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Inaya Gray

1075

Bold Points

1x

Nominee

3x

Finalist

Bio

I am an ambitious college freshman, who demonstrates strong work ethic and perseverance. It is my life's mission to secure opportunities that will provide valuable skills and aid in my personal development. Being of service to others is a lesson that was instilled in me at a young age. Community service and the ability to improve my leadership skills are what I drew me to Girl Scouts eight years ago. I have received all three Girl Scouts Highest Awards (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). My desire to make a difference in the lives of others, my love of children, and the transformative nature of science have spurred my aspiration of becoming a nurse practitioner.

Education

Dillard University

Bachelor's degree program
2023 - 2027
  • Majors:
    • Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing

Bolingbrook High School

High School
2019 - 2023

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Hospital & Health Care

    • Dream career goals:

      My long-term career goal is to become a nurse practitioner with a focus in pediatrics.

    • Lifeguard and Swim Instructor

      Bolingbrook Park District
      2021 – 20232 years

    Sports

    Track & Field

    Varsity
    2022 – 20231 year

    Swimming

    Club
    2014 – 20217 years

    Awards

    • Regional Championship Medalist
    • Swimmer of the Week

    Public services

    • Public Service (Politics)

      Illinois State Senate — Page for Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter
      2017 – 2019
    • Advocacy

      Girl Scouts — Advocate, Educator, and Event Moderator
      2014 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Ronald McDonald House — Volunteer with Girl Scout Troop #75142
      2016 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Chi Omega Chapter — Dreams Delivered Prom Boutique Personal Shopper
      2015 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Chi Omega Chapter — Soup Kitchen Volunteer
      2012 – 2018
    • Volunteering

      Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Chi Omega Chapter — Pink Goes Red for Heart Health Volunteer
      2019 – 2019
    • Volunteering

      Swim With Bill — Swim Instructor
      2019 – 2019
    • Volunteering

      Lightways Hospice and Serious Illness Care/Joliet Area Community Hospice — Volunteer
      2020 – 2020
    • Volunteering

      Fresh Start Caring For Kids Foundation — Celebrity Golf Classic Volunteer
      2016 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Woodridge Bulldogs Baseball — Fundraising Volunteer
      2021 – 2021
    • Volunteering

      Greater Chicago Food Depository — Volunteer
      2011 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Feed My Starving Children — Volunteer
      2015 – Present

    Future Interests

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Kelly O. Memorial Nursing Scholarship
    My name is Inaya Simone Gray, and I am a recent graduate of Bolingbrook High School. I have been a competitive swimmer for eight years. I was a member of the Academy Bullets Swim Club (Illinois’ most competitive swim club) for five years, and I am a Regional Championship medalist. I am currently a member of the varsity track and field team at Bolingbrook High School. I have been employed by the Bolingbrook Park District as a certified lifeguard and swim instructor since 2021. I am a member of National Honor Society and The National Society of High School Scholars, and I am a Heisman High School Scholar. I have been a Girl Scout for eight years, and I have obtained all three Girl Scout Highest Awards (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). I desire to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree because they will lead to a pediatric nurse practitioner career. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my chosen career path. I am interested in policies that will expand nursing education and patient healthcare access. I hope to spearhead educational efforts to encourage diverse populations to enter the healthcare profession. Improved preventive care is important to decreasing health disparities. As a nurse practitioner, I would like to collaborate with school districts to develop curricula specifically related to the importance of preventive care, which I hope to incorporate into middle and high school health classes. The introduction of the importance of preventive care to children during their formative years will establish the foundation for better adult healthcare. Healthcare access barriers lead to lack of preventive care, health screening, and treatment of illnesses. Access is critical to optimal health and vitality of individuals and communities. I will use my position as a nurse practitioner to help community-based organizations secure grants to provide free transportation to people who cannot easily access healthcare facilities due to lack of safe and affordable transportation and to provide preventive education and services to patients on-site at community-based facilities, thereby increasing healthcare access for those who need it most. I have taken advantage of opportunities to further my education as it relates to the study of medicine. From February through April 2021, I participated in the virtual Mini-Medical School program offered by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. I learned about medical education, patient care, surgery, and specialties such as dermatology, pediatrics, neuroscience, orthopedics, epidemiology, radiology, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, gastroenterology, and otolaryngology. The experience afforded me the opportunity to observe lectures and presentations by medical and surgical experts and patients, which is invaluable as I prepare for the rigor of college and eventually medical school. The program provided me with exposure to medical school and what I can expect in the future. During July 2021, I participated in the Bowling Green State University Future Med Virtual Academy. The program enabled me to interact virtually with medical students, practitioners, professors, and first responders while attending college-style lectures online. In addition, I participated in at-home laboratory activities to aid my hands-on learning. During June 2022, I participated in The National Center for Rural Health Professions/University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Rural Health Careers Camp. I participated in hands-on learning activities and labs that represented various healthcare careers and in rotations at the UIC Health Sciences Campus – Rockford. The program enabled me to interact with health profession students and healthcare providers. The aforementioned experiences will be beneficial as I embark on my nursing career.
    Maxwell Tuan Nguyen Memorial Scholarship
    Monday, September 30, 2019 represents the beginning of the most difficult nine months of my life. On that date, I was involved in a three-car accident while en route to swim practice. The side of my head collided forcefully with the car window upon impact as a car ricocheted into the door next to where I sat. My resulting physical condition steadily declined in the following days, which led to my being put on Concussion Protocol by my pediatrician. My medical team became a reassuring force in my life during my nine-month, post-car accident concussion recovery, and I found it easy to speak with them about my feelings without being judged. Their calming voices, warm smiles, and understanding left a lasting impression on me. I decided that I wanted to have the same positive effect on the lives of others. I desire to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree because they will lead to a pediatric nurse practitioner career. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my chosen career path. Patients are physically and emotionally vulnerable and may be experiencing the greatest challenges of their lives; my goal will be to make their experiences as tolerable as possible. Ultimately, I want to ensure that my patients feel seen and heard in the same manner in which my medical team did for me. I will use my voice as a nurse practitioner to address social injustice as it relates to health by advocating for healthcare policies within hospitals and legislatively. I am interested in policies that will expand nursing education, preventive care, and patient healthcare access. Increased efforts should be made to encourage diverse students to enter the healthcare profession, and such efforts begin with education. More institutional and government grants, private scholarships, and student loan forgiveness programs should be provided to students who desire to enter the healthcare sector. In my role as a nursing professional, I will work with institutions of higher learning to provide academic support services and healthcare-related internships and camps to diverse students who express interest in healthcare careers. More diversity and representation amongst healthcare professionals can help ease anxieties and increase treatment compliance by making diverse patients feel represented and understood and can lead to better health outcomes for patients. Improved preventive care is important to decreasing health disparities among diverse populations. As a nurse practitioner, I will work with school districts to develop curricula specifically related to the importance of preventive care, which I hope to incorporate into middle and high school health classes. The introduction of the importance of preventive care to children during their formative years will establish the foundation for better adult healthcare. Access to quality healthcare is often a challenge in many diverse communities due to barriers to care, which lead to lack of preventive care, health screening, and treatment of illnesses. Healthcare access is critical to optimal health and well-being. I will use my position as a nurse practitioner to help community-based organizations secure grants to enable them to provide free transportation to people who cannot easily access healthcare facilities due to lack of safe and affordable transportation. I will also use my position to provide preventive education and services to patients on-site at community-based facilities, thereby increasing healthcare access for those who need it most. I will strive to eliminate health disparities in efforts to create a more equitable and just society.
    Connie Konatsotis Scholarship
    My name is Inaya Simone Gray, and I am a senior at Bolingbrook High School. I have been a competitive swimmer for eight years. I was a member of the Academy Bullets Swim Club (Illinois’ most competitive swim club) for five years, and I am a Regional Championship medalist. I am a member of the varsity track and field team at Bolingbrook High School. I have been employed as a Bolingbrook Park District certified lifeguard and swim instructor since 2021. I am a member of National Honor Society and The National Society of High School Scholars, and I am a Heisman High School Scholar. I have been a Girl Scout for eight years, and I have obtained all three Girl Scout Highest Awards (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). Knowledge is a vital resource in society. Science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM) greatly influence the creation of knowledge, which contributes to technological developments and allows us to solve problems and make educated decisions. Many people take for granted the many ways STEAM impacts their lives. STEAM makes our existence, subsistence, and connectedness possible through food preparation, modern medicine, transportation, telecommunications, creative expression, and much more. STEAM has been so influential in my own life that I have chosen to pursue a science-based career. The life-sustaining aspect of science has influenced my STEAM major and career choice. My medical team became a reassuring force in my life during my nine-month, post-car accident concussion recovery, and I found it easy to speak with them about my feelings without being judged. Their calming voices, warm smiles, and understanding left a lasting impression on me. I decided that I wanted to have the same positive effect in the lives of others. I desire to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree because they will lead to a pediatric nurse practitioner career. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my chosen career path. Patients are physically and emotionally vulnerable and may be experiencing the greatest challenges of their lives; my goal will be to make their experiences as tolerable as possible. Ultimately, I want to ensure that my patients feel seen and heard in the same manner in which my medical team did for me. I am interested in policies that will expand nursing education and patient healthcare access. I hope to spearhead educational efforts to encourage diverse populations to enter the healthcare profession. More diversity and representation amongst healthcare professionals can help ease anxieties and increase treatment compliance by making diverse patients feel represented and understood and can lead to better health outcomes. Improved preventive care is important to decreasing health disparities. As a nurse practitioner, I want to work with school districts to develop curricula specifically related to the importance of preventive care, which I hope to incorporate into middle and high school health classes. The introduction of the importance of preventive care to children during their formative years will establish the foundation for better adult healthcare. Healthcare access barriers lead to lack of preventive care, health screening, and treatment of illnesses. Access is critical to optimal health and vitality of individuals and communities. I will use my position as a nurse practitioner to help community-based organizations secure grants to provide free transportation to people who cannot easily access healthcare facilities due to lack of safe and affordable transportation and to provide preventive education and services to patients on-site at community-based facilities, thereby increasing healthcare access for those who need it most.
    Kynnedy Simone 'I Am The Dream' Scholarship
    My name is Inaya Simone Gray. I am a senior at Bolingbrook High School and a member of its varsity track and field team. I was a competitive swimmer for eight years. I was a five-year member of the Academy Bullets Swim Club, which is Illinois’ most competitive swim club, and I am a Regional Championship medalist. I have been employed as a certified lifeguard and swim instructor since 2021. I am a member of National Honor Society and The National Society of High School Scholars, and I am a Heisman High School Scholar. I have been a Girl Scout for eight years, and I have obtained all three of the Girl Scout Highest Awards (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). Since joining Girl Scouts eight years ago, I have advocated for causes benefiting women and children through my service to give a voice to those who are often unable or afraid to advocate for themselves. In doing so, I want women and children to be empowered and for them to feel valued within society. My additional volunteer work has addressed domestic violence, foster care, sex trafficking, cyberbullying, food insecurity, homelessness, hospice care, heart health, sickle cell disease, and blood cancer. I will enter Dillard University as a freshman in August 2023. I desire to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at Dillard University and later a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree because they will prepare me for a career as a nurse practitioner.
    Mochahope Black Excellence Scholarship
    Just as water is necessary for sustaining life, swimming has become a necessary aspect of my existence. My parents introduced me to swimming when they enrolled me in swimming lessons when I was just five months old, and I have competed in the sport since I was eight years old. Just as I learned how to crawl and walk as an infant, I simultaneously learned to swim. Swimming plays such a significant role in my life that I have chosen to use my skills to benefit others by working as a swim instructor for children and a lifeguard at my local park district. I have also provided free swim lessons for underprivileged children through the Swim with Bill program. Competitive swimming provides me with a healthy mode of competition, recognition, and reward. I am also drawn to the sport because it has taught me lessons that translate well to other aspects of my life. Competitive swimming has taught me to be detail-oriented while also focusing on the big picture. I have spent years practicing my craft and fine-tuning each stroke and finish in efforts to complete each race as strong as possible. Such skills translate to my academic life in that I have become better-equipped to focus on projects for extensive periods of time while also having the ability to envision how each step contributes to the success of the final project. Competitive swimming has also taught me how to take criticism and to win and lose with grace. The criticism has not always been easier to hear, but I have come to understand that my coach sees my potential and wants me to develop into the best swimmer I can be. The highs and lows of winning and losing races have taught me humility and to use positive and negative experiences as learning lessons. The aforementioned lessons will be beneficial to me as I further progress through school and embark upon my career. I have experienced benefits while balancing academics and competitive swimming. Doing so has improved my time management skills. Competitive swimming requires a lot of time, and I spend approximately 12 hours per week in practice and competing in meets. I have had to learn how to balance the rigorous schedule and the exhaustion that sometimes ensues while maintaining my academic load, other extracurricular activities, and volunteer service. This has forced me to become better organized, able to prioritize, and equipped to use my time more wisely. I have also improved my leadership skills while being a student-athlete. I have become accustomed to encouraging my younger teammates, setting a positive example for them, providing guidance, and holding them accountable as I have risen through the ranks of my swim club. We are all required to set goals at the beginning of the season, and I take it upon myself to check in with my younger teammates regarding their progress toward reaching their goals. I often find myself doing the same with my friends in school to keep them on-track when they become discouraged. My winning the Mochahope Black Excellence Scholarship will help to relieve the financial burden of obtaining a college education in pursuit of my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. My family is still experiencing the financial implications of the car accident I experienced three years ago and my resulting medical treatments, and the Scholarship would help to lessen the financial burden of my obtaining a college education. My goal is to complete my undergraduate education with as little debt as possible. My winning the Scholarship will bring me one step closer to that goal.
    Normandie’s HBCU Empower Scholar Grant
    My desire to attend an HBCU was solidified after I attended the Chicago Football Classic and its accompanying college fair and National Pan-Hellenic Council step show during my freshman year of high school. I had never seen such an intriguing, engaged, and proud group of Black people before that time. I knew then that I wanted to partake in the experience by attending an HBCU. I appreciate HBCUs’ long-standing history of and commitment to the education of Black students, and I desire to attend an HBCU because I recognize how beneficial such an institution can be for such students. I understand and value that HBCUs produce high percentages of African American graduates in STEM fields, which is the field in which I desire to work. HBCUs have extensive opportunities for professional networking, which will be extremely beneficial to me as I advance to graduate school in pursuit of my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and begin my career as a nurse practitioner. Such assistance will connect me with the resources to aid in my personal and career-related development. I perform better academically when I am safe and supported, and I believe that an HBCU will provide me with that feeling of safety and support. The strong sense of Black pride and legacy instilled in students of HBCUs is irreplaceable. I look forward to benefitting from the supportive environment provided by an HBCU institution through the creation of a sense of collaboration and community. I desire to attend an HBCU because such institutions are rooted in faith, community, and service ---- all of which have been important to me and my upbringing. HBCUs are known for instilling strong values in their students, and I understand that such values will lay the foundation for my future career success.
    Cliff T. Wofford STEM Scholarship
    My name is Inaya Simone Gray, and I am a senior at Bolingbrook High School. I have been a competitive swimmer for eight years. I was a member of the Academy Bullets Swim Club (Illinois’ most competitive swim club) for five years, and I am a Regional Championship medalist. I have been employed as a certified life guard and swim instructor since 2021. I am a member of National Honor Society and The National Society of High School Scholars, and I am a Heisman High School Scholar. I have been a Girl Scout for eight years, and I have obtained all three of the Girl Scout Highest Awards (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). I was in a three-car accident on September 30, 2019. The medical staff whom I saw annually for my physicals became constant fixtures during my nine-month concussion recovery. I felt comfortable speaking to them about feeling alone because no one could understand the full extent of how much my life had instantly changed. They became a reassuring force in my life, and I found it easy to speak with them about my feelings without being judged. I knew I wanted to be the example of a truly caring medical professional I saw personified by my medical team. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my chosen major of nursing and career path of becoming a nurse practitioner. I want to treat the physical body of children and also address their emotions with compassion. Patients are physically and emotionally vulnerable and may be experiencing the greatest challenges of their lives; my goal will be to make their experience as tolerable as possible. Through my own medical ordeal, I learned that a calming voice, warm smile, and understanding can have lasting effects on patients. This is what I will strive to provide to my future patients. I will use my voice to advocate for healthcare policies within hospitals and legislatively. I am particularly interested in policies that will expand nursing education and patient healthcare access. Increased efforts should be made to encourage people of color to enter the healthcare profession, and such efforts begin with education. I will advocate for more institutional and government grants, private scholarships, and student loan forgiveness programs for students who desire to enter the healthcare sector and greater academic support services and healthcare-related internships and camps for students who express interest in healthcare careers. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations require personalized approaches to address their healthcare needs. More diversity and representation amongst healthcare professionals can help ease anxieties and increase treatment compliance by making patients feel represented and understood and can lead to better health outcomes for patients. Access to quality healthcare is often a challenge in many BIPOC communities due to barriers to care. Such barriers lead to lack of preventive care, health screening, and treatment of illnesses. The vitality of a community is dependent upon the health of its population, and access is critical to optimal health and well-being. I will use my position as a nurse practitioner to help community-based organizations secure grants to enable them to provide free transportation to people who cannot easily access healthcare facilities due to lack of safe and affordable transportation. I will also provide preventive education and services to patients on-site at community-based facilities, thereby increasing healthcare access for those who need it most. I want to support my patients by connecting them to the resources they need to make informed health decisions and to ensure that my patients feel seen and heard.
    Jaqaun Webb Scholarship
    Higher education is important because it provides students with a strong foundation for success. The college years provide students with a plethora of opportunities for academic, personal, and professional growth. College students often develop lifelong connections and partake in new experiences that push them outside of their comfort zones. It is also during that time when students define their future career aspirations and the adults they strive to become. Such lessons learned during college are invaluable. I want to pursue a nursing degree because it will lead to a pediatric nurse practitioner career that will enable me to care for people in their most vulnerable state, which is the ultimate privilege. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my chosen career path of nursing. I will be intentional in my approach to college to ensure my success. Such steps include maintaining a healthy school-life balance, being present, and being intentional about time management. My maintaining a healthy school-life balance will enable me to be mentally healthy, which will allow me to be my best and perform well inside and outside of the classroom. My being overly focused on academic success while not allowing myself to have downtime will cause stress which, in turn, may affect my academic performance. As such, maintaining quality mental health will be crucial to my ability to reach my goals. I am fully committed to guarding my peace, knowing my limits, and giving myself permission to take breaks for the sake of maintaining ideal mental health. One important key to success is being present. My attendance at office hours opportunities and taking advantage of tutoring and writing labs will allow me to obtain and reinforce valuable information to aid my academic performance. I will welcome assistance from mentors who will help me to further develop my goals, broaden my networking capacity, and connect me with the resources to aid in my personal and career-related development. My being consistently present for learning opportunities will also signal my commitment to my academic success. The knowledge I will gain by participating in such opportunities will thrust me one step closer to my goal I will be intentional about time management during my college career. My prioritizing the tasks that will keep me on my desired path will be paramount to my academic success. My college experience will help me to further hone my time management skills as I learn to balance the required, challenging workload with my other responsibilities. There are several benefits of obtaining a college degree. My obtaining a degree will prepare me for my future, specialized career by enabling me to learn the specific skills I will need to thrive in the field of nursing. My Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree will allow me to qualify for additional nursing opportunities that will not be available to non-BSN holding nurses, thereby providing me with a competitive advantage and higher salary. Additionally, my college education will increase my access to opportunities by connecting me to an invaluable network of fellow scholars, professors, and mentors. I recognize the importance of connections and mentorship to career success. I look forward to creating and cultivating relationships with those who can provide me with encouragement, guidance, and information as I navigate throughout my career. My higher education experiences will empower me with the skills and guidance necessary for me to succeed academically, personally, and professionally. I will be deliberate in my approach to my college education and future career to reach my goal of becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner.
    Another Way Scholarship
    Monday, September 30, 2019 represents the beginning of the most difficult nine months of my life. On that date, I was involved in a three-car accident while en route to swim practice. The side of my head collided forcefully with the window upon impact as a car ricocheted into the door next to where I sat. My resulting physical condition steadily declined in the following days, which led to my being put on Concussion Protocol by my pediatrician. The result of the accident affected me physically and socially. I had daily headaches, which often became excruciating migraines causing dizziness, light sensitivity, and often made it difficult to concentrate. Missing a season of competitive swimming was difficult, and I had to work my way back to top physical condition. Swimming has been a huge part of my life since I was eight years old, and my not being allowed to swim created a void in my life. I missed the thrill of competition and interacting with my teammates and coaches. My hiatus from swimming was then exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused me to miss an additional season of practice and competition. My concussion prevented my participation in the activities I previously enjoyed with my friends such as riding roller coasters, skating, bowling, and joining the track and field team. The many changes I experienced during such a short period time caused significant emotional changes. I no longer felt like my normal, light-hearted self. I began to distance myself from my family and friends, and I no longer had interest in the activities that previously brought me joy. The teasing I suffered at the hands of my peers during my concussion recovery caused me to spiral deeper into seclusion. I was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, and I continue to suffer from anxiety, migraines, and short-term memory loss as a result of the car accident. Thankfully, my parents recognized the early warning signs and sought outpatient therapy for me. My outpatient therapist has taught me relaxation and stress management techniques (breathing, healthy expression of emotions, journaling, and drawing) to better equip me to cope with the aftermath of the accident and academic stress. I have also begun to reengage with my family and peers, and I have become more social as I continue to work through my mental health struggles. I have learned that undergoing therapy is a sign of strength in that it shows one’s ability to take ownership of one’s condition. My medical team became a reassuring force in my life during my nine-month concussion recovery, and I found it easy to speak with them about my feelings without being judged. I knew I wanted to be the example of a truly caring medical professional I saw personified by my medical team. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my chosen college major of nursing and career path of becoming a nurse practitioner. I want to treat the physical body of children and also address their emotions with compassion. Patients are physically and emotionally vulnerable and may be experiencing the greatest challenges of their lives; my goal will be to make their experiences as tolerable as possible. Through my own medical ordeal, I learned that a calming voice, warm smile, and understanding can have lasting effects on patients and improve their mental health. This is what I will strive to provide to my future patients. Ultimately, I want to ensure that my patients feel seen and heard in the same manner in which my medical team did for me.
    Analtha Parr Pell Memorial Scholarship
    My name is Inaya Simone Gray, and I am a senior at Bolingbrook High School. I am a member of the National Honor Society and the National Society of High School Scholars. I have been a competitive swimmer for eight years. I was a member of the Academy Bullets Swim Club (Illinois’ most competitive swim club) for five years, and I am a Regional Championship medalist. I have been employed as a certified life guard and swim instructor since 2021. I have been Girl Scout since 2014, and I have received all three Girl Scouts Highest Awards (Gold, Silver, and Bronze). Since joining Girl Scouts, I have participated in Take Action projects related to the impact of domestic violence and foster care on children, honoring women veterans, sex trafficking, and cyberbullying. I advocate for causes benefiting women and children through my service in an effort to give a voice to those who are often unable or afraid to advocate for themselves. In doing so, I want women and children to be empowered and for them to feel valued within society. September 30, 2019 represents the beginning of the most difficult nine months of my life. On that date, I was involved in a three-car accident while en route to swim practice. My head collided forcefully with the window as a car ricocheted into the door next to where I sat. My physical condition declined in the following days, and I was put on Concussion Protocol. My medical team became a reassuring force in my life during my nine-month concussion recovery, and I found it easy to speak with them about my feelings without being judged. I knew I wanted to be the example of a truly caring medical professional I saw personified by my medical team. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my chosen college major of nursing and career path of becoming a nurse practitioner. I am motivated to become a nurse practitioner because I want to treat the physical body of children and also address their emotions with compassion. Patients are physically and emotionally vulnerable and may be experiencing the greatest challenges of their lives; my goal will be to make their experiences as tolerable as possible. Through my own medical ordeal, I learned that a calming voice, warm smile, and understanding can have lasting effects on patients. This is what I will strive to provide to my future patients. Ultimately, I want to ensure that my patients feel seen and heard in the same manner in which my medical team did for me. I plan to use my voice to advocate for healthcare policies within hospitals and legislatively. I am particularly interested in policies that will expand nursing education and patient healthcare access. I hope to spearhead educational efforts to encourage people of color to enter the healthcare profession. More diversity and representation amongst healthcare professionals can help ease anxieties and increase treatment compliance by making patients feel represented and understood, which can lead to better health outcomes for patients. Barriers to quality healthcare lead to lack of preventive care, health screening, and treatment of illnesses. I want to use my position as a nurse practitioner to help community-based organizations secure grants to provide free transportation to people who cannot easily access healthcare facilities due to lack of safe and affordable transportation. I will also use my position to provide preventive education and services to patients on-site at community-based facilities, thereby increasing healthcare access for those who need it most.
    Blaine Sandoval Young American Scholarship
    Volunteerism allows people to understand the needs of their community, its members, and their experiences. Community service and the opportunity to improve my leadership skills drew me to Girl Scouts eight years ago. Since then, I have participated in Take Action projects to explore the root causes of needs within my community, to address them in a meaningful way, and to demonstrate my commitment to improving my community. My most meaningful projects have been related to the impact of domestic violence and foster care on children, sex trafficking, and cyberbullying. I received my Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, in 2021. My project benefitted foster children served by Guardian Angel Community Services and those housed in its Joliet, Illinois domestic violence residential program. Activities included a virtual yoga and stress management mini-workshop, trivia games to assess yoga knowledge (as pre- and post-tests), and the distribution of gifts, prizes, and food. The stress management activities/yoga taught self-awareness, self-regulation, conflict resolution, mindful decision-making, empathy and healthy relationship building, and increased focus and concentration. My Girl Scout Troop, Lewis University’s Women's Studies Program, and Spirited Pearls Foundation co-hosted I AM JANE DOE - Sex Trafficking and Implications for Today's Youth, on October 11, 2018 at Lewis University . The event consisted of a screening of the film, I AM JANE DOE, and a panel discussion. The purpose was to explore sex trafficking, its implications for youth, and to offer useful tactics and informational resources to combat this issue. The event received media exposure here: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/ct-sta-slowik-sex-trafficking-discussion-st-1014-story.html. On March 29, 2019, my Troop co-hosted Continuing the Conversation: The Fight Against Modern Day Sex Trafficking with the Lewis University Women's Studies Program as a follow-up to the October 2018 event. My Troopmates and I completed a Silver Award Take Action project in 2017, which consisted of creating a music video about cyberbullying, a videotaped round-table discussion with Valley View School District cyberbullying experts, and a public interactive workshop conducted by the Chief Investigator for the High Tech Crimes Bureau at the Will County State's Attorney's Office. The workshop's purpose was to explore the perceptions of cyberbullying and offer useful tactics and informational resources to combat the issue. Great change begins with small actions taken by one individual. My Girl Scout service has allowed me to practice leadership skills while engaging in community service to positively impact the lives of others. I have developed confidence in doing so, and it is this same confidence I strive to impart upon the beneficiaries of my community service. In that manner, I embody the change I want to see within my community and the world. My dream is to continue my passion for helping others through a career as a nurse practitioner. Patients are physically and emotionally vulnerable and may be experiencing the greatest challenges of their lives; my goal will be to make their experience as tolerable as possible. Access to quality healthcare is often a challenge in many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities due to barriers to care. I will use my position as a nurse practitioner to help community-based organizations secure grants to enable them to provide free transportation to people who cannot easily access healthcare facilities due to lack of safe and affordable transportation. I will also provide preventive education and services to patients on-site at community-based facilities, thereby increasing healthcare access for those who need it most. I want to support my patients by connecting them to the resources they need to make informed health decisions. Ultimately, I want to ensure that my patients feel seen and heard.
    Mental Health Importance Scholarship
    Mental health is important because it can affect many aspects of a person’s life. Adolescents who have poor mental health may struggle in school and their relationships with others, and their physical health may suffer as a result. Adult mental health behaviors are established during adolescence; therefore, it is important to establish positive mental health habits during one’s youth. I suffered a severe concussion as a result of a traumatic car accident, which took place during my freshman year of high school. The result of the accident affected me physically and socially. I had daily headaches, which often became excruciating migraines causing dizziness, light sensitivity, and often made it difficult to concentrate. Swimming has been a huge part of my life since I was eight years old, and my not being allowed to swim created a void in my life. My hiatus from swimming was then exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused me to miss an additional season of practice and competition. My concussion also prevented my participation in the social activities I previously enjoyed with my friends. The many adjustments I experienced during such a short period time caused significant emotional changes. I was no longer my normal, light-hearted self. I began to distance myself from my family and friends, and I no longer had interest in the activities that previously brought me joy. The teasing I suffered at the hands of my peers during my concussion recovery caused me to spiral deeper into seclusion. I was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I continue to suffer from all of those conditions in addition to migraines and short-term memory loss as a result of the car accident. Thankfully, my parents recognized the early warning signs and sought outpatient therapy for me. Undergoing therapy is often considered a sign of weakness and is taboo within some communities. I learned that undergoing therapy is a sign of strength in that it shows one’s ability to take ownership of one’s condition. My therapist taught me relaxation and stress management techniques (breathing, healthy expression of emotions, journaling, and drawing) to better equip me to cope with the aftermath of the car accident and academic stress. Such techniques are helpful to have in my arsenal during times of struggle. My mental health experience allowed me to understand that how I perceived myself in relation to others in the world influenced my behaviors. I acknowledged that I distanced myself from others the most when my self-esteem was lowest during my concussion recovery. I became aware that my emotions and relationships with others played a huge role in how I defined my self-worth in relation to my environment. I felt as though I was no longer a valuable asset to my family, my swim team, and my friend group when I was no longer able to participate in the activities I once enjoyed with them. Consequently, my relationships were disrupted. I came to realize that how I viewed myself and my own self-worth strongly influences how others perceived me, and I decided to take control of my mental state and work to rebuild my self-confidence. I now begin each day by reading inspirational and reaffirming statements. Doing so has helped to transform my confidence and improve my self-esteem while improving my mental wellness. I surround myself with supportive people when I am experiencing adversity. Encouragement from others is extremely helpful and affirming during difficult times. The consistent love and support provided by my family have given me the reassurance I have needed during my times of struggle and great transition.
    Dante Luca Scholarship
    One’s service to her community connects her to it by enabling her to improve it and make it a better place for those within it. Volunteerism allows people to better understand the needs of their community, its members, and their experiences. Community service and the ability to improve my leadership skills are what drew me to Girl Scouts eight years ago. Since then, I have dedicated myself to living and executing the Girl Scouts mission of “building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place”. Since joining Girl Scouts, I have advocated for causes benefiting women and children through my service in an effort to give a voice to those who are often unable or afraid to advocate for themselves. In doing so, I want women and children to be empowered and for them to be valued within society. Domestic violence and foster care affect children in the United States and world-wide. I recently received my Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. I hosted family-friendly virtual and drive-thru birthday party festivities on May 14-15, 2021 to benefit clients served by Guardian Angel Community Services and the children housed in its Joliet, Illinois domestic violence residential program. May is National Foster Care Month as well as Mental Health Awareness Month, and both foster care and domestic violence impact children’s mental health. My goal was to provide the children with a temporary “mental escape” while allowing them to reclaim their innocence and enjoy being children. Activities included a virtual yoga and stress management mini-workshop, interactive virtual trivia games to assess yoga knowledge (as pre- and post-tests), and the distribution of gifts, prizes, and food. The stress management activities and yoga were the sustainability aspects in that they provided educational components the participants will be able to use well into the future. The educational components taught self-awareness, self-regulation, conflict resolution, mindful decision-making, empathy and healthy relationship building, and increased focus and concentration. The goal of the yoga and stress management mini-workshop was to equip participants with the tools to better manage stress and their temperaments, which can lead to domestic violence situations and/or poor short- and long-term mental health if not properly managed. I measured the impact of the stress management and relaxation techniques by conducting pre- and post-stress management/yoga workshop surveys in the form of trivia questions (as a fun component) to assess participants’ knowledge of such techniques/skills prior to and after the workshop is conducted. The Level 1 (Reaction) and Level 2 (Learning) of the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model was used to measure impact. Level 1 (Reaction) assessed whether the course content was relevant and easy to follow; key takeaways from the workshop and event; strengths and weaknesses of the workshop and event; whether the workshop was easy to follow; and overall satisfaction with and ability to provide a temporary “mental escape”. Level 2 (Learning) measured the knowledge and skills gained by learners as a result of the training (https://www.simplilearn.com/how-to-measure-effectiveness-corporate-training-article). A post-events survey was conducted after the conclusion of the events to gauge attendees’ satisfaction (both adults and children) as it related to the overall event and how successfully I provided a temporary “mental escape” for the children while allowing them to reclaim their innocence and enjoy being children. I know that my audience gained the desired skills/knowledge because seventy-one percent (five out of seven) household member teams who participated in the Virtual Trivia Night and Yoga Event showed improvement in scores in that post-event trivia scores were higher than pre-event trivia scores (based upon the number of correct answers given and the speed at which correct answers were submitted). Of the teams who showed improvement in scores, three answered more questions correctly on the post-test when compared to the pre-test. Of the five teams who showed improvement in scores, two answered the same number of questions correctly on the pre- and post-tests, but their response speed improved. The responses from 19 participants from four households were represented by survey responses received. Survey scores were ranked on a scale of 1-10 (with “10” being the highest). The average score for overall enjoyment of was nine. The average score for how well the May 14, 2021 Virtual Trivia Night and Yoga Event provided a fun, mental escape" was 8.5. Great change can begin with small actions taken by one individual. My Girl Scout service has allowed me to practice leadership skills while also engaging in community service projects to positively impact the lives of others. My practicing leadership skills has helped me develop confidence, and it is this same sense of confidence I strive to impart upon the beneficiaries of my community service. In that manner, I embody the change I want to see within my community and the world as a whole.
    She Rose in STEAM Scholarship
    I was involved in a three-car accident while en route to swim practice on September 30, 2019. The medical staff whom I saw annually for my physicals became constant fixtures during my nine-month concussion recovery. They became a reassuring force in my life, and I found it easy to speak with them about my feelings without being judged. I knew I wanted to be the example of a truly caring medical professional I saw personified by my medical team. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my desire to major in nursing and my chosen career path of becoming a nurse practitioner. I will use my voice to advocate for healthcare policies within hospitals and legislatively. I am particularly interested in policies that will expand nursing education and patient healthcare access for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) populations. Increased efforts should be made to encourage people of color to enter the healthcare profession, and such efforts begin with education. More institutional and government grants, private scholarships, and student loan forgiveness programs should be provided to students who desire to enter the healthcare sector. Greater academic support services and opportunities and healthcare-related internships and camps should be provided to BIPOC students who express interest in healthcare careers. I intend to use my platform to spearhead such advocacy efforts. BIPOC populations require personalized approaches to address their healthcare needs. Diversity and representation amongst healthcare professionals ease anxieties and increase treatment compliance by making patients feel understood and can lead to better health outcomes for patients. Such policies will help patients and improve the delivery of quality care within my community and at the state and national levels. Improved preventive care is important to decreasing health disparities among BIPOC populations. As a nurse practitioner, I would like to work with school districts to develop curricula specifically related to the importance of preventive care, which I hope to incorporate into middle and high school health classes. The introduction of the importance of preventive care to children during their formative years will establish the foundation for better adult healthcare. Preventive efforts must extend outside medical facilities. As such, community resources are important to preventive care. Due to the centralized location of community centers within BIPOC communities, greater financial and physical resources should be provided to enable facility staff and contracted medical professionals to provide preventive education and services to patients on-site. It will be my aim to advocate for such causes. Access to quality healthcare is often a challenge in many BIPOC communities due to barriers to care. Such barriers lead to lack of preventive care, health screening, and treatment of illnesses. Access is critical to optimal health and vitality of individuals and communities. Improved access to facilities located in convenient locations and/or offering transportation to those who cannot easily access health centers are key. I would like to use my position as a nurse practitioner to help community-based organizations secure grants to enable them to provide free transportation to people who cannot easily access healthcare facilities due to lack of safe and affordable transportation. I will also use my position to provide preventive education and services to patients on-site at community-based facilities, thereby increasing healthcare access for those who need it most. In conclusion, access to resources, equity, participation, diversity, and human rights are principles of social justice that are closely related to health. A nation is only has healthy as the people within it; therefore, I will strive to eliminate health disparities in efforts to create a more equitable and just society.
    Barbara P. Alexander Scholarship
    I was in a three-car accident on September 30, 2019. The medical staff whom I saw annually for my physicals became constant fixtures during my nine-month concussion recovery. I felt comfortable speaking to them about feeling alone because no one could understand the full extent of how much my life had instantly changed. They became a reassuring force in my life, and I found it easy to speak with them about my feelings without being judged. I knew I wanted to be the example of a truly caring medical professional I saw personified by my medical team. My love of children, commitment to serving others, and interest in scientific inquiry have led to my chosen career path of becoming a nurse practitioner. I want to treat the physical body of children and also address their emotions with compassion. My becoming a nurse practitioner will positively impact society by enabling children to be the best physical version of themselves. Patients are physically and emotionally vulnerable and may be experiencing the greatest challenges of their lives; my goal will be to make their experience as tolerable as possible. Through my own medical ordeal, I learned that a calming voice, warm smile, and understanding can have lasting effects on patients. This is what I will strive to provide to my future patients. I want to serve as an advocate for my patients and deliver the best care possible. I want to intimately learn my patients’ medical and treatment histories and present them with informed treatment options that are suited to their unique physiology. I want to support my patients by connecting them to the resources they need to make informed health decisions. Ultimately, I want to ensure that my patients feel seen and heard. I will use my voice to advocate for healthcare policies within the hospital and legislatively. I am particularly interested in policies that will expand nursing education and patient healthcare access. Increased efforts should be made to encourage people of color to enter the healthcare profession, and such efforts begin with education. More institutional and government grants, private scholarships, and student loan forgiveness programs should be provided to students who desire to enter the healthcare sector. Greater academic support services and opportunities and healthcare-related internships and camps should be provided to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students who express interest in healthcare careers. BIPOC populations require personalized approaches to address their healthcare needs. More diversity and representation amongst healthcare professionals can help ease anxieties and increase treatment compliance by making patients feel represented and understood and can lead to better health outcomes for patients. Such policies will help patients and improve the delivery of quality care within my community and at the state and national levels. Access to quality healthcare is often a challenge in many BIPOC communities due to barriers to care. Such barriers lead to lack of preventive care, health screening, and treatment of illnesses. The vitality of a community is dependent upon the health of its population, and access is critical to optimal health and well-being. Improved access to facilities located in convenient locations and/or offering transportation to those who cannot easily access health centers are key. I would like to use my position as a nurse practitioner to help community-based organizations secure grants to enable them to provide free transportation to people who cannot easily access healthcare facilities due to lack of safe and affordable transportation. I will also use my position to provide preventive education and services to patients on-site at community-based facilities, thereby increasing healthcare access for those who need it most.
    Dylan's Journey Memorial Scholarship
    A track runner may bump into or trip over a hurdle when she tries to jump over it for the first time. After much practice and struggle, the runner is able to jump over the hurdle effortlessly. Obstacles are sometimes like hurdles because several attempts may be required to overcome them. However, such obstacles do not have to define us and our abilities. Like a hurdler, I have had to overcome obstacles that have been placed before me. I was born nearly one month prematurely. Premature birth can affect the growth and development of a child in many ways, such as brain development, cognitive function, and vision development. I was diagnosed with intermittent exotropia when I was 18 months old, due to my drifting left eye. Side effects of the condition include light sensitivity, double and/or blurred vision, and headaches (to name a few). My premature birth and having an eye condition affected my performance in school. I was diagnosed with a processing disorder while in fourth grade because my eye condition affected how the information I read entered my eyes and was then processed by my brain. Consequently, I process and comprehend information in a delayed manner. I was given a 504 Plan, which allows for accommodations due to my eye condition and processing disorder. I knew I needed to improve my reading comprehension in order to perform well on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) during my junior year of high school. I was assigned a tutor, and we met weekly to review reading passages and to answer related questions. I did not enjoy the tutoring sessions initially but, as time went on, I noticed that I was better able to understand and analyze passages. My SAT evidence-based reading and writing (ERW) score improved tremendously when compared to my practice test scores, which contradicted the information garnered from previous standardized test results that showed that I was below the average reading level for my grade level. My SAT results improved my reading confidence. Not only had I overcome my reading obstacles, but I had also revitalized my enjoyment of reading. I did not allow other people and their assessments to define my abilities. My improved reading confidence and SAT ERW score compelled me to accept the challenge of enrolling in Advanced Composition dual-credit courses. My improved reading ability has heighted my confidence to take on even more challenges in the future. One challenge I am taking head-on is my pursuit of a nursing degree. I am drawn to the nursing major because it will lead to a career that will enable me to care for people in their most vulnerable state. My becoming a nurse practitioner will positively impact society by enabling children (the next generation of leaders) to be the best physical version of themselves by treating their physical bodies and addressing their emotions with compassion. Successful nurse practitioners are those who show resiliency, adaptability, and capacity for improvement. I have exuded all of those characteristics throughout my experience with intermittent exotropia and my resulting learning disability. I am an ideal candidate for this scholarship because I have not allowed my eye condition and subsequent learning disability to inhibit my ability to succeed. My winning the scholarship will help to relieve the financial burden of obtaining a college education. My becoming a nurse practitioner will require me to attend graduate school and obtain an advanced degree at significant financial cost. My goal is to complete my undergraduate education with as little debt as possible. My winning this scholarship will bring me one step closer to that goal.