For DonorsFor Applicants
user profile avatar

Natalia Capella

4625

Bold Points

23x

Nominee

10x

Finalist

4x

Winner

Bio

Welcome Donors! My name is Natalia, and I a Latinx engineer, entrepreneur, researcher and more. It has been my dream use whatever talents I have or success I find to build and uplift my community. I believe that solving the difficult issues that have affected my community such as homelessness, food insecurity and addiction will take diverse and out of the box thinking, which is why I strive to continue learning and expanding upon my experiences, so that I can be well equipped to better serve my community. To be able to address the mental health crisis in my community, I worked as a biomedical researcher, where I aided in the creation of a peer-network-counseling program designed to provide technological health services to marginalized communities. I want to ensure I am empowering others to be able to uplift my community, so I serve as a general partner for VFL Ventures, where I am working to empower diverse entrepreneurs through investment and due diligence. I also began the non-profit, The Young Professional’s Club, an organization that provides education, technology, and mentorship to children in under-resourced communities. By providing me with scholarships, you are not only providing myself resources to complete my education, but you are also allowing me to continue working towards building and encouraging my community to achieve the great potential I always knew it had.

Education

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Bachelor's degree program
2017 - 2022
  • Majors:
    • Mechanical Engineering
  • Minors:
    • Biomedical/Medical Engineering
  • GPA:
    3.1

Independence High School

High School
2013 - 2017
  • Majors:
    • Mechanical Engineering
  • Minors:
    • Biomedical/Medical Engineering
  • GPA:
    4

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Engineering, General
    • Business/Commerce, General
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Technology

    • Dream career goals:

      Entrepreneurship, engineer, leader

    • eLearning Development Intern

      Ring Central
      2022 – Present2 years
    • Business Coordinator

      Relative.
      2021 – Present3 years
    • Staff Writer

      The Daily Beacon
      2018 – 20191 year
    • Founder

      The Young Professionals' Club
      2019 – Present5 years
    • Senior Design Team Lead

      Fresenius Medical
      2020 – 20211 year
    • Lead Researcher

      The University of Tennessee in conjunction with Cherokee Health Center
      2018 – 20191 year
    • Lead Trainer and Server

      Uncle Julio's
      2019 – 20212 years
    • General Partner

      VFL Ventures
      2021 – Present3 years
    • Founder

      Jira + CO.
      2020 – Present4 years
    • Financial/Business Analyst and Cost Engineer

      JTEKT North America
      2021 – 20221 year

    Sports

    Boxing

    Club
    2018 – Present6 years

    Research

    • Biomedical/Medical Engineering

      The University of Tennessee in conjunction with Cherokee Health Center — Lead Researcher
      2018 – 2019

    Arts

    • Jira + Co.

      Design
      Hundreds of handmade designed pieces from sustainable materials
      2020 – Present

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Nashville Homeless + Women's Shelters — volunteer
      2017 – Present

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Politics

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    Paybotic Women in Finance and Technology Scholarship
    Mary McLeod Bethune was a teacher, civil rights activist and leader who pioneered the path for women today. She overcame incredible obstacles in her life; her parents were former slaves, and she grew up in severe poverty. Bethune fought for the rights to education for communities that were previously denied it. One of her many great accomplishments was opening an all-girls school that went on to merge with the Cookman Institute for Men, now known as Bethune-Cookman College. As an activist, she served as the president of the National Association of Colored Women in Florida and was even invited by former President Calvin Coolidge to take part in a meeting regarding child welfare. Further, she continued to serve Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt in roles of public service. Bethune's devotion to civil rights and spreading education and equality for African American women altered the direction of the world, and has led to a more diverse, equitable and just space today. I admire and draw inspiration from Bethune because she was unwavering in her dedication to ensuring marginalized communities receive equal opportunities as those with privileged backgrounds. I believe, much like Bethune, that education is an incredibly powerful tool that serves as a portal to a better life. For this reason, I am studying engineering, so that I can use the resources and methods I have learned thus far to tackle systemic and deeply rooted issues in my community. I am passionate about sharing my education with younger students who may not be aware of the possibilities on the horizon for them in STEM studies. My passions led me to creating the Young Professionals’ Club, which brings together professionals in STEM from underrepresented backgrounds and marginalized communities, to serve as representation to children who may not know of all the possibilities that exist within the world. Together we provide education, technology and mentorship to communities that have not been afforded the same opportunities as better funded, higher socioeconomic areas. One large constraint that many of our students face is the finances to fund an education past high school. For many of our mentors such as myself, this is a shared experience, so we provide information and hands on help to applying for scholarships, financial aid through the university, budgeting tactics and other lessons that may not be provided in a traditional classroom. Working with the YPC has taught me a great deal about what it means to be a leader in the world, and I hope to take this knowledge with me through my career. I plan to be a leader through my career by listening and maintaining a learner’s mindset. By observing the world around me and listening to the many different perspectives I am surrounded by, I aim to be better equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to be an active citizen against inequities. I hope to support the next generation of brilliant, diverse, and creative scientists, engineers, mathematicians and tech innovators through every endeavor I take on, by leading through listening, and being a champion for those that haven’t received the same opportunities or privileges as myself.
    Bold Giving Scholarship
    Every accomplishment achieved and every goal met, though often touted as the work of a single person, is often actually the culmination of the work of many. Entering college, I struggled greatly due to several extenuating familial circumstances. My great "turnaround story" would tell the narrative that I worked late nights studying to bring up my GPA, and wait tables to scrounge up enough money to afford tuition. What this story doesn't shed light on is the patience and understanding my professor had, who was willing to allow me time to heal and work through my challenges before taking my final exam. Or my manager at the restaurant I worked at, who allowed me to bring in my study materials to review between serving tables. No one really knows about how my mom served as my encourager, when she answered my phone calls in the middle of the night as I broke down with anxiety about not passing my classes that semester. My classmates may see that I have landed fantastic internships in the last two years of my education, but truly none of those doors would have been opened if my first internship did not take a chance on me when I only had a GPA of a 2.8. They saw my desire to work and determination and took that risk. I don't discredit myself in my accomplishments. I have absolutely worked hard through my schooling and other endeavors. But I know for certain that nothing I have ever accomplished has been on my own. Giving back is important to me because giving is the only reason I am where I am today. I choose to give back by offering the same kindness, understanding and patience that others have given to me.
    Robert F. Lawson Fund for Careers that Care
    My story begins in Philadelphia; the place I can pinpoint my earliest dreams of becoming an engineer. Of course, as a young child, I was unaware of the role or position of an engineer, but always had a strong desire to use creativity to change the world. My hopes for becoming an engineer were made concrete as I grew increasingly aware of the immense lack of resources that could provide bright young children with tools to lead them to success. Further, growing up in the lower-income communities of Philadelphia meant I witnessed many of my close friends experiencing the consequences of being trapped in harmful environments such as abusive or neglectful homes due to guardians using drugs or other harmful substances. Having experienced food insecurity and other symptoms of poverty myself, I quickly realized at a young age that education would serve as a portal to a better future. These obstacles growing up grew my desire to graduate with a degree in engineering so that I could be equipped to research and develop innovative solutions to the challenges that plagued my community, and so those other young minorities and those in marginalized communities could see the empowerment behind breaking generational curses that often follow us. My childhood inspired me to not only improve my circumstances, but also to commit my life to find solutions to the complex problems that my community faced such as addiction, poor mental and physical health, and a lack of access to quality education. This inspiration thus far has ultimately led me to work in a social work research lab for a year at the University of Tennessee, where I was the lead researcher in conjunction with Cherokee Health Systems, which provides health care to under-resourced communities. Under this research, I aided in developing a Peer Network Counseling (PNC) program that sent personalized messages to at-risk children as a form of free online therapy. A second project I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on was developing a prosthetic for a congenital amputee. This project expanded my understanding of biomedical devices and pushed me one step further toward being able to brainstorm, implement and expand products and programs that could be influential in marginalized communities. I also founded the program “Young Professionals’ Club” where I and another student teach and mentor high school students in lower socio-economic areas, much like the ones I grew up in, about how to apply for college and finance it, prepare for job interviews and other professional skills that many younger students do not have the opportunity to learn. This opportunity has allowed me to begin challenging and breaking down barriers that may limit students from exploring and succeeding in careers in STEM. Other aspirations I have are to start a podcast that breaks down complex engineering topics into digestible bites that aren't filled with technical jargon so that engineering will be less intimidating for those who are curious about it but may have fears that it is not for them. Determined to give back to communities like the ones I grew up in, I aspire to ultimately use my education to invent programs and adaptive devices that improve the lives of those with substance addictions and physical and mental disabilities and hope to develop a company that develops affordable adaptive devices and healthcare programs. I will continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment.
    I Am Third Scholarship
    My story begins in Philadelphia; the place I can pinpoint my earliest dreams of becoming an engineer. Of course, as a young child, I was unaware of the role or position of an engineer, but always had a strong desire to use creativity to change the world. My hopes for becoming an engineer were made concrete as I grew increasingly aware of the immense lack of resources that could provide bright young children with tools to lead them to success. Further, growing up in the lower-income communities of Philadelphia meant I witnessed many of my close friends experiencing the consequences of being trapped in harmful environments such as abusive or neglectful homes due to guardians using drugs or other harmful substances. Having experienced food insecurity and other symptoms of poverty myself, I quickly realized at a young age that education would serve as a portal to a better future. These obstacles growing up grew my desire to graduate with a degree in engineering so that I could be equipped to research and develop innovative solutions to the challenges that plagued my community, and so those other young minorities and those in marginalized communities could see the empowerment behind breaking generational curses that often follow us. My childhood inspired me to not only improve my circumstances, but also to commit my life to finding solutions to the complex problems that my community faced such as addiction, poor mental and physical health, and a lack of access to quality education. My "why" is to ensure every child, regardless of their environment growing up, has an equal chance to success and chasing their dreams. This inspiration thus far has ultimately led me to work in a social work research lab for a year at the University of Tennessee, where I was the lead researcher in conjunction with Cherokee Health Systems, which provides health care to under-resourced communities. Under this research, I aided in developing a Peer Network Counseling (PNC) program that sent personalized messages to at-risk children as a form of free online therapy. A second project I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on was developing a prosthetic for a congenital amputee. This project expanded my understanding of biomedical devices and pushed me one step further towards being able to brainstorm, implement and expand products and programs that could be influential in marginalized communities. I also founded the program “Young Professionals’ Club” where I and another student teach and mentor high school students in lower socio-economic areas, much like the ones I grew up in, about how to apply for college and finance it, prepare for job interviews and other professional skills that many younger students do not have the opportunity to learn. This opportunity has allowed me to begin challenging and breaking down barriers that may limit students from exploring and succeeding in careers in STEM. Determined to give back to communities like the ones I grew up in, I aspire to ultimately use my education to invent programs and adaptive devices that improve the lives of those with substance addictions and physical and mental disabilities and hope to develop a company that develops affordable adaptive devices and healthcare programs. I will continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment.
    Focus Forward Scholarship
    My story begins in Philadelphia; the place I can pinpoint my earliest dreams of becoming an engineer. Of course, as a young child, I was unaware of the role or position of an engineer, but always had a strong desire to use creativity to change the world. My hopes for becoming an engineer were made concrete as I grew increasingly aware of the immense lack of resources that could provide bright young children with tools to lead them to success. Further, growing up in the lower-income communities of Philadelphia meant I witnessed many of my close friends experiencing the consequences of being trapped in harmful environments such as abusive or neglectful homes due to guardians using drugs or other harmful substances. Having experienced food insecurity and other symptoms of poverty myself, I quickly realized at a young age that education would serve as a portal to a better future. These obstacles growing up grew my desire to graduate with a degree in engineering so that I could be equipped to research and develop innovative solutions to the challenges that plagued my community, and so those other young minorities and those in marginalized communities could see the empowerment behind breaking generational curses that often follow us. My childhood inspired me to not only improve my circumstances, but also to commit my life to finding solutions to the complex problems that my community faced such as addiction, poor mental and physical health, and a lack of access to quality education. This inspiration thus far has ultimately led me to work in a social work research lab for a year at the University of Tennessee, where I was the lead researcher in conjunction with Cherokee Health Systems, which provides health care to under-resourced communities. Under this research, I aided in developing a Peer Network Counseling (PNC) program that sent personalized messages to at-risk children as a form of free online therapy. A second project I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on was developing a prosthetic for a congenital amputee. This project expanded my understanding of biomedical devices and pushed me one step further towards being able to brainstorm, implement and expand products and programs that could be influential in marginalized communities. I also founded the program “Young Professionals’ Club” where I and another student teach and mentor high school students in lower socio-economic areas, much like the ones I grew up in, about how to apply for college and finance it, prepare for job interviews and other professional skills that many younger students do not have the opportunity to learn. This opportunity has allowed me to begin challenging and breaking down barriers that may limit students from exploring and succeeding in careers in STEM. Determined to give back to communities like the ones I grew up in, I aspire to ultimately use my education to invent programs and adaptive devices that improve the lives of those with substance addictions and physical and mental disabilities and hope to develop a company that develops affordable adaptive devices and healthcare programs. I will continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment. This scholarship will bring me closer to achieving my goals by allowing me to focus more of my attention on succeeding in school rather than funding it. This scholarship would not only impact my life, but also impact others by supporting my dreams to spark change in my community.
    Stephen LeCornu Routh Memorial Scholarship
    My story begins in Philadelphia; the place I can pinpoint my earliest dreams of becoming an engineer. Of course, as a young child, I was unaware of the role or position of an engineer, but always had a strong desire to use creativity to change the world. My hopes for becoming an engineer were made concrete as I grew increasingly aware of the immense lack of resources that could provide bright young children with tools to lead them to success. Further, growing up in the lower-income communities of Philadelphia meant I witnessed many of my close friends experiencing the consequences of being trapped in harmful environments such as abusive or neglectful homes due to guardians using drugs or other harmful substances. Having experienced food insecurity and other symptoms of poverty myself, I quickly realized at a young age that education would serve as a portal to a better future. These obstacles growing up grew my desire to graduate with a degree in engineering so that I could be equipped to research and develop innovative solutions to the challenges that plagued my community, and so those other young minorities and those in marginalized communities could see the empowerment behind breaking generational curses that often follow us. My childhood inspired me to not only improve my circumstances, but also to commit my life to finding solutions to the complex problems that my community faced such as addiction, poor mental and physical health, and a lack of access to quality education. This inspiration thus far has ultimately led me to work in a social work research lab for a year at the University of Tennessee, where I was the lead researcher in conjunction with Cherokee Health Systems, which provides health care to under-resourced communities. Under this research, I aided in developing a Peer Network Counseling (PNC) program that sent personalized messages to at-risk children as a form of free online therapy. A second project I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on was developing a prosthetic for a congenital amputee. This project expanded my understanding of biomedical devices and pushed me one step further towards being able to brainstorm, implement and expand products and programs that could be influential in marginalized communities. I also founded the program “Young Professionals’ Club” where I and another student teach and mentor high school students in lower socio-economic areas, much like the ones I grew up in, about how to apply for college and finance it, prepare for job interviews and other professional skills that many younger students do not have the opportunity to learn. This opportunity has allowed me to begin challenging and breaking down barriers that may limit students from exploring and succeeding in careers in STEM. Other aspirations I have are to start a podcast that breaks down complex engineering topics into digestible bites that aren't filled with technical jargon so that engineering will be less intimidating for those who are curious about it but may have fears that it is not for them. Determined to give back to communities like the ones I grew up in, I aspire to ultimately use my education to invent programs and adaptive devices that improve the lives of those with substance addictions and physical and mental disabilities and hope to develop a company that develops affordable adaptive devices and healthcare programs. I will continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment.
    Hobbies Matter
    I fondly remember watching my mother sew me unique collections of pants and dresses as a young child. She brought life to the bright-colored clothes that often were made from scrap or sale materials. My skills grew as I imitated her movements as she effortlessly sewed together pieces. Her thriftiness and creativity inspired me to turn my love and hobby of upcycled fashion into my own small business Jira + Co., which is a fully sustainable e-commerce fashion company. As the founder of Jira + Co., I have made it the mission of my small business to empower other minority founders by encouraging creativity and thinking outside the box. Jira + Co. works with its customers to refashion, through the dissection and redesign of each item, pieces that would normally be thrown in the trash or attic. We encourage customers to rediscover how their sentimental pieces, perhaps passed down by grandparents or lost loved ones, spark joy. I have been fortunate enough to be entrusted to turn an old wedding dress stuffed in a dusty box into a trendy cocktail dress, to be enjoyed for many more years. Another incredible experience I had was joining together many button-up shirts a sweet woman gave me into a blanket that reminds her of the beautiful memories of her late husband. My hope for my hobby is that I can rekindle the positive energy worn items once had. My mother taught me that an item’s intrinsic value does not lie in its newness, but rather the utility and memories it provides. I hope my hobby destigmatizes how our society views used goods. Jira + Co. makes wear and tear beautiful, fashionable, and unique, and I am so incredibly fortunate that my hobby has allowed me to create newness and joy from items of the past.
    Travel with a Purpose Scholarship
    Winner
    Bold Financial Literacy Scholarship
    An incredibly important finance lesson I have learned and held to is to only take out the amount of student loans that is absolutely necessary. While it can be tempting to request more loans than required, to use towards wants rather than needs, the extra money in your pocket is not worth it, because the extra one or two thousand dollars taken at the beginning of a semester can easily turn into five or six thousand dollars by the time it is paid after interest. By only taking what I need for my education, I have been able to keep my student loans down to a manageable amount, and also put extra money I have from internships and jobs towards paying them off. This financial lesson is one I hope to share with other students who may be unsure of how much in student loans they should take out as they approach their first semesters in college.
    Bold Wise Words Scholarship
    "Even CEOs put their pants on one leg at a time." Silly, I know, but this short phrase has been the wisdom that served me the confidence to pioneer towards my entrepreneurial dreams, shatter glass ceilings and create spaces where there previously weren't ones for people like myself. While I have always considered myself ambitious, I severely lacked the confidence to make myself heard, share my creative ideas and my unique perspectives. Especially throughout my studies in engineering, I often maintained the perception that everyone around me was more intelligent, better than me. I envied the students who could sit in the front row of class and challenge an answer, entrepreneurs with the boldness to share their ingenious ideas - without fears of criticism. I wanted to be like them. Sharing my uncertainties of my own abilities with my mom one night, she teased at how much of a pedestal I had put others on. "Even CEOs put their pants on one leg at a time," she mocked. I was annoyed at the time, but this phrase has served as an important reminder that even the most accomplished people start somewhere each day. Working hard to diminish my self-doubt and insecurities regarding my abilities, I have broken down any invisible barriers I had previously set for myself that prevented my success. Since working to become confident in my abilities, I have become an entrepreneur, starting the sustainable fashion company I always dreamed of, developed an outreach organization for disadvantaged youth in my community, networked to receive my dream internship experiences, serving as a lead researcher for an incredible biomedical team, develop a top prosthetic project for my school's engineering department and more, all because I too, put my pants on one leg at a time.
    Bold Goals Scholarship
    Growing up in the poverty-stricken areas of Philadelphia, I witnessed and experienced an immense lack of resources that could provide myself and other bright young children with tools to lead them to success. From these obstacles growing up grew my desire to graduate with a degree in engineering, so that I could be equipped to research and develop innovative solutions to the challenges that plagued my community, and so that other young minorities and those in marginalized communities could see the empowerment behind breaking generational curses that often follow us. My childhood inspired me to not only improve my circumstances but also to commit my life to finding solutions to the complex problems that my community faced such as addiction, poor health, and a lack of access to quality education. I have pursued this goal by working in a social work research lab at the University of Tennessee, where I aided in developing a Peer Network Counseling (PNC) program that sent personalized messages to at-risk children as the lead researcher in conjunction with Cherokee Health Systems, which provides health care to under-resourced communities. I also founded the program “Young Professionals’ Club” where I and another student teach and mentor high school students in lower socio-economic areas about how to apply for college and finance it, prepare for job interviews and other professional skills that many younger students do not have the opportunity to learn. Determined to give back to communities like the ones I grew up in, I aspire to ultimately use my education to invent programs and adaptive devices that improve the lives of those with substance addictions and physical disabilities and hope to develop a company that develops affordable adaptive devices and healthcare programs.
    Bold Generosity Matters Scholarship
    Generosity is the selflessness my grandfather displayed when he gave up everything in Argentina to seek a better life in America. It is the humility he displayed when worked many jobs diligently to ensure that his children and future generations would have a chance at success here. His generosity, which he continuously embodied through his hard work and self-sacrifice, taught me the true meaning of the word itself. Because of his dedication to others and his community, I am inspired to share the same passion for the world around me as he did. For this reason, I aspire to ultimately use my engineering education to invent programs and adaptive devices that improve the lives of those with substance addictions and physical disabilities and hope to begin a company that develops affordable adaptive devices and healthcare programs. This inspiration thus far has ultimately led me to work in a social work research lab for a year at the University of Tennessee, where I was the lead researcher in conjunction with Cherokee Health Systems, which provides health care to under-resourced communities. I also founded the program “Young Professionals’ Club” where I and another student teach and mentor high school students in lower socio-economic areas, much like the ones I grew up in, about how to apply for college and finance it, prepare for job interviews and other professional skills that many younger students do not have the opportunity to learn. I will continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment because seeking a better life for those around me is what I have understood true generosity to be.
    Bold Talent Scholarship
    My talent is creative fashion design, and practicing is what is making my education dream a reality! With only my savings from part-time jobs in high school to fund my college tuition, I began looking to my upbringing as the creative solution to tackling my inability to afford university and living expenses. While I already worked as a server and researcher, the pay was not enough to fulfill my tuition payments, so I was desperate to find ways to monetize every moment in the early morning, late at night, and in between classes. So, I started with what I knew best. Having learned sewing at a young age to repair and resize clothes as I grew, I utilized my tailoring talents by offering clothing alterations for students attending formals. Throughout college, these small jobs evolved into the small business Jira + Co., which is a fully sustainable e-commerce fashion company. As the founder of Jira + Co., I have made it the mission of my small business to empower other minority founders by encouraging creativity and thinking outside the box. Jira + Co. works with its customers to refashion, through the dissection and redesign of each item, pieces that would normally be thrown in the trash or attic. I encourage customers to rediscover how their sentimental pieces, perhaps passed down by grandparents or lost loved ones, spark joy. My mother taught me that an item’s intrinsic value does not lie in its newness, but rather in the utility and memories it provides. Jira + Co. has allowed me to accomplish both my academic goals of one day achieving a college degree and my personal goal of mine to destigmatize how our society views used goods. Jira + Co. makes wear and tear beautiful, fashionable, and unique.
    Bold Creativity Scholarship
    With only my savings from jobs in high school to fund my college tuition, I immediately began looking for a creative solution to tackling my inability to afford university and living expenses. While I already worked as a server and researcher, the pay was not enough to fulfill my tuition payments, so I was desperate to find ways to monetize every free moment. I started offering clothing alterations for students attending formals with the sewing skills I learned as a child. I was committed to exhausting every opportunity to make the next tuition payments because holding that diploma one day would not only represent my accomplishments but also represent the support from my family and community who had been routing for me. Throughout my college journey, my side gigs of alterations evolved into the fully functioning small business Jira + Co., which is a fully sustainable fashion company. As the founder of Jira + Co., I have made it the mission of my small business to empower other minority founders by encouraging creativity and thinking outside the box. Jira + Co. works with its customers to refashion, through the dissection and redesign of each item, pieces that would normally be thrown in the trash or attic. I hope to encourage customers to rediscover how their sentimental pieces, perhaps passed down by grandparents or lost loved ones, spark joy. Creative thinking has allowed me to accomplish both my academic goals of one day achieving a college degree and my personal goal of mine to destigmatize how our society views used goods. Jira + Co. makes wear and tear beautiful, fashionable, and unique. While Jira + Co. is perhaps my most creative and successful endeavor, I still consistently remain on the lookout for out-of-the-box thinking to solve current challenges in the world.
    Bold Books Scholarship
    “Anxiety is the subtle and pervasive destroyer of our happiness. It depends on thoughts of past and future. It cannot exist in the present.” - Author Jan Chozen Bays in her book How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness Bays is a profound teacher of Zen, author, teacher, and pediatrician who has dedicated her life to mastering mindfulness and other practices that revive the human mind amidst the modern busy life and landscape. Her book, which details the power of living in the present and admiring the current state rather than being chained in the past or worrying of the future, has inspired me to slow down in my daily life. As an engineer and student, I often work in environments where your value and the value of things and experiences around you are weighed by the productivity that results from it. Over the years, these competitive environments have encouraged me to live life on autopilot, working long and late hours through meals, skipping holidays to complete tasks, and hurrying through my day, constantly chasing the end of an infinite to-do list. Through her book, for which I have scanned over time and time again, I have found empowerment in seizing and appreciating even the smallest moments of my day. I now savor bites of meals I once skipped to work. I look at the world and those around me with love - one lesson she strongly emphasizes. I ponder upon thought-provoking conversations and work to commit works of good often and in silence. Bays teaches that our mind is much like a wild elephant, difficult to train and hard to control, but with dedication and awareness, I have learned to absorb the beauty of the day and those around me.
    Bold Listening Scholarship
    It has taken several years and a great deal of constructive criticism for me to truly comprehend what active listening means, and even still it is a skill I actively and consciously work to improve every day. I used to believe actively listening meant I could repeat back what was said to me in a conversation. I understood the main talking points and had proper responses or dialogue for each of them. Being described as bubbly and extroverted, I naively assumed that being good at talking and listening just sort of went hand and hand, but oh how I was wrong. One day, fueled with boredom and driven by curiosity, I asked my closest friend what my biggest downfall was. She replied with blatant honesty that I wasn't a very good listener. A bit hurt and pretty defensive, I argued why this couldn't be true, but in the following days, I spent time reflecting on my habits of listening and came to the shocking conclusion that she was right. I wasn't a great listener - not even a good one. I often spent more time thinking of my response to someone's statement while they were still talking rather than simply listening. My responses often were curated around my own opinions of a subject, and I rarely prompted questions to more deeply understand their statements. My replies were fueled by my own stories I'd somehow tie back to their accounts. I wasn't listening, just participating. Being an active listener means absorbing the emotion of a story and the intent behind telling it. It means understanding what the speaker is desiring from you - which often does not require advice, a story, or sometimes any response at all.
    Bold Technology Matters Scholarship
    Growing up in the poverty-stricken areas of Philadelphia, I witnessed an immense lack of resources that would provide bright young children with the tools to lead them to success. In addition, many of my close friends were trapped in harmful environments such as abusive or neglectful homes due to guardians using drugs or other harmful substances. Over the years, as therapy is becoming more normalized and seen as an effective method of treatment for addressing mental health issues, alternative options of therapy and mental health resources are being increasingly accessible to low-income areas. These technological advances have created a space for telehealth, which is bettering communities by providing more affordable and accessible care to families that may not have been able to afford it or have access to it locally, and my dream is to be part of this innovative space. These technological advances are breaking down the generational traumas and negative cycles that prevent our communities from surpassing their obstacles to achieve their dreams. For this reason, I am most excited to see how the intersections of artificial intelligence and therapy continue to expand in the future. Virtual and online forms of therapy are not only paving the way to a more equitable future in healthcare but also removing stigmas against mental healthcare in society. Witnessing this technology impact my friends and family for the better, my desire to innovate the mental health landscape has become a crucial part of my being. This aspiration thus far has ultimately led to me volunteering in a social work research lab for a year at the University of Tennessee, where I was the lead researcher in conjunction with Cherokee Health Systems, which provides health care to under-resourced communities. Under this research, I aided in developing a Peer Network Counseling (PNC) program that sent personalized messages to at-risk children as a form of free online therapy. Through this volunteering position, I was able to serve as a witness to the incredible improvements at-risk children achieved as they were part of the PNC program. This not only meant that children who were growing up in communities similar to mine were safer and happier but also much more likely to break the cycles of poverty and abuse they were faced with. I believe the future of artificial intelligence as it applies to therapy will be groundbreaking. For the future and my career, I hope to continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment through technology. I also hope to continue my research in biomedical devices and programs, so that diverse populations can gain better access to these forms of care.
    Bold Make Your Mark Scholarship
    Many families in my community in Philadelphia growing up faced the same struggles my own did that come with being low-income. However, the members of my community often came together to support each other in any way possible, from providing childcare to helping buy groceries and Christmas gifts to even opening up their homes to others. My childhood inspired me to diligently work towards developing programs that give back in similar ways my community did, and also study engineering to innovate through technology in ways that would mitigate cyclical issues my community faced such as poverty, addiction, and crime. Growing up in these areas was difficult at times, but the way the community- which was more like my family, came together inspires me to forever return the same graciousness and non-judgmental support my community did. I will continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment. I developed the Young Professional's Club (YPC) to begin to start instigating change in my community, starting by tackling inequities in the education systems within low-income areas. Coming to reality with some of the experiences I endured as a child due to my family’s circumstances has been incredibly difficult at times, but knowing I can turn those experiences into transformative actions for my community is my driver to persevere.
    Bold Passion Scholarship
    The Young Professional’s Club (YPC) is filled with bright eyes and big smiles. It fuels dreams as big as the brain can imagine and fills rooms with words of encouragement – which are sometimes the first positive affirmations youth members will hear that week, month or year even. The concept of the YPC was born years ago, after reflecting on a set of difficult experiences and life circumstances. During this period of particularly challenging points in my life, I felt that I lacked access to mentorship and resources to guide me through college, and representation to inspire me forward. Since then, my biggest passion has been working to develop the YPC into a powerful organization of strong individuals that will transform my community. The YPC brings together professionals in STEM from underrepresented backgrounds and marginalized communities, to serve as representation to children who may not know of all the possibilities that exist within the world. Together we provide education, technology and mentorship to communities that have not been afforded the same opportunities as better funded, higher socioeconomic areas. At the heart of YPC is the desire to show our young individuals in the community that they are more than a product of their environment. They are brilliant, talented, unique. They have the capacity to change the world and deserve an equal and fighting chance to do so. We will continue to strive to serve our children, be their biggest cheerleaders in life and hopefully show them the vast opportunities that rest on the horizon for them. Through the YPC, my community has become my family, and immersing myself into the ways I can give back is my greatest passion.
    Bold Acts of Service Scholarship
    To help others, I believe it is critical to have a complete understanding of the history behind systematic issues and consistent problems that keep the community stagnant. This means to best help, I must first listen to those affected express why they believe they are in their current position, and ask how I can best assist rather than assuming certain needs. I believe that solving the difficult issues that have affected my community such as homelessness, food insecurity, and addiction will take diverse and out of the box thinking, which is why I strive to continue learning and expanding upon my experiences so that I can be well equipped to better serve my community. My favorite way to help others is to get involved in programs that utilize a holistic approach to bettering the community by promoting independence and developing skills that allow individuals to sustain themselves and their families. One way I have done this is when I worked as a biomedical researcher, where I aided in the creation of a peer-network-counseling program designed to provide technological health services to marginalized communities. I also serve as a general partner for VFL Ventures, where I am working to grow and aid diverse entrepreneurs through investment and due diligence. This effort supports small businesses within the community that will lead to future generations becoming more financially independent. Seeking to start something of my own in the community as well, I began the non-profit, The Young Professional’s Club, an organization that shares STEM education and other resources to lower socio-economic areas that may not have a proper or thorough STEM curriculum.
    Bold Driven Scholarship
    The majority of my goals originate from my childhood, which has inspired me to not only improve my circumstances, but also to commit my life to find solutions to the complex problems that my community faced such as addiction, poor mental and physical health, and a lack of access to quality education. Determined to give back to communities like the ones I grew up in, I aspire to ultimately use my education to invent programs and adaptive devices that improve the lives of those with substance addictions and physical and mental disabilities and hope to develop a company that develops affordable adaptive devices and healthcare programs. One main personal goal I have is to expand the program I founded, the “Young Professional's Club” where I and another student teach and mentor high school students in lower socio-economic areas, much like the ones I grew up in, about how to apply for college and finance it, prepare for job interviews and other professional skills that many younger students do not have the opportunity to learn. Another goal I have is graduating from college, which is so incredibly important to me because my degree is evidence of my resilience and desire to receive an education, something that is a luxury for many in my community growing up. My degree is my decree to the world that having less money doesn't mean I am less intelligent, less innovative, or less determined, it simply means I was born into different circumstances that I have worked diligently to change. In the future, my long-term goal is to continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment.
    Bold Giving Scholarship
    Many families in my community in Philadelphia growing up faced the same struggles my own did that come with being low-income. However, the members of my community often came together to support each other in any way possible, from providing childcare to helping buy groceries and Christmas gifts to even opening up their homes to others. My childhood inspired me to diligently work towards developing programs that give back in similar ways my community did, and also study engineering to innovate through technology in ways that would mitigate cyclical issues my community faced such as poverty, addiction, and crime. Growing up in these areas was difficult at times, but the way the community- which was more like my family, came together inspires me to forever return the same graciousness and non-judgmental support my community did. I will continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment. I developed the Young Professional's Club (YPC) to begin to start instigating change in my community, starting by tackling inequities in the education systems within low-income areas. Coming to reality with some of the experiences I endured as a child due to my family’s circumstances has been incredibly difficult at times, but knowing I can turn those experiences into transformative actions for my community is my driver to persevere.
    Bold Helping Others Scholarship
    To help others, I believe it is critical to have a complete understanding of the history behind systematic issues and consistent problems that keep the community stagnant. This means to best help, I must first listen to those affected express why they believe they are in their current position, and ask how I can best assist rather than assuming certain needs. I believe that solving the difficult issues that have affected my community such as homelessness, food insecurity, and addiction will take diverse and out of the box thinking, which is why I strive to continue learning and expanding upon my experiences so that I can be well equipped to better serve my community. My favorite way to help others is to get involved in programs that utilize a holistic approach to bettering the community by promoting independence and developing skills that allow individuals to sustain themselves and their families. One way I have done this is when I worked as a biomedical researcher, where I aided in the creation of a peer-network-counseling program designed to provide technological health services to marginalized communities. I also serve as a general partner for VFL Ventures, where I am working to grow and aid diverse entrepreneurs through investment and due diligence. This effort supports small businesses within the community that will lead to future generations becoming more financially independent. Seeking to start something of my own in the community as well, I began the non-profit, The Young Professional’s Club, an organization that shares STEM education and other resources to lower socio-economic areas that may not have a proper or thorough STEM curriculum.
    Bold Motivation Scholarship
    My name is Natalia. On the surface, I am a mechanical engineering student at the University of Tennessee, but because of the hard work of my family of immigrants, I am so much more than that. I am driven, creative and bold, and I am fueled to continue their legacy of entrepreneurship and hard work through my studies in engineering. In the well-preserved pictures of my grandfather, Alberto Avila, who immigrated to America to start his own business, I see his strength and perseverance, his determination to build a better life here for the future generations. My grandfather passed away, but my family continues to honor his entrepreneurial spirit and incredible work ethic by preserving our Argentinian culture. I commit to honoring his name and legacy by persevering through any obstacles that have dared challenge me in my pursuit of formal education, so that I may one day encourage other young Latinas to chase their dreams that will one day be their realities. Imagining my grandfather’s perseverance as a foreigner in a place with different cultures, values and ideals provide my endurance in my career when I have, at times, personally experienced pushback as a female in STEM by peers and others. I am driven by the sacrifices my family has made to get me where I am today and by my grandfather, who created a living in a foreign land. I am driven to continue the legacy of hard work and compassion for my community, by using my education to empower those around me that have not been afforded the opportunities available to those of more affluent communities. To complete my education would not simply be fulfilling my hopes for my life, but would be continuing the legacy of those that have inspired me in life.
    Bold Legacy Scholarship
    My name is Natalia. On the surface, I am a mechanical engineering student at the University of Tennessee, but because of the hard work of my family of immigrants, I am so much more than that. I am driven, creative and bold, and I am fueled to continue their legacy of entrepreneurship and hard work through my studies in engineering. In the well-preserved pictures of my grandfather, Alberto Avila, who immigrated to America to start his own business, I see his strength and perseverance, his determination to build a better life here for the future generations. My grandfather passed away, but my family continues to honor his entrepreneurial spirit and incredible work ethic by preserving our Argentinian culture. I commit to honoring his name and legacy by persevering through any obstacles that have dared challenge me in my pursuit of formal education, so that I may one day encourage other young Latinas to chase their dreams that will one day be their realities. Imagining my grandfather’s perseverance as a foreigner in a place with different cultures, values and ideals provide my endurance in my career when I have, at times, personally experienced pushback as a female in STEM by peers and others. I am driven by the sacrifices my family has made to get me where I am today and by my grandfather, who created a living in a foreign land. I am driven to continue the legacy of hard work and compassion for my community, by using my education to empower those around me that have not been afforded the opportunities available to those of more affluent communities. To complete my education would not simply be fulfilling my hopes for my life, but would be continuing the legacy of those that have inspired me in life.
    Snap Finance “Funding the Future” Scholarship
    Winner
    Growing up in the poverty-stricken areas of Philadelphia, I witnessed an immense lack of resources that could provide bright young children with tools to lead them to success. In addition, many of my close friends were trapped in harmful environments such as abusive or neglectful homes due to guardians using drugs or other harmful substances. These environments often lead to self-destructive behaviors that resulted in the repetition of abuse, addiction, and poverty cycles, and at times lead to younger populations serving time in criminal justice systems. Having experienced food insecurity and other symptoms of poverty myself, I quickly realized at a young age that education would serve as a portal to a better future. From these obstacles growing up originated my desire to graduate with a degree in engineering, so that I could be equipped to research and develop innovative solutions to the challenges that plagued my community, and so that other young minorities and those in marginalized communities could see the empowerment behind breaking generational curses that often follow us. Recognizing the injustices that cycled through generations of those that lived around me prompted me to speak up and start something big, something that would put an end to the harmful behaviors and systematic challenges that kept my community stagnant. My vision and desire to cultivate this change in the world has become concrete through a humble organization I founded called the Young Professional’s Club (YPC). I dream of continuing and growing the YPC to empower the next generation of brilliant minds in STEM in the years to come. The YPC is filled with bright eyes and big smiles. It fuels dreams as big as the brain can imagine and fills rooms with words of encouragement – which are sometimes the first positive affirmations youth members will hear that week, month, or year even. The YPC brings together professionals in STEM from underrepresented backgrounds and marginalized communities, to serve as representation to children who may not know of all the possibilities that exist for their futures within the world. Together we provide education, technology, and mentorship to communities that have not been afforded the same opportunities as better funded, higher socioeconomic areas. One large constraint that many of our students face is the lack of finances to fund an education past high school. For many of our mentors such as myself, this is a shared experience, so we provide information and hands-on help to apply for scholarships, financial aid through the university, budgeting tactics, and other lessons that may not be provided in a traditional classroom. This financial literacy education is crucial to combatting the crippling debts my community often bears through lack of financial education. Our students are often also experiencing devastating extenuating circumstances such as homelessness, so we also work to provide resources that fulfill these children's needs, so that their main focus can be achieving well in school. These resources evolve depending on the needs of the community but may look like hot meals, school supplies, or personal items such as clothing and toiletries. By fulfilling the needs of students and young members of the communities, the YPC reduces the likelihood for some students to return to a life of crime to afford their necessities is reduced. In addition to mentorship and necessities, the YPC also places a focus on sharing STEM education with our community. While many private and public schools in wealthier communities can offer a variety of STEM courses that prepare students for studies in fields such as computer science, engineering, and technology-related fields, our students often do not experience being offered this curriculum. Our professionals provide hands-on work for our children to experience what it is like to begin a career in STEM, whether it be learning the basics of Arduinos to explore programming, building upon their mathematics principles to explore more challenging problems, drafting small projects through software like SolidWorks to understand the basics of computer-aided design or looking at samples from outside under microscopes. Involved in the program are professionals in computer science, biochemical research labs, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and physics, who come from all different backgrounds and even countries. The YPC adult mentors serve as the representation needed for children in the YPC to believe they can one day also contribute their unique thoughts and diverse opinions to the world of STEM. At the heart of YPC is the desire to show our young individuals in the community that they are more than a product of their environment. They are brilliant, talented, unique, despite what others may judge them for because of their pasts. They can change the world and deserve an equal and fighting chance to do so. We will continue to strive to serve our children, be their biggest cheerleaders in life and hopefully show them the vast opportunities that rest on the horizon for them. The YPC rebuilds the confidence that vulnerable populations in my community need to escape the holds that have prevented them from blossoming. I will continue to utilize my STEM education and life experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under-resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment. Coming to reality with some of the experiences I endured as a child due to my family’s circumstances has been incredibly difficult at times, but knowing I can turn those experiences into transformative actions for my community is my driver to persevere.
    Bold Turnaround Story Scholarship
    I can recall the wave of intense relief that collided with my deep fear of the unknown when the words sunk dramatically from the therapist's mouth and into the air of their small office, filled with corny phrases plastered on décor that I suppose was intended to uplift myself and those who have tightened in that same chair I coiled myself in. Depression. The diagnosis sat heavily for a moment, first met with my denial and second greeted by the hopes that the therapist was about to unleash some sort of magic that would dissipate the invisible weights that had been bearing so greatly on me for several months. Sure, I was sleeping much longer than I used to – but all college students do that. And yes, it often felt impossible to leave the four corners of my room most days, but perhaps I am just homesick. My grades were taking a toll as well, but engineering is hard – I had excuses for nearly every aspect of my life that had passed the boundary of simply going through a rough path and entered into concerns for my mental health. In one year, my parents separated, I lost three loved ones in my family and experienced a major medical emergency that left me with costly medical bills, all while working 2 jobs to pay for college. One day, overwhelmed by the feelings of sadness that I could not shake, I scheduled a therapy appointment. Forward to now, I am proud that I have not only healed my mental health and pushed through depression, but also improved my grades nearly a whole letter, completed several internships, partaken in research that helps other vulnerable populations in the community, received an award for diversity in academia and more.
    Bold Longevity Scholarship
    Dozens of magazines dawning smiling and vibrant celebrities fill the front aisles of nearly every grocery store I visit on Saturday morning. Out of pure curiosity, I have dared to pick up a few, after being intrigued by the variations of neon phrases promising some sort of fountain of youth through a new fad diet or miracle cure on the cover. From celery juice and kale to keto and carb-free, the ever-conflicting information telling you to eat this and not that one day just to be told the quite opposite is true another. Having been devoted to the search of and striving towards a healthy lifestyle (if there ever even is one), I have read many research publications, attended several conferences and lectures, and experimented with my own healthy habits on the mission of living a long and healthy life. Still young, but also with several years of trials and challenges in my past, I believe the secrets to living a long and healthy life do not lie beneath the pages of health magazines, or even beyond those and into the aisles of the supermarket. While I still seek to fuel my body with nutrient-dense foods, I have found seeking joy above all things directly correlates to my health and happiness – and hopefully, one day, longevity. I set out to start and end every day with gratitude, and the moments in between with joy – joy for the way my coffee brews slowly to allow myself a moment of peace before I rush into the day, gratitude for the birds that greet me in the morning and every other minuscule detail of my life. One day, I am sure I will feel I have lived a full, healthy life when I can recall these moments of joy.
    Bold Joy Scholarship
    Nothing compared to the excitement that overcame my childhood self like trips to the public library. With no car, I fondly remember my mother pulling my sister and me through the streets of Philadelphia in a little red wagon to the place we would sit for hours, where I would scan over pages of cookbooks with delicious foods I had never heard of, where I would fall deep into worlds of fantasy with fierce fighters and magical creatures. The library was where I could escape my environment and be whoever I could imagine being. To this day, I find myself happiest submerged into the pages of a book. Whether I am learning of the newest technologies in a non-fiction book or growing emotional to the painful and beautiful story expressed in a memoir, reading is where I find happiness. Perhaps it is the simplicity of reading. The freedom it gives me to stop and fill my mind with the words on the pages almost anywhere. Or maybe it is the accessibility of reading that fills me with joy. The fact that I can enter a public library to borrow the most recent and best-selling novels even when my wallet is bare. Or possibly it provides me happiness for the same reasons as when I was a child because I can be whoever I desire and experience anything I dream through the adventures detailed in a book.
    Bold Happiness Scholarship
    Nothing compared to the excitement that overcame my childhood self like trips to the public library. With no car, I fondly remember my mother pulling my sister and me through the streets of Philadelphia in a little red wagon to the place we would sit for hours, where I would scan over pages of cookbooks with delicious foods I had never heard of, where I would fall deep into worlds of fantasy with fierce fighters and magical creatures. The library was where I could escape my environment and be whoever I could imagine being. To this day, I find myself happiest submerged into the pages of a book. Whether I am learning of the newest technologies in a non-fiction book or growing emotional to the painful and beautiful story expressed in a memoir, reading is where I find happiness. Perhaps it is the simplicity of reading. The freedom it gives me to stop and fill my mind with the words on the pages almost anywhere. Or maybe it is the accessibility of reading that fills me with joy. The fact that I can enter a public library to borrow the most recent and best-selling novels even when my wallet is bare. Or possibly it provides me happiness for the same reasons as when I was a child because I can be whoever I desire and experience anything I dream through the adventures detailed in a book.
    You Glow Differently When You're Happy Scholarship
    Nothing compared to the excitement that overcame my childhood self like trips to the public library. With no car, I fondly remember my mother pulling my sister and me through the streets of Philadelphia in a little red wagon to the place we would sit for hours, where I would scan over pages of cookbooks with delicious foods I had never heard of, where I would fall deep into worlds of fantasy with fierce fighters and magical creatures. The library was where I could escape my environment and be whoever I could imagine being.
    Bold Simple Pleasures Scholarship
    Atop the small slab of cracked concrete outside my apartment lies a colorful assortment of recycled coffee tins and clay pots. They are filled to the brim with moist soil that gives way to green stems that protrude tall from the old containers. The dark dirt sprinkled with vegetable peels and fruit rinds will enrich the plants that grow in my makeshift garden. My proudest plant, which I somehow miraculously nurtured back to life after finding it crumpled and brown in the clearance section of Home Depot, gifts me bright red tomatoes when it's warm. In a friendly distance from my tomatoes rests my pineapple mint, an intriguing mix that was gifted by a friend. Its sweet, refreshing aroma provides a break from the hustle of my studies and work. Fresh, it is the perfect addition to a tangy lemonade but dried it serves as a calming tea in the morning. Third, to my mint and tomatoes sits the green bell peppers that I have promised to the bunnies born that were born in the Spring. They are kind enough to typically leave one untouched for making fajitas, the rest are sprawled with nibbles. Gardening is simple. It is not glamourous but beautiful. It is at times tiring but also re-energizing. My humble garden provides me with a sense of accomplishment and value. My morning ritual of transferring water from my kitchen sink to their roots via my bright green watering tin is a pleasant one. The sensory experiences of smelling the fresh mint and feeling the smooth leaves as the sun warms my face set the tone of the day. This is how I practice mindfulness, how I pause to breathe from running to classes and submitting assignments, how I return to the earth and ground myself.
    Bold Investing Scholarship
    One investing tip I have taken to heart was to decide on a percent of return on stocks for which you will sell. For example, before I purchase Stock A, I will decide that when it would provide me a 5% return on my investment, I will sell it. This protects me by ensuring I don't fall to greedy impulses that would tell me to hold out for more gain. While this may mean I won't make as much money as possible in the short term (if a stock could provide perhaps a 10% return if I had waited), it also protects me from losses in the long term. By holding myself to this standard, I have been able to net more gains with the same initial investments as my peers who have not decided on a point for which they would withdrawal.
    Pettable Pet Lovers Scholarship
    Photo 1 (Birthday Bo): Bo absolutely loves birthdays, and always shows his admiration by trying to eat the cake and open the presents when someone's special day rolls around, so of course our family was so excited to celebrate the most important birthday of the year! Photo 2 (Smiley Bo): There is nothing that Bo loves more than a great photo op! He always strikes a pose before his evening walks. Photo 3 (Winking Bo): Bo learned to wink one day and has been dawning this cute face ever since!
    Dr. Samuel Attoh Legacy Scholarship
    My name is Natalia Capella. On the surface, I am a mechanical engineering student at the University of Tennessee, but because of the hard work of my family of immigrants, I am so much more than that. I am driven, creative and bold, and I am fueled to continue their legacy of entrepreneurship and hard work through my studies in engineering. Amidst the now large and vibrant city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, lies, hidden in past times of the town, a small portion of land where a dream once stood. The dream, once made of brick and mortar, has evolved into a less concrete, but equally vivid story, which evokes a sense of drive, honor and benevolence to all those who listen. Alberto Luis Avila had deep brown hair that contrasted his rich hazel eyes; it would be a rare sight to catch him without perfectly shined shoes, a pristine belt holding up his pressed pants and a sweater vest that laid atop his collared shirt buttoned to the top. He had a kind smile that he allowed to crack into a grin when his two young daughters would occupy themselves in his humble store that he built as a step towards the American dream. In the well-preserved pictures of him that I have stared into, in an attempt to understand my origins and connect to my history, I see his strength and perseverance, his determination to make a life here. My grandfather tragically passed away from a weak heart, which doctors said was likely due to the decades of working from sunup to sundown, but we honor his entrepreneurial spirit and incredible work ethic by preserving our Hispanic culture. I am reminded daily of my personal commitment to honoring his name and legacy by persevering through any obstacles that have dared challenge me in my pursuit of a formal education, so that I may one day encourage other young Latinas to chase their dreams that will one day be their realities. At times, I wonder how my grandfather felt about his immigrant status in the United States. To be a foreigner in a place with different cultures, values and ideals. Imagining my grandfather’s struggle provides me endurance in my own career when I have, at times, personally experienced pushback as a female in STEM by peers and educators. I recall how my grandfather wrote for the local newspaper under an American name, so that he could be judged based on his writing capabilities rather than his immigrant status. This inspired me to continue my endeavors in writing STEM articles for the school newspaper, despite being one of very few women in the engineering program. When I have wanted so badly to quit, when the financial burden becomes overwhelming or the curriculum seemingly too challenging, I remember my grandfather’s determination, and am further driven to pursue my dream career as an engineer. I am often asked what fuels my drive. I am driven by the sacrifices my family has made to get me where I am today. I am driven by my grandfather, who created a living in a foreign land. I am driven to continue the legacy of hard work and compassion for my community, by using my education to empower those around me that have not been afforded the opportunities available to those of more affluent communities. To complete my education would not simply be fulfilling my own hopes for my life, but would be continuing the legacy of those that have inspired me in life.
    Studyist Education Equity Scholarship
    Educational inequity is significant because when one community faces injustices within the educational system, the whole world suffers. The provision of high quality education to those of specific demographics, regions and other yields a future where only the voices, ideas and innovations of that group are elevated. This translates to a cycle that perpetuates societal division, where those who had the privilege of access to a full education are given audiences who will listen, and those who were left without must suffer through a land built off the decisions that benefited the educated, in silence. A country is only as strong as its poorest citizens - poor in terms of both health and wealth, all which are directly tied to education. We should all stand united as a front against educational inequity, because it slows progress that is necessary to allow our nation to prosper. Educational inequities work to allocate the majority of political and social power to the hands of those that seek to improve merely their own interests, which means the livelihood of those who are the backbone of America are often ignored.
    Pandemic's Box Scholarship
    The pandemic affected my aspirations in a positive way by allowing me the freedom and time to explore my passions. As the pandemic kept me closed in doors and without much to occupy my time, I began tailoring and redesigning clothing items around my house that were worn, damaged or no longer fit. Out of this hobby, grown from boredom, flourished my now fully functioning small business Jira + Co., which is a fully sustainable e-commerce fashion company. I have made it the mission of my small business to empower other minority founders by encouraging creativity and thinking outside the box. Jira + Co. works with its customers to refashion, through the dissection and redesign of each item, pieces that would normally be thrown in the trash or attic. We encourage customers to rediscover how their sentimental pieces, perhaps passed down by grandparents or lost loved ones, spark joy. Jira + Co. makes wear and tear beautiful, fashionable and unique. My small business has grown to service more than 100 customers. The pandemic allowed me the freedom to find a love I didn't know I had in developing sustainable fashion that empowers others.
    AMPLIFY Diversity in Technology Scholarship
    The technology so easily available at our fingertips allows connection and communication to be made from completely opposite parts of our world, that once were so distinctly apart. The very force that moves to advance us has the capability to divide us, if direct actions are not taken to form an inclusive space for which technology operates within. Diversity in technology is important because it is ingrained in every aspect of our lives. What we see affects how we think, and how we think affects how we speak, and how we speak affects our actions, and therefore technology moves us as a society. Technology, if fueled with only the interests of one community, cannot appropriately serve all populations who use it. Technology can be weaponized to share dangerous narratives led by only one group. Diversity in technology ensures that the unique and different lived experiences and needs of individuals are expressed and met. Growing up in the poverty-stricken areas of Philadelphia, I witnessed an immense lack of resources that would provide bright young children with the tools to lead them to success. In addition, many of my close friends were trapped in harmful environments such as abusive or neglectful home due to guardians using drugs or other harmful substances. As therapy is becoming more normalized and seen as an effective method of treatment for addressing mental health issues, alternative options of therapy and mental health resources are being increasingly accessible to low-income areas. The technological advances that have created a space for telehealth is bettering communities by providing more affordable and accessible care to families that may not have been able to afford it or have access to it locally, and my dream is to be part of this innovative space. These technological advances are quite literally removing the generational traumas and negative cycles that prevent our communities from surpassing their obstacles to achieve their dreams. This technology is paving the way to a more equitable future in healthcare. Witnessing this technology impact my friends and family for the better, my desire to innovate the mental health landscape has become a crucial part of my being. This aspiration thus far has ultimately led to me volunteer in a social work research lab for a year at the University of Tennessee, where I was the lead researcher in conjunction with Cherokee Health Systems, which provides health care to under resources communities. Under this research, I aided in developing a Peer Network Counseling (PNC) program that sent personalized messages to at risk children as a form of free online therapy. Through this volunteering position, I was able to serve as witness to the incredible improvements at-risk children achieved as they were part of the PNC program. This not only meant that children who were growing up in communities similar to mine were safer and happier, but also much more likely to break the cycles of poverty and abuse they were faced with. For the future and my career, I will continue to utilize my education and experiences to close the gaps between well-resourced and under resourced communities and ensure that all have access to an education that can allow them to rise above their circumstances and environment through technology. I hope to continue my research in biomedical devices and programs, so that diverse populations can gain better access to these forms of care. Diversity in technology has allowed me to see the representation of Latinos in STEM, and made me feel empowered to follow similar paths.
    Bold Self-Care Scholarship
    The sweet, warm aroma of freshly baked cookies fills my apartment, and a fiery orange flame flickers as it dances on the candle recently lit. I quietly indulge myself in the most recent bestselling book I splurged on at the bookstore a few minutes from my street. A small feeling of guilt begins to creep into the back of my mind as I remember the long list of to-dos that seem to never end, but I quickly remind myself that I am a priority as well. It is challenging, I will admit, assigning a time for which I can find peace and recharge my spirit. The increasing demands of school, work and my personal life often insinuate that the only value I have to society is my productivity. In a world that glorifies those who skip lunch to work and simply accepts that college is a time occupied by poor mental health and surmountable stress, I fight my instincts to check just one more item off my agenda. While I love the days when my self-care is aesthetic, when it takes the form of baking French pastries, burning aromatics and losing myself in novels, this is not always how I practice self-care. Sometimes (read as "many times") my self care looks like binge watching a series on Netflix, or grabbing a large slushie from the gas station across from my apartment. Sure, it isn't what you would see in a viral "A Day in My Life" vlog on YouTube, but it is raw, real and effective. Self-care impacts my life by reminding me that I am more than what I can produce for my school, company and society. It reminds me that I deserve to rest, to enjoy and to thrive.
    Bold Friendship Matters Scholarship
    True friendship shyly reveals itself through the warm smile, Which slowly builds on my companion’s face when we haven’t seen each other in a while. Without a word escaping my lips, they know just what thoughts fill my mind. Our strong connection permits us to understand each other’s emotions without a single sign. Friendship is the safe house where intimate emotions and vulnerable reflections rest, A solace where all my mess and stress is addressed. Forgiveness and understanding, the kind I never knew how to give myself. Love, trust and dependability that I provide someone else. Caught in cycles of self-criticism and doubt, My friend provides inspiration and encouragement more times than I could count. Friendship is defined by the tender interactions that better one’s existence. It provides love, patience and peace with persistence. Because of friendship, I will never carry a burden alone Friendship is truly the greatest gift I’ve ever known.
    Markforged Distinguished Women Engineers Grant
    representation is vital otherwise the butterfly surrounded by a group of moths unable to see itself will keep trying to become the moth representation – Rupi Kaur The Young Professional’s Club (YPC) is filled with bright eyes and big smiles. It fuels dreams as big as the brain can imagine and fills rooms with words of encouragement – which are sometimes the first positive affirmations youth members will hear that week, month or year even. The concept of the YPC was born years ago, after reflecting on a set of difficult experiences and life circumstances, while fighting for my own wishes and goals in STEM. During this period of particularly challenging points in my life, I felt that I lacked access to mentorship and resources to guide me through college, and representation to inspire me forward. I was able to recognize the inequalities that can make succeeding in college difficult for under-resourced communities as a young child, where my close friends often experienced food insecurity, home instability and a montage of negative factors making succeeding in school and further a challenge. While in wealthier areas, attending college was often an expectation rather than an achievement, many in my community were fighting to simply receive a high school diploma. Personally, being accepted into college wasn’t the only hurtle I faced in accessing a form of higher education. After experiencing severe anxiety and stress in attempting to balance working to afford tuition and succeeding in class, I came to know other challenges that not all students may experience when attending college. Once I reached a stable point in my college career, I knew I wanted to find a way to uplift other children and young adults that may go through similar obstacles when striving for an education past high school. The YPC brings together professionals in STEM from underrepresented backgrounds and marginalized communities, to serve as representation to children who may not know of all the possibilities that exist within the world. Together we provide education, technology and mentorship to communities that have not been afforded the same opportunities as better funded, higher socioeconomic areas. One large constraint that many of our students face is the finances to fund an education past high school. For many of our mentors such as myself, this is a shared experience, so we provide information and hands on help to applying for scholarships, financial aid through the university, budgeting tactics and other lessons that may not be provided in a traditional classroom. Our students are often also experiencing devastating extenuating circumstances such as homelessness, so we also work to provide resources that fulfill these childrens’ needs, so that their main focus can be achieving well in school. These resources evolve depending on the needs of the community, but may look like hot meals, school supplies, or personal items such as clothing and toiletries. In addition to mentorship and necessities, the YPC also places a focus on sharing STEM education to our community. While many private and public schools in wealthier communities can offer a variety of STEM courses that prepare students for studies in fields such as computer science, engineering, and technology related fields, our students often do not experience being offered this curriculum. The YPC adult mentors serve as the representation needed for children in the YPC to believe they can one day also contribute their unique thoughts and diverse opinions to the world of STEM. Involved in the program are professionals in computer science, biochemical research labs, mechanical and aerospace engineering and physics, who come from all different backgrounds and even countries. Our professionals provide hands on work for our children to experience what it is like to begin a career in STEM, whether it be learning the basics of Arduinos to explore programming, building upon their mathematics principles to explore more challenging problems, drafting small projects through software like SolidWorks to understand the basics of computer aided design or looking at samples from outside under microscopes. With an unlimited budget, we would work diligently to better serve our community and next generation of STEM professionals. We would be able to provide our children with tools to not just learn inside the classroom, but to continue their learning at home. We would be able to access funding to travel to STEM conferences around the country where they can see first hand even more representation than they have through the YPC. We could invite even more influential scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to make an impression on our children. At the heart of YPC is the desire to show our young individuals in the community that they are more than a product of their environment. They are brilliant, talented, unique. They have the capacity to change the world and deserve an equal and fighting chance to do so. We will continue to strive to serve our children, be their biggest cheerleaders in life and hopefully show them the vast opportunities that rest on the horizon for them – unlimited budget or not.
    Bold Patience Matters Scholarship
    "Have patience with all things, but, first of all with yourself." - Saint Francis De Sales Throughout my years I have learned to excel in my classes, confront unique challenges and breakdown difficult barriers. At times, I have felt as though I have done so much learning there is nothing left to absorb(but that never is the case - is it?). Only in my recent reflections of the past year have I been able to humbly recognize what I have yet to master : patience. The entirety of my life has felt like a chaotic scramble to the next best achievement. Desperate to ensure my life would not be defined by obstacles thrown to me throughout my childhood, like growing up in a low income areas with an immense lack of resources to good education and stability, I hastily filled my schedule and to-do list with endless short and long term goals. Today, looking back, this focus and determination to find success has allowed me to flourish into who I am proud to be today, but I now acknowledge how important patience has been throughout this process. Every failed exam, job rejection, criticism and lost time investment felt like the weight of the world on my shoulders. I ultimately succeeded in starting the ventures I wished to, received the grades I desired and made the connections I hoped to, but I failed in having patience with myself, patience to allow for failure and missteps. I am growing to realize that patience is the forgiveness I owe myself for - not failures - but redirections, as I have redefined them, that I have experienced. Patience is important because it is what provides me the permission to be human, and to be imperfect, to wait for what my future holds.
    #Back2SchoolBold Scholarship
    Trailblazers and pioneers. Scientists, mathematicians and engineers. My #Back2SchoolBold moment is inspired by the amazingly resilient and intelligent women that, through their groundbreaking research and studies, have inspired me to pursue engineering. My moment shows a photo of myself, which is comprised of nearly 100 images of the most creative and empowering individuals in the STEM community. Some of these women include Barbara Askins, who was born in my home state and developed technology that provides a fundamental basis to much of modern medical technology, and Uma Chowdhry, who has led incredible research in ceramics and superconductors. As a minority in engineering, I have consistently looked to these women who so powerfully disrupted the image of what society concocts when imagining scientist or engineer. As I return to my upper level courses in university, I will remember the women who have laid the foundations for my success. I will remember the women who made me feel that STEM was a place I belonged.
    "Wise Words" Scholarship
    Bold. Daring. Resilient. These three powerful words create vivid pictures of incredible women such as the young civil rights activist Claudette Colvin or the intelligent Rosalind Franklin who broke scientific grounds with her studies around DNA. These influential women shook society by fiercely fighting against both society's unspoken social norms and written law. I believe Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's quote that “Well-behaved women seldom make history,” not only accurately describes the lives of these and many more influential women, but also outlines how I have in the past, present and intend to in the future - work to shatter glass ceilings and cross boundaries that have never been pioneered before. It is hard to formulate words for the feelings evoked when one is pushed out of spaces they so desperately desire to be a part of. As a child I freely studied the stars and dissected leaves; my natural and persistent curiosity about the world around slowly morphed into a strong hunger to find answers on how the planet functions in harmony through mathematics and science. I recall always feeling encouraged to explore these curiosities as a child, but this encouragement slowly dissipated as I grew older. I distinctly remember the first day of my first upper level engineering course in University. I attentively found a seat in the first row so that I could diligently scribe notes and diagrams for the complex mechanical systems I would surely be tested on in the upcoming week. As the professor approached me before the class started, I prepared to express my excitement for the course. Before I could open my mouth he asked me a question that would change how I felt in academic spaces that I was once so closely part of. "Do you know what class you are in? I don't think you are in the right class." After a few seconds of pause and processing, I repeated back the course number, to which he replied, " ...and you are studying engineering?". I nodded and considered his questioning for the rest of the class. As one of only a handful of women in the nearly 100 students in the class, I wondered what drove him to ask such a question. While I have certainly worked to not assume that this question arose from sexism and stereotypes surrounding what an engineer looks like, many similar experiences from both peers and professors has led me to be closely familiar with sentiments that women do not belong in STEM spaces. But if I behaved accordingly to what society says I should be or how I should look, I would be doing myself a grand injustice by dimming my incredible passion for science and math as well as curbing the unique perspectives I have to offer the world. If behaving is to abide by the invisible walls placed upon those who only appreciate the ideas and appearances of individuals who resemble their own, I will happily make history as a women who misbehaved.
    SkipSchool Scholarship
    American mapmaker and trailblazer Marie Tharp, who was undoubtedly both a masterful artist and innovative scientist, dared to challenge the restrictions placed upon women in STEM and the modern scientific theories at the time. Despite her Master's degree in geology and extensive mathematical education, she was undervalued and assigned to drawing maps by the men she worked under, but she boldly and independently developed the mappings that charted the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and revealed the secrets of the ocean: continental drift and plate tectonics. Despite the severe criticism she received for her discoveries, she pushed forward, her mentality summed in this statement from her, "I was so busy making maps I just let them argue. Tharp has been an incredible influence on my life, reminding me to stay so focused on my aspirations that I forget to listen to the baseless criticisms.