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Malena Smith

2495

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

Greetings All! I am a High School POD/Gov & Econ Teacher pursuing a Master's in Education focusing on Curriculum and Instruction, concentrating on Trauma Informed Practices at Elizabethtown College. An alumna of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. I am a proud Gold Star Family Member and Navy Dependent. I am a dedicated student and teacher.

Education

Elizabethtown College

Master's degree program
2024 - 2025
  • Majors:
    • Curriculum and Instruction

Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus

Bachelor's degree program
2016 - 2020
  • Majors:
    • Education, Other

Conestoga Valley Senior High School

High School
2013 - 2016

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Education

    • Dream career goals:

    • POD/Gov & Econ Teacher

      Caesar Rodney School District
      2023 – Present1 year
    • Middle School History Teacher

      St. Martin's in-the-field Episcopal School
      2022 – 20231 year
    • Social Science Teacher

      Highland School
      2020 – 20222 years

    Sports

    Soccer

    Junior Varsity
    2013 – 20163 years

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Sean Allen Memorial Scholarship
    Climbing is a metaphor for life. You have to plant your feet properly to take the next step forward, and not fall off the rock face. You also have to be willing to take that next step to push yourself to do better and become a better person. I have been an avid hiker most of my life, and when I have to climb to get to the landings to see the view at the top, I am going to find a way to get myself there and continue to push myself to be better. Climbing and hiking is a way to clear my mind as education is constantly changing and advancing, so you are always climbing, trying to reach the students, learning about the new teaching methods, and attending the latest conferences to learn new skills. With the master's degree I am pursuing, I am going to be consistently on that climb. I am pursuing a Master's in Curriculum and Instruction focusing on trauma-informed practices. This means that I am going to have a greater understanding of students who have been placed in foster care, have had an unexpected loss in their family, or have had a family member take their life, be raped, or have any other unforeseen circumstances. These students are facing a tremendous climb in their lives and are being told that they might not make anything of themselves, and I am trying to help them climb into a better spot and say look at me and see what I can do. As someone who had to face unexpected trauma in their life as a freshman in high school, I saw the climb that a student can have to go through when they lose a person in their immediate family. It is tough to find a new rhythm and be able to get back into academic studies and life the same way you were before. The climb I went through was twice as challenging as I expected because I was so unprepared for the journey I was put on. I have had to make sure that during this climb, no matter where I am during the journey, I am taking care of myself and my mental health. With the support of the Sean Allen Memorial Scholarship, I will not worry about some of the financial burdens of paying for grad school, which means that the climb will be easier. I can plant my feet without worrying about slipping off and not being able to complete grad school without the funding falling through. As I look at my path forward now and how my climbing journey has changed, I am climbing and hiking for different reasons but always to clear my head. My goal is always to climb and hike for my students and advocate for them to be able to get the type of education that they need and deserve while also making sure that their mental health is being taken care of. I don’t want to feel like I could have or should have done more for these students as they leave the high school setting and go on to pursue the next part of their journey.
    Jean Ramirez Scholarship
    Winner
    As a survivor of suicide loss, I have faced more challenges than I thought I would, but I have been able to see how resilient I have been through it all. The first lesson I learned is that it is okay to carry on and move forward with life, even if you have no clue what you are doing and what life will look like. I had a counselor who probably said it to me in a way that made the most sense. I could have gone one of two ways, the path I chose to set me up for success, or I could have gone down a path that led to failure and ruining my life. I chose the path that led to success, and it paid off. I was the first member of my high school class to not only get into college but also to know where I would spend the next 4 years of my life, and that was eight years ago as we had this discussion in my senior year of high school. This counselor helped me in more ways than one. He cheered me on and let me be who I needed to be at that time without judgment. An early challenge I faced, and still face 11 years on, is that I matured so much faster than all my friends, and I still am. I didn’t know how this would affect me in the short term or long term, but I can tell you that it made it so that I do not laugh easily, and smiling is no longer natural to me. However, when working with high school students, I try to use verbal praise so they know I am proud of them, even if I do not show it in my face. A big piece that showed me how resilient I am is that I was able to figure out what I wanted to do with the next part of my life. I always knew I was going to go to college and get my bachelor’s degree, but the question of what’s next and how I could improve myself was always in the back of my head and as teachers, we are always trying to improve. So, when I saw that I had the opportunity to use my grief, suffering, and PTSD for good, I wanted to take advantage of it. My next phase of studying is for a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Trauma Informed Practices. This is so important to me, as I can use everything that I know and have gone through to be a better teacher and also help students who are going through their trauma and are trying to find a “new” ordinary and be successful in the classroom no matter what their future looks like and what they have gone through in their past. The biggest challenge that anyone faces when they are the one who finds a family member who has taken their life is how to move on. The hardest part must be finding a way to move on and find that new normal. Each day, you put one foot in front of the other and keep going, but finding a way to move forward is the most challenging part of this journey. It has taken me 11 years to begin not to blame myself for the loss of my father when I have been told time and time again that none of this was my fault, and I am still accepting that.
    James T. Godwin Memorial Scholarship
    There are so many stories I could share about my father. However, my favorite one is how he would bring in sailors or civilians who were either deployed alone or single to our home for holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas and for barbecues for the 4th of July, Labor Day, and Memorial Day. What made these events special was not the fact that we were giving up part of our day to spend time with these young men and women but that, for a few hours, we were making sure they had a family and felt that they were a part of a family for a few hours even if they could not be with their own for the holiday season. The biggest lesson that I learned from these experiences has influenced me as a person and as an educator. I not only step up when students need advocates; I also get them the materials that they need. I step up and fill in for my colleagues when they need it. The biggest thing that I do, though, is I try to make donations to organizations that help those in need in the local community, just as my father would have done. When they need someone to take in new people at the school and welcome them to the area, I do that; if we need a person to welcome in the visiting teams and officials, I do that. I make sure that everyone feels welcome and a part of the community. While that was more about me, I learned these skills from my father. They are a big part of who he was, not only in the military community but also as a person. He was about making people feel welcome and be a part of the group and the community they are joining. Another thing that I have considered is what is something that everyone needs at get-togethers or gatherings. If a member who is coming to the event has dietary restrictions, then I make sure that those options are available for them as they are just as valuable team members as any other team member in the community. This characteristic would then transfer into his work environment by making sure to hear all opinions, standing up for the little guy, and having their voices heard when no one else would listen to them. My father gave them a chance to speak up and share their opinion, which they might not have been able to share otherwise. This led to some really good ideas being shared and potentially being used to better the mission while also protecting the fleet. My father could always tell stories better than I, and I miss him daily as there are times that I just want to hear his voice again, but I have his stories and the traits he passed on to me to carry on, and I will do that while trying to mentor and guide the next generation of leaders.
    Sharra Rainbolt Memorial Scholarship
    As a freshman in high school, I unexpectedly lost my father to suicide. During the autopsy, they found that he might have had brain cancer, but they were unsure. My world was turned upside down by the death of my father as I was going to be changing schools, living in yet another new location, returning from being overseas, and going to an area where I only knew family and had been to only when visiting family. I knew nothing about it, yet I called it my home state. I learned a lot about myself and resilience during this time, and I didn’t let life's unknowns get to me; I just kept pushing myself to improve. Most of this information was unknown to me then, and I learned it later in life as I did not need to try and process that on top of everything else I was dealing with. Thankfully, we had no scares or major concerns of cancers as I went through my sophomore year of high school to my junior year of college. As i entered my senior year of college, everything changed. My mom was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage 0 DCIS breast cancer and waited until I was home for the weekend to tell me. So, I went several weeks without knowing. I was upset. One of my biggest challenges during this time was trying to pass my licensure test and try and manage a full course load in the fall of my senior year of college. I had a whole new outlook and focused on why I was going to school and how I was approaching everything my senior year. Even though the prognosis was good for my mother, I was dealing with the what-if question, and it was really scary as I would have gone from being a full-time college student to having to transfer to a school that I could commute to and being a full-time mom while finishing my degree, taking care of the bills and trying to help my sister figure out the next steps in her educational career and raise my brother who was in second grade at the time. I was terrified of this happening as I would leave my friends, the relationships I had built with my professors, and the students I was getting to know in my year-long residency. As this information sunk in, I threw myself into my studies and was ready to take over for my mother immediately. It also changed my outlook on life. My drive was to be there for my brother if anything happened to my mother. I was not prepared for the unknown if something would happen to my mother. I consistently held out hope that she would be able to beat the cancer and that life would find yet another new normal. During this time, I found strength in myself. It wasn’t that I was weak, or I did not believe in myself, but I found an inner strength that was there, and I knew that no matter what happened, I would be prepared to take on the responsibilities and challenges that came my way even if I had no clue how I would manage to do it all. In the best news possible, my mom beat her cancer scare and is going to be five years cancer-free in November, 2024. I am thankful every day that she is still here, not just for my sister and brother’s sake but because I didn’t have to take on extra responsibilities and change my career path due to cancer.
    Veterans & Family Scholarship
    I am the daughter of the late Captain David M Smith, USN, who served from May,1987 until he unexpectedly passed away in March, 2013. I was lucky enough to go on a journey that shaped me into the person I am today as I am accepting of people from all walks of life. This is because I got a taste of the world where people are not the same, and in the military, it did not matter your socioeconomic background. Your parents and family had the same goal: to defend the country and protect the fleet. By doing this, we all realized that there was something bigger than ourselves being represented and being supported in the society that we lived in. As I started my education career, I continued to keep a military connection visible in my classroom, from bringing a “Can Do” motto to the room much like the Seabees, to adding the military ties into in with a flag as I wanted it known that I had a connection and a story that I was willing to share and could relate to those who are a part of a military family no matter what branch their parents serve in. This has allowed students to find me more approachable and willing to come to me if there is an issue that they need help with and they only feel comfortable with a trusted adult. As I move into the next phase of my educational career, I find myself wanting to make sure that students are being reached no matter what type of trauma they have gone through, what type of upbringing they have if it is a single-parent home, foster home or if it is a home with two parents. I want students to know that they are allowed to experience trauma and if it affects their educational careers, teach them how to bounce back from these experiences. I want to use my experiences to understand trauma and help students see that they can bounce back and not let those experiences define them or who they are. Rather, they are a part of you and can be used for good no matter how unlikely it seems. Several years down the line, I would like to see myself using what I have learned to be able to teach other educators on the impact that trauma has on the body and how it affects students at various ages, no matter how minor it is. I want these students to see they are just as special as normal students. I want teachers to realize that even if they need extra accommodations, they should never be written off from learning or being good students, as some of them will use this pent-up energy and emotion to push themselves to be the best version of themselves in the classroom and be the top of the class no matter what stands in their way.
    Mental Health Scholarship for Women
    Mental health is something that can affect everyone, but it is more likely to affect women than men. Mental health has impacted my personal life and academic performance while I was working on my undergraduate degree and has since affected the work that I have done with professional development. It will play a part as I begin to work on my master’s degree, even though I am consistently working on my mental health and trying not to let it control me as I go through my career and my continuing education. A big part of my mental health challenges started with self-doubt and this idea that others, whether male or female, mainly males, think that I could not do it and that I was not good enough to handle everything I was taking on while also balancing a full course load and overseeing an organization. The self-doubt played a massive part in my mental health as I always felt that I had a target on my back and that I was going to be pushed down if I did not manage to uphold the standards that had been set before me and raise the bar. Regarding mental health and my personal life, a big impact that my personal life had was that I was so busy all the time. I did not know how to say “no,” so if someone needed a volunteer or a group to show up and work at an event, I would most likely be the first to say yes. While this was great, and I was always on the go, it was very rare that I had downtime or time to myself. This would lead to questioning if I could mentally keep everything straight on what I had to do and where to be. At one point, I had multiple planners trying to keep everything straight. I think one was for class assignments, another was for meetings, and a third or maybe two and three were combined for events I had to be at. This probably was not my best plan, but it helped me maintain my sanity in undergraduate school. When I was in my first job after graduating college, I realized how much I was not prioritizing myself and my mental health, and part of that comes from the idea that no matter what field I was in or what stage of life I was in I was told to push on and it would be okay. I do not blame anyone for this, as it was the mindset of those in the past; mental health was never a big topic like it is becoming today. The first thing that I did, and I did this infrequently in college, was work out a lot to improve my mental health, as I was able to clear my mind and mentally hit the reset button. The next thing I did was find a mental health counselor who worked solely with women and could understand that I had a lot to unpack personally and professionally. One of the first things we did was get me down to one planner that had everything-meetings, school events, and personal events all in one spot. The next thing we did was establish a routine that allowed me to ensure I was eating correctly, working out, and putting myself first, which I still struggle with. As I move into getting my master’s degree, I am going to prioritize my mental health by taking breaks, making time for friends, and not letting everything I am doing consume me.
    Patrick Stanley Memorial Scholarship
    My academic history involves changing schools and never staying in one place for more than three years until college. Even then, I nearly changed schools and majors again. My educational career is and will be unique because I have and always will consider myself a military child and military student. I consider myself lucky to have been a military child. I changed schools every two to three years, and each time, that included changing states, which meant that I might be taking some material over or having to teach myself material on my own as I had to be prepared for state testing. Having lived up and down the East Coast, I saw the challenges for a student who consistently changed schools as they were never entirely accepted into the school or the classroom as they were viewed as different just because of their parent's work and the fact that I would only be a part of the school for a limited time. As I entered middle school, I found myself more accepted and welcomed. This happened because I attended a school overseas, where everyone was in the same boat, and families were consistently moving and changing locations. When my freshman year of high school began, everything was normal, except that I was still going to school abroad, but it was an American high school. I did not know everything would change by Spring of my freshman year. By the end of the 3rd quarter of my freshman year, I had my entire world turned upside down as I lost my father unexpectedly and it wrecked my world. I did not know how to continue. I was trying to find my way. Thankfully, I found a way to finish my freshman year without destroying everything I had worked so hard for, as I was an honor roll student and a very active high school community member. When I returned to the States between my freshman and sophomore years, I made an executive decision unintentionally to throw myself into my studies and whatever I committed to. The reason that I did this was I knew nothing else, and it was the one way that I felt I could cope with everything that was going on around me without having to truly focus on what had happened in my past. This was certainly not the healthiest of plans at the time, but it is what I did as I was trying to cope and be successful. Thankfully, I kept going and did not ruin my high school career. I was so driven and determined not to let unforeseen circumstances hold me back, I was the first student in my senior class to get into college and know where I would spend the next 4 years of my life. In college, I nearly changed majors and schools during the spring semester of my junior year. This all happened because I let a professor get in my head and mess with who I was at my core. With the help of good friends, I found my passion and finished my degree on time. In the four years since I finished my college degree, I have taken time to work in education. In that time, I have seen how we are not reaching students where they are and not setting them up for success. I am continuing my education to serve students better so they can pursue any path they want, no matter what learning difficulties or life circumstances have been put in their path.
    Redefining Victory Scholarship
    Success looks very different for every person. Right now, success to me is very different than it was in 2020. In 2020 I wanted to find a job or figure out if I was going to be a substitute teacher and go to grad school in Pennsylvania. Then, I found my first job, which changed the whole landscape of my life and what success looked like. I had landed a professional job in the field of education in a private school while working my summer job during the pandemic and getting ready to move in less than 72 hours. My next great success was being a first-year teacher during the height of the pandemic. Everyone said that if I could survive my first year teaching at the height of the pandemic (20-21), then I would be able to handle anything that is thrown at me in my teaching career. I saw this as a success as everyone was doubting me and did not think that I would be able to handle the pressures of teaching while moving away from family. In the first four years of my educational career, I have had many failures and many successes. I have had to change jobs and locations multiple times, but I have also succeeded in finding out who I did not want to be as a teacher and what grades I did not want to teach. While all of this might seem like failures, these were successes as they were able to teach me things along the way. First, you cannot give up no matter how hard it gets. To be successful, you have to be willing to give it everything you've got, no matter how long it takes for you to reach your success. In the next phase of my educational career, success for me will involve passing my courses but also using what I am learning and applying it to my classroom to help my students succeed in the classroom and whatever they decide to pursue outside of the classroom. This scholarship would mean a lot to me as I would not only be able to pursue my education properly, but also use some of the saved money to provide classroom items for my students who cannot afford them. I would also like to use this opportunity to help bring more educational awareness to my colleagues at the high school level about how we should be serving students that have had trauma in their lives, whether that is the loss of a family member, gang violence, drug abuse, foster care life or heaven forbid they have been raped or sexually assaulted. Education is an ever-evolving field that consistently has to change and adapt to changes in technology and pedagogy. Getting updated information now is extremely helpful so that I will not have to be playing catch up 10 to 15 years down the road. We will consistently be working with students who are COVID children or are affected by some trauma from COVID-19, the post-COVID era, or anything else that has happened. As educators, we need to keep evolving and learning about new technology, new ways to teach, and how to reach students in new and exciting ways. Success and education go hand in hand. For the next generation of leaders to be successful in life, they need educators who can understand them and see what they need to succeed in the classroom and not completely rely on technology as they go through their education and careers.
    Eden Alaine Memorial Scholarship
    When you lose a parent, it does not hit you right away. Everything seems normal until you look to do anything that you normally do with that person and they are not there to do it or support you. The emptiness starts to set in, and you realize that you are going to have to be your own cheerleader, your own support system, and remind yourself that you can do it even when it seems impossible. The grief that one experiences is worse in year two than it is in year one. It was most definitely true for me in my grief journey. My father was a Captain in the United States Navy, but he was not just a Navy Captain. He was so much more than that. He was a person that people would turn to when they needed advice, a woodworker, and he wanted the best for his kids and would help them any way he could. I was able to learn so much from him. Some of the skills I learned included basic care of the yard and landscaping around the home, how to properly tend to a charcoal fire and cook off of one, how the power of making something yourself gives it more value to the eyes of the beholder and is able to be very calming not just on the mind but also allows you to forget about what is troubling you in the world. It isn’t always the amount of stuff you have, but the memories that you have and getting to make furniture with my father was special, especially when I found the solution to a problem that was something that we did not expect when we started. I learned a lot of character traits that I have brought into my job now. I am the first one who will listen to you and give advice on situations, and not judge you for what you are going through. I also am not afraid to put in extra work, as I have been able to see how it pays off in the long run and leads to efficiency for everyone. I learned to always ask for help when I do not understand what is being asked of me, as I want to be able to meet and exceed expectations and not just complete the bare minimum. The loss of my father changed my life. I became a person who does not laugh easily and who is extremely driven. If you tell me I cannot do something, then I will find a way not only to complete what you told me I cannot do but also to do it a lot better than what was expected. I keep a fine line of separation between my work life and my personal life as I do not want something that happens in one to affect what is going on in the other and potentially cost me my career. Is that always the best decision? No, but it is how I protect myself and keep walls up so I do not get hurt again by what is preventable. I use a lot of what I have learned through grief and trauma to help me in my current role as an educator, as I can relate to what is going on with students both inside and outside of the classroom. Grief and loss will always shape my life, but it is how I choose to use my grief that matters. For me, I choose to have it influence my career.
    A Man Helping Women Helping Women Scholarship
    Most people are going to start off by introducing themselves. I am going to tell you about how I am going to make a positive impact on the world through my career. I am currently a Secondary Education Social Studies teacher outside of Dover, Delaware. I am pursuing my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Trauma Informed Practice. I chose this specialization of my master’s degree because I have experienced trauma firsthand and have had my education affected by the unexpected trauma that I went through in my life. I want students to be able to feel that they are not only in a safe space in my classroom, but that if they need to talk about their trauma to process through it, they can. While education standards and curriculum change, the way we instruct students might change more slowly over time. One thing that will not is the mental, emotional, and even physical toll that trauma can take on your body. Trauma is something that no one wants to go through and would never wish on your worst enemy as every day is different and you never know what each day is going to look like until you experience it. Something that I hope to be able to teach and inspire by completing this master’s program is that anyone can learn even if they have had less than ideal circumstances that were out of their control. The reaction that we have to trauma is a stress release and that can cause a student to lash out for no reason other than it is how they are coping with the trauma that they experienced. When you think about trauma you do not think about how it affects a person 5 or 10 years down the road. I am a High School teacher that is living and learning how to thrive with PTSD. I experienced my traumatic event as a freshman in high school and my world turned upside down. It took me the standard 4 years to finish high school and the standard 4 years to finish college, but in that time, I went through a lot. For example, I had panic attacks in high school brought on for no reason, other than it was how my body was coping at that time and I was a senior in high school. It was extremely embarrassing having my classmates see this happen even though they were some of my friends. While in college, the way that I coped with my trauma besides seeking out help, was to say yes to anything and everything. At one point I was so involved in campus activities I would have 3 to 4 meetings a night plus have the responsibilities of being a club president and being a full-time student. I had to re-learn the word “no” so I would not take anything else on. Re-learning the word “no” took a lot, as it was coming to terms with the fact that I was not superwoman and I could not do it all, however that was my way to cope. I finally found a good counselor and one of the things I have been able to learn is that I cope by taking on things and by doing. When I am stressed and overwhelmed, I have to focus on what I can do well and that has helped. I want to provide students that have gone through trauma, no matter what type, a safe and supportive classroom environment where they can either choose to talk about their personal trauma or not.
    Heroes’ Legacy Scholarship
    Being the child of a military parent is a unique experience. The adventures you have are special, and the people you meet are even more so. The best, though, are the places you get to live. As an educator in their 4th year of teaching, I am lucky to have experienced so many things that have helped on that front. I have moved 3 times in 4 years for my job. I would never have been prepared for that had I not been a military child, as I learned how to quickly pack up my stuff and move but also be ready to go on a moment's notice from location one to location two. Another thing that it taught me is resilience. What is going on in your world is never as bad as what is going on in someone else’s world, and even if you do get set back from time to time, you can come back and grow from that specific opportunity. No matter what, the military will consistently teach you a lot about yourself, both as your parents serve and as you serve with your family. Being a military child also meant that you sacrificed a normal childhood that your friends knew, but your life was different, and you had to be okay with that. Typically, this leads to a faster maturity rate as you attend hail and fairwells where you interact with adults and people who are older than you. However, for me, I learned that I was a part of something for the greater good of the country. Most people will not get the opportunity to be a part of this since they are not a part of the military community. Something that became very strong in my beliefs and the core of who I am as an adult raised as a military child is that you can never judge a book or person by what you are told about them. You have to be able to form your own thoughts and opinions on someone when you meet them, not before you meet them as the preconceived opinions of that person can be completely wrong and you made an assumption for no reason. You always must rely on your brothers and sisters in arms, so any preconceived notions can hurt you on the battlefield or the operational integrity of the mission. You must trust those that you are working with and not let anything get between them and you. The thing that I am probably most grateful for, as my father served in the military, is the fact that I learned how to adapt to any situation or circumstance that is thrown my way. I know that I have learned the skills in order to have success in life as I can adapt, make changes on the fly, and survive no matter what group of people I am around or am dealing with, as I got to see and work with people from all different types of life before becoming an educator of young adults.
    Bryent Smothermon PTSD Awareness Scholarship
    My PTSD is not related to my personal experience in the armed forces. It is related to the loss of my father, who was a Captain in the US Navy. The loss of my father was completely unexpected and is something that I did not expect, but I did get a lot of PTSD from it. Part of my PTSD stems from the fact that I found my father when he took his life. For me, this meant that I had nightmares, and could be triggered by anything and potentially everything for no reason at all. Thankfully, I got help from the military community that I was living around and my military family, who showed up when no one else would. I realized that community matters, and the people who stay around you need to be around you, as they care about you and want you to be successful in life no matter what other circumstances are thrown your way. For me, it was realizing that I had a new support system, and that support system is people who care for me and want nothing but the best for me. PTSD did a number on me, as I did not recognize who I was as a person before I lost my father, and the new person I had become was someone who I did not recognize but had to learn to be and live with. I ended up being a completely different person. I struggled to laugh, smile, and do simple things like wish people a happy birthday, and my goal for the longest time was to just make it through the day. It took a long time to learn how to laugh again, and I still don’t laugh at everything that is funny. Smiling is fewer and farther between, and I use words to show that I am proud of people both in and out of my line of work. I use words as I do not show lots of emotion on my face as that is something I lost when my life changed forever, and my journey with PTSD started. One of the challenges with this is that you have to show students that you care and that they matter to you, which is so important in high school as the students are just finding themselves, and they need multiple adults in life so that they can begin to identify who they are. I hope to be able to help students and veterans who are suffering from PTSD by giving them a voice in the classroom. These students need advocates, not just for support that they need in the classroom but also someone to advocate for them to get mental health help, or give them a voice when no one else will listen to them. A lot of the time, people who suffer from PTSD want to be heard and I want to give them a voice. When I obtain my master's in curriculum and instruction with a focus on Trauma Informed Practices, I am hopeful that I can help change some of the stigma around mental health in younger students and help them realize that they do not have to suffer in silence all through their educational career. There are people who care and want to see them succeed, no matter what that looks like to them. I also hope that it will change how PTSD is viewed both in relation to the military community and how students view their classmates when they have something completely unexpected happen and their lives have turned upside down.
    Cat Zingano Overcoming Loss Scholarship
    With the loss of a loved one, anyone’s ambitions in life will change. Mine certainly did and it affected the way that I view life. With the unexpected loss of my father, my dedication changed. I chose to fight for every opportunity that was given. No matter how small it seemed. Why would one fight for these opportunities? I felt as if I had nothing left in the world and that nothing would ever come my way as my father was my rock. I could always count on him to be there. As I adjusted and learned to cope, I realized that my fight would be a lot different from that which I was expecting before everything occurred. My focus became really clear and I realized that I was going to need to push through and keep going whether it felt right or not. I focused so much that I was able to push myself to succeed in classes where I did not think I had a chance. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to graduate Suma Cum Laude from College and be a part of multiple honor societies or have a 4.0 my first semester in college. In the movie Sleepless in Seattle the main character Sam says that you must get up every day and put your shoes on just like everyone else and you keep going. My keep going was a fight not just to prove to what I felt like were my naysayers and show them that I could thrive and go down a positive road but that I had a purpose, and I did belong, and I was going to make the best out of whatever was thrown my way. I quickly realized that this fight was one that I would be going through for years to come, and I was not trying to prove anything to anyone other than myself. I would much rather keep pushing myself to the breaking point and be able to not break rather than show my weakness in front of different people as I felt that if they would not be able to trust my strength, leadership and courage if they saw any sort of weakness in me and that has never changed, only now I let the people I trust in and sometimes I question if my decision to trust certain people is right or not because they continue to try me and push me to fight. I fight because I want to not because I must, sure I could let different things get handed to me on a platter and I would use that to motivate me, but that is not who I am. I like the fight. The fight pushes me to do better. I want to carry on not only a legacy, but also tell a story and be resilient. Education is a field where you must be resilient no matter what is thrown your way and be able to adjust on the fly. This fight is just like that as you never know what will be thrown your way or when your priorities will have to change. Now in my life my priorities have changed 11 years on. I am now fighting to achieve more in my life. I want to achieve obtaining my master’s degree, I want to stay in one location for more than 3 years as I never lived anywhere more than 3 years in my entire life including college since I split time between two locations. I am also fighting to get back to where I was financially and where I can be. I want to be able to move into a town home or a small 2-bedroom house soon. I want to be able to think about having a family at some point and really put down roots in one location. The major thing I fight for no matter what is to be able to provide for my brother who is 13 years younger than me if anything happens to my mother. I want him to know that he is loved, cherished and someone will always be there for him no matter what is happening in his life. He has been what pushed me to get through college and to fight for it and get my bachelor’s degree, now he is going to help me obtain my master’s degree. As I know that if anything happens to my mother, I will be the one that is responsible for him, and I want to be able to provide him with nothing but the best that my mom would have given him. He brought joy when there was darkness, light when I saw none, and I fight for him and to continually better myself.