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Lily Jin

1655

Bold Points

3x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

Hi! I'm Lily, and I am a high school senior, daughter of immigrant parents, athlete, and above all, challenge-seeker. Whether it be racing on the track, working in the classroom, or just navigating my way through life, I try to live by my motto: go the distance. Setbacks from injuries to bad test days to everyday stress won't stop me. I'm unafraid to set big goals and work hard to achieve them. Some include running a marathon (or multiple) and studying abroad in France (to hopefully become trilingual)! I bring this perseverance to other passions, such as climate activism. Creating projects to spread environmental awareness for my town by working with a local sustainability nonprofit while also leading my school's climate action club, I can not only envision but also create change. I'm inspired by people who break limits, especially my parents. As Chinese immigrants who reached their American dream, they show me what's possible when hard work meets ambition and an appetite for challenge. Like my parents, I strive to pursue higher education and use the knowledge and experience that I gain to make an impact, whether that be designing greener policies, furthering the environmentalist movement, or serving underdeveloped communities around the world. I hope to continue serving my current communities while interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. Tools like Bold.org will provide me with the financial resources necessary to take on all these goals and challenges, starting with earning a college degree, and for that, I'm so grateful.

Education

Wellesley High School

High School
2020 - 2024

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Economics
    • Environmental/Natural Resources Management and Policy
    • Sustainability Studies
    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other
    -
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Environmental Services

    • Dream career goals:

      Environmental consulting

    • Volunteer Coach

      Waltham Track Club
      2021 – 2021
    • Land Care lead in the Youth Leadership Team

      Sustainable Wellesley
      2022 – Present2 years
    • Teacher

      Kingsbury Club
      2022 – Present2 years

    Sports

    Cross-Country Running

    Club
    2021 - Present3 years

    Awards

    • 2021 Boston Globe Cross Country All-Scholastic
    • 2X Boston Globe Cross Country All-League (2020, 2021) 2X Bay State Conference Cross Country All-Star (2020, 2021) 2X MetroWest Cross Country All-Star (2020, 2021)

    Track & Field

    Varsity
    2021 - Present3 years

    Awards

    • 2X Boston Globe Cross Country All-League (2020, 2021) 2X Bay State Conference Cross Country All-Star (2020, 2021) 2X MetroWest Cross Country All-Star (2020, 2021)
    • 4x Nationals Qualifier

    Arts

    • Wind Ensemble (Band)

      Music
      2018 – 2020

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Sustainable WellesleyLand Care Lead
      2021 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Key Clubhelper in setting up, cleaning up, counting ballots
      2021 – 2021

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Julie Holloway Bryant Memorial Scholarship
    Born to immigrant parents in America, I grew up speaking Mandarin—my first language—with my family while learning English at school. By preschool, I’d already differentiated the two worlds I constantly switched between: the English one at school, and the Chinese one I came home to. Being bilingual served as my bridge between the two cultures. However, sometimes switching grew difficult—talking in Chinese with my parents in public used to earn me glances that made me squirm. Laughing with my brother in English in front of my grandma who can’t understand a word made me feel even worse. However, one instance in my life, during my sophomore year, illuminated the beauty of being bilingual. In high school, I began discovering a passion for creating environmental change, joining multiple climate action clubs and organizations. The local sustainability nonprofit were looking for someone to translate documents into Chinese. With the town’s growing Mandarin-speaking population, my family included, it was essential that they could access information on climate action and recycling to promote wider local environmental activism. Upon hearing of this translating volunteer opportunity, I knew I could help. After a few emails and an interview with the assistant director with Wellesley’s Department of Public Works, I got the job. In spring and summer, I translated digital documents covering climate action and recycling tips into Mandarin. Over nearly a year, while balancing my schoolwork, athletics, and other extracurriculars, I translated documents, flyers, and even app interfaces (sent by the RDF) from my laptop. I gave feedback and suggested how the RDF could improve their app and websites’ language features to make them more accessible. The process of translating helped me turn my bilingualism into a form of service, a tool for a cause larger than me. Changing every word, transforming the page from one medium of communication to another, not only connected me to my native language which I had felt was slowly fading as I aged, but also gave me a sense of obligation to an entire community. It felt like I was translating on behalf of all the families who wanted to get involved with grassroots climate action efforts but couldn’t read or fully understand English. If one can’t understand or access the resources around them, one can’t care to use them. I realized my privilege in being able to bridge the gap between seeing and understanding---with just a Mandarin keyboard. After translating, I emailed the finished flyers back to Sustainable Wellesley and RDF to be featured and distributed printed and digital versions around town. Hearing back from appreciative townspeople showed me the sheer impact that a simple act of service like translating can create—it opened my eyes and ears to a whole new side of bilingualism. For me, being able to speak, read, and write in Chinese used to mean preserving my heritage and a generational oral tradition. Now, it also holds the power of sharing ideas and information with people I don’t know and yet relate to under the bond of a shared language. In my future, post-graduation, I see myself as a multilingual climate activist working to render sustainability initiatives universal, not just limited to certain populations. I envision myself working in the world of green economic policies while staying involved in grassroots efforts to reach those who have been marginalized and geographic areas that have been ignored. My experience as a volunteer translator taught me that ultimately, climate activism can, and should, transcend barriers—including linguistic ones.
    Aserina Hill Memorial Scholarship
    Leadership is rooted in grassroots advocacy, in stepping up in local communities. In an age dominated by social media, political crises, and social upheaval, individual efforts become increasingly essential to creating systemic change. The most effective leaders prioritize serving others. Throughout high school, I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by several communities, each “something bigger than myself.” Whether in school, church, the town’s sustainability nonprofit, or other local organizations, I’ve realized that truly being part of something bigger than myself comes with putting others’ needs before my own and taking the initiative to give back through service to my surrounding communities. Proactively seeing and creating opportunities for grassroots advocacy and local initiatives, I’ve committed myself to my communities. As president of my school’s Climate Action Club, I’ve led projects like reviving our school’s weed-filled gardens, launching sustainable cafeteria initiatives such as reducing plastic utensils, and even organizing weekend trash pickups around town. As an officer of Key Club, I’ve managed volunteer opportunities for students while tracking the club’s finances and fees. Outside of school, I discover leadership in commanding kids’ attention (a herculean feat) at my church’s Sunday School, in tutoring elementary and middle schoolers in the notorious fields of algebra and grammar, and even in interning as a volunteer translator for my town’s sustainability nonprofit Sustainable Wellesley and Recycling & Disposal Facility, translating documents into Mandarin to steer climate change education towards higher accessibility. Additionally, I’ve become a leader on the Sustainable Wellesley’s Youth Leadership Team, working with other student leaders and town organizations to promote sustainable land-care and consumer practices. Elected Programming Chair this year, I design the programming for Infinity Squad, a math tutoring non-profit, creating career and mentoring resources from scratch for our volunteers. Dedication to volunteering has, of course, not been easy––especially on top of schoolwork and training commitments. However, these opportunities have been incredibly fulfilling; in grassroots leadership, I see meaningful work, community improvement, and individual empowerment. Through these unforgettable service experiences, I cannot wait to continue applying the leadership that I’ve learned to create lasting change wherever I find myself next. If I could start a charity of my own, it would be a localized nonprofit organization with a mission to reduce carbon emissions and administrative waste through grassroots advocacy. We would raise money for environmental conservation efforts, preserving the town's forests and natural habitats. Volunteers would participate in trash pickups and beach cleanups to reduce litter, host secondhand clothing drives to combat fast fashion and clothing waste and provide climate justice and education seminars to make climate action more accessible to more people. Like Aserina, I aspire to positively touch others' lives by improving their environment in whatever way I can, putting others' needs above mine. Education is such a critical step in creating tangible change. I am so grateful for those like Aserina who provide opportunities to empower students to reach their educational and career aspirations.
    Environmental Stewardship Award
    Winner
    This past year was challenging for my family. Last spring, my dad was diagnosed with rectal cancer. Even while undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy, he continued to work—as the sole breadwinner, my dad could not afford to lose his job. As family expenses rose to cover medical costs, the burden of paying for a college education grew ever larger. I began taking on jobs, spending hours teaching swim lessons, tutoring students, and babysitting. I also began seeing waste and overconsumption everywhere: in trash bins of half-eaten lunches, in impulsive clicks on “Buy” for glossy products seldom used, in empty houses and dusty town traffic. For me, financial struggles illuminated the reality of consumerism’s tangible environmental impact. Working with other students across school and town, I worked to spread recognition of our excessivities. We launched clothing swaps, presented plastic-repurposing projects, and promoted sustainable lifestyle alternatives to a growing audience. We improved recycling at our school, collecting and recycling over 2000 plastic cups and bottles. We revived our cafeteria's composting program, rallying to get volunteers to monitor. We sought to plant the seeds of environmental consciousness and watched our commitment to waste reduction grow. The climate action movement lies in the hands of the individual, the quiet leaders of day-to-day life, people who aren’t afraid to do things differently for a cause bigger than themselves. Whether it's riding a bike to school, purchasing less clothes, or buying fewer single-use plastics, we can make choices. We are the consumers, the polluters, the culprits; yet we are also the change-makers. In altering our habits, we can tilt our lives closer toward sustainability, toward a deeper consciousness. For me, it took facing financial constraints to take action. I hope for others, it will be knowing that our world—and futures—will become buried under waste if we don't.
    Kalia D. Davis Memorial Scholarship
    Like Kalia, I am also a track and cross-country runner, and I love it. Being a student-athlete has always been an integral part of my identity because athletics has taught me dedication, strength, and the value of hard work. Ever since joining a local track club during middle school at my friend's urging, I’ve become an athlete deeply committed to her training and improving her performance. My determination on the track translates, or one could say even fuels, my work ethic in the classroom and community. Looking up to my parents who immigrated to the US for education, I hold myself to high academic standards. In each class that I take, for each assignment that I tackle, I try my best to try my best, relentlessly working until I am satisfied with the result. I believe having an impeccable work ethic like Kalia did is essential to not only reaching one’s greatest potential but also to living life to the fullest. And that’s exactly what I aim to do––throughout high school and beyond. For the past few years, I’ve constantly sought out opportunities to grow. I’ve spent many nights training with my club team as an athlete, several afterschool hours planning new projects with my climate action club as a student leader, and countless weekends attending and helping with events at my church as a community member. I’ve tried my hand at crocheting as a challenge-seeker, baking French delicacies as a food-lover with a sweet tooth, and reading books from Harry Potter (for the dozenth time) to The Count of Monte Cristo (highly recommend) as an openminded reader. I love watching movies, listening to music, going to ballet shows, flipping through newspapers and magazines, and experiencing storytelling in all its forms. I love sticking my tongue out the window on long day-trip drives, laying on the beach with my eyes closed, trekking through deep forests, and taking leisurely walks with my mother on windy neighborhood roads. To me, there are so many things, moments, and experiences that make life worth living, and I plan to make the most of it. In the future, I see myself running for a Division 1 track and field team at a university where I can continue to build my academic work ethic and push the limits. Though I do not yet know my exact career plans, I want to create a positive impact in people’s lives more than anything. I want to help make life worth living for others as a bold leader and advocate for economic, social, and environmental change. As I prepare myself for the next stage of life, I do not want to be held back by anything. Yet the financial burden is an obstacle that I and so many others must face when looking forward to our futures. Winning this scholarship will not only alleviate the cost of my college education for my family but also help me get closer to actualizing my goals of living a fulfilling life and making life more fulfilling for others.
    Windward Spirit Scholarship
    I think the greatest thing about our generation is our unwavering belief in the idea that if we dream big enough and work hard enough, anything is possible. Some may call us naive, or ignorant, but I believe at this point we are fearless. We’ve seen a world ravaged by war, disease, climate change, political polarization, hateful prejudice, horrifying poverty, and active discrimination. We currently live in this world and experience the aftermath. And yes, we will deal with it in our own ways—we already have been. We’re the first generation to ever be fully connected by the seams of social media, globalized to the extent that we can hear each other’s stories from across oceans. We’ve taught each other how to empathize, to always stay open to other points of view. We’ve shown each other how to accept, to not only see beyond our differences but also embrace them. We’ve influenced each other to believe in liberation, to free ourselves from expectations to shape our own realities. We grew up instilled with freedom of speech and expression, so we’re not afraid to question authority and existing power structures. Our generation has already produced fearless leaders in social and climate activism, brilliant pioneers in scientific research, and incredible role models in the sports, fashion, art, and music industries. We’ve done all these things and we will do so much more—beginning with education. Gen Z students are on track to become the most educated generation. We have the highest high school graduation rates and the number of students enrolled in universities across the world has more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to UNESCO. Millennials, with all their college degrees and career ambitions, have set a standard for my generation to surpass. We discuss in classrooms and debate on stage; we read the news articles of the real world and write our stories of another; we marvel at the progress we make and imagine possible solutions for all the issues that plague our world. We work hard hoping that it’ll carry us far and in our own ways, we cherish the journeys that our decisions take us on. We stress, we dream, we worry, we prepare. We exist for our futures—for now, that’s all we ever think about. Each generation must encounter new issues and grapple with the reality that our future is never guaranteed. It’s part of human existence, a patchwork stitched by all the generations that came before us—each the “Greatest Generation” of their time. Now, it’s our turn, and we are fearless.
    RonranGlee Literary Scholarship
    Chosen book: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy “Estha and Rahel learned how history negotiates its terms and collects its dues from those who break its laws. They heard its sickening thud. They smelled its smell and never forgot it. History’s smell. Like old roses on a breeze. It would lurk forever in ordinary things. In coat hangers. Tomatoes. In the tar on roads. In certain colors. In the plates at a restaurant. In the absence of words. And the emptiness in eyes.” (p. 54) In the first few chapters of The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy lays out the bare fabric of the novel, exposing and tying together pieces of the foreshadowed aftermath through subtle free-indirect narration. The second chapter introduces the reader to the “History House,” a motif of historical alienation that manifests itself in Estha and Rahel’s past as the old abandoned house across the river. As the narrator reflects on the twins’ abrupt yet life-altering encounter with history on that house’s back verandah, the text describes history as a force that “negotiates its terms and collects its dues,” as a self-acting system that one can only examine from behind locked doors. However, unlike in other moments of the text, here “history” is uncapitalized. Here, Estha and Rahel experience and remember history as inextricably linked to the “ordinary things,” stripping it of its Bigness. A “sickening thud” and a scent “like old roses on a breeze” allude to the sound and smell of Velutha’s death, a casualty of a cruel caste system and an untold story—history’s half-truths. “The absence of words” encapsulates Estha’s traumatic sexual assault, its tragic occurrence a mere flap of wings in a system where one trivial move transforms an entire outcome—history’s butterfly effect. “The emptiness in eyes” expresses Rahel’s hollow optimism of believing her suffering will never compare to the vast swath of “Worse Things” that have happened across time, of never feeling big enough to matter—history’s apathetic exclusivity. As a synecdoche, the epigraph renders history as a dominating structure of laws entangled in the sensual lives of individuals, but also as a changing construct captured by individual experience. The epigraph illuminates the novel’s blurring dichotomy between the big and small, the political and the personal, the ostensible and the overlooked, as “ordinary things” capture far-reaching realities that form—and perhaps even define—a narrative as huge and ambiguous as history. The epigraph and broader novel cast history as an independent, detached force that directs the actions of individuals who seem to be mere instruments through which history wields its control. On the back verandah, Estha and Rahel can only watch as some larger, predetermined order governs the fate of their Paravan friend Velutha with its “terms,” “dues,” and “laws.” To blame for his death, history was the oppressor, the inhibitor of agency, the institution against the individual. With all its “law” enforcement, History resembles a government—an authoritative one. The police who beat Velutha to death were “history’s henchmen…Impelled by feelings that were primal yet paradoxically wholly impersonal” (292). To have henchmen is to dictate; to impel is to control. The caste system, part of history, has inhibited humans’ innate ability to think for themselves. Every kick felt both “primal” and “impersonal,” reducing the policemen to actors with the impersonality of following a script, so engraved into consciousness that following it was automatic. Instilling nonchalance to the extent that performing murder was a mere act of “collecting the dues,” history assumes an overwhelming absence of concern for individual humanity swept along in history’s current or left behind on the shore. Chacko describes the effects of such impersonality as believing that “our sorrows will never be sad enough…Our lives never important enough. To matter” (52). In historical context, Chacko’s words point to Western colonizers’ repression of Indian lives, but also to Rahel’s “emptiness in eyes”: a manifestation of the “Worse Things have happened” mentality and an individual’s inability “to matter.” Marginalized historical perspectives become a part of “history’s smell” that renders individuals helpless, tortured by their supposed smallness and relative insignificance. However, the history that “lurk[s] forever in ordinary things” does not suggest a history of comprehensive Bigness, but rather one that is vulnerably incomplete without the vividness of personal histories. Velutha’s murder will forever be viscerally etched into the twins’ history but lost to the current of broader History. The day before his death, when he crossed the river to the History House, Velutha “left no footprints in the sand, no ripples in water, no image in mirrors” (274). As the Big Thing that dominated Velutha’s life, the caste system erased his humanity with a single “Paravan” label, leaving him no legacy but the smell of “old roses on a breeze”—an invisible remnant of a sickly sweet death. Velutha’s story is a microcosm of India’s struggle to recover her cultural history and tell it in its entirety amid sweeping colonialism, a parallel to Indian families feeling “trapped outside their history and unable to retrace their steps because their footprints had been swept away” (51). These lost footprints are History’s lost stories, smaller histories concealed from public view, or distorted to fit a cleaner narrative. The homestead of lost individual and ancestral histories, the History House eventually gets painted over to become the “Heritage Hotel,” providing “toy histories for rich tourists to play in” (120). History is now a twisted narrative told by the privileged, beautified for better sales to an audience. The ugly historical truths, including Velutha’s death, are covered up and hidden behind a “tall wall to screen off the slum” (119). Despite the walls erected against history’s dirty underside, the “smell” of the tainted stories of forgotten individuals pervades, their presence in the form of silence lurking in a half-told historical narrative, lasting only in memory but existing nonetheless. History’s lack of omniscience and truth reveals its susceptibility to unexpected human action, replaced by a reality where “ordinary things” hold more power than one realizes. History is the accumulation of expected performance by humans who follow a script, but it is also an outcome of willful human choice. In the novel, Velutha’s and Ammu’s love affair lies at the center of a historical shift, a collision between personal desires and history’s “Love Laws.” When Velutha and Ammu see each other for the first time, “centuries telescoped into one evanescent moment. History was wrong-footed, caught off guard” (167). One small glance sparks an event that sets ablaze a family’s fate, turns history upside down, and renders an entire system of social hierarchy at the hands of a man and woman who were once long-oppressed but are now possessors of astonishing agency. Their love affair is a revolutionary violation, an individual-instigated rewriting of history. Even when Velutha tries to hate Ammu, initially influenced by caste rules, he thinks of her “deep dimples,” and “Madness slunk in through a chink in History” (204). At that moment, he was not dependent on history to decide his fate—history became dependent on him. Once so stark, the divide between “History” and humans blurs as the love affair exemplifies how small self-made decisions determine historical outcomes. Velutha, the God of Small Things, remained faithful to the small things to the end. The affair’s only lasting remnant was Velutha’s spider, “Chappu Thamburan.” Together, Velutha and Ammu “linked their fates, their futures (their Love, their Madness, their Hope, their Infinnate Joy), to his” because “they knew that they had to put their faith in fragility” (321). Like the spider, these two offenders of history are frail, peripheral creatures with frail, peripheral fates. Yet there is hope that amid the bitterness and despair of the larger forces that overwhelm them, this tender moment, this marginally prominent matter of their own creation will prevail. The God of Small Things does not strictly confine history to an unyielding inhibitor of agency or an all-encompassing narrative. History’s role in the characters’ lives is a multifaceted variable, a synthesis of life’s private and public realms dependent on its countless individuals to be sculpted, narrated, and set in motion. History may smell like loss, death, and brokenness experienced in our private ways, but it can’t smother the little moments of beauty, the miracles when things “so fragile, so unbearably tender had survived, had been allowed to exist” (14). Like Estha and Rahel, like Ammu and Velutha, perhaps we should seek out the secret friendships, the love affairs, the little spiders, the birds in flight and varnish on nails, and link our futures, fates, and histories to them. Perhaps we’ll find Love, Madness, Hope, Infinnate Joy. Occurring in the margins of our day-to-day lives and often escaping our notice, small things change, contain, and create history. Stifled emotion can create inertia; inchoate ideas can cause upheaval. A simple glance can bloom into a colossal passion; a few words can plant transformative thoughts. We forget too often that Bigness lies in smallness, that there is great truth in our perceptions of events and experiences in a society that we have the power to shape. In a world where things can change in a day, where little details and fleeting moments draw us in, where we look no further than tomorrow, ordinaryness is extraordinary.
    Bright Lights Scholarship
    Empathy has always been one of my top core values. Wherever and whoever we are, I believe we should always strive to recognize that everyone struggles and deserves kindness. In an age dominated by social media, political crises, and social upheaval, in a world where individuals face struggles every day, empathy and selflessness are more important than ever. Over the course of my high school career so far, I’ve been lucky to find myself supported by countless communities. They always say to “be part of something bigger than yourself,” and I am grateful to feel that way with my church, my school, the town’s sustainability nonprofit, and many other organizations. I’ve realized that being part of something bigger than myself comes with putting others’ needs before my own and sacrificing my time to give back through community service. I try to reflect empathy in my volunteer experiences to truly positively impact others, which is how I want to define my life and future career. Committing myself to community service, I learned to be proactive when seeking out volunteer opportunities. Joining—and leading—multiple in-school organizations like Key Club, Climate Action Club, and National Honor Society gave me opportunities to participate in projects like counting town election ballots, reviving our school’s weed-filled gardens, and volunteering in blood drives. Outside of school, I’ve found the opportunity to contribute to my church by teaching Sunday School, spending hours engaging kids with stories from the Scripture, and helping them apply the lessons to their lives. Additionally, attending a youth leadership seminar last year (HOBY) has made me part of an extensive student alumni network that consistently provides valuable volunteer opportunities, from handing out medals at charity walk finish lines to buying Christmas presents for families experiencing poverty. I’ve even volunteered as a spotter in the Boston Marathon to report to a TV network studio. These unforgettable service projects not only gave me the chance to help my communities in various ways, but also furthered my own passions for climate action, mentoring, and running. All these volunteer experiences have led me to prioritize community service, in all its forms, as an integral core value. I hope to translate these service experiences—and the passions they helped foster—into my future career. I aspire to work in a field that creates opportunities for those in need, that equals out the international playing field for developing countries. I aspired to delve deep into issues of climate change and sustainability, to find the intersections of those real-world issues with business and politics through improving large-scale business practices and campaigning for public policy that prioritizes slowing down global warming. I may not know exactly what job I want to have, but I know that no matter what work I do, education is the first step. This scholarship will help me fund my education as college tuition continues to rise and financial aid packages continue to ignore middle-class families. Through my education and wherever it leads me, I will carry over my willingness to help those with less privilege from my community service experiences and help drive progress for as many people, together with as many people, as I can.
    Healing Self and Community Scholarship
    In a world where mental healthcare accessibility remains a pressing concern, my unique contribution to the cause would be a digital forum platform (potentially called "ForUs"!) I believe that such a space will not only allow more people to share their personal stories but also provide accessible healthcare in the form of productive discussions and consultations. No one should ever feel like they are struggling alone, and everyone deserves a support network. ForUs would offer a mobile app and website that connects individuals through an extensive network of licensed mental health professionals and others who face the same issues. For affordability, this platform would collaborate with insurance providers and partially rely on volunteers, similar to a non-profit structure. The forum could connect members based on listed preferences, especially for minority members who may feel a stronger sense of belonging within a specific cultural community. Because it would be online, individuals could seek support from anywhere, making access to mental health care feasible. ForUs would include different language features and tips on cultural sensitivity to ensure inclusivity. There would be no target audience—all ages and backgrounds are welcome. Such online platforms should become more normalized, especially as mental health becomes increasingly prevalent amid turbulent times. Unfortunately, mental health remains an overwhelming stigma, especially for BIPOC. Mental illness should never be associated with danger, abnormality, or incompetence. I hope an online forum space like ForUs will foster a community where anyone can access mental health care without hesitation, discomfort, or financial burden.
    Book Lovers Scholarship
    The book that everyone should read is The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. I first read it at seven years old, and it was the first book that made me cry. In The Hundred Dresses, a Polish girl named Wanda Petronski moves to a new school in Connecticut. Her last name and blue faded dress that she wears every day ostracize her from the other girls, including protagonists Peggy and Maddie. When Wanda declares she has a “hundred dresses, all lined up” in her closet, everyone teases her. The teasing eventually causes Wanda to move away, but not after the class holds a dress design contest. On the day the results are announced, Wanda is no longer in her chair, but the walls are covered in beautiful drawings of dresses—at least a hundred. The winner, who submitted those designs, was Wanda Petronski. Then, Peggy and Maddie realize that maybe Wanda was being truthful after all, but it’s too late. They mail a friendly letter to Wanda, and Wanda responds, gifting them the drawings. Upon closer look, Peggy and Maddie realize that Wanda drew them as the dress models. The Hundred Dresses is a children’s book, but unlike most children's books, the protagonists are anti-heroes, peer pressure is the villain, and the ending aches with guilt. Don’t be fooled by the book’s colorful illustrations; its surprising maturity is just as vivid. Quite through and through, the book teaches us to not judge by appearance. The story’s point was never about questioning the hundred dresses’ existence, but about the potential of friendship that lay quietly underneath the entire time, revealing itself through Wanda’s unjustifiable kindness in drawing the girls into her designs, and gifting them. That’s what made me cry. Kindness transcends differences in culture and appearance. It’s transformative. Because of Wanda’s kindness, Maddie and Peggy won’t be the same. Maybe they’ll see Wanda’s face in every pretty dress, in every outcast. Maybe they’ll be moved to defeat peer pressure and defend the defenseless. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking. However, by making us imagine beyond its pages, this book can inspire us to live out our own “maybe’s.” In a world of creating cultural barriers and judging by appearance, reading The Hundred Dresses will do us good. We need reminders that kindness does prevail, that the seed of friendship is there—it’s just up to us to seek it and make it bloom.
    Top of the Mountain Memorial Scholarship
    On the flag would be just three words: "Lead by example." Real leaders aren’t always famous, loud, or extraordinary. This movement lies in the hands of the ordinary individual, the quiet role models of day-to-day life, the people who aren’t afraid to do things differently for a cause bigger than themselves. They're the leaders who set an example for others just like them. Effective climate action is an accumulation of individual choices. It’s biking to school every day past the line of cars all your friends ride in. Or thrifting secondhand clothes amid a fresh-fashion-loving consumer culture. Or perhaps using less AC, creating vegetable and flower gardens rather than lawns and pools, or having fewer vacations. In my town, my family and I are among the few who do all those things. Though doing so sacrifices our personal comfort and convenience, I’m proud to say that in our own small-scale way, we’re leading a local movement toward public sustainability. Making such choices is harder than it sounds, more significant than it seems. But through our choices, we lead by example. The movement for something as far-reaching as the environment begins with leading small changes against the status quo. Small changes create big impacts—it’s just up to us to initiate them. It’s true that effective climate action grows in collective effort, campaigning, and education, but it stems from individual willingness to alter one's lifestyle in pursuit of the greater good.
    Eco-Warrior Scholarship
    I used to be insecure about my house. In a town of polished three-story homes, our small rectangular abode overwhelmed by plants lacks the grandeur that surrounds it. Instead of a well-manicured lawn, we have sprawling pachysandra, hydrangeas, and rhododendrons. Instead of a pool or trampoline, we have veggie and herb gardens, complete with a compost bin. Instead of an HVAC system, we had a pipe through the window and a bucket to collect the water. When I pleaded for changes in the name of normality (“Lawns aren’t hard to make!”), my parents refused in the name of cost (“They’re expensive!”). Our house embodied a frugality that I opposed until last year when I joined a sustainability non-profit and realized our house’s greatest beauty. There, I learned that our pachysandra prevents erosion, native flowers self-sustain, composting is an organic form of recycling, and the "AC" window pipe saves tons of energy. All at a less financial cost. This realization that our house was helping to save both money and the environment astonished, and inspired me. Yes, perhaps we're giving up the luxury that may come with having a fashionable lawn or guaranteed air-conditioning 24/7, but when will more people realize the selfishness of choosing luxury--and the foolishness of paying extra for it--over an issue of far, far greater importance? Living in the town's possibly most atypical house has inspired me to re-evaluate my everyday habits with a simple question: like the house, could I become more sustainable at less cost? As I bike to school every morning, past lines of exhausted parents spending invaluable time sitting in traffic exhaust, I smile to myself and think, "Yes." As I peruse secondhand clothes on online thrifting platforms, buying a pair of shoes at half the cost of my friends' brand-new ones, I laugh out loud, "Yes!" As I convince my parents to buy less meat for dinners and drive on our hybrid car's "Eco" mode more often to save on gas, I nod and say, "Yes." Yes, it's possible to alter our everyday habits to live more sustainably, all at a lower cost. For a long time, I've always believed that reducing my carbon footprint meant resorting to more expensive alternatives reserved for the upper class, such as buying Teslas and solar panels or shopping at higher-end organic grocery stores. I thought frugality and sustainability were mutually exclusive. Yet my house proved me wrong. Reducing our carbon footprint can align with our financial incentives. Living more sustainably could mean simply riding a bike to school or work, and thus saving on gas (and time finding a parking spot---a common complaint among my driver friends). Living more sustainably could simply mean purchasing fewer new clothes, or quite frankly new anything, when one already has enough to lead a relatively comfortable life. Living sustainably could mean buying fewer single-use plastics (reusable bottles, shopping bags, and utensils all prevent unnecessary runs to the store) and flying to far-out vacation destinations a bit less. All of those choices benefit us doubly, saving our wallets and the world we live in. Now, it's up to us to make those choices.
    Christian Dunbar Athletics Scholarship
    During my freshman year, I joined my school’s cross-country and track teams. Immediately I formed a close bond with my team, spending nearly all my time with them at noisy lunch tables, on gravel paths during practice, and in crowded buses. However, as the seasons flew by, I began to feel exhausted. My body was burnt out with injuries from racing every week, and my mind was tired of the team’s social pressures and lack of athletic motivation. Deep inside, I longed for better workouts, less racing, and an environment that prioritized individual ambition and mental well-being over team points. I wanted to get better, to become a little bit more extraordinary. After a month of debating, I finally decided to leave the school team and start running for a club team. It was one of the hardest choices I’ve ever had to make. At school, I felt socially ostracized by the people I once surrounded myself with. Regret seeped into my mind as I blamed myself for selfishly choosing to leave the school team to pursue my own goals. Countless times, I thought, is this the right thing to do? Upon training with the club team, I began to set big goals. I wanted to break 5:00 in the mile, dreamed of qualifying for Nationals, and prayed for confidence in my decision. That winter, I ran 4:57, qualified for three events at Nationals, and never looked back. In every workout I run and every exercise I complete, I become more motivated, confident, and committed to the sport I love. I wanted to spread this impact to others too—both within and outside of my club team. My club coach once pulled me aside to tell me that my younger teammates look up to me and that I lead quietly during practices with my positivity and my effort to encourage an environment where young runners can truly love and appreciate the work they put in to run stronger and faster. From my running experience, I've discovered a passion for mentoring young children to believe in themselves and what they can be capable of. Whether that's coaching little kids in summer track programs, nurturing in them a love for the sport where all dreams begin, or teaching an eager swimmer how to execute butterfly stroke despite its obvious difficulty, or even just playing math games with a mentee over Zoom to show him that multiplication can be fun, and completely doable. In this sport where taking risks creates self-growth, I’ve learned to be bold in everything I do, to leap outside of my comfort zone to push past limits, and to help others do so too. It took me a while to understand that making such choices isn’t always easy; it was never meant to be. Success in athletics, academics, and life, stems from taking that step to reach a big goal, to create a necessary change, and to overcome inevitable failure. At the time, we never know if our decisions, risks, or sacrifices will be worth it or not, but that shouldn’t stop us from committing to bettering ourselves and others.
    Book Lovers Scholarship
    The book that I think everyone should read is "The Hundred Dresses" by Eleanor Estes. I first read it at seven years old, and it was the first book that made me cry. In "The Hundred Dresses," a Polish girl named Wanda Petronski moves to a new school in Connecticut. Her last name and blue faded dress that she wears every day ostracize her from the other girls, including protagonists Peggy and Maddie. When Wanda declares she has a “hundred dresses, all lined up” in her closet, everyone teases her. The teasing eventually causes Wanda to move away, but not after the class holds a dress design contest. On the day the results are announced, Wanda is no longer in her chair, but the walls are covered in beautiful drawings of dresses—at least a hundred. The winner, who submitted those designs, was Wanda Petronski. Then, Peggy and Maddie realize that maybe Wanda was being truthful after all, but it’s too late. They mail a friendly letter to Wanda, and Wanda responds, gifting them the drawings. Upon closer look, Peggy and Maddie realize that Wanda drew them as the dress models. The Hundred Dresses is a children’s book, but unlike most children's books, the protagonists are anti-heroes, peer pressure is the villain and guilt pervades the ending. The book’s colorful illustrations contain a surprising maturity that's just as vivid. Quite through and through, the book teaches us to not judge by appearance. The story’s point was never about questioning the hundred dresses’ existence, but about the potential of friendship that lay quietly underneath the entire time, revealing itself through Wanda’s unjustifiable kindness in drawing the girls into her designs, and gifting them. That’s what made me cry. Kindness transcends differences in culture and appearance. It’s transformative. Because of Wanda’s kindness, Maddie and Peggy won’t be the same. Maybe they’ll see Wanda’s face in every pretty dress, in every outcast. Maybe they’ll be moved to defeat peer pressure, to defend the defenseless. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking. However, by making us imagine beyond its pages, this book can inspire us to live out our own “maybe’s.” In a world of creating cultural barriers and judging by appearance, reading "The Hundred Dresses" will do us good. We need reminders that kindness does prevail, that the seed of friendship is always there—it’s just up to us to seek it and make it bloom.
    Reasons To Be - In Memory of Jimmy Watts
    Empathy has always been one of my top core values. Wherever and whoever we are, I believe we should always strive to recognize that everyone struggles and deserves kindness. In an age dominated by social media, political crises, and social upheaval, in a world where individuals face struggles everyday, empathy is more important than ever. Over the course of my high school career so far, I’ve been lucky to find myself supported by countless communities. They always say to “be part of something bigger than yourself,” and I am grateful to feel that way with my church, my school, the town’s sustainability nonprofit, and many other organizations. I’ve realized that being part of something bigger than myself comes along with putting others’ needs before my own, and sacrificing my time to give back through community service. I try to reflect empathy in my volunteer experiences to truly positively impact others, which is how I want to define my life and career. Committing myself to community service, I learned to be proactive when seeking out volunteer opportunities. Joining—and leading—multiple in-school organizations like Key Club, Climate Action club, and National Honor Society gave me opportunities to participate in projects like counting town election ballots, reviving our school’s weed-filled gardens, and volunteering in blood drives. Through those experiences I've learned the importance of working "behind the scenes" to make the countless gears of our town run smoothly. Outside of school, I’ve found the opportunity to contribute to my church by teaching Sunday School, spending hours engaging kids with stories from the Scripture and helping them apply the lessons to their lives. Working with children has taught me the importance of striving to be a role model mentor for our younger generation, to instill in our leaders of tomorrow the underrated values of empathy and kindness. Additionally, attending a youth leadership seminar last year (HOBY) has made me part of an extensive student alumni network that consistently provides valuable volunteer opportunities, from handing out medals at charity walk finish lines to buying Christmas presents for families experiencing poverty. I’ve even volunteered as a spotter in the Boston Marathon to report to a TV network studio. These unforgettable service projects allowed me to involve myself in my larger city and state-wide communities, giving me the chance to not only realize my own privilege, but also to use my privileges--as well as my passions for climate action and mentoring---to foster a willingness to help the under-privileged. All these volunteer experiences have led me to prioritize community service, in all its forms, as an integral core value. I hope to translate these service experiences—and the passions they helped foster—into my future career. I aspire to work in a field that creates opportunities for those in need, that equals out the international playing field for developing countries. I aspired to delve deep into issues of climate change and sustainability, to find the intersections of those real-world issues with business and politics through improving large-scale business practices and campaigning for public policy that prioritizes slowing down global warming. I may not know exactly what job I want to have, but I know that no matter what work I do, I will carry over my willingness to help those with less privilege from my community service experiences, and help drive progress for as many people, together with as many people, as I can.
    I Can Do Anything Scholarship
    Dear future self, I hope that you stand firm in your values, that you advocate for yourself and others, and that you fully commit yourself to everything you do...because you can.
    Scholarship Institute’s Annual Women’s Leadership Scholarship
    To me, leadership is rooted in selflessness and empathy, in being willing to lead others with kindness. In an age dominated by social media, political crises, and social upheaval, in a world where individuals face struggles every day, these leadership qualities are more important than ever. Throughout my high school career so far, I’ve been lucky to find myself supported by countless communities. They always say to “be part of something bigger than yourself,” and I am grateful to feel that way with my church, my school, the town’s sustainability nonprofit, and many other organizations. I’ve realized that being part of something bigger than myself comes along with putting others’ needs before my own and sacrificing my time to give back through community service to take the initiative in impacting others positively. Committing myself to being a leader in my community, I learned to be proactive. Joining—and leading—multiple in-school organizations like Key Club, Climate Action Club, and National Honor Society gave me opportunities to participate in projects like counting town election ballots, reviving our school’s weed-filled gardens, and volunteering in blood drives. Outside of school, I’ve found the opportunity to lead kids through teaching Sunday School at my church, spending hours engaging them with the Scripture and helping them apply the lessons to their lives. Additionally, attending a youth leadership seminar last year (HOBY) has made me part of an extensive student alumni network that consistently provides valuable volunteer opportunities, from handing out medals at charity walk finish lines to buying Christmas presents for families experiencing poverty. I’ve even volunteered as a spotter in the Boston Marathon to report to a TV network studio. These unforgettable service projects gave me the chance to be a community leader in various ways. However, my most memorable leadership experiences were not organized community service events; they weren't even planned. Leadership can be shown in spontaneous moments through interactions with strangers in our everyday lives. Leadership can mean taking the first step in helping others, leading them towards a more positive worldview. There is a woman over 90 years old who walks her dog past my house every day. She lives with no one but her dog, and I wonder about the loneliness, and monotony, that she probably faces each day. So sometimes, when I am on a run and I see her walking her dog, I stop and make conversation, hoping that maybe exchanging stories and laughs will make her day slightly better. My exchanges with that lady have taught me that people who seem to be “in the background” of my everyday life, such as bus drivers and traffic guards, are usually taken for granted, while their stories go unheard. Through my interactions with them, I’ve learned that being a leader also means listening to others. One time, as I stopped at the stoplight, I greeted the cheery man with the orange safety vest who was always there eagerly pressing the “Walk” button. A simple “hello” led to small talk, and before long, he told me about his experience with brain cancer, and how he miraculously survived—“beat the tumor,” as he put it. Ever since hearing his incredible story, I’ve always stopped to chat with him for a few minutes whenever I could. Maybe our conversations livened his day a little, but I know it certainly livened my own. Oftentimes it’s taking simple actions like giving nervous classmates a smile during their presentations, letting others interrupt during a get-together, or just listening to strangers’ stories, that truly demonstrate leadership.
    Michael Rudometkin Memorial Scholarship
    I see selflessness as a direct result of empathy, of recognizing that everyone has their struggles. In an age dominated by social media, political crises, and social upheaval, in a world where individuals face struggles every day, selflessness and empathy are more important than ever. Throughout my high school career so far, I’ve been lucky to find myself supported by countless communities. They always say to “be part of something bigger than yourself,” and I am grateful to feel that way with my church, my school, the town’s sustainability nonprofit, and many other organizations. I’ve realized that being part of something bigger than myself comes along with putting others’ needs before my own, and sacrificing my time to give back through community service—the classic demonstration of selflessness, of attempting to truly make some positive impact on others. Committing myself to community service, I learned to be proactive when seeking out volunteer opportunities. Joining—and leading—multiple in-school organizations like Key Club, Climate Action Club, and National Honor Society gave me opportunities to participate in projects like counting town election ballots, reviving our school’s weed-filled gardens, and volunteering in blood drives. Outside of school, I’ve found the opportunity to contribute to my church by teaching Sunday School, spending hours engaging kids with stories from the Scripture and helping them apply the lessons to their lives. Additionally, attending a youth leadership seminar last year (HOBY) has made me part of an extensive student alumni network that consistently provides valuable volunteer opportunities, from handing out medals at charity walk finish lines to buying Christmas presents for families experiencing poverty. I’ve even volunteered as a spotter in the Boston Marathon to report to a TV network studio. These unforgettable service projects not only gave me the chance to help my communities in various ways, but also furthered my passions for climate action, mentoring, and running. However, my most memorable experiences of selflessness were not organized community service events; they weren't even planned. Selflessness can be demonstrated in spontaneous moments through random interactions with strangers as we go about our everyday lives. There is an elderly lady, over 90 years old, who always walks her dog past my house each day. She lives with no one but her dog, and I wonder about the loneliness, and perhaps the monotony, that she probably faces each day. So sometimes, when I am on a run and I see her walking her dog, I stop and make conversation, hoping that maybe exchanging stories and laughs will make her day slightly better. My exchanges with that lady have taught me that people who seem to be “in the background” of my everyday life, such as bus drivers and traffic guards, are usually taken for granted, while their stories go unheard. Seeing their selflessness inspires me to demonstrate my own. One time, as I stopped at the stoplight, I greeted the cheery man with the orange safety vest who was always there pressing the “Walk” button whenever he saw pedestrians. A simple “hello” led to small talk, and before long, he told me about his experience with brain cancer, and how he miraculously survived—“beat the tumor,” as he put it. Ever since hearing his incredible story, I’ve always stopped to chat with him for a few minutes whenever I could. Maybe our conversations livened his day a little, but I know it certainly livened my own. Oftentimes it’s simple actions like giving nervous classmates a smile during their presentations, letting others interrupt during a get-together, or just listening to strangers’ stories, that truly spread selflessness.
    John F. Puffer, Sr. Smile Scholarship
    From a young age, I was taught to excel academically. My parents, both first-generation Chinese immigrants, fought to graduate at the top of their classes, craft stellar resumes, immigrate to America and ultimately achieve their American Dreams. Because of their hard work, today my brother and I can live comfortably with countless resources at our fingertips. So for both my sake and my parents’ sakes, I strive to earn the best grades possible. I strive to take the most challenging classes. I strive to be the best student that I can be. I strive to make the most out of an education that I am lucky to receive. My father often tells me the story of his childhood growing up in China’s poor countryside, where education was nearly denied to him because he had to stay at home, tend the farm and take care of his four younger siblings at age 7. Every morning, my father would look out the window, watching wistfully as the other kids walked past with backpacks. After pleading with his father, my father finally attended school, but as the oldest kid in the classroom, he was alone. Constantly bullied and repeatedly failing assignments, my father still managed to score the highest on the college entrance exam. My father’s story of rising to the top despite all odds motivates me to create my own success story. So far in high school, I’ve earned placement in the National Honors Society and French National Honors Society, been selected for multiple department awards in History, English, Music and French, and held leadership roles in multiple student organizations including Climate Action Club and Key Club. Additionally, I spend time on community service activities including involving myself in local sustainability non-profit’s Youth Leadership Team and being Programming Chair of a teen-led tutoring non-profit, bringing climate action initiative and math education to more students in my community. I find myself contributing to countless other communities; there are so many places I can call “home.” Whether it be entertaining little kids at my church’s Vacation Bible School or teaching swim lessons at a local fitness center or volunteering as a spotter in the Boston Marathon, I commit myself to serving my communities in a multitude of ways, even if they may seem small. Small efforts accomplished by people united under a common purpose are what defines a community, and I feel lucky to be part of many, from local nonprofits to athletic organizations. Among my personal life-long goals (some of which include running a marathon for charity one day!), community service—in all its forms—will always remain one of them. I’m grateful that I have two selfless parents who showed me the importance of working hard through adversity. They gave up their energy, time, and love for me to thrive. My mom ended her career in electrical engineering prematurely—giving up the degree she had studied endless nights to earn—to take care of us. My parents sacrificed so much for me that they also inadvertently taught me the significance of giving back to those who support you, as well as just giving without expecting anything in return. If I could give up even half as much energy and time to help others as my parents did for me, I’d be satisfied. And for myself, I hope to continue to “dream big” as my mom always tells me, apply the perseverance I’ve learned in the classroom and my extracurriculars to my future endeavors, and most importantly, create a lasting impact in whatever communities I find myself in next.
    Derk Golden Memorial Scholarship
    Barriers are made to be broken. That is what running has taught me, and the role it plays in my life is nothing short of barrier-breaking. For much of my life, I had never envisioned myself as a runner––my sixth-grader self didn't even know what cross country and track & field were. But that year, ever since I accomplished the unthinkable of crossing the finish line of our annual 2-mile "Mini Marathon" course in second place, I never looked back. No one expected me, a short, small-framed, studious Chinese American girl to become an athlete, much less a distance runner who would later race in multiple National championships and even international ones. That stereotype was the first barrier that was broken. The second barrier was self-imposed. Confidence did not come naturally to me; I was used to holding back in fear of failing. Sometimes, as I stood at the starting line of my races, in the seconds before the gun would go off, I told myself that bolting to the front would compromise my race and that having such confidence would only deplete my energy. But this sport gave me a wide support network of coaches and teammates who never stopped pushing me to reach my fullest speed and potential. I learned to commit myself to race every lap, every meter as confidently as I can. In workouts, as I’d furiously pump my arms and legs to hit the splits, my coaches and friends would yell, “Commit, commit, commit!” The mantra now echoes in my mind as I stand on the starting line. Full commitment stems from a quiet, but unwavering belief in oneself that they are capable of surpassing their expectations, a belief that running has instilled in me. Overcoming this hurdle of self-confidence was one of my biggest challenges, yet also the most rewarding as I watched myself break one barrier after another in races…because I believed I could. The third barrier was not a barrier in the sense of the word, but rather a boundary. It expanded the horizon of the sport for me, revealing new challenges and experiences that only running can bring. My passion for running grew as I realized it brings countless incredibly diverse, yet like-minded athletes together. This past spring, I had the opportunity to race at the World Mountain & Trail Running Championships in Austria as part of Team USA. I had never done competitive mountain running before, much less competed on an international level. Wracked by nerves, I couldn’t fathom running 1200ft up a mountain when I was used to flat laps around a track, or rolling grass hills on a cross-country course. Yet in Austria, under tents in the charming town of Innsbruck, I found myself surrounded by people from Australia to Zambia who overcame their barriers through running, a sport they love as much as I do. I saw that we weren’t so different after all. While those athletes train in the mountains at high altitude, while those athletes were seasoned explorers of another realm of running that was foreign to me, while those athletes speak different languages and come from different backgrounds, we at least still shared the bond of commitment and passion for the overall sport. We are all runners, and that alone made me feel like I belonged there. Running constantly pushes me to transcend limits and surpass expectations, internal and external. It gives me confidence. It teaches me commitment. It involves entire communities. Above all, it creates challenges for me to conquer, and there is nothing else I’d want more.