only fair to myself that I stay true to my passion, and use my talent as a way to generate mainstream focus towards achieving better systems for attending to mental health issues. I hope to tear down the mainstream taboo of not speaking about your issues, resorting to substance and other forms of abuse to "overcome" their various trials and tribulations through life, instead of seeking proper help from licensed professionals and confiding in the friends that they have close to them. The concept of being open with your friends being linked to "femininity" and being looked down on in both the African-American and the male communities is something that I don't enjoy, and wish to break down thoroughly. Creating a line of products and services that advocate for breaking the stigma around seeking mental health assistance is going to be a journey that will take many tries and much assistance. I believe by creating unique artwork related to the cause, and being completely transparent with my personal issues through my business will allow me to create a strong network of supporters and sponsors that will ultimately assist me in creating more conversation about opening up to both therapists and your peers. These conversations are crucial to anyone that plans to be successful in life, as trauma and easily releasable stress will only hinder the progress that an individual plans to make. In full, I plan to eventually offer unique and even one-of-a-kind experiences and products aimed towards breaking this taboo, which includes lines of merchandise and eventually starting a commentary podcast aimed towards talking about topics usually avoided by the mainstream media and content creators, as nothing will ever change if the dialogue isn't started. Every great idea in life was met with opposition at the beginning. Just as the Wright Brothers were brutally mocked for their idea of creating planes, I believe that the best ideas shine the brightest in the face of adversity. As I have faced relentless struggles with my own mental and the scrutiny of my hopes and dreams from my peers, I know that my ideas and aspirations aren't unfeasible, and by dedicating my time and resources towards steadily working to build up my talents, resources, and connections, I can achieve my end goal of creating a business that incorporates both my personal artistry and the importance of seeking mental health assistance.
    Mike Rhoades It's Okay to be Gay Scholarship
    Standing in the face of adversity is where the world's strongest beliefs are challenged. Identifying as a non-straight male in the African-American community has led to a variety of issues, stemmed from deep-rooted homophobic traits. When I first started to stray away from being straight, I initially was met with my own issues with homosexuality, as I can recall being one of the majority of kids growing up using homosexual slang as a way to offend each other. I had homophobic tendencies, simply because I had a large issue accepting the fact that I might be gay, despite my upbringing. While I can't say that my parents or my older brother are necessarily homophobic, I believe that everyone in my family has had their moments of not tolerating "feminine" traits in men. As the stigma towards homosexuality broke down in my family over the years, I still cannot say that I am completely comfortable being a homosexual male. I'm not shy about my identity, but I choose not to inform any of my friends due to the potential outcomes of the dialogue if my sexuality isn't mentioned explicitly. However, I believe that my own adventures through understanding homosexuality and other viewpoints of life outside of the traditional cis-gendered heterosexual male path have allowed me to become a more understanding and relaxed individual. The largest challenge I have faced throughout my discovery experience has been with myself. I'm not afraid of losing friends due to any circumstance, so I cannot say that I've been afraid of losing the few friendships that I've held over the years. I lost a lot of sleep my sophomore and junior year trying to come to terms with my newfound sexuality, as at the time, none of my friends or family identified outside of any of the "norms", except one person. Throughout my questioning period, I had countless conversations and spent countless hours talking to them trying to understand how to come to terms with it all, and they told me that the best way was to not think about it. If it felt right, then it would be something that I could identify with. There was no need to rush a label onto me, and that advice has been one of the staples of my self-identity that I cannot thank them enough for helping me understand. Defeating my own mental demons related to my identity made coming out to some of my peers an easy task, as I didn't feel much stress from just talking about myself. Since I've started to an identity outside of being heterosexual, I started to realize just how much heterosexuality is shoved into everyone's face, and because that it's considered normal, how much people don't notice it. The majority of the songs and media that you will found being popularized and being shown off is primarily heteronormative, which is something that I never realized before removing myself from the situation. While I don't see any issues with it, I do hope that more homosexual messages can be more accepted in mainstream media over time. Realizing the lack of homonormative messages in society has also led me down a path of realizing just how deep-rooted homophobia is in our societies. My friends, whether they be natural citizens or first-generation immigration, have told me about how homophobic and occasionally racist their parents are, and I think that speaks magnitudes on how long the idea of being homosexual has been demonized. Even in recent news, the Vatican has doubled down on their stance against homosexuality, and while it is their religion, which is widely practiced, it shows me that the issues have not disappeared in recent times and that it doesn't seem to be getting better. I think my generation has done a wonderful job in expressing themselves publicly and making their voices heard, but they are still the vocal minority, and I can see the resentment in my friends' faces when we talk about events such as Gay Pride parades or anything that includes flamboyantly embracing their sexuality. It's a hypocritical dagger that is always pointed towards the homosexual and non-heteronormative community. Despite my community being primarily against the acceptance of being homosexual, I don't plan on changing my viewpoint on my sexuality, as it's not up to the public on how I should live my life. As long as I'm comfortable with who I am, I can learn to exceed and be my own man, regardless of what others have to say about me. There are always challenges presented in life, regardless of your race, sexuality, religion, or any other discernible trait, and being able to figure out how to stand together, and overcome the adversities is one of the key traits of the successful.
    Future Black Leaders Scholarship
    Throughout high school, I accumulated over 200 hours of community service, most of the time being spent as a volunteer for my school's various academic programs held for lower grades over the summer and the weekends. In the summer between my second and third year of high school, I spent three weeks on campus as a tutor for students in between the sixth and eighth grade, primarily focused on math, but also being on-call assistance for science, reading, and SAT prep. During my senior year, I worked every Saturday for several hours as a tutor for kids ranging from third to ninth grade, being both a teacher's aid for several classes, but also as academic assistance for the students. Currently, I am employed at Urban Intellectuals as one of their "Customer Support Agents", along with working intensely behind the scenes on other projects and back-end assistance. The only roadblock that stops me from chasing my dreams of becoming an established artist is the financial backing required to attend school without creating an enormous pile of student loan debt for myself. I've designed the "School of the Art Institute of Chicago", or SAIC, as the school of my dreams, and the school that will grant me access to all of the facilities and connections necessary to become a staple in the artistic community. However, the finances required to attend SAIC were more costly than previously imagined, and I've realized that my dreams might have to be postponed for another year if I cannot find lower the cost of attendance. Being listed as the winner of this scholarship would be a huge step towards pushing the tuition price down to a reasonable and affordable price for my financial situation. Upon graduating with a BFA in Studio Art, I plan to develop my skills to become a completely self-employed artist, utilizing my connections and my talents to create a team dedicated to providing artwork to companies and creating a platform dedicated to the advocacy of mental health assistance. These goals can be easily achieved by using my time wisely in school to develop strong connections with advisors, peers, and companies, then using these connections to leverage myself into strong areas regarding social media presence and developing my talents further to become the head of my team.
    Darryl Davis "Follow Your Heart" Scholarship
    The importance of advocacy has been one of the primary premises of my personality since my social abilities developed. I grew up in an environment where I never felt necessarily comfortable with my personal set of skills or traits, so I found it very easy to just be the supporting character to my friends. Dealing with anxiety has always been a strong limiter on my social capabilities. As I've grown older, I realize that the few friendships I had were very strong connections due to the support that we gave to one another, instead of just being built upon being seen as socially active. This small yet effective emotional bond that is active within all of my friendships has been the basis of my entire social life, and hopefully my career, as I hope to use my art to create an area where people can seek and find conversations about the importance of mental health and resources that can answer the questions that they might be uncomfortable asking in person. Being there emotionally for someone is one of the easiest ways to give back to your friends. It's more memorable to see someone there for you when you were at your lowest than them giving you a gift at your highest moments. The people that stick around you regardless of the state of your emotions are the people that deserve your time and companionship. I've always appreciated the friends that would keep the situation completely honest with me, even when it would hurt. It's in the face of adversity where the strongest ideas and intentions shine. When I told my friends that I wanted to pursue a career in artistry, they had every right to feel concerned, and they definitely did not hold back on their honest and immediate stance on pursuing an art degree. While my attitude towards my dream was definitely tainted by the response received, it only made me more eager to understand why I would want to receive the degree, and what benefits attending school could present to me. The honesty that my friends communicated towards me, coupled with their unwavering support in helping me determine my future path, has been a level of support that I never experienced previously. I have many hopes for my future. Being a large advocate for mental health, I hope that my career in the art field will eventually intersect with my passion of being a supporter of conversations regarding mental health, and tearing down that taboo in my community. The excitement I feel when I watch someone pick themselves up and continue down the beating path is almost an unparalleled experience, and I hope that the feeling never fades away. Being introspective about my own trials and tribulations, and understanding how I came over my own issues was the only reason why I was able to determine that I enjoyed drawing and that I wanted to pursue a full-fledged career regarding my artistic talent. I believe that the two concepts of art and mental health are intertwined in my mind, where I cannot imagine one without the other. Being heavily goal-oriented in recent years, I have almost no doubts in my mind that I won't accomplish my goal of pursuing my dream of becoming an artist if I keep my mind on it. That being said, when I finally feel the accomplishment of being an artist, I can start using my talents to effectively become an advocate for mental health, and change the toxic mindset that has been engraved into both the male and the African-American community.
    A Sani Life Scholarship
    2020 was a year that I harbor no good memories towards. The highlight of that year for me was that I didn't have to take any finals due to the pandemic sending all the students home for the rest of the semester. However, I lost almost 3 months of good times with my roommate, someone who I adore deeply, and I do miss, as a trade. To further press down on the open wound of feeling socially isolated for months, my parents decided to have me take a gap year, skipping the 2020-2021 school year, due to their concerns about the severity of the pandemic. While I cannot blame them for making that decision, as they are trying to make the best choices regarding my health, I also cannot say that it did not leave a bitter taste in my mouth. As a result of not going to college, and my parents' overwhelming fear of contracting COVID-19, I wasn't allowed to visit the majority of my friends for the last year, spending all of my time inside and at my computer. It's been a sobering journey the last year, full of introspection and trying to alleviate the stress of feeling stuck inside a home. One of the largest lessons I've learned as a result of all my plans being flipped upside down by the pandemic was that I need to appreciate more memories during the moment. A lot of my time recently has been spent reminiscing some of the highlights of my high school experience through memories, or Snapchat pictures. Even though I spent a lot of time preparing myself to eventually leave my roommate at the end of the school year, being abruptly separated from him, and told that I wouldn't be able to see him against for a while, did a lot of damage to my mental. He was there for me every single night, and I grew accustomed to knowing that he would always be there for me when I wasn't doing well. Feeling separated from my friends led me to completely isolated from all social media, as it only hurt when I saw my friends doing things such as gathering together and attending college, while all I could do was watch. The amount of pain caused by having to be a spectator to spectacular events when I felt like I should've been there to experience myself, is a type of emotion that I cannot describe well, other than it hurt deeply. I hope to eventually forget every experience from 2020, as none of them has good lessons or value innately. The lessons I've learned from my experiences were due to deep introspection and dissection of what occurred and trying my best to find something that wasn't negative that I could take out of it. Moving forward, I hope to use the grief and anger I felt from being in quarantine for the last year as motivation to chase my passion wholeheartedly, in fear of being stagnant yet again. Goal-oriented and strong-willed, I've been paving a path for myself in artistry for the last couple of years, and I've only been moving stronger since I started to feel empowered to finally remove myself from my current situation. Luckily, the school of my dreams, the "School of the Art Institute of Chicago", considered my declination as a deferral, and I've been working lately to secure the financial backing needed to attend confidently. I told myself my junior year that I was going to stay true to chasing my dreams, and I'm finally ready to put them into reality. Despite being considered a nightmarish year for me, I'm not sure how life would look if I forced attendance to college this year. I feel like it would still be filled with an overwhelming amount of uncertainty, both in current world events and in my artistic skills, as my talent has matured a drastic amount since I've been out of school. Regardless, I feel optimistic about what the future holds for me, and I am eager to continue chasing my dreams of becoming an artist.
    Nikhil Desai "Favorite Film" Scholarship
    Despite growing up not being very interested in sitting still for two to three hours to watch a movie, I've always been intrigued by Quentin Tarantino's movies. They are always interesting concepts, and as I matured, the quality of the screenplay, acting, and background scenery of his movies never fails to appease me. In particular, I would have to say that "Pulp Fiction" is by far both my favorite Tarantino movie and my favorite movie of all time. The scenes are hilarious, yet still meticulous, and reveals much of the plot and backstory of the characters flawlessly. Primarily, the source of why "Pulp Fiction" beats out other Tarantino movies, such as "Kill Bill, Vol 1", is because of my roommate during high school; a great friend of mine who is a huge movie addict. I have many good memories of watching movies with him over the three years we resided together, and he would re-watch movies he's already seen so he can point out things that the average viewer wouldn't catch on their first watch. The detail in which he could talk about "Pulp Fiction" has definitely been one of the reasons why "Pulp Fiction" is high on my personal movie list.
    Sander Jennings Spread the Love Scholarship
    Confidence. A trait that I watched exude out of my older brother, but was something that I lacked growing up. As early as my memory goes, I can recall always being a quiet kid, usually not speaking unless spoken to, and not very confident to try and present myself to my peers to make friends. This developed into a fear of social interaction, and this anxiety has been one of the main sources of my self-hatred, as I always wanted to be more talkative, but the idea of being mocked led me to never talk. Anxiety has pulled many strings to try and hold me down. Attempting to overcome my anxiety only brought up more immediate issues. As high school progressed, I started to become more comfortable with my small group of friends that helped me slowly break down my social anxiety. I realized then that majority of my "friends", or the people around me were kept around simply because I was afraid of not having anyone to talk to, and not because of any other benefits. Because the friendship was rooted in toxic intentions, I had to start slowly cutting down my friend group until I was left with the people who were positive influences to me. Being able to accept that not everyone should be my friend, and learning who to trust and who not to trust has branded the idealization in my head that to succeed in life, I need to do for myself, no matter the cost. Breaking out of my shell has opened a wave of opportunities for me, and allowed me to perform stronger in school since I conquered my fear of asking for assistance. Since acquiring this newfound confidence by finally learning to love and accept myself, I've started to make strides towards the goals that I want to achieve, not just walking towards whatever is in front of me. Being confident in my abilities has allowed me to declare my intents without fear of scrutiny, and I can pursue a career in artistry undeterred by the barrages of uncertainty and mockery from some of my peers. Advocacy for the importance of self-love and acceptance is something not promoted in my community. It feels like everyone is arrogant as a defensive tactic, as they don't feel comfortable accepting who they are and using that as their confidence. My personal journey with finding my own self-worth has led me to become an advocate for self-worth and mental health as a whole, which is something I hope to reflect on through my art.
    Mental Health Movement Scholarship
    Sophomore year was my lowest point in terms of my mental well-being. I was becoming increasingly anxious about social activities, and I started to let my grades drop as a lack of motivation to do anything outside of laze in my bed for hours at a time. As time went on, and my condition continually worsened, I eventually was forced off campus for a month to receive therapy, which my school labeled as a "Mental Health Leave (MHL)". During this time, I spent countless hours indulging in introspection, trying to understand what was preventing me from feeling okay, and how I could overcome this mental barrier. Therapy and self-analysis led to me realize that I lacked a way to effectively communicate and work my way through some of the outstanding mental issues I had built up from previous years. The taboo in my community that plagued my mind, making me feel lesser for attempting to solve my issues in a manner that wasn't substance abuse eventually left me heavily conflicted on how to resolve my thoughts without feeling "lesser". As time went on, and I reflected more on my situations, I finally understood the importance of communication when it comes to mental health, and how crucial it is for someone who is struggling to feel validated in their emotions. The lack of validation mixed with no outlet or support leads to a dangerous concoction of emotion that can eventually turn fatal, which is why I've made outstanding changes in my personality to become a public advocate for the importance of mental health assistance. Being able to assist someone through the same hardships that I've faced has been a feeling of relief matched by none. The silent mass of individuals suffering through mental trauma are having their potential dampened by the weight of their struggles, and all society has done so far is stigmatize and ostracize those who are brave enough to speak out on their issues, and I think that it's finally time for a change in our communities.
    Mechanism Fitness Matters Scholarship
    Fitness has always been a core value in my household. My father was an outstanding athlete in college, while still keeping his fitness momentum into his late 30s by being an avid runner. My mother has always been passionate about fitness, leaving her office job in recent years to start her own personal fitness business, as a certified personal trainer. I can recall various events when I was younger, traveling around my state to support either one of my parents in their races, such as 10Ks and even marathons. Watching them train for events always fascinated me, even though I never made such thoughts obvious. Despite coming from a household focused on the importance of fitness and healthy eating, I managed to fall in between the crack, allowing myself to become vastly overweight throughout my middle school experience. By the time I reached high school, I was facing identity issues and insecurities due to my weight. High school is when I started my journey to start a healthier lifestyle for myself. I was very unathletic by my freshman year in high school. I didn't play any sports coming in, and I didn't exercise on a daily either. As an effort to start an active lifestyle for myself, I joined my school's tennis team and participated vigorously in my fitness class, where I held a record for my personal class for the strongest leg press. By the end of the year, I dropped 10+ pounds, and I felt my confidence increase tenfold. It was a feeling that I kept integral to myself even when I switched schools, and started to become a regular at the gym. Even when I wasn't able to play sports, I kept myself in relatively good shape by working out each day, watching how much food I consumed on a daily basis, and walking about a mile every night around campus. The primary benefit from all of my effort was being comfortable to walk around without a shirt on; a feeling that I spent several years of my life not being able to enjoy. Looking down at my body, knowing that I can be proud of what I see, and knowing what I'm physically capable of, is an empowering feeling. Throughout the pandemic, my family has converted our basement into a personal home gym, where I now work out 4-5 times a week. Being able to keep my weight down during this time of uncertainty has definitely been a large stress alleviator, as I spend the first half of the lockdown purely gaining weight. On top of the confidence boost, being able to keep my weight down brings about a variety of health benefits, which is very important as a lot of heart disease runs in my family.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    Taboo. In the African-American community, talking about your mental health is considered taboo. Growing up, I've watched countless cases of both my peers and adults choosing to indulge in substance abuse, spousal abuse, or attempt to hide all signs of trauma possible, instead of seeking help. Especially in the male community, where conversations about your emotions are considered "feminine" and are looked down upon, I've both been a victim and can think of friends of mine who have suffered as a result of this overwhelming stigma in my community. Since finally overcoming what I would consider the lowest point in my life, I've become an advocate for destigmatizing the benefits of mental health assistance and communicating that it's okay not to be okay. One of the largest issues that teens my age face is a lack of validity and confirmation that the way they feel is understandable, which only adds to the various layers of crises that they face on a daily basis. Mental health, both suffering and overcoming it, has played a major role in my development in my teenage years. The biggest barrier that I had to overcome was my fear of letting people in on the trials and tribulations that I was facing. Due to me being a very anxious and worrisome person, I had a hard time forming strong relationships with my peers because I felt very distant from them. I would worry that I always did something wrong and that they didn't want me to be there, and it caused a lot of social stress when I started attending a school away from all of my friends. Midway through my second year of high school, I was removed off of campus for an entire month for a "Mental Health Leave (MHL)". During my MHL, I was forced to attend therapy, where I finally confronted my fear of talking to others about my thoughts. A lot of the stress that accumulated throughout the years was due to me never feeling like I had an outlet to talk about any of my issues, so I suffered from years of mental torment because I could never find a way to properly express anything without fearing backlash or social repercussions. When I returned back to campus, I was able to have long and engaging conversations about their concerns about life, because I was finally able to let go of years of emotional baggage. My mind felt clear, and I could finally see and understand the signs of my friends' struggles better because of it. Being able to start a dialogue with my friends, and allowing them to finally feel safe and comfortable talking to a friendly face instead of an authoritative figure about anything on their mind allowed me to create some of the strongest relationships I've ever had in my life. I realized that they too were just as desperate to find an outlet to alleviate some of the tension, but they also struggled with finding a comfortable place to talk about, due to the stigma and the taboo present in their communities as well. During my time trying to understand how to voice my frustrations, I realized that while I was lucky to have a handful of resources where I could comfortably vent some of my thoughts, the thought of it still never felt pleasant, due to a lingering fear that the information would reach the ears of people I didn't want to know. Heavy introspection led me to understand that I've always had an avenue of maintaining stability in my mental state: art. Looking through old worksheets and notebooks was when I realized that I used to doodle constantly when I felt my mind wandering off to unpleasant alleyways. From that point forward, I started to devote myself to artistry. It had become one of the only hobbies that I enjoyed, and wanted to improve at. Tribulations with mental health have been the sole reason why I was able to find purpose, and assign a goal to my future. Since then, I've always set myself little checkpoints; markers that would help me determine how far along I've come on the journey of pursuing my passion, and making sure that I always stay on track to continually move forward. Understanding the inner depths of my mind has allowed me to finally become free from the shackles of depression that I used to be linked to. I've been able to look at everything in a different manner, feeling enlightened and eager at the thought of sightseeing and experiencing new situations, instead of feeling burdened by the idea of having to leave my room and socialize. Contemplation is the reason that I understand that the state of all affairs lies in the hands of mental health. Being able to control your thoughts and emotions is a powerful tool that is grossly overlooked in my community, which has led me to become an outstanding advocate for finally tearing down the taboo that has left so many of my peers plagued. Once the true dangers of falling victim to substance abuse to "solve" your issues become exposed, and the value of using the mental health resources available becomes widespread, I believe that the majority of people suffering from mental illness will finally recognize the potential that they offer to society. -intro -relationships -goals/world -conclusion
    AMPLIFY Chess Masters Scholarship
    Strategy. Life is a game full of tactics and strategies to always put yourself in an advantageous situation, and chess is no different. Understanding the basics of chess, such as the name of each piece, and how they move, is all it takes to start playing. As you start to study the game and learn all of the known strategies, tactics, and openings, is when expertise starts to develop; you feel like you're always one step ahead of your opponent, due to your superior knowledge. I believe that the same principles hold for life, and simply being aware of life's grand strategies and the skills developed from playing chess has given me a competitive edge over my peers when it comes to executing my goals. Growing up playing chess, one of the first things I realized on why I continually lost games to my older brother was that my moves were predictable. Either that, or my brother had the foresight that I lacked, and he was able to predict some of my future moves and adjust accordingly. Understanding how to read the situation in front of you, predict some of the future events, and react perfectly to them, is a skill that can be translated outside of life. Even though life is considered unpredictable, a large number of events that someone could expect to encounter can be navigated perfectly, if they spend the time preparing for it. Every situation that you encounter, whether the outcome was positive or negative, is a chance to learn from it, and use those experiences to become a better person, or in chess, a better player. For example, a new player in chess might lose to "Scholar's Mate", a simple yet easily avoidable mate-in-four. To someone who has become familiar with the opening strategy, they could never imagine losing to such an amateurish checkmate. These thoughts are exactly parallel when watching someone deal with an issue, such as not being properly prepared for a quiz. To someone with experience, they know exactly how to avoid such an undesirable situation, and finds a way to put themselves in a better environment, such as simply studying, or asking a teacher for assistance before the quiz. This is one of the major concepts from chess that I realized has played a large role in my upbringing. Being able to prepare for the future, and setting up favorable circumstances for yourself, is not a foreign idea in the real world; all it takes is someone to simply set up a goal for themselves. Humans are naturally goal-oriented creatures, so when you know exactly what you are working for, humans tend to feel more motivated and eager to reach their destination. Using this exact philosophy, I've realized that I can accomplish my goal of becoming an artist if I make it my main goal. From there, I am able to develop strategies and understand what needs to be done to make it a reality. There are always several ways to approach a challenge, similar to chess, and by properly analyzing my situation, I can begin my journey properly. I do believe that creating a sustainable future for myself in pursuing my passion for art is an achievable goal for myself, and I've been working for several years now to put myself in a position to always move forward, such as taking art classes, gaining favor with my teachers, and spending time daily devoted to my craft. The more practice put in always benefits the player, and I am eager to learn everything I can about my desired field. Without a doubt in my mind, introspection has allowed me to realize that chess has played a substantial role in my upbringing, allowing me to become the goal-oriented and studious person that I am today. Creating goals to continually strive for allows me to reach my full potential by being reminded that I have something to work for. Chess is ultimately the first example of a game that constantly evolved in my mind as I studied more, and always left me with more options to conquer my opponents and become victorious through various strategies and tactics.
    AMPLIFY Mental Health Scholarship
    Mental health is a universal issue that is not talked about enough. Everyone has either suffered the consequences of poor mental health or knows someone who has suffered, whether it be a friend or family. Despite this, there is still a large stigma around seeking treatment for mental issues, and the conversation is usually avoided. People would rather laugh about drinking all of their sorrows away instead of going and receiving therapy. Since high school, when I started to notice all the signs of someone's depreciating mental health, I started to become angry with the lack of information and resources available nationwide for those who do find themselves suffering from some type of mental trauma. Since my sophomore year, I have allowed more and more portions of my life to be dedicated to mental health, whether be through solving my own issues or giving up time to help someone with their trials and tribulations. I am a firm believer and advocate for breaking down the taboo walls surrounding receiving the mental health support people so desperately need. Introspection in more recent years has led me to realize that my earliest years in life were dictated by the mental health of the people surrounding me. It has always been an outstanding issue, yet it's an incredibly strong taboo in the African-American male community, as anything related to your feelings was considered "feminine" and was frowned upon. As I look around me, I see how that has shaped up and affected some of my classmates, watching them grow up heavily indulged in substance abuse and partner abuse. Unfortunately, I had to watch one of my friends suffer the tolls of trying to avoid substance abuse while dealing with mental trauma, and they eventually lost the uphill battle in trying to overcome their personal demons. From that moment on, I had to start pondering how to alleviate these stressors without divulging into the same abyss that I've watched both friends and family fall victim to. My sophomore year, when I was at my lowest, was when I finally realized what was my ticket to escaping the destiny I seemed lined up for. I started to become very passionate about art; the idea of being able to have my drawings speak for me when I couldn't find the words personally was a concept that I became mesmerized by. Looking back onto old worksheets, I realized that drawing has always been something that has grounded me, or stopped me from getting trapped into nightmarish thought sequences. Art became a window of opportunity for a future that looked previously so bleak. As the years passed by, and I improved on my skill, I realized once again that art can be therapy for someone who isn't even involved. This is why two of the main staples in my life are artistry and mental health. I thoroughly enjoy helping others escape the pitiful depths of mental solitude because I hate to see people suffer. I aspire to use my talent to create a platform for myself where I can create conversations about the importance of seeking mental health assistance, and answering the questions that I couldn't ask when I was younger. Everyone looks for validation daily, yet there are very few places today where they can find it. Moving forward, my end goal is to become an independent artist with a brand that focuses on the importance of mental health and self-confidence. Too many people are lost each year due to suicide, and too many people lose out on amazing opportunities due to a lack of self-confidence. I believe that creating a platform that offers easily-accessible affirmations and communication tools would allow me to break down the societal taboo of mental health, and will ultimately usher in an era of positive change.
    Impact Scholarship for Black Students
    Many opportunities in life can be locked away due to circumstances out of your control. As an African-American, I felt the stigma around my academic capabilities throughout my entire life, and especially when I entered a high school that wasn't predominantly made up of people that look like me. Being a student seen as "above-average" in the school system, I only reached this level of potential due to the effort my parents put into my upbringing. I've heard stories of how they clashed with the administrators of my school district to allow me to be constantly challenged, and I'm greatly appreciative to have parents that would put that amount of confidence in me as a child, to put themselves into those situations. Every chance that I get to move forward, is met with opposition as someone always has the gall to see me fail. Every chance that I'm met with opposition, I've always moved forward. In most recent years, I've been met with a substantial amount of questions regarding my future. I spent the first half of my high school experience bouncing between several majors, and a lot of external uncertainties left me uncomfortable with the fate of my future. Everything that I was doing was clockwork, or to prove someone wrong that I didn't belong at the school. The end of my sophomore year was when I had my realization: I want to pursue an art career. That decision was met with opposition from everyone that remotely cared for my future. Despite all products having some type of artistic direction behind them, there's a large stigma that it's not a worthwhile profession, or that the odds of making a sustainable amount of money is slim. I had to spend a lot of time pondering these thoughts, as the money that would need to be spent to go to college was starting to feel like a waste, and that I should pursue something that I know could pay the bills. One realization I had that propelled me to chase this career path was that life is too short and filled with hardships to spend the majority of my time and earnings doing something I don't enjoy. I told myself that I am determined to make my dreams a reality and immediately started to put in the time and effort to prove to myself primarily that I am destined to fulfill this passion. My main goal in life is to pursue my dream of being an independent artist. I want to be recognizable due to my monikers and my projects, and not due to the company that employs me. I need to make connections personally with the people and companies that I want to work with, and I need to create a name for myself on social media. To find the connections, and to build up the necessary skills to become a competitor in the market, I've chosen to apply to some of the most prestigious art colleges in the country, and I consider myself fortunate to be awarded the opportunity to attend the "School of the Art Institute of Chicago" (SAIC). The skills and connections that I've been looking to improve on are now within reach, and I am fully prepared to market myself into a situation where everyone knows that I belong there. I spent two years before being accepted working on my talent independently, and I am now prepared to spend the next four years studying under professionals to help promote myself and my artwork to the masses. Coming from a background full of self-made entrepreneurs, I am aware that dedication to your craft is one of the strongest tools needed to create a sustainable future for yourself from no foundation. I've been preparing my whole life to face new challenges, and even with every failure, it's a chance to learn, recover, and attack once again.
    KUURO Master Your Craft Scholarship
    "A picture is worth a thousand words". Art is capable of speaking so much, while visually contributing so little. It's an intriguing mystery to me how non-verbal forms of communication can provide so much more information than most humans could ever hope to speak. This fascination with the arts has led me to pursue artistry as a career, as the free will to create my own masterpieces while being able to open up dialogue is a trait that I believe the majority of popular fields in life lack. I am who I am today, due to mental health. My dedication to art started when I realized that doodling on the side of my worksheets was one of my only outlets for stress and that I truly enjoyed drawing; a statement I couldn't say about anything else at the time. The lack of motivation to do anything else was the fuel I needed to take becoming an artist seriously, in the face of all opposition. I realized that if no one else would support me, then I would need my art to speak for me. Because of this, more of my recent projects have been focused on symbolism, where I can feel comfortable projecting some of the thoughts I have on my mind on paper as something completely "unrelated". Due to this, I've been mostly focusing on creating designs rather than full-fledged pieces of art, because I plan to get at least one of my works tattooed onto myself. I see this as a commitment to my expression, and the backing of my intentions to focus on my artistry. The future holds a lot of speculation, and while there's no way to know for certain what it may look like, I can definitely take the initiative today to start creating a path for myself. My ultimate desire with my talent and inspiration would be to stay independent, creating a platform for myself where I can speak alongside my art. When I think of my future, I see myself creating a brand that coincides with my work, focused on the importance of developing dialogue around mental health. From that point, I would be able to fulfill my dreams of selling my projects and merchandise, while being able to be a public advocate for seeking mental assistance and creating a conversation around more of the "taboo" practices in my communities. With many dreams and aspirations in life, they require an amount of financial support. Making my dreams a reality falls under this category, and I plan to do whatever it takes to secure the funding necessary to pursue my ambitions and put them to fruition.
    Act Locally Scholarship
    Advocacy and support are the two initiatives needed to prove that you are loyal to a cause. If you truly stand behind a mission, then you would both publicly display your intentions and work to improve or support the aforementioned mission. Neglecting one-half of the two initiatives shows that you are looking for a personal benefit, rather than supporting to better the cause. Support without public advocacy is a sign of bad intentions, and advocacy without support is someone looking to clean up their image. Personally, my biggest mission in life is to be an advocate of mental health; I'm not ashamed of the time I've spent improving my mental health, and I'm not ashamed to be the first of my friends to support someone in taking the time and effort to improve their mental health. My biggest wish I have would be addressing and fixing the stigma of seeking mental health assistance, as there's a very large negative connotation with mental health in both the "African-American" and the "Male" communities. I've grown up watching all the men in my life suffer through some type of hardship, and they receive little to no assistance because it's taboo to be open with one another; They see it as a sign of weakness. While I cannot say that I've been able to make a substantial change in my hometown, given my absence for the last 3-4 years, I have made significant progress in all of my friends. I have spent the last three years of my life becoming a supporter in all of my friends' lives, letting them know that I'm more than just someone to socialize with. I want to be a person they can call when something goes wrong, and I think that it has strengthened all of my relationships. Being able to let another male know that he's validated for all of the emotions that he's been suffering through, and letting him know that he's not alone in his struggle, is something that I felt like I didn't have when I was going through my lowest. Considering how many people we lose annually due to mental health issues, and the toll it takes on the world as a whole, I'm quite frankly disgusted that these issues aren't addressed more often. It's well known that everyone is struggling with something in life, yet everyone chooses to ignore it, regardless of how obvious the signs are. I've watched too many men and women throw their potential away, choosing to indulge in substance abuse due to a lack of support and knowledge on how to overcome their demons. My generation has grown up with elders that have chosen to run away from their issues with the pleasure of substances and gratification instead of understanding and fixing the problem. As the problem continually gets looked over, generation by generation, we will never escape the overwhelming turmoil of mental illness. Locally, I've made more widespread progress on promoting the importance of confidence. Throughout my junior and senior year, I volunteered as a tutor to assist the various academic programs that my previous high school, the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), held over the summer on and the weekends. While some of the kids were forced into the program by their parents, I realized that something a lot of the children there lacked was a sense of confidence. They initially struggled to communicate with each other and lacked the confidence to answer questions they didn't know for certain. One of the biggest personality traits that separate the successful from the general population is that their confidence in themselves and their abilities is a strong enough foundation for them to take "leaps of faith" into areas they weren't previously accustomed to. Being able to walk into a room full of strangers, and effectively communicate your ideas and plans to them is a skill that can be improved upon, and should be constantly strengthened from adolescence. Just getting them to answer a question, even if they aren't completely confident that it's the correct answer, is a step in the right direction, as any answer is better than no answer. The importance of building up confidence was something that I learned only through volunteering, as it gave me a window of introspection into how the lack of confidence I had in my younger years affected my ability to perform in various situations. Nothing in this world can be achieved with a proper amount of confidence; no risks would be taken, and no one would ask for assistance in fear of being labeled as "inferior". Confidence is mental health, and I stand firm on my beliefs that the importance of mental health isn't a topic talked enough about. Every day, I become either a witness or a victim of a case of a weakened mental state, and until we are able to have conversations about how to improve the mind as a community, we will forever be stuck on this downward spiral, where only the 1% can succeed, and the rest of us are slowly working ourselves into a ditch.
    Elevate Minorities in the Arts Scholarship
    Attempting to understand how to overcome depression and anxiety for both myself and my friends has been one of the strongest driving points into why I have propelled myself down a path of artistry. The importance of mental health has always felt like a taboo in my community, where everyone suffers from it, but no one speaks about it, choosing to indulge in selfish gratification and the misuse of drugs and alcohol to try and run away from an issue that will forever chase them. Being someone who was taken from an area of life where you would be mocked for speaking about your issues, to a community where it was made very clear that mental health assistance was an obtainable resource, has helped me understand that speaking out about the importance of treating and helping yourself is one of life's greatest secrets. I use art to speak for myself, and through understand what my work is and why it was created, I hope to inspire others to seek a journey of introspection and seek the help they deserve. My sophomore year in high school was when I first realized that artistry might be my calling. Bouncing around between friend groups, professions, and even households my freshman year, I felt a lack of a staple in my life. There was nothing I could cling to, as everything felt like it was moving around me. When I was at my lowest, I finally realized that one of the answers to my problems was something that I was doing mindlessly when I felt overwhelmed. I used to doodle all over pages of my notebook and on the side of worksheets in class, and when I was in therapy, I realized that drawing was one of my outlets for alleviating stress that I didn't feel comfortable speaking about. Fast forward three years, and I use my art and my words combined to publicly speak out about the things and issues I faced when I was younger. This scholarship would be directly helping me on my mission to improve my artistic capabilities through financial assistance, as the school I plan to attend is both very prestigious and expensive. I hope to use my platform and my talents to be an advocate for the importance of mental health, especially in African-American communities. Looking around the people I grew up with, I fear the people they have become in absence of being able to properly communicate their struggles with one another. As another friend falls victim to substance abuse, I feel a greater urge to use my passion to become an advocate for solving these issues.
    One Move Ahead Chess Scholarship
    Time. In a game where the clock is always ticking, and the opportunity to strike continually fades away the more you hesitate, chess is a miniature symbolistic interpretation of life. Being able to track your own moves, determining your own intentions and strategies, and attempting to win against something that seems to be working against your own goals, understanding how to really play chess is more complex than the average viewer might assume. I think it's a perfect game to strengthen the player's ability to understand situations outside of their own perspective and learn how to react appropriately so that the game is always in their favor. I grew up in a household that loves chess. My father spent a lot of his time in college playing chess with his fraternity brothers, and the skills that he learned over the years were something that he was eager to pass onto my older brother when he was born. While I cannot personally recall the events, I can remember my mother showing me pictures and news articles when I was a very small child, of the local news station being baffled by my older brother's proficiency in chess. Despite only being a preschooler, 4 years old to be specific, he was labeled a "prodigy" for being able to have a record of 4-1 in a chess tournament designed for grades K-4th. Due to both my father and my brother showing a significant amount of interest in chess when I was growing up, I also started to show interest. While I never was the player my older brother was, I did occasionally catch him off guard, beating him utilizing the skills he taught me and playing off of his small blunders. I played chess for my elementary school and was ranked #1 for my high school in my 2016-2017 freshman year. Introspection into all of the aspects, qualities, and hobbies that I grew up with has helped me understand why I have developed this way. I would consider myself to be someone who takes a quiet yet calculative approach to most of the obstacles I face, and I definitely believe that my interest in puzzles and strategic games, particularly chess, has helped me develop that specific trait. To play chess, all it takes, in the beginning, is just courage. As you start to take an interest in playing, the player will slowly start to remember how each piece moves, their name, and their point value. From that point on, the player will start to have to study the game to become better, as chess is not a game of pure luck. There are a vast amount of strategies that can give put a player into an advantageous position over their opponent. Even as simple as it might seem, the "Scholar's Mate" is an easy to deflect strategy that has a deceptively large chance to work against an opponent that has never played chess. Tips and tricks that can be found in chess, also have real-life applications. The ability to plan ahead, or properly access a dangerous situation to reverse it into your favor, are both mindsets that any person can develop if they put in the time and effort. The time that I have spent studying chess to be able to understand my opponent's plan based on their most recent plays is similar to my ability to plan for any future misfortunes. Something is always bound to go wrong in every game or every situation in life, but proper planning, and always having an end goal in mind are easily obtainable mindsets to help steer someone out of a disadvantageous circumstance. I never allow myself to continually move forward without a goal, similar to how you cannot play chess without an end goal. There's always a definitive goal in chess: capture the opponent's king. In life, the end goal is a little more freeform, which turns into a mixture of short-term and long-term goals that will allow someone to feel constantly satisfied due to completing a task. My current goal in life is to pursue a career in artistry; Studio Art to be specific. I believe that the problem-solving and forward-thinking skills that I have developed through my years of playing chess have been a significant stepping stone in my decision-making capabilities, as I can both understand my end goal, and develop a procedure to reach it, including every step along the way. You cannot immediately take the king in chess, and you cannot immediately reach your goals in life. Both take a strenuous amount of effort and thinking to understand how to reach your objective. All in all, chess has been one of the major development tools that I have utilized in various aspects of my life, since my earliest memories. I've bonded with friends and family over chess and analyzing the strategies used to play and understand chess has only left me with a stronger comprehension of how to approach and conquer all of the obstacles that I face on a daily basis.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    Advocacy. In a situation that every moment, every interaction, and every emotion matters, public advocacy is just one of the stepping stones to helping those who suffer from mental health issues receive the treatment and validity that they deserve. As a teenager that has gone through their own fair share of problems, one of the key turning points in my life was understanding that everyone around me wanted the best for me and supported me throughout my struggles, but because mental health is such a taboo, they never communicated any of it with me. It's only when I directly tore down the barrier did all of my relationships and my emotions start to improve. Growing up in a primarily African-American community, I wasn't brought up with a proper understanding of how to react to my emotions. As a result, I grew up with what I would call an "explosive" attitude. I would hold back every single thought and feeling possible, concealing it until I reached a breaking point, then it would come out in a series of frenzied and manic bursts until someone ended up getting hurt, and unfortunately, this type of pain was either emotionally or physically. Both my parents and my friends never really spoke on their issues, so I had a warped perspective of reality, thinking that I was just one very sick individual, stuck in a world surrounded by people who are doing better than me. When I reached high school, I hit both my breaking point, and my turn-around point. I realized my freshman year why people abused substances: that was how they dealt with their issues in my community because there was never a welcoming atmosphere to being open about their own personal trials and tribulations. Being surrounded by individuals who all treated their wounds with bottles of alcohol and seeking instant personal gratification, I soon fell victim to the same cycle. Sophomore year, however, took a different turn for my life half-way through the school year. I allowed my bad habits to go nearly unchecked, violently opposing anyone who attempted to help me, and laughing off all of the concern from my friends, telling them that they were being paranoid to think that something was wrong. Within months of assuring my friends that I would be okay, I was removed from my school's campus for an entire month. I suffered from a major depressive episode that led to me begging my school counselor at the end of the meeting to help me because I felt like I was dangling off a ledge I couldn't pull myself on top of. I hit what I would consider my life's rock bottom, or at least I'm hoping it stays that way. Therapy during the month that I wasn't attending school, while during the time I spent there I felt was time wasted, which turned out to be one of the only reasons why I am sitting here today. I learned the importance of patience, and systemically working my way through my issues. The practices and principles that I learned through my hiatus are some of the mental health tips I preach to my friends today. The importance of being able to dissect one issue at a time, understanding what happened, why it causes them to feel a certain emotion, and what they believe would bring closure, is an incredibly powerful tool that I believe isn't being taught to those who suffer from mental health issues. Learning these strategies, and begging my friends to realize the importance of communicating their issues with the people in their life willing to listen has only strengthened the bonds of our friendship. Throughout my hiatus from school, I still spent a lot of time to myself. Being very overwhelmed constantly, I found myself staring at blank walls and ceilings, listening to music trying to drown out any of the intrusive thoughts I would have at any moment. Those moments led me to my current career path: artistry. I slowly realized that when I felt overloaded in classes, I would doodle on the edges of my paper constantly, trying to relax. As I continued to sketch and doodle on random leaflets found around my room, I realized that I felt a sense of accomplishment in every sketch; a feeling that was long lost in the previous years. As I spent more time drawing, improving my craft, I decided by my junior year that I was going to become an art major. Artistry is one of the only outlets that allowed me to both express myself and can be enjoyed outside of the context of why it was created. While I cannot say that I'm necessarily proud of the downwards spiral my life took, I can say confidently that I'm happy that I was able to recover from the hole that I found myself in. The route that I took to overcome my issues has left me with stronger bonds with my peers, and a sense of direction for my future; something that I was desperately searching for. I can finally say that I'm happy to be here, and I can't wait to see what I will accomplish in the future.
    Undiscovered Brilliance Scholarship for African-Americans
    Ambition. One of the several words that I would say defines who I am as a worker. Since I've entered the school system, I always stuck out to my teachers. I've been an above-average student my entire life, from reading adult-level books in Kindergarten and skipping the second grade, to being admitted and graduating from one of the best high schools in the nation. Everything that I've achieved in life was only made possible due to my ambition. But to understand what has made me into the working machine that I am today, you would need to look into my upbringing. I am a man that has is fueled by the anticipation of fulfilling my dreams and empowering the people around me. Since I was born, I've been surrounded by people who are always one step ahead of their respective crowds. My parents, while their résumé on paper might seem lackluster, have always had several tricks up their sleeves. Throughout my entire childhood, I've watched my father be self-employed successfully, building up several companies in different fields that have all been successful. My mother, who graduated from the same school with the same degree as my father, has matured and grown in her own way over the years, now also growing her own personal fitness business. But the main source of my early intelligence and inner-drive stemmed from my older brother, a man who is incredibly talented and intelligent, and has been kind enough my entire life to assist and tutor me with advanced topics. I recall spending hours on the weekend studying math with him if we weren't playing games together. This work-study-play relationship I have with my brother has made me into a well-rounded individual; someone who enjoys both working hard, and playing hard. Fulfilling dreams always comes with a cost. I've watched and heard stories of how my parents had to fight my school system to ensure that I was always challenged and that I was always pursuing new interests and information. I can recall having to go to my local Junior High School every moment for my math class in the 5th grade, just to be driven back to my Elementary school just so I can never feel like my potential would be wasting away. This energy has stuck with me and is a definitive trait that I would say "radiates" from me. This leads me to my largest dream: pursuing a career in artistry; Studio Art to be specific. Since I've declared art as my major, I've been ridden with an almost overwhelming amount of concern and pessimistic comments about how I would be "wasting my time and money going to school for something I could learn on my own" from my peers. But if I've learned anything in my 17 years on this earth, I've learned that I need to stand ten toes down on my beliefs and that I need to support myself, as I'm the only person I know I can count on when the future seems bleak. I plan not to prove my peers wrong, but to prove to myself that I can accomplish every goal I set my mind to by pursuing a future in art, and ensuring that I make my name a vanity in the artistry world. Outside of my academic and dream-chasing attitude, I would hope that my friends agree with me when I say that I am a very caring and attentive friend. I like to make sure that everyone around me benefits from my success because I believe that the team I have around me is the only reason why I succeed as often as I do. Between offering any personal assistance I can, I try my best to set up opportunities for my friends and family, from financial and personal advice to referring them to job and partner opportunities. The friends you keep around you speak magnitudes about your personality and character, so I try my best to make sure that the people I do associate with are pushing themselves to the limit, making themselves look the best, and missing no opportunity to do even better. One of my aspirations that coincides with my personal beliefs on friends, mental health, and my artistry is creating a community centered around open and honest conversations about personal topics such as depression, anxiety, making friends, and how to function in certain social situations, such as living with roommates and job interviews. I don't think there's ever enough information on how to live and perceive life, and I know for a fact that growing up, I would be completely misdirected on how to act, because growing up with anxiety left me with a very warped view of life. My end goal with this plan would be creating either a podcast or just being known as someone who is openly transparent with their community, allowing them to receive insight on questions they would feel uncomfortable asking in person. Everything that I am is centered around being self-driven and creating a circle of individuals around me that are all pushing to be better people, every single day. The way I describe my friends and my family is the same way I would describe myself; an ambitious leader with an undefeatable drive to conquer every single opportunity presented to them. All I ask in return from those around me is that they do the same and that we can support each other on the way.