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Ryan Kmonk


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Hello, I'm Ryan, and my fascination with the power of storytelling to educate has been a driving force in my life. This passion has led me to pursue a degree in the innovative Immersive Media program at Chatham University. This program, focusing on virtual and augmented reality, perfectly aligns with my goal of using technology to create engaging educational experiences, particularly in history. My double major in history is a testament to my commitment to learning from the past to shape the future. I am excited about using technology to impart valuable lessons from history and inspire a better future. Among the hardships of life, earning the Eagle Scout rank after two years of hard work and dedication has been my proudest achievement. This experience has not only taught me to be adaptable to unforeseen situations but also instilled in me the courage to control what I can. I am forever grateful to the Boy Scouts for helping me become the man I am today. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I want to assure you that my dedication, passion, and skills are not just words but the driving force that will enable me to achieve my goals and positively impact the world. Have a wonderful day!


Chatham University

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2024
  • Majors:
    • History
    • Communications Technologies/Technicians and Support Services, Other
  • Minors:
    • Business/Commerce, General
  • GPA:

Plum Senior High School

High School
2018 - 2022
  • GPA:


  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Business/Managerial Economics
    • Computer and Information Sciences, General
    • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services, Other
    • History
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:


    • Dream career goals:

      Start-up Business Owner

    • IMM Studio Assistant

      Chatham University
      2024 – Present6 months
    • Cast Member

      Walt Disney World
      2023 – 20241 year
    • Restaurant Team Member

      2022 – 20231 year
    • Intern

      Steeltown Entertainment Project
      2020 – 20211 year
    • Administrative Assistant

      All Floor Supplies
      2019 – 20234 years
    • Teen Film Crew

      WQED Studios/Steeltown Entertainment Project
      2021 – 20221 year


    Cross-Country Running

    2017 – 20225 years


    • Most Improved Runner
    • Scholar-Athlete
    • #20 in JV Invitational


    2009 – 201910 years


    2021 – Present3 years


    2021 – 2021

    Track & Field

    2018 – 20224 years


    • Scholar-Athlete


    2021 – 20221 year


    2017 – Present7 years

    Dek Hockey

    2019 – Present5 years


    Junior Varsity
    2018 – 20191 year


    • Scholar-Athlete


    • Mental Health

      Plum Borough School District — Eagle Scout
      2019 – 2021


    • WQED Studios/Steeltown Entertainment Project

      Stuck, Mersh , The Quiet Crisis
      2021 – 2022
    • Steeltown Entertainment Project

      UWAK: Union Workers Against Karens
      2020 – 2021
    • Piano

      2016 – Present
    • O'block Junior High School

      WW1 Lego Battle of Passendaele
      2017 – 2018

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Chatham Honors Program — Member
      2022 – 2023
    • Volunteering

      St. Januarius Church — Altar Server/Usher
      2018 – 2023
    • Volunteering

      Chatham Christian Fellowship — Member
      2022 – Present
    • Volunteering

      National Honor Society — Committee Head
      2021 – 2022
    • Volunteering

      AFJROTC — Cadet
      2018 – 2022
    • Volunteering

      Boy Scouts of America — Eagle Scout/Senior Patrol Leader
      2015 – 2021

    Future Interests




    Ginny Biada Memorial Scholarship
    In 2015, I heard the heartbreaking news: my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, the doctors caught it early so she could begin treatment. Despite the good news, my family and I were all blindsided by this. I was starting the sixth grade and had to contemplate the ramifications of her cancer diagnosis at such a young age. Even if it was nine years ago, I still remember playing in a soccer game during Breast Awareness Month in October and wearing pink socks. In that soccer match, I failed to score a goal for my mom despite my desperate, hard effort. I distinctly remember bawling my eyes out to my mom because I did not score during this October game as she was receiving treatment for her breast cancer diagnosis. She appreciated my effort and reassured me that it was all ok. And it turned out to be true. By the grace of God, I am proud to say that my mom has been cancer-free for at least eight years, and I continue to have my loving mother and father in my life to watch me and my sister grow up. Throughout my life, my mom has positively impacted me by raising me with strong Christian values. While in high school, one example was that I should not care what other people think about me but rather what God thinks about me. I was struggling with getting into relationships and cultivating genuine friendships because of my high-functioning autism (Asperger's Syndrome). This brought me back to brass tacks as I used to be a people-pleaser and needed to focus on the one constant in life: love. God's love. Every time I got rejected, whether in elementary or high school, my mom was always there to console me to get back on my feet and focus on God. When you are too wrapped up in the world's luxuries and chaos, you begin to forget what truly matters: God gave up his son, Jesus, so that we can enjoy eternal life with Him. Even going back as recently as my first break-up two years ago, when my parents were worried about my safety, who drove me home from work? My parents. My mom instilled sage advice in me on the car ride back home: it was over, and nothing could be done about it, and it was time for me to focus again on God. Because of her tender care and mindful understanding, I have morphed into the man I have become today. I cannot express enough my mom's sacrifices for me and my sister. When we were growing up, she gave up her job to become a stay-at-home mom because she wanted to raise us herself and not a daycare. From when we started elementary school to my sister's high school graduation in a few weeks, my mom volunteered in the PTA and sports boosters and led my sister's Girl Scout troop when it needed leadership. She was and continues to be a lending ear to listen when we have problems in school, relationships, or current events. To even the most minuscule of sacrifices, such as going to McDonald's or a Dairy Queen after a challenging soccer game. And not to mention all the soccer games, cross country matches, and track races she attended to root us on along with my father. Her actions remind me of the Christian lifestyle, to put our needs before others and love them with our hearts. Thank you for allowing me to express my love for my mom and appreciate God's kindness.
    Redefining Victory Scholarship
    Imagine this: you are heading to bed slightly after midnight. Why are you going to bed so late? Is it work or school? No, it's because you failed to discipline yourself from engaging in pleasure. Even on a weekday with school the next day, you still decided to focus on playing video games for hours without a break to work or spend time with your family. It seems the only priorities in your life are waking up, playing video games, watching TV shows, using social media, and sleeping with meals in between. No work, just leisure. Sounds depressing, right? That was my life for better and for worse around two months ago. After recently returning from a fun paid internship out of state, I was lost, confused, and directionless with my path. Yes, I had my classes to return to for college, but that was it. So, I reacted as I described at the beginning. I am in a better place: I scored excellent grades, am pleased with my hard work on assignments, hit the gym four/five times a week, and worked on my hobbies and projects. Success means eventually working to fulfill a meaningful goal. With the aforementioned personal definition of success, I believe there are multiple goals for fulfillment. How can you achieve success without setting a goal? Success is reflected in different aspects, whether getting an A in a class, securing a job, or completing a passion project. However, despite the difference in goals, they all require one thing for success: discipline. And more on discipline is the power of habit. Bad habits such as scrolling mindlessly on phones, eating junk food, or obsessively playing video games deteriorate your ability to succeed. I know this all too well. And if we want to get more technical, the difference between bad and good habits is between delayed and instant gratification. Often, bad habits fall on the latter as they take little effort and are done within seconds for pleasure, hence instant gratification. As it says, delayed gratification delays pleasure from exercising, studying, and working. This means that you initially feel exhausted or uncomfortable, but after you finish a good habit, you feel relieved and fulfilled after completing something challenging. Now, how do habit and discipline fall into the scope of success? Imagine a scenario: you desire to create a passion project, whether an art piece, a game, or a documentary. The issue is that you have no idea how you will finish it, let alone what it will look like. The solution? You get started on one step. That step is to flesh out your concept by writing a brief document on what it is. And then you get the ball rolling each day until you eventually finish that project. By doing it for five minutes or five hours, what matters is that you are taking your precious time to do something you genuinely enjoy. That is habit and discipline in action. The habit is working on your passion project for at least five minutes daily, and discipline consistently maintains that habit until you complete your work and succeed. Success looks like crashing on your bed after a hard day's work. Moving over, this opportunity will help me succeed by granting me the means to fund my education so I can use my gifts to support others. I am a double major in Immersive Media and History. As such, I desire to create interactive experiences that teach history so we can propel the future without forgetting the past. In my opinion, too many people today fail to understand and learn history, and the school system is doing them no wonders. Boring lectures and dull textbooks are a surefire way to prevent someone from comprehending the past. Hence, I believe in learning through immersive experiences. For instance, I plan on creating an engaging VR history experience where you participate in the life of an American Civil War soldier and know their beliefs, values, and circumstances they undertook 150+ years ago. This is not the only experience I plan on creating, but it is one of many future proposals I plan to achieve. But, even with immersive technologies, success requires habit and discipline, as always. Programming or game design requires extensive amounts of time, not to mention the hours of research for history. Hence, it would be best if you kept working on it until it was finished, and as long as you kept doing it, you were successful. It is with my passion that I hope you graciously grant me this opportunity to fund my education in my dreams of a better tomorrow with the understood lessons of history.
    Student Life Photography Scholarship
    RonranGlee Literary Scholarship
    "Pointless bustling of processions, opera arias, herds of sheep and cattle, military exercises. A bone flung to pet poodles, a little food in the fish tank. The miserable servitude of ants, scampering of frightened mice, puppets jerked on strings. Surrounded as we are by all of this, we need to practice acceptance. Without disdain. But remembering that your own worth is measured by what we devote our energy to" (Aurelius, 2002, edited by Gregory Hays). This excerpt tells us that despite being overwhelmed by the world's chaos, we need to accept it without judgment and remember our worth is determined by what we devote our energy to. More specifically, this passage is from Book 7 of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius's famous collection of notes, "Meditations," where he writes the foundation for Stoic philosophy. Before we can better understand this paragraph, we first need some context. Marcus Aurelius wrote what became known as Mediations in the Roman Empire, where he composed twelve books of his private journals between 170 and 180 AD while planning military campaigns. Compounded on the years of struggles: constant wars, the death of his wife and close friend, and a rebellion from his general, he wrote "Meditations" for his benefit and personal clarity of his thoughts. "Meditations" exhibits specific ideas through its chapters (known as books) because Marcus Aurelius thought them the most important for him to understand and a form of practicing them in his (and our lives). Among these themes are accepting what we cannot control, living in the present, and viewing obstacles as opportunities. Now that we understand the context of Meditations and the paragraph's meaning, what more can we learn about it? Marcus Aurelius's underlying meaning of the excerpt first points out the senseless chaos of the world, whether it is as big as parades or as small as ants running away from their mice predators. With the world's disarray, many things are happening simultaneously: military exercises, opera music, and herds of cattle are among the examples Marcus illustrated. As a Roman Emperor, he had to deal with these matters daily and with the added responsibilities of a leader of the greatest empire of its time. This included governing the empire, leading the military during wartime, and overseeing religious matters and public works projects. Since we understood what Marcus Aurelius wrote was primarily to give himself clarity, it is clear he needed to focus on what was important despite everything happening around him. If we bring the first part of the text to the present, we understand that it is not so different from two millennia ago. Especially since we are more connected to the world than ever in human history, a lot is going on: civil unrest, climate change, financial difficulties, poverty, and wars. This is nothing new, as these problems have practically existed throughout human history. However, since these problems also existed during Marcus Aurelius's reign, we can look at this text and comprehend how to respond to it and act accordingly. Whether events occurring in the world are positive or negative, Marcus Aurelius states that since these issues surround us, we must accept them without contempt. This means that outside events are objective, and we make them positive or negative based on how we react and our beliefs and values. So, to give us peace of mind, we must accept them through a neutral perspective. The problem arises when we give it too much energy and waste it on things we cannot control. That leads to the final point made by Marcus, which is that our worth is determined by what we devote our energies to. There's nothing we can control about external events, so we must accept them as they are. Focusing our energy on things we cannot control only breeds frustration and disappointment, thus lowering how we view ourselves. However, if it's an internal event, something we can control, we must do something about it. If we fail to focus our energies on what we can control, we view ourselves as less for it, especially if we haven't done anything to change it. Therefore, we should devote our energy to what we can control and act on it, and by starting with ourselves, we can change the world. After we dissected the meaning of this incredible excerpt, you must know what it means for me and how it has improved my life. While reading "Meditations" for myself a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this excerpt, which has stuck with me ever since. Upon completing and recently returning from an out-of-state internship, I found myself at a crossroads, torn between my enjoyment of the program and my sadness at leaving. During this process, I was lost, distracting myself with video games, social media, and the Internet. I wasted much time on self-indulgence instead of focusing on self-improvement. After yet again another day of escaping reality through video games and television shows, I crept into bed around midnight and began my nightly reading. Turning the page, I became awestruck, realizing it all made sense why I felt so bad about myself and how my life was heading. Instead of directing my energy to productive habits such as going to the gym, passion projects, and meditation, I channeled it toward instant pleasure when a problem occurred. An idle mind is a dangerous mind, as they all say. Once I started redirecting my energy to more meaningful habits, my days gradually improved, and I felt more satisfied with how I performed that day. I scored higher on assignments, worked harder on projects, and cared better for myself. I am gradually improving my life one day at a time by devoting my energy to what is significant: God, family, and my life's work. Of course, I am imperfect, and 100% of my energy isn't devoted to those things, but at least I can try to. The more I dedicate my energy to these things, the more I'm at peace with myself and my progress. On the other hand, the more I focus on video games, social media, and other leisure activities, the more I feel that I'm a failure. Thus, there needs to be a balance: more focus on meaningful activities (gym, work, hobbies) than pleasurable ones (video games, television shows, social media). However, I can enjoy enjoyable activities only after I finish my work to reward myself for my hard effort. Based on my experience from Marcus Aurelius's quote, what am I trying to tell you? Focus on what matters most: goals, aspirations, values, and priorities, and dedicate your energy to them. Avoid too much pleasure to ensure you are building a life for yourself. And above all, focus only on what you can control, not on external events for which you have none. Accept the world without judgment and consider your role in it. Marcus Aurelius's excerpt is just one of many found in "Meditations," there is a gold mine of Stoic philosophy waiting to be discovered and implemented. Nevertheless, this paragraph teaches us to accept the world's chaos without judgment and always remember that our worth is determined by what we devote our energy to. The world is chaotic and unruly, with many events colliding. Hence, if we neutrally accept the world's disarray and channel our energy to what matters most, we will change ourselves, our families, our community, and the world. All it takes is one act, one step, and one thought.
    Ryan T. Herich Memorial Scholarship
    History. Without it, how can we learn from the past? And how would we be able to educate the future? Since a young age, nothing intrigued me more than reading history books about the Titanic and watching World War II documentaries. Like Ryan, I am fascinated by how the past shapes modern history through historical events. If you know enough about human history, you will understand how one event can change everything for the better or the worse. And that while history is not repeated, it often rhymes. Hence, we need to do a better job educating everyone about the lessons of history so we aren't so ignorant about our past that it will cause our downfall like previous great civilizations. Because of these beliefs, I am a strong proponent of teaching at least the basics of American and world history to grasp how past events truly impact our present. As an illustration, we as a nation didn't pop into existence with a snap but rather through centuries of complexities stemming from Columbus' discovery of the New World and even before that. Thus, world history has a more significant influence on how we came about than we initially intended. There is much more to know about history as a whole, but it is simply not possible in this application. But you get the idea. Unfortunately, it is becoming more common today for people to be ignorant of history, which leads to ill-informed decisions that can affect us all. This applies to anyone from the elected politicians to the average worker laboring to make ends meet. After all, history can be oversimplified as learning from the mistakes others have made, albeit through business, war, or science. So, how do I plan to make a difference in the world by better understanding the lessons from history to make the world a better place? By immersive technologies. As a double major in Immersive Media and History, I plan to create interactive experiences through VR or in-person ventures that allow people to learn by acting rather than passively observing. No wonder people aren't learning as much; they endure long, boring lectures with little enthusiasm from the instructors. They sit at their desks, watching the clock tick to the end of the class. But what if we make history serious but engaging? Consider edutainment: the combination of education and entertainment. Walt Disney himself stated, "I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained." As I see it, the best way to educate history is through storytelling. Compound storytelling with immersive experiences such as a reenactment, VR, and theme park attractions, and you leave guests with greater knowledge than they had in school. The opportunities to educate are endless in this field, and I wish to employ them for the betterment of my community and country. Through immersive, interactive, and educational experiences, we will teach history better to ensure a brighter future. This is, for sure, how I plan to make a difference in this world. The change is not just with me; it is with everyone passionate about educating, whether through school or entertainment.
    Joseph C. Lowe Memorial Scholarship
    It is said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. And rightfully so. When visiting Gettysburg for the third time two years ago, I thought it was intriguing that we decided to go to war over a hundred and fifty years ago against ourselves. Brother against brother, father against son, families split. Nothing was as more pronounced with bloodshed than on the Gettysburg battlefield, where a Union victory turned the tide of the American Civil War and ended slavery two years later. What led to the outbreak of the Civil War was a divide between the North and South on the slavery issue. Today, it seems the country is becoming increasingly divided across modern political problems instead of unifying as Americans and coming to a compromise as a nation. If we continue to degrade ourselves for disagreeing, we are no better than our ancestors back in 1861-1865. Thus, we must learn from past lessons to ensure a prosperous future. As noted by my Gettysburg visit above, I am interested in history because it's important to understand our country's past. Only in our history can we discover insights into our past behavior and problems to secure lessons to propel tomorrow. Unfortunately, today, many Americans fail to learn basic historical knowledge, such as the Declaration of Independence (our country's founding) and the Constitution (our fundamental human rights). Both documents still drastically influence our country's makeup today and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Without declaring our independence, there is no telling that we wouldn't still be under tyranny. And without our Constitution, I don't want to imagine a world where we lack our fundamental rights to speech, vote, choose our religion, and choose life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We must learn more about these documents as they dictate the freedoms we take for granted, where many people still live under totalitarian dictatorships and can't choose to live their lives. And these are but a shining example of why we must learn about history. If we don't, we do ourselves a significant disservice by shrouding ourselves in ignorance, pretending there is nothing essential to learn from the past when, instead, it's for the best. The more ignorant we are, the less free we will be. With all this said, my passion for history will be used through an unorthodox means: creating immersive experiences. The best way to teach is to make something fun with some knowledge but not tell your audience you're teaching them. As an illustration, one immersive experience I plan on developing would be an American Civil War simulation with you playing as either a Union or Confederate soldier on the frontlines and camp life. You will understand the beliefs of these soldiers, despite the division in the conflict, and comprehend their causes for fighting this war against their fellow countrymen. And you will finally understand the horrors of war and that we shouldn't glorify it, lest we destroy ourselves. That is just one example of an experience I'm plotting to create, but the potential is limitless. Through our knowledge of the past and understanding our differences and opinions, we will secure a brighter tomorrow without the ignorance of history.
    Peter J. Musto Memorial Scholarship
    Top Watch Newsletter Movie Fanatics Scholarship
    Last summer, I was going through the motions of my first breakup. Feeling lost and directionless, I didn't know how to move on from someone I thought I loved and who believed I loved me. What was my coping mechanism? Watching movies to find a sense of direction. Of the many movies I managed to figure out to get out of my rut, such as The Matrix and Meet the Robinsons (such random examples I know), the most thought-provoking yet helpful one was Cast Away. Despite having never experienced being stranded on an island and surviving for four years secluded, the idea of being alone resonated with me. I felt alone dealing with my heartbreak and had no one to turn to. I watched Cast Away, especially after a bad day, and clarity swooped over me. Somehow, I was going to be alright. Discussing the story is imperative before you understand why I chose Cast Away. The synopsis is this: Chuck Noland is a FedEx employee who is the only survivor of a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean. Stranded on an uninhabited island, he figures out how to survive and return home to his fiancee. Before his plane crash, he always lived minute by minute to the clock, trying to pass the time for work. He would even propose to his fiancee when he returned from his business trip. As the plane crashes, he survives on a raft during a tropical storm and wakes up sunburnt on an island's shore the next day. Realizing the pickle he's in, he is determined to get back home using the raft to break through the thrashing waves. However, his attempt fails, and his raft is punctured, and he pierces his leg on a piece of coral. Realizing he cannot escape that island, he unsuccessfully tries to hang himself. Acknowledging that he couldn't even control ending his life, he decides to take action and survive. He retrieves many FedEx packages and adorns one with angel wings as a sign of hope and salvation. Without anyone to talk to, he befriends a volleyball named "Wilson" after the company's name on the volleyball. Four years later, he conducts one final escape attempt and finally breaks through, but not without losing Wilson, whom he grieves over like a long-lost friend. He is rescued by a ship and receives a hero's welcome at home. But he discovers his fiancee is married to another man, his dentist, and they have a daughter together. Chuck delivers the package with the angel wings and is stuck at a crossroads. A lady with a truck gives him directions, and as she drives off, her vehicle has the angel's wings on the rear. Now, knowing this, he figures out his path. The most important takeaway from Cast Away is that no matter how much Chuck suffered isolated and depressed, he never gave up. He was unsuccessful in getting off the island many times and even contemplated suicide to escape. But, even after four years of hard luck and survival, he pulls through and returns home in an extraordinary feat of human diligence. Even though the light who got him through it, his fiancee, and he couldn't be together anymore, he pushes on. He looks forward to the future of his next path. So, to answer again why I chose Cast Away is because, despite the suffering I endure and the things I can't control, there is always something I can control in my life. It may be something little, but it's at least something. And that something is worth a try.
    Morgan Levine Dolan Community Service Scholarship
    In August 2019, I embarked on my quest to earn my Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America. The most essential requirement is to complete a community service project that benefits your community. Traditional projects included building a bird chimney, setting up a flag pole, or repairing park trails. You know what I did? I created a documentary assessing teenage depression, denoting its causes, symptoms, and potential solutions. Knowing firsthand, I knew my generation was growing up with many mental health problems, particularly depression. Upon seeing this problem, I decided to take action to help my community. After two years of development, I finished it, sent it for approval, and was awarded Eagle Scout on August 15, 2021. Even today, folks in my community still tell me how much of an impact it had on them. A couple of weeks ago, my old high school counselor wanted to show it to a group in my hometown so they, too, would understand the plight of teenage depression. I am still working on documentaries part-time to help my peers and community. Along with volunteering like my Eagle Scout project, I participated in sports throughout high school and college. I ran cross country for five years, from 2017-2022, across middle school, high school, and college. Track as well from 2018-2022 but ended after senior year of high school. When I ran in freshman year, I ranked in the bottom half of my team and eventually worked my way up into varsity my senior year of high school and could attend several invitationals. What changed for me to be in this position? Perseverance and hard work. It took years for me to get into varsity, and with the help of my running buddies and coaches, I broke through and set my record for the 5K and mile senior year. Since I was a senior, I was a mentor to many of the underclassmen to the point where I made a "speech" at a junior varsity invitational, encouraging the guys that we would do well and fight through the pain. And we did. When I finish my races, I always return and root for my teammates to give them that final push to make it across the finish line. I know the feeling of people cheering you on, and it's hypnotizing as you want nothing but to impress and prove them right. I cheered them on because they needed the morale boost to take the last drop of fuel from the tank and accelerate to the finish line. God knows we need that in our lives. As you now know about my past volunteer work and sports experience, let me tell you about my career goals. I aspire to start a company specializing in immersive technology that creates immersive experiences in history, mental health, and religion. To do this, I need to earn my degree in college to obtain the necessary skills in creating immersive media and starting a business. But college is, unfortunately, expensive, with me having to take out student loans to pay for it. Simply put, this scholarship will help me pursue my future career goals by helping me take off unnecessary debt for my education to push for a brighter tomorrow. I can't achieve my goal without obtaining an education, but with that education comes a cost. I want to take any means necessary to reduce my cost of tuition, including saving money and writing as many essays as possible to get a few hundred. $1,000 may not be a lot to own, but it's a lot to owe.
    Financial Literacy Scholarship Award
    Growing up with a frugal but loving father taught me the importance of becoming financially literate. He explained options to me when I received birthday money, whether I could keep it or go to my bank account for later. He never forced me to make a particular choice because he trusted me to do what was right. So, I put most of my money in a bank account rather than in cash to save it for later when needed. And trust me, I needed it once I graduated high school because now there were credit cards and tuition to pay off. He explained to me to pay off the credit card balance for each statement to avoid paying anything extra. Having that extra money on hand was a lifesaver for me. Because of my dad, I am gradually becoming more and more financially literate (not yet, as I'm still learning). With all of this said, the best money lesson I have ever received is that experience outranks knowledge. Think of it like this: you know the fundamentals of financial literacy: paying off your credit cards on time, budgeting your money monthly, and investing in a retirement account. But it's one thing to know and another to experience—case by example, me. Upon high school graduation, I applied for a credit card to start building my credit immediately without wasting time. In the first month, my heart sank when I realized how much I was spending compared to my limit, so I had a plan to reduce my spending and increase my credit score. It was simply to reduce my spending by every monthly statement. So, for example, if I owed $400 on last month's statement, my goal is to owe $399 or less. The key here is to have a realistic plan of gradually reducing spending to save some money for the long haul. The more experience you have, the better you learn. Knowledge is nothing without implementation, hence the point of experience. Without that experience of being responsible for my first credit card, I would indeed be lagging on my finances. Financial literacy can be summed up like this: sacrificing the short-term pleasures for the long-term future. As a twenty-year-old, I am still learning to be in charge of my finances. I am setting up a budget for next month to reduce spending from the previous month to save money for next month. With college admission, I have to worry about the rise in tuition every year and account for that while applying for scholarships and any financial aid I can receive. $1,000 may not be a lot to own, but it's a lot to owe. I am responding to this by working 40-ish hours a week at my job and continually finding ways to increase my net worth. For the past couple of years, I have made weekly investments for my retirement and investing accounts to save money and grow it. With the advent of student loans, it will be tough during my college years, but the financial difficulties will form my financial literacy that will influence my life for decades. You can't learn from the past if you have no hardships. There will always be something good about troubles you know from and use to prevent future mistakes. I have the utmost confidence that once I graduate college in less than two years, I will have the necessary experience to become financially literate and take control of my life. What paves the future is now, and now is when I start working for a brighter tomorrow.
    Arthur and Elana Panos Scholarship
    When going through my first breakup over a year ago, I endured a personal hell of confusion, anger, and depression. What happened? Why did we break up? Why God? Why me? Tons of whys, not going to lie. At this point, I was a couple of months out of high school and still navigating adulthood. I discovered that those closest to me and who I can trust were and always will be my family. But above all was God. If I hadn't already, I believed in Him more than ever. There was no choice. I prayed for serenity, peace, and a chance to get back together. But, little did I know the Lord had other plans for me that I couldn't see. Now, I realize we weren't right for each other, and it's for the best we split. And it was all because I trusted in God's judgment. Let me first tell you about my faith. I was born and raised a Catholic (and still am) but never understood the importance of church and faith until a few years ago. Church is a way for all of us to unite and assemble to worship God, atone for our sins, and be better people. I committed myself to a New Year's resolution of building my relationship with God, and I'm doing so by going to church once a week like I always did. But also to meditate and pray more to feel His presence. I think of feeling His presence like the Force in Star Wars, except in the form of the Holy Spirit. Just like the Force flows through all living beings in Star Wars, so does the Holy Spirit in natural form. There are many ups and downs with faith, with Jesus himself promising suffering if you take up your cross and follow him: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). Following Jesus makes sense of the suffering and having it meant for a greater cause of joining him in heaven. I'm more religious than I ever was before, but I'm still figuring out my specific beliefs. I'm rereading the Bible and noting what the Lord tells me and what I should do to live a more meaningful life in His name. My life's purpose is to serve others with the grace of God, and here's how it aligns with my future goals. My career is to start a company specializing in immersive technology that gifts captivating experiences. One example is to bring history into these experiences where the guest transports back in time to encounter pivotal moments that have shaped our present. An instance would be traveling to the Battle of Gettysburg, experiencing a bird's eye view of the battle and witnessing how critical this battle was in the American Civil War. How my faith will assist me is simple. My faith will guide me into the unknown and explore the endless possibilities of my future. When I endure suffering, when I'm down on myself, or when untold tragedy occurs, I rely on God to carry my soul and soothe its anguish. I shall also create immersive experiences that display scenes depicted in the Bible so people can comprehend its teachings through a compelling method. While I barely know what I want to do, I know I have a path to follow, and that's the one of Jesus.
    Trever David Clark Memorial Scholarship
    I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, at five years old. Despite my condition, I attended a public school without the need for special education classes. My parents went out of their way to ensure I didn't participate in special education classes so I could have a regular childhood, just like my classmates. Fifteen years later, I am still grateful for their decision as it's a testament to their love for me. I learned how to socialize and make good friends in school and became an overachiever, earning straight A's for all my years (except 5th grade). Upon graduating from high school, I made a 4.0 GPA, was on the High Honor Roll, earned my Eagle Scout rank and my hard-earned diploma to finally step out into the world and experience what life has to offer. Safe to say, my condition has helped me in academics and achieving plenty at my young age. But, like any condition, Asperger's has its drawbacks too. While I have enhanced concentration in passionate subjects, that doesn't mean I don't feel lonely in my thoughts. Instead, it's the opposite. Most of the time, I think what I feel no one ever thinks, such as the consequences of the American Civil War or an alternate timeline in Star Wars where Order 66 failed. I frankly go all over the place and don't have anything to offer because I'm so wrapped up in my thoughts to relate. Thus, I lack socialization skills, leading me to have trouble making friends and forming genuine connections with those I am the closest to. So the main drawback for me is that I feel lonely a lot, like no one understands me. But yet, I'm in control of my life, so it's on me if I feel lonely but don't even try to make friends. All of this leads me to believe that since the only constants in life are you, God, death, and taxes, you're the only person who's always there. That means you choose to be either your best friend or worst enemy. For instance, you should treat yourself as someone responsible for caring for you because you are. If your mom or dad is too busy to wind down and relax or your friend forgets to take their medication, you would tell them about it. For us, we do know about it, but yet often, we fail to do anything about it. So, we should gather all the information we know and decide how to care for ourselves best. Having authentic, close relationships is important, but you will feel lonely and insecure if you don't love yourself first. Since, like I told you, my Asperger's condition helped me become an early achiever, I want to start my company someday specializing in immersive technology. This company will create realistic, immersive historical experiences through virtual and augmented reality to understand the past better and implement our knowledge to propel the future. As I am an avid history buff because of Asperger's, I want to see to it that my generation and the future ones will learn from history more than I ever will to ensure a brighter tomorrow. These historical experiences will have anything from experiencing life as a soldier during the American Civil War to encountering the fall of the Roman Empire as an observer. I believe too that you can't learn anything if you're forced to and don't want to. But instead, to learn, you must actively seek learning. And with learning comes wisdom to pursue the potential of the future.
    Mental Health Importance Scholarship
    Growing up in high school, I noticed (still do) a trend unique to myself and my generation. We are more hooked on our phones and socially anxious, lonely, and depressed. Many of us are addicted to social media and electronics to cope with our struggles, but that only exacerbates it. So, witnessing this problem, I decided to do something about it. For my Eagle Scout service project, I created a mental health documentary discussing teenage depression and its potential solutions. I consulted with two professionals at my school, interviewed them, and interviewed myself as a teenager since no one volunteered to be interviewed. While mental health discussion is more pronounced nowadays, it's still stigmatized. The project was finished after two years of planning, filming, and editing. As recently as a few days ago, I still get reminders of people wanting to see it, show their friends about it, and even display it in groups so more people of differing backgrounds can understand it. I'm grateful for the impact of my project, but there's still more work for me to get done. Mental health is important because it's the backbone of life. Imagine a house, and that house is you. There are several floors, but the most crucial part is the foundation; without it, it would crumble down to the earth. That foundation is your mental health. You cannot succeed without first checking your mental health and overall well-being. Visualize this scenario: you desire a connection with someone but have poor mental health. You talk to people, but your conversations are off, and you aren't maintaining eye contact. You constantly shake around and close off your arms. You will likely come off as insecure and nervous. On the other hand, if you focus on your mental health and it's adequate, your conversations will flow effortlessly, and you learn to be more open in your body language, securing friendships and potentially a relationship. My point is that if you fail at the fundamentals, everything else will fall apart. And the fundamental is mental health. It would be best if you covered your mental health to climb the ladders of life: social, financial, health, and others. If you neglect your mental health, stress will easily overcome you, your emotions will cloud your better judgment, and your thoughts will be pessimistic about life. That's why it's imperative that you mainly focus on your mental health, as it's the first domino. Once the first domino falls, the rest follow. While I am still working on my mental health, I have found a few activities that allow me to maintain it. By far, meditation is the best and most effective mental health exercise. When you meditate, you're surrendering to God and letting go of your obsessions, compulsions, and temptations that might worsen your mind. You're focusing on the stability of the present rather than the anxiety of the future or the sorrow of the past. Thoughts will come and go; meditation isn't designed to stop them from happening. Instead, it's designed to allow them to enter the mind, but instead of engaging with it, you observe the thought, and after a few seconds, you calmly say to yourself: "No, thank you, I'm good." Repeat this for every thought with your eyes closed and your focus on your breath, and that's the gist of meditation. I recommend meditating for longer sessions, such as a half-hour, especially when stressed. Practice is crucial, and you will be frustrated at first. But don't worry. You will love yourself for taking up meditation. And you are securing yourself a peaceful tomorrow.
    McClendon Leadership Award
    As an Eagle Scout, I led a service project that benefited my community: a documentary assessing the aspects of teenage depression and its potential solutions. As a leader, I sought help for my project and managed how I would get it done. I communicated with two high school mental health professionals who graciously gave me their input. I enlisted the help of my family on how the documentary should go, as it's essential to be serious and respectful. Two grueling, grinding years later, the project was done, and not long after, I earned my Eagle. If there's anything at all that I learned from this experience as a leader, it is not to underestimate the importance of adaptability. Almost nothing goes to plan, so it's wise to have several backup plans with the help of those you lead. A leader is nothing without his followers. As you can tell, leadership to me means not that you boss around those you lead, but rather show them the way as an example and be there with them no matter the situation. For instance, when I was working in a restaurant a couple of months ago, new co-workers needed help doing their job. While I wasn't a manager or designated leader, I dished my knowledge of the store and did tasks such as scooping the right ingredients and marking the food labels correctly. I let them watch once, and then they tried it independently. There's only so much you can do when watching. Hence, I believe nothing is better at learning than doing. As a result, I helped them succeed in their work without being told to, and I'm glad I did it because it was the right thing to do. You don't have to be placed in a leadership position to lead; you must find your surroundings to see who needs leading. Another example is back in high school in AFJROTC; the flight quarreled about what we should do as a game for PT: hockey or volleyball. Knowing me, I wanted to do hockey, but I also realized we weren't going anywhere and losing time if we kept bickering about the sport. So I piped up and said, "We should do volleyball today and then do hockey for next time." And the matter was settled. My Master Sergeant commended my initiative and leadership in compromising to satisfy everyone. As a leader, you may not like the ideas of your followers, but you must listen and decide on the best judgment for everyone. All of this comes down to why leadership itself is important. Leadership is important because, without a leader, there is no direction, path, or trail to take. Everything is chaotic, and there is no plan. The followers don't know what to do, so they are frozen and stuck in the wasteland, waiting for what to do. For better illustration, in a battle, imagine a squad of soldiers with no set leader and hence no objective in the battle. Are they defending or attacking? Are they staying or retreating? Meanwhile, the enemy has a leader, and they win simply because they know what they are doing and their objective. In contrast, what if the squad of soldiers had an officer to lead them? Then, the officer states his plan to his soldiers and explains why they are in this battle and their objective to win. With cohesion and order, the soldiers win because there is a plan and direction. That's why leadership is important again. Without leaders, there is chaos and confusion. But leadership brings order and initiative.
    Reasons To Be - In Memory of Jimmy Watts
    As an Eagle Scout, I completed a service project that benefited my community. That service project in question was unorthodox: a documentary discussing the aspects of teenage depression and how to discover solutions to mitigate its effects. Why did I choose this as my project? Simple. I saw a problem affecting my community, specifically my generation and peers in high school, and I wanted to step in to address it because I felt that no one else would. Rather than a wooden bench or a donation box, I wanted to positively impact my community in what I felt was the best. That's all it takes for good to happen. Spot a problem affecting you and your community, family, and friends, and brainstorm an idea to address it. If more of us did that, most of society's problems would cease to pose a significant menace. As you can tell, one of my core values is service, as influenced by my years of volunteering in Boy Scouts. Service not only helps those in need but brings purpose to many lives and builds relationships that last a lifetime. But the point of service is not to expect any reward in turn, as it would defeat the purpose of it. It's to sacrifice your time or anything special to you to fulfill a more significant cause that benefits you more than you thought you could. Humility blends in with service, as humility means downplaying your deeds and instead focusing on the future and what more you can achieve in your volunteer work despite your flaws. I became humbled after volunteering for the Boy Scouts, such as the Scouting for Food Drive, building a donation box, and doing preservation work. I realized that some folks live paycheck to paycheck and can't afford groceries, so my troop and I collected food donations and dropped them off at a local food bank for those who need them. Every day, I thank God for what I have, even though times can be challenging. At least I have a loving family, a roof over my head with food, and I live in the United States of America. For all of the generous support I've received all my life, I wish to give back to my community. One of my life goals is to create a company specializing in immersive technology, such as augmented and virtual reality. Through my company, I want to create immersive experiences that showcase different eras of American history so everyone of all ages can understand history and learn from it. Better yet, they can make memories with their families that last a lifetime; I want to be a part of that. It's a long way from now, but that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't stop dreaming about it. So, starting a company that provides immersive historical experiences to people of all ages is the most ambitious life goal, but it certainly isn't the only one. And not the only way I can give back to my community. My life's purpose is to serve others by God's will. In doing so, I will continue volunteering for my community by donating food or money or picking up trash on my local highway. Without my volunteering experience, I would be completely different from the man I grew into today. I wouldn't be willing to serve others as much nor be as humbled and grateful for what I have and yet to achieve in life. x Forever 21 Scholarship + Giveaway
    Michael Rudometkin Memorial Scholarship
    Growing up, I was a member of the Boy Scouts who went on to achieve his Eagle. The most significant requirement for this is completing a community service project. Now, you might be thinking, what did I do? Was it a flagpole, a bridge, or a bird feeder? None of these things. I served my community by creating a documentary on young depression and establishing the signs and symptoms with potential solutions. Even to this day, I get compliments on how I changed the lives of others through my documentary, and I am continually making documentaries that will improve the lives of as many as possible. All I did was find a problem in my daily life, and upon doing so, I decided to take action. Upon action is sacrificing something important to you, such as money or time, to fulfill a greater cause. That is selflessness. As earlier said, I helped people in need in my Eagle Scout service project. This was a little over two years ago, and since I've moved on from the Boy Scouts, I needed to find different avenues to give. At my university, I joined a Christian club that volunteered occasionally for the needy. One of these occasions was at a food bank in a rather desolate part of town, which made it more impactful. I volunteered there to help folks who needed help choosing their food for the week, requiring the nutrients they needed. To be more specific, I was assigned a person to help, and they had two choices depending on the type of food they desired. So I pointed out the kind of food for each option, such as cereal, bananas, eggplants, frozen fish dinners, all the essentials. I talked about their day and how they were doing because that went a long way. Some people need an ear to hear. If we all took the minuscule time out of our day to talk and listen to folks, people would be less depressed and more fulfilled. Anyway, I checked them out, weighed their food, packed in bags in their carts, and escorted them to their cars if they needed my help. It's better to offer than not to at all. For the past few weeks, I moved to Florida to enroll in the Disney College Program and work at Walt Disney World. I was assigned the role of a Houseperson at a resort, and my tasks included restocking linen, taking out the trash, and doing room service, to name a few. A week ago, I was in the hallway thinking about what to restock in each cart when I spotted an elderly couple with a lady in a mobility scooter. I was by the elevator, so I decided to ask them about their day and pressed the button for them to go down as they wanted to enjoy the pool. At this moment, I could've stayed and continued my duties rather than do what God intended me to do. But I'm proud that I didn't stay complacent and instead stepped into the elevator with them and escorted them to the pool. I got to know them more as we walked outside, and they were Disney veterans but could only enjoy the pool and a select few attractions at this point in their lives. When we were close enough to the pool, the man shook my hand and asked for my name, and I told him. That was just one of my daily deeds under this program, so imagine what else can I do to serve my brothers and sisters.
    Servant Ships Scholarship
    Days after my first breakup over a year ago, I decided to seek out a childhood favorite movie of mine: Meet the Robinsons. Why specifically this movie? Even from my childhood (how long ago), I knew it was about learning from the past and moving on. In the film, Lewis, the protagonist, is trying to move on from his past as an orphan and struggling. After fighting his tormentors, both within and outside, he is granted a request to time travel to the day his mother gave him up for adoption. Just before he confronts his mother, he stops and heads back, where he realizes that sometimes, it's better to "Keep moving forward." This movie was so good and resonated with me so much that I rewatched it a day later, and the message still hit home. As a result of this movie and a few others, my soul was soothed, and I pushed on to realize my dreams. As you can tell, I am an avid movie watcher. And out of all the things in the world, including books, articles, and classes, nothing has taught me more than film. It's because you don't seek it out merely for education but for entertainment. And once entertained, you will realize the message and themes of the movie, learning more than you would during a tedious lecture. Thus, movies have molded my particular goal: starting my own family. For example, in How to Train Your Dragon, the main character, Hiccup (named for his clumsy nature), is looked down upon due to his skinny stature and inept qualities despite being the chief's son. The one time he accomplishes something magnificent (taking down the dragon who later becomes his best friend, Toothless), no one is there to see it, and once he tells it to everyone, no one believes him, not even his father. So, in a quest to prove himself, Hiccup tracks down Toothless, and upon seeing him trapped, he decides to spare his life and set him free. And because of his love for Toothless, Hiccup makes him a new tail for him to fly again, and both save Hiccup's chief and their Viking clan. Add in the mix that Hiccup later dates Astrid, who publicly rebukes him at first, and they start a family of their own later on because of Hiccup's persistence and love. The point I'm making is while we may not control who we are, we do control what we do in response to what's around us. And add that to the film's theme: if we focus on our passions despite the world telling us we can't, we should strive for what we can and should. If we do this, everything will fall into place, including having a family because you weren't obsessed with that but instead focused on improving the world around you. Based on what I've learned from watching movies, I have developed a strong desire to create immersive experiences in virtual and augmented reality that can help my community and country learn from history and utilize that knowledge to drive future progress. This is how I plan to impact the world through my education positively. While there are other ways to impact positively, I believe their approach requires education to achieve my dream. By creating these immersive experiences, people can better understand what life was like in the past and how people lived during those times. My desire to give back to my community has given me so much, and I believe that creating these experiences is one way to accomplish that goal.
    Dr. Alexanderia K. Lane Memorial Scholarship
    John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." This biblical verse perfectly encapsulates the type of impact I am confident to have on my family, friends, and even strangers. I want to love so intensely that I will go beyond my limits to help even one life. However, while I am sure of the kind of influence I aim to have, understanding why it's critical to help others first is paramount. Helping others is important because we never know what they're going through, and we're all currently going through something. Perhaps they got fired from their job or lost someone close, and we all experienced loss at some point. We don't need to do much; ask them about their day or give them a cup of tea. Our actions may have improved their day by assisting or saving them from a bad day. With the world set on tearing itself apart, it's more important than ever to put a bit of it back together. And how do we do that? Helping each other. It is astonishingly simple to help others. Like I said previously, the least we can do is ask about someone's day or buy them a cup of tea to make their day easier. And there are numerous ways to help, both big and small. How we choose to help depends on what is within our means. If time permits, we can pitch in volunteering to clean up the highway, tending the local park, or selling food as part of a fundraiser. And if we go the money route, we can donate to a local charity that helps those in need or assist people experiencing homelessness who are often down on their luck. Not only do we improve our community by helping others, but we also connect more and become more in tune with reality to help even more effectively. Connection is the opposite of isolation, which often breeds loneliness, disrepair, and neglect, both in the community and the individual. Combine helping others, such as volunteering, with connection and then ensure a prosperous community that cares for each other, like how Heaven is visioned. As you can tell, I am a Christian, and because I am one, my purpose in my life is to serve others in God's name. To serve or help others, whether it be your closest family or distant strangers, is a symbol of genuine unconditional love. God's love. And to help others means you aren't doing it for a reward or to get a free ticket into Heaven but instead because it's the right thing to do. Why did I reference that biblical verse at the beginning? To tie it all together. To help others with the highest potential, we must be willing to give it our all, or it isn't helping. Do our best when no one is looking, or it comes across as scummy and phony. We can't help without love, and we can't love without giving a part of ourselves away in the hope that someone's life is better. Helping others comes from a place of love, a love that can rarely be found in this world. But when it is found, it can be discovered more. And more help equals more connection. All of us can have an impact on someone's life. It doesn't have to be significant. It just has to be genuine.
    Barbara Cain Literary Scholarship
    After graduating high school over a year ago, I dove into many books covering genres such as self-help, history, and more. However, none impacted me as much as Jordan B. Peterson's "12 Rules for Life." With masterful use of myths, biblical sources, and studies, he puts forth his thesis: putting your life in order is paramount, or you'll face the consequences. Each of his twelve rules supports this point and resonated deeply with me as I worked to get my life together in college. Although my life is far from perfect, I now live with a greater sense of purpose and meaning. It is as fitting and proper due to the immense influence of 12 Rules for Life that I'm currently reading its sequel: "Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life." While the first book covered living life orderly, such as living life meaningfully rather than expediently and standing up with your shoulders back, this one focuses on balancing it with the chaos. For instance, the chapter I'm currently reading, "Rule X: Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationship," is about managing a long-term relationship or marriage so it doesn't become stale or divorced. One of the pieces of advice is to trust yourself and your partner so that the relationship becomes healthy and beneficial to both. But to trust, you must be honest and tell the truth, not act like you're deceiving yourself and your partner. This is how relationships have a firm foundation: it needs to be built on nothing but the truth. Now, I could go on and on about this chapter, but writing this out doesn't nearly do it as justice as reading it, and I want to save you time. But while I'm not in a romantic relationship yet, it's still essential for all relationships and friendships to be built on trust created from the truth. If this straightforward snippet holds fundamental but essential information for managing your relationships, what else is there to know to live your best life? Now that you have learned a piece of the puzzle, this book, out of all, has shaped my goals immensely. As you can tell previously, one of my main goals is to start a family and have children. The book has undoubtedly molded my goal into something I truly desire, as it has given me information on how I get there. At the same time, having goals is essential; it is equally crucial to figuring out how to achieve them. I want to give back to my community based on my learning and all the reading I have done through the years. So, you can say that these books have shaped my purpose in serving others. But it has also shaped how I can help my community: giving information and advice to those who need it and want to hear it. As an illustration, I want to give back to my community by creating historical immersive experiences so anyone, no matter their age, can experience history and learn from it to propel the future. Of course, that isn't the only way I plan on giving back to my community, but it's the goal. My life is improving because of all the knowledge I have attained from reading these books. Without them, my life would be aimless, directionless, and without a guided hand to lead me to my potential in the future to support my community and country.
    Disney Super Fan Scholarship
    My first trip to Walt Disney World remains etched in my mind, even after all these years. I distinctly remember a friendly cast member who allowed me to steer the boat on the Jungle Cruise, an experience that was simply unforgettable. The screams of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom were so loud that my sister and I had to cover our ears, but that only added to the thrill of the moment. These two experiences were made possible by the incredible art of Imagineering, a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the team at Disney. Imagineering is the combination of engineering and imagination. This makes Disney theme parks distinctive and appealing to millions of visitors worldwide. It's also my favorite thing about Disney. Rides like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Avatar: Flight of Passage are great examples of how Disney creates entirely new worlds to immerse guests and provide an exciting experience. It takes years of hard work, innovation, and creativity to bring the magic to life, and that's Imagineering in a nutshell. To me, Imagineering is not just about creativity but also about using logic and reason to turn dreams into a reality of joy, fulfillment, and happiness. For example, let's consider the Guardians of the Galaxy ride. Even before entering the building, you can see a spaceship on display, belonging to the Nova Corps, as seen in the movie franchise. The lobby is sci-fi-themed, with a large circular screen on the ceiling displaying various immersions, such as the planets the movies are based on. The ride itself is a blast, with the original actors (except for one) reprising their roles for the ride's storyline. The cars you sit in revolve and move sideways and backward while playing a specific rock song from the '80s, which I love. Once the ride is over, you'll want to ride it again! Without Imagineering, there is no way this ride can be built. Creativity is what drove the storyline and the concept of the attraction. Logic and reasoning created the attraction in a practical sense to be safe and immersive. Imagineering is precisely why I am studying Immersive Media at my university. I want to create immersive experiences in history that allow everyone of all ages to learn from history through an entertaining twist. That's how it works in Walt Disney World; they use edutainment (blending of education and entertainment) to subtly teach both children and adults in their attractions about history, environmentalism, technology, science, and much more. The more genuine thrills you add, the more people will want to come back and bring more people with them to share the joy. And the more they will learn without realizing it. You see, the trick in entertaining while subtly educating is never telling your audience you are educating them. That ruins the entire experience. So, as you can tell, I have learned plenty from my vacations at Walt Disney World without realizing it, too! As of now of me typing, I am working at Walt Disney World as part of their college program! It is remarkable how such a first impression fifteen years ago leaves such an imprint on your mind that you create the magic you experienced as a kid. Imagineering is the secret behind the magic at Walt Disney World, and we see why. While my job isn't being an Imagineer, I still do my best to bring the magic to life for the many kids who will experience the joy for the first time as I once did all those years ago!
    I Can Do Anything Scholarship
    In the future, I see myself as a powerful and honorable guardian, ensuring the safety and welfare of my family and the vulnerable, forging a path toward a bright future, and generously contributing to the community that molded me into the person I am today.
    Pro-Life Advocates Scholarship
    Growing up, I was baptized and raised Catholic (and still am), drastically influencing my pro-life position. My dear mother suffered two miscarriages after my birth, and upon learning of this just a couple of years ago, I am beyond grateful I am alive. I mourn what might have been for my two passed siblings, but I am more thankful that I currently have a loving sister and a caring father to carry us both. Even though the great trials of life have tried my soul, it's worth living and witnessing the beauty of life. Because of this and more, I believe that all men and women are born in the image of God and, as such, are created equal from conception until death. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; unfortunately, we neglect the first. Often, I hear people claiming that since I'm not a woman, I have no right to speak on the abortion topic, which isn't the case. Protecting the innocent unborn isn't a matter of gender. It is a matter of morals and principles. Plus, a child is created from conception by both the father and the mother, so both should have an equal say in caring for their child. To take someone out of the conversation just because they are a different gender only causes separation and more disarray to develop. Abortion impacts men just as much as it affects women, albeit in different ways. The mother mourns the loss of her child, who lived inside her, while the father grieves what might have been about his child. I understand that in extreme circumstances, abortion may be needed for the mother's safety, which should be the only reason. And in these situations, these women shouldn't be shamed for undergoing a messed up situation but instead consoled and supported. But other situations, such as the lack of responsibility, should not be grounds for a terminated pregnancy. The baby has the same equal right to life as the mother and shouldn't have to suffer for the mother's consequences of her actions. Even though I have not yet been honored to protect the sanctity of the unborn, there are outreach opportunities. There is a program called "Rachel's Vineyard," which is promoted by my church. It is a service over a couple of months guiding women enduring the tragedy of abortion and supporting them through this crisis. It helps that an Eagle Scout did his service project erecting a memorial dedicated to the innocent and the unborn outside of the church. They also provide funds for the annual March for Life event in Washington D.C. There is one outside of my church: through an organization called "TFP Student Action," which is traditionally Catholic that promotes pro-life and the protection of the innocent unborn. This organization forms protests on college campuses and cities, promoting the value of all human beings and delivering information on why abortion is wrong. They had a protest recently at a local university, and I plan on being by their side with my rosary the next time they appear in my area. While much must be done to promote the value of all human beings, including the unborn, I am confident I shall do my part.
    Academic Liberty & Free Speech Scholarship
    In my senior year of high school, I took a challenging debate class to push myself. During the course, I participated in two mock debates, one of which revolved around implementing a universal healthcare system. I was assigned to argue against it. Despite stumbling over an argument during the rebuttal, I quickly regained my composure and confidently stated, "That's a bad argument." I quickly brushed it off and laughed it off with my classmates. During my summary speech, I presented my key arguments flawlessly. Although I recall that moment with embarrassment, I understand the importance of learning from my mistakes. This experience has taught me the value of conducting comprehensive research and approaching issues from different angles to strengthen my beliefs and accept opposing viewpoints to broaden my perspective. Thanks to this class, I gained a profound appreciation for the value of free speech. The protection of free speech is paramount to fostering the intellectual and personal growth of American college students. Without free speech, how can we broaden our perspectives and reach a consensus on tackling current issues? Free speech empowers anyone to express their opinions, regardless of whether they are well-liked. Disliking a person or their viewpoint does not mean we cannot learn from it and understand their perspective. For instance, a student may oppose the always-packed on-campus parking situation. If the administration ignores this feedback, the problem will only worsen until they take action. However, if they listen to the student's concerns, they can improve the campus by expanding the parking lot as a potential solution. Although many more examples illustrate the significance of free speech, my point is clear. When we refuse to listen to opinions that differ from ours or, worse, ban them outright, we become nothing more than automatons copying each other's views, deluding ourselves into thinking we are unique. Not every opinion is correct or ethical, but all individuals have the right to express their free speech without infringing on others' rights. If we fail to recognize the importance of free speech, we will stunt our personal and intellectual growth as a nation. It is crystal clear that free speech is essential for our growth as individuals and as a society, and we must protect it at all costs. Preserving the fundamental right to free speech is crucial in preventing tyranny from taking control of our thoughts, actions, and emotions. Throughout history, we have witnessed the disastrous effects of failing to protect free speech, exemplified by regimes such as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, which eliminated it to silence opposition—simply making a joke about their leader or failing to applaud after a speech could result in imprisonment or even death. Therefore, we must safeguard free speech to prevent censorship and authoritarianism from violating people's right to express their beliefs, opinions, and thoughts without fear of persecution. As a history major, I have greatly benefited from my program's rigorous focus on critical thinking and diversity of thought. By learning from the past and analyzing our mistakes, we can avoid repeating them. It is equally crucial that we respect differing opinions when examining past events and outcomes. If everyone thinks the same, then no one is honestly thinking. And so, history allows us to preserve free speech on campus by avoiding past mistakes and understanding what went wrong to create a better future. As Voltaire once said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
    Will Johnson Scholarship
    Receiving a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome at the age of five was undoubtedly a challenge, but I have learned to thrive despite it. I am proud to say that I have achieved academic excellence with a 4.0 GPA in high school and even attained the rank of Eagle Scout. While I struggle with social connections and expressing emotions, I view my condition as a hidden strength that has helped me overcome obstacles and succeed. One of the biggest challenges I have faced due to Asperger's is difficulty connecting with people socially and forming meaningful friendships and relationships. In the beginning, I had a close group of friends and a loving family who supported me through elementary school and the start of high school. However, even though people surrounded me, I often felt lonely and struggled to connect with them. I tended to be more of an observer than an active participant in group conversations, and I was often invited to events and parties in a passive way, which made me feel inadequate. Despite my desire for genuine connections and love, I had never dated anyone up to that point. I even set a goal for myself in my first year of high school to get a girlfriend throughout my high school career, which I now realize was a bit pathetic. When the pandemic hit my sophomore year, I struggled even more with loneliness and a longing to connect with people. One of my best friends ended up leaving the friend group due to drama with another friend, and I was devastated by her absence. As the rest of the friend group drifted apart, I felt more isolated than ever. I struggled to find a sense of belonging and connection with others during my senior year. However, in the last few months of school, I finally found my community and was able to make genuine friendships. In an unexpected turn of events, I even got my first girlfriend in the final month of high school. Unfortunately, I lost everything after graduation - my girlfriend, friends, and community. Starting over was difficult, but I learned to love myself and found solace in spiritual love by trusting in God. This journey taught me to appreciate my family's unwavering love and support. It's crucial to prioritize self-care and self-love without neglecting our relationships with loved ones. Balancing self-love, spiritual love, and love for others is possible without one being more important than the other. This upcoming fall, I will embark on my second year of college, where I will be pursuing a double major in Immersive Media and History and a minor in Business. My major in Immersive Media is thrilling and concentrates on virtual and augmented reality fields. I am gaining knowledge in creating virtual reality experiences, immersive programming, and game design. Even though I have encountered a few difficulties in this program, I am confident in its ability to transform the world by immersing individuals in realistic history simulations to teach the significance of comprehending the past. Despite a challenging first semester, I have remained resolute in my studies, with my sights set on graduation and establishing a virtual reality business focusing on history and mental health. Ultimately, I aim to positively impact as many people as possible, enabling them to understand the world better and lead more fulfilling lives.
    Your Health Journey Scholarship
    Upon my high school graduation last year, I felt a sense of jubilation and immense joy in finally starting my next life stage. It would be so easy to go to college and make friends! How bad could it possibly be? How wrong I was. Over the summer, my girlfriend and I broke up, I barely saw my best friends, and I lost my community. I felt alone and lost, but I refused to let this defeat me. Instead, I decided to focus on my health and personal growth, and I began a journey of self-improvement. It wasn't easy, and there were many ups and downs, but I persevered and emerged more potent and resilient. Growing up, I did not take physical fitness too seriously until I changed this mindset and joined the cross country and track team in 8th grade. I had a routine of running most days of the week, either in a local park or at school, depending on the day. The heat, heavy rain, and exhaustion did not discourage me from pursuing my passion for running. My teammates, who were like my brothers, were my source of motivation and encouragement. I went from being in the bottom half of the team's middle-school roster to reaching varsity during my senior year, and it took me almost five years to get there! Running had taken a toll on my body and significantly improved my physical health. I felt more relaxed, could manage my priorities better, and could climb stairs without losing breath. However, due to the demands of college and work, I had to stop running halfway through my first year. Despite that setback, I participated in a 6.6K run in my city a week later and finished 11th overall. All the hard work and training I had put in over the years had paid off. Even though it has been nearly a year since I ran for cross country, I still hit the gym five times a week and plan on running a couple of times a week, time permitting to keep it up. Ultimately, running helped me stay in control of my life and gave me mental peace. One of the lifestyle changes that significantly impacted me was the decision to start meditating. I always felt like my days were passing by too quickly, and I couldn't keep up with everything. Meditation is the only way to slow down time and live life without feeling rushed. I committed to meditating consistently throughout 2021 and early 2022, and though I fell off the wagon for a while, I have recently gotten back into it. Deep breathing before bed, while listening to calming music or the sound of rain puts my mind at ease and allows me to process my thoughts more effectively. This helps me start the day with a clear mind and easily tackle my objectives. After a stressful first year of college, I realize the importance of caring for my mental health just as much as my physical health. So, I am now focusing on meditating regularly to maintain a healthier and more satisfying lifestyle. Balancing physical and mental health has transformed my life from a monotonous routine to a life full of possibilities. By strictly adhering to my gym and home workout regimen, I can alleviate my daily stresses and experience a sense of achievement as my body improves. In addition, meditation has been instrumental in enhancing my mental well-being by providing me with an opportunity to breathe deeply and unwind. What steps will you take to improve your lifestyle and prioritize your health?
    Our Destiny Our Future Scholarship
    On August 15, 2021, after two years of hard work, I finally accomplished the Eagle Scout rank upon completing my service project. My project consisted of producing a documentary that delved into teenage mental health, specifically addressing depression, its root causes, symptoms, and possible solutions. Despite facing a challenging time following losing a friend in school in early 2022, my guidance counselor and social worker reassured me that my project had positively impacted numerous people's lives, dispelling any initial doubts I may have had. While I am proud I went through the adversity in doing this project for the betterment of all, there is still more work to impact the world positively. As you can tell, mental health is one way I plan to impact the world and continue to do so positively. Even though I have made a good start with my documentary, I plan on creating more mini-documentaries that explore specifics of mental health and attempt to identify the diagnosis and research the potential prescription for each one. A perfect illustration is I am currently searching why people, specifically my generation, appear to be lonelier compared to previous generations despite the communicative addition of the Internet. Through some initial research, the pandemic contributed due to the advent of lockdowns and social isolation. But yet, the loneliness trend was sent on an upward trajectory even before the disastrous pandemic, so there is still more to the story. Another main issue I have discovered, particularly with my peers and me, is the addictive nature of social media and its compulsive master, the smartphone. Let me get this out of the way; smartphones are not inherently malicious as they can be used for good or bad, depending on the user. However, many young adults nowadays are hooked onto their phones, checking for that precious dopamine hit when a follower likes their Instagram post or a friend sends them a "Snap" on Snapchat. And this leads back into a positive feedback loop where the phone is both the problem and the cure. Often we feel lonely when we feel when we miss out on events by comparing ourselves to other people's highlights with our lowlights, and thus, without discerning the source of our feeling, we resort back to the problem in the false hope of feeling better, which only exacerbates our loneliness feeling. Of course, loneliness is more than simply social media/phone addiction. However, it's still a significant issue I hope to help resolve in this documentary to aid anyone in living a much more fulfilling life. For who I am, I am not the type of man who focuses on positively impacting the world in only one way. I plan on developing virtual reality games centered on history. Why? There is a tendency to overlook history, and even basic questions, such as the date of the United States' independence, are often answered incorrectly. It seems to suggest that there might be some shortcomings in our education system. One potential solution to address this lack of historical literacy is by introducing an unorthodox yet engaging method of teaching: virtual reality. Rather than sitting through long and dull lectures, students can immerse themselves in an Oculus Quest 2 and experience history firsthand. For instance, students can participate in a virtual American Civil War simulation and better understand what life was like back in the 1860s. Although this is just an idea, I am confident that with my determination and the support of others, we can educate people on the complexities of history and pave the way for a brighter future.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. Unlike other mental disorders or diseases, in my experience, there are plenty of pros to go along with the cons of my condition. The negatives range from a lack of socializing and meaningful relationships to stretches of loneliness. On the other hand, positives include an enhanced focus on my hobbies, the ability to think outside the box, and perseverance. I am Ryan, and I will take you on my journey of how my condition influenced my goals, relationships, and understanding of the world. Let us begin, shall we? Commencing with my past goals and how I achieved them, my Asperger's has played a significant role in completing them. One such plan was the most ambitious yet challenging I have ever faced: earning The Eagle Scout rank in my young, promising life. Let me take you back. It is August 2019, and my local council has just approved my service project. This project is unorthodox as I will be conducting a film about teenage depression, intending to benefit my community, specifically my high school. I named it "The Quiet Crisis" because this is a crisis worth discussing, that seems to be no publicity about. A couple of months in and I got off to a head start, writing out the script and naming my characters with visualized filming locations. Then March 2020 struck a critical blow in the form of COVID-19. I had no way of filming or coordinating with anyone as everything was on lockdown. It did not help that during this period of uncertainty, self-doubt and procrastination seeped like a trickle morphing into a gush of water. What did I do to overcome this newfound chaos? I participated in a summer film program in my city to learn the art of filmmaking and attain skills such as operating cameras and editing movies. I was promoted to an internship and, a few months after that, elevated to a paid position. Unfortunately, progress became too slow to my liking, so in the spring of 2021, I evolved my project into a documentary instead of a fictional narrative. There was too much work for a short film with a movie set compared to a documentary needing just a few people. No, my problems did not stop. They had just begun. I announced calls for help for classmates to volunteer to be interviewed for their mental health to seek understanding in the youth about their mental health. No one responded. I tried to record a camera of one of my interviews with a social worker at my high school, but the footage was corrupted. I had to adapt to overcome these difficulties continuously, and I crushed them. How? I resorted to interviewing myself and checking my mental health as I was technically a teenager, as my perspective still mattered. Instead of filming in person, I filmed virtually for two professional interviews at my school. After the recording finished, I went to work on my computer, editing a few hours of footage and cutting it all down to a documentary shy of forty-five minutes. This took two months. In June of 2021, I finally finished the project after nearly two years of hard work and perseverance. Two months later, on August 15, 2021, I was sworn in as an Eagle Scout after my council approved my project. What do I have to say? Since Asperger's is known to leave recipients with enhanced focus and concentration in specific hobbies and interests, I firmly believe it is why I stuck through and persisted with my project even though it took two years to complete. Yet it is not always positive, however. As a man diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, I, unfortunately, hold the curse of lack of socializing skills, and as such, it is hard for me to make close friendships. I usually talk and can maintain a good conversation, but I have struggled compared to most people in cultivating friendships and developing relationships. It is like no one understands completely what I am going through inside my head. And yet it has not entirely inhibited me from making good friends and getting my first girlfriend last year. And I am not a pessimist by any means; on the contrary, I am a cautious optimist. Just because it is harder for me to make friends does not mean it is impossible. It just means I have to do more to get what I want. Currently, in my second semester of college, I have a family but no close friends or a girlfriend. Does that mean I will never get that? Of course not! I must be willing to overcome any adversity to achieve what I seek. So I am still here and can connect with people at work and school, and there is a chance to expand upon that. Despite my Asperger's, I am taking that chance. This all leads finally to my understanding of the world. Through Asperger's, I view the world through a different, unique lens compared to most people. How so? I believe everyone in the world has good in them and want to help each other. And I especially do not want anyone to experience what I have weathered: intense loneliness, heartbreak, loss of friendships, and abandonment, to name a few. But yet, we do not grow without these types of suffering. One must go through hell and back to truly appreciate inner peace. This is precisely why I want to help people go through their struggles. So they do not have to go through that alone like I seemingly did and still do. Whenever someone needs my help, I will be more than happy to lend my hand. It is also so I can give back to my community which has given me so much. Also, everyone deserves a second chance, as anyone has the power to change. We all have a choice.
    Book Lovers Scholarship
    "Rule 1: Stand up straight with your shoulders back." This is the first sentence of the book "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" by renowned clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. Dr. Peterson implies that keeping a solid posture allows you to maintain your dignity and assert yourself and your desire to live more meaningfully. I did not even have to go into too much in the chapter to grab examples he carefully picked out to comprehend why it is such an important rule to live by. It is not only known as a self-help book but also as a set of guidelines on how to live your life in moderation between the state of order and chaos. As an aspiring young man recently starting his college career, Dr. Peterson's work gives me the necessary knowledge to survive college and prepare for a full-time job. From examples in ancient folklore to verses from the New Testament, he dives deep into the past wisdom of our ancestors on how they lived their lives and the lessons we can learn from them now in the present. I'm reading the ninth chapter: "Rule 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't." Dr. Peterson expertly explains the difference between advice and psychotherapy from his background as a clinical psychologist. Advice is designed to make the person giving it look good without doing anything, while psychotherapy is discussing a genuine conversation through active listening. As of now, I am learning that one of the ways to cultivate friendships is to listen, as it shows them you pay attention t what they are saying, which in turn deems you trustworthy and forthcoming. Moreover, there is always something someone knows more about than you, and you should be open to whatever that may be. While I only got to the tip of the iceberg by covering one chapter, "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos" is an excellent self-help book designed to be read in its entirety for the reader to comprehend the message truly. Everyone in the world needs to read this book to fix the problems in their life, find the perfect balance between chaos and order, and discover inner peace.
    Elizabeth Schalk Memorial Scholarship
    At age five, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. When you have Aspergers, it is not as black or white as it may seem when discussing other mental disorders in the sense that it is all bad or all good. On the one hand, you have enhanced concentration in a specific talent or field, but on the other, you may suffer socially and fail to make genuine friendships. Fourteen years later, I am still learning to live with it, for it is both a blessing and a curse. To accurately evaluate my experience with Asperger's, I must assess my condition's bad and good aspects. I will start with the negatives first to get them out. Throughout my life, I have struggled to make and even maintain solid friendships and relationships with the people I love and care about. That is not to say I have never made any friends or had a relationship, as I had both, or I am socially awkward. Instead, I think I have solid social skills and can have decent discussions with an acquaintance and deep conversations with those who know me best. My first girlfriend knew I was autistic (without me telling her) and still wanted to be with me regardless. But I am trying to say that while it is more difficult for me to do so, it is doable. Currently, the closest people in my life are my family, with a couple of solid friendships at college and work but nowhere near the quality, I prefer. My condition does not define me. Only I and God does. But unfortunately, my disorder does make me frequently dwell on the past, especially on mistakes and the people that have passed on from me. I do hope to reunite with some of them in the future, but I must let old memories go to make it into fruition. Even almost a year after graduating high school, I constantly think about the people and a couple of the good memories I made there. Yet, I did not enjoy high school, only a few parts of it, like my close friends and AFJROTC. However, I am getting better and looking forward to my future. Even though it is unforeseen, there are plenty of opportunities to make new memories and cultivate new relationships. On a more positive level, I would not have accomplished as nearly I did without Aspergers. My condition kept me in the fight to earn my Eagle Scout rank despite the service project taking two years to fulfill. The project is a mental health documentary evaluating the aspects of teenage depression, such as the symptoms, causes, and potential solutions. After plenty of derailing, such as the pandemic, lack of participation, and even self-doubt, I persevered and got it done just a few months before my eighteenth birthday and earned the rank of Eagle just a month before, on August 15, 2021. I have my condition to thank for that, as I would not have been as persistent nor relentless in my goal. It was also why I earned a 4.0 unweighted GPA throughout all high school and fifty college credits to transfer in my first semester. The sheer focus and determination in my studying habits and critical thinking skills allowed me to excel academically and efficiently prepare for college, thanks to Aspergers. All in all, my condition Asperger's Syndrome, holds many shades of gray that allow for it to be both a blessing and a curse. Either way, I am stuck with it, so I might as well ascend with it.
    Coleman for Patriots Scholarship
    August 15, 2021. The day arrived, and I was awarded the prominent Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts of America. How did I get to this point? There were several prerequisites for earning the position in question. Let me explain. The main requirement for achieving such an accomplishment was undertaking a service project that benefited your community. My project was a mental health documentary evaluating the causes, symptoms, and potential solutions of teenage depression. The goal was to reduce mental health stigma in adolescents and young adults and spread awareness of the problem plaguing our youth. Almost two years later, I still get feedback about my documentary and how it benefited my community by touching upon the young lives of the depressed and lonely and helping them pursue the professional help they rightly deserve. In the past, I have been involved in two organizations in our community that involve themselves in community service opportunities for the betterment of the locals. I have already given you a brief glimpse of my tenure in the Boy Scouts, but let me expand upon that. I was a part of the Boy Scouts of America from 2015 to 2021, where my troop and I undertook many volunteering events to support our local community. One particular instance was when we did an annual Scouting For Food Drive in our local neighborhoods, where residents donated canned goods, food, and other necessities. The donations would then be bestowed to the needy and hungry by our local food bank. The other organization I participated in would be my high school's AFJROTC organization. Twice a year, we would do "Roadside Cleanup," a volunteering event where we would clean up trash and litter on the side of a highway and cleanse the nature of unnatural debris. We also wrote letters to veterans living by themselves to show them how much they mean to us for their sacrifice and for fulfilling their call of duty to preserve our great nation's rights and freedoms. While I am highly honored to have partaken in serving my community, I have not done enough and am just getting started. Currently, my time for volunteering is waned by college and work, but I still plan on volunteering in the future again when time allows it. On the topic of the future, I hold an ambitious dream designed to better my local community and the country as a whole. Since I major in Immersive Media, a field specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality technology, I visualize inventing a device that remembers the departed at cemeteries across the nation. How does this device work? When you walk up to a gravestone, you will either press a button or step on a pedal, and a hologram of the person's grave you visited shows up. In this hologram, you will see what the person looked like alive and their accomplishments, memories, and interests, in addition to their birth and death date and full name. Why do I want to invent this? Because I believe everyone's story deserves to be told, and we should not forget the past of our ancestors. If we do not learn the history of our predecessors, we will be doomed to repeat past mistakes. Instead of relying on stories passed down by previous generations, this device will memorize all the information needed by the deceased's families to eternalize the passed-on and their stories. I realize this is an ambitious goal, but with the advent of new technology, I am sure it will come to fruition. We, as a community, will make sure it does.
    @Carle100 National Scholarship Month Scholarship
    Holt Scholarship
    Christmas Day 2020. I received an Oculus Quest 2 Headset as a present. I had been begging my parents to get me a virtual reality headset for the past few years, and they graciously granted it. Not only did I get the headset, but also a couple of games: Vader Immortal and Beat Saber. After Christmas and into the new year, I played these games daily for hours, immersing myself in interactive and appealing virtual environments of lava planets and dark nightclubs. This gift sparked my passion for virtual reality and its close cousin: augmented reality. So much so that I am currently majoring in Immersive Media, a groundbreaking field specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality technology. Hello, I am Ryan, and I am currently a college student at Chatham University, double-majoring in Immersive Media and History with a minor in Business. I work for Chipotle Mexican Grill part-time as a Restaurant Team Member, where I cash out customers, serve food, and clean floors, to name some of my responsibilities. I am particularly passionate about history, geography, sports, fitness, piano playing, film, and virtual reality. Throughout my life, I have been blessed with plenty of opportunities to better my life and accomplish what I seek. For example, my most outstanding achievement is earning the Eagle Scout rank for Boy Scouts, where I did a service project benefiting my community. This project is a mental health documentary recording the elements of teenage depression, discussing the causes, symptoms, and potential solutions to reduce its stigma among adolescents. Despite taking two years to complete, I do not regret taking on the project and would gladly do it again if it meant for the betterment of my community. Still to this day, I implement the lessons learned in my Eagle Scout journey ranging from self-discipline to completing tasks despite a lack of motivation and better time management to optimize my present. I intend to make more documentaries in the future that benefit the needy and destitute and give them the help they rightly deserve. As noted in the first sentence, my affection for virtual reality began on that Christmas morning in 2020. It drew me to my current field of study: Immersive Media. I am attending my university in the first place because no other major like Immersive Media exists in the country. I am fortunate to have it locally in a thirty-minute car drive rather than flying halfway across the nation. Right now, I am learning to program for game design and create immersive experiences. This knowledge will benefit me in the future to establish a company in immersive technology that educates and supports people. Expanding on that point, I specifically desire to produce history games in virtual and augmented reality to allow users to feel what it was like to be in the past. For instance, I am dreaming of an American Civil War game where you can play as a Union or Confederate soldier and learn how to set up tents, load cannons, and march in lines as actual men did over hundred and fifty years ago. As a player, you will comprehend what these men that shaped our present believed in, who they were, and why or if they signed up to volunteer for their side. Virtual reality has untapped potential to teach education better, let alone history. Rather than listening to boring lectures, you can learn through entertainment and remember what you learned instead of dozing off in class. While that is some time from now, I will see that my vision becomes a reality.
    Walking In Authority International Ministry Scholarship
    When I was a Boy Scout from 2015 to 2021, when I received my Eagle rank, my troop and I engaged in numerous community service events, most notably The Scouting For Food Drive. For this, we drove around a few local neighborhoods and placed Scouting For Food tags on every house's doorknob to let them know when we would arrive to pick up donations (usually two weeks after). I shall never forget how we ran from house to house, collecting bags of goodies and necessities for the needy and destitute. Because of this, we formed strong bonds within the troop and lived a higher calling when we gave back to our community which has given so much in our lives. What inspires me the most to get involved in my community? There are plenty of problems that need to be addressed that I feel are not getting the attention they deserve. So if no one will try to handle them, then I might as well do it myself. This sentiment led me to embark on the journey to Eagle. I noticed in my high school that there was a looming teenage depression problem that led many students to feel isolated, depressed, and lonely. Unfortunately, many young people my age suffer from loneliness and depression, a trend that is only projected to increase. What did I do to try and confront this? Inspired by short films tackling the same issue I wanted to face, I devised a plan. I planned on creating a film revolving around two teenagers struggling with depression for different reasons. My council approved it as my Eagle Scout service project in August 2019. The pandemic derailed the project as I had no equipment or people to help work on it. The self-doubt and questioning of why I was doing this plagued my mind like an itch that would not go away. Despite my flaws and shortcomings, I knew this project needed to be done for the greater good. And so, I altered my project to be a factual documentary as it was more suitable as I was running out of time. I completed it in the summer of 2021 and was approved by my council on August 15. All of this would not have been possible if I did not see a problem afflicting my community and that people needed help, and I was the one who would give it to them. As I said earlier, I ventured on the quest to my Eagle rank and needed to fulfill a service project that benefited my community. We talked about it, but let us expand upon it. My service project became my documentary aptly named "The Quiet Crisis." This documentary evaluated the aspects of teenage depression ranging from its causes, symptoms, and potential solutions. I interviewed two mental health professionals at my school and myself from a teenage perspective, as I could not find anyone willing to do so. That is how I worked to influence change in my community. What change, you might ask? To reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in teenagers and young adults. Since I interviewed myself and some mental health problems I was enduring, I hope I created an outlet for others to be vulnerable with themselves and realize the help they rightly deserve. When I last talked with the mental health specialists almost a year ago, they said my documentary made a difference and that students speak to them about it. I am proud that I helped influence even one person my age to receive the help they rightly deserve.
    Financial Literacy Importance Scholarship
    In May 2022, I finally graduated from high school and headed to the first steps of my next chapter: college. Just under two months later, in July, the first bill for tuition came due, and I was floored by the monthly cost I had to pay. Even with the generous help of scholarships, I still needed to take out a student loan and get a job to support myself. On top of that, I was using a credit card to pay for gas, food, and other essentials and needed to make another monthly payment, almost matching the tuition one for that. Half a year later, and now I am getting to the point where I am satisfied financially. It was not easy, but it was doable. Now you understand what happened between my high school graduation and the beginning of college. As a student, efficient management of my finances is vital because money is already tight enough. I need to spend it wisely on my education, food, gas, and other necessities rather than luxuries I do not need. Furthermore, the financial knowledge I learn now will come into hand when I eventually encounter paying off a mortgage for my house and owning a car. It is better to sacrifice some money now for needs such as tuition rather than procrastinating and paying it off years from now. Plus, I know I will make mistakes, whether buyer's remorse for a purchase or too much credit card spending, and I ultimately embrace it. Why? Because deep down, I know that mistakes are "happy accidents," as eloquently quoted by Bob Ross, due to the fact you learn from every one of them to get closer to sound financial management. Yet, I am grateful for learning the hard way of managing finances now rather than five years later when I have more responsibilities. So, to answer your question, it's essential that I need to manage my finances as a student because I need to be financially aware of my life between now and my life to avoid costly errors after that. You are probably asking, what do I do to manage my finances? I work 20-25 hours a week as a start to make some income and grow my wealth for the betterment of my future and future family. As a result, I need to calculate how much money is coming in compared to coming out and determine if I have a net loss or gain. Money coming in would come from work, while money leaves for college tuition and credit card payments. Every month, I transfer a few hundred dollars from my reserve bank account to pay my debt while leaving something in my checking to spend when necessary. Moreover, I always pay off the full monthly statement of my credit card. Why? Even though it costs a lot to pay off for the month, it would cost me extra in the long run due to accumulated interest. It is better to pay it off now rather than do it in the future, charged with additional interest. Lastly, the money left over from my work income, whether from my tips or birthday cards, is saved in my room to be later processed into a bank. I do it every few months to accumulate enough money to keep in my bank account to save for the future. As of now, this is what I do to manage my finances. I will learn a lot more in the years to come to better manage my finances. But this is a good start.
    Athletics Scholarship
    In the spring of 2019, I entered my first year of high school while competing on the track team. At a competitive away meet at a rival school, I was placed to run the 400m dash. The referee's gun boomed in the air as I blasted off on my one lap around the track. Trailing two other people, I vowed to keep it steady and hold my "kick" until I reached the last straightaway. As soon as I rounded the final bend, my legs exploded as I sprinted past my competitors and went from third to first place in my race. That was the only race I won in my track career, as I competed from eighth grade to senior year. Almost four years later, I will never forget my coach hugging me and congratulating me on how fast I blew past my competition. The point of telling this story is that athletics gave me a core memory and physical fitness and bonding friendships. One significant way athletics positively impacted my life is that it showed me the importance of physical fitness and maintaining the discipline to achieve optimal health. Even though I have since withdrawn from athletics since my last cross-country season in the fall of 2022, I still practice daily habits that allow me to preserve my physical health. For instance, I exercise at my local gym five days a week and lift weights to strengthen my muscles and keep my current weight. Not only does the focus on exercising improve your physical well-being, but it also enhances your mental well-being. Once a week or so, I run around my neighborhood for at least a few miles, and I do it more for my mental health rather than my physical. Why? When I run, there are no worries in the world. All that matters to me is running. It releases my stress of the day and allows me to focus on something productive that helps me rather than inhibits me. Now the only way to achieve optimal results for physical exercise is to be consistent with your workouts, and you do so by focusing on disciplining yourself. Motivation is what gets you in the door; discipline is what makes you stay. When I ran cross-country on a day, I knew how many miles I needed to run that day. Did I want to do it? Absolutely not! But I did it anyway because I knew it was better to put in the work now than worry about it later. Athletics also provided me with lasting friendships due to the amount of bonding we undertook as teammates. Making enduring friendships when you're on a sports team is effortless. Why? All of you have at least one common interest: the sport, and one common struggle: to get through the practices. For example, I will get back to my cross-country team. Currently, I have two good friends I made on my cross-country team back in high school. The three of us all participated in cross-country, and all struggled to run the mileage but knew it had to be done regardless. As a result, since none of us were backing down from the challenge, we earned the respect of each other. Plus, when we were thinking of quitting, we focused on our friends right on our side who were struggling as much as we were and decided to remain in the fight. With all this said, athletics is inadvertently influential in creating excellent friendships that last a lifetime due to both shared interests and struggles of competing on a sports team.
    Ryan T. Herich Memorial Scholarship
    When I was ten, I visited the Gettysburg battlefield with my Boy Scout troop in July of 2013, just after the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. I will never forget the vastness of the plain, grassy fields along towering statues and monuments where both sides fought in the American Civil War. I even remembered sporting a Union uniform on a train ride and was shouted out as a "soldier just returning from the battle" by the conductor! If my passion for history began any time in my life, it would be here, in a sleepy town where the most crucial battle of the American Civil War occurred. This moment began my journey of learning history and understanding the past to help propel the future. As an American, I am most interested in American history as it affects my life and my community, and as such, I must learn from our past failures to make our country a better place. For example, when we won our independence in 1781, we were under a system of government known as "The Articles of Confederation," which lasted until the ratification of The Constitution in 1788, and for a good reason. Our government then was far too decentralized and ruled by the states, thus making the federal government too weak to assert its authority as each state was like its own country rather than a collection of states under one nation. As a result, we, the people, created a new document that allowed for a more powerful federal government that established a more robust governance of our country. Under this system of government, the federal government holds the ultimate authority of the land with the subordinates to the state and local governments in something known as federalism. Understanding this critical, early part of our history can lead us to comprehend how our current government works and why it is the way it is. This can be applied to one aspect of our history just as much as it can be to world history to comprehend further how our world works the way it does. Knowing the lessons of our past, I intend to teach our history unorthodoxly: by creating virtual reality games. That s how I am going to make a difference in the world. No one likes sitting for an hour in a classroom listening to a boring lecture; thus, interest in history can be entirely diminished. So the best way, in my opinion, to teach people is to entertain them and not to call it teaching. Virtual reality is an excellent method to immerse oneself in a new environment and engage with one's surroundings without forcibly lecturing people about history. For instance, one of the virtual reality games I plan on creating would be one set place during the American Civil War, where you can play as a soldier for both the Confederacy and the Union where you load cannons, set up tents, and march in regiments to truly comprehend what it was like to be a soldier at that time. Also, you can listen to the words of the soldier of time through journals and dialogue to learn their causes, beliefs, values, and more. Now that is just one game I plan on creating in the future, but they can and will be many more to have people better learn history. With this said, virtual reality holds an unlimited amount of potential to make our world a better place because we can better understand the lessons of history.
    Jack “Fluxare” Hytner Memorial Scholarship
    To me, influence means that you can persuade people to have either a positive or negative effect on your community, society, or the world. You are responsible for deciding which mark you want to have on people. You must set a good example as a role model to influence those around you. For example, perhaps you have a younger sibling who looks up to you. You can choose to make good or bad decisions, which will influence them. For instance, when you argue with your parents, do you shout at them or try to reach a consensus? Your younger sibling will see your actions, so it is best always to try to do the right thing, even when no one is looking. These little choices will build up over time into the influence you knowingly or unknowingly disperse. You will never know who will watch you and thus be influenced by you. In August 2019, I began my Eagle Scout project. It was a film assessing the aspects of teenage depression, such as the causes and potential solutions. Unfortunately, not only did the pandemic disrupt everything, but the lack of participation and absence of equipment, along with low motivation and procrastination, postponed the project. I even had to move my project from being a short film to a documentary for it to be completed! Through much kicking and screaming, I pushed on. I interviewed two mental health professionals at my high school. I had to record myself because no one my age was interested in being interviewed for their mental health. I can only assume that there is still a stigma surrounding mental health today. After dozens of hours of editing, it was completed in June 2021 and approved on August 15, 2021. So after two years of adversity, struggle, and self-doubt, I accomplished becoming an Eagle Scout. Currently, I'm studying a new ground-breaking major named "Immersive Media," a field specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality technology that allows the creation of interactive experiences in industries ranging from video game design to architecture and software. I chose this field because I saw the unlimited potential it can deliver to the world and positively impact those around me. The ability to educate people through immersive media cannot be understated, as we tend to learn best when we are entertained. As a result, my goal is to create a company specializing in immersive technology. Through this, I hope to make history games that allow anyone to interact with history and learn from it without having to sit through boring lectures. Receiving this scholarship would be a great honor for me as I can use my passion for virtual reality fueled by this scholarship to make the world a better place, just like Jack did. Specifically, I plan on using the money for college to continue the pursuit of my degree and use immersive technology to improve the lives around me and educate others to better themselves, their families, and their communities.
    Joseph C. Lowe Memorial Scholarship
    In July 2013, I visited Gettysburg for the first time with my Boy Scout troop just after the 150th anniversary of The Battle of Gettysburg. From this time, I remember attending my first reenactment, where dozens of reenactors with horses relived the battle across a large open plain field in front of stands of curious onlookers. The day's temperature cemented the historical accuracy as I can not even imagine the sweltering heat of the 90 degrees the soldiers had to endure in their wool uniforms. If my passion for history sparked at any time in my life, it was set ablaze during my first trip to Gettysburg. Now you know how I received my passion for history. But why am I interested in history, you may ask? I am interested in history because of its fascinating, insightful stories that influence circumstances throughout the past that ultimately lead to today's present. What I mean by this is it is pretty remarkable to me always to discover something new and that it happened in the world's long history. For instance, while I am primarily interested in the American Civil War and American history, there was a case in history that zombies came to life! Well, sort of, anyway. During World War I, on August 6, 1915, Russian soldiers were battling the Germans in modern-day Poland at a fort known as Osoweic Fortress. During this engagement, the Russians were bombarded with mustard gas by the Germans and did not have any gas masks to protect them from the fatal effects. Thousands of Germans advanced but did not expect any Russians to live. To their utter shock, 50-100 Russian soldiers wrapped in bloody bandages scoured up from the desolate wasteland, coughing up pieces of their lungs with bloodshot eyes, ready to fight one last time. The sight of the surviving Russians shocked the Germans so much that they trampled over each other on their barbed wire! This battle later became known as "The Attack of the Dead Men," and for a good reason! The point of relaying this one story out of countless others is that there is always something to learn. That's the beauty of history. No matter how much you think you have mastered, there is always something to discover! Through my interest in history, I plan on using this passion for starting a company. In this company, I desire to blend history and immersive technology to educate people better to understand history, a goal Joe and I share. How do I plan on achieving this? Currently, I am double-majoring in History and Immersive Media, a field specializing in virtual reality and augmented reality technology. I will be equipped to create immersive experiences through the skills attained in college. I am also studying a Business minor to comprehend how to manage a business. For example, I desire to create history games such as an American Civil War one where you play as a soldier from the Union or Confederate sides. In this simulation, you will learn how to set up a tent, create earthworks, load cannons, and fire muskets. I want to find a way that pays homage to those who built our country into where it is now, and I think this is it. Putting yourself in the shoes of our ancestors who lived these experiences is the best way to do it. History is fascinating, and it is a shame that few people are interested in it. I want to honor Joe's legacy by helping everyone understand history and learn from the past, not repeat its failures in our present.
    Financial Hygiene Scholarship
    Growing up, I was blessed to have a very thrifty but ultimately caring father. He taught me the importance of paying off your credit card debt immediately and saving money for the future, among other financial advice. Even to this day, I ask him for financial advice as a college student as I am becoming more independent and need all the help I can get. With this said, I am still educating myself and potentially my peers to become more financially literate in myriad ways. In my opinion, the best way to educate yourself is through experience. You may read and watch a lot of financial articles and videos on the best way to become financially stable, but that does nothing if you do not implement it into your life. So rather than consuming content for financial knowledge, I believe you must experience right and wrong decisions to determine the best way to become financially literate. That is not to say you should not educate yourself through articles and videos, but instead, actively read and listen to what they are saying and compare it to others to determine the best course of action. For example, you might get a credit card, so you don't always have to use your money out of your debit card. In doing this, you can spend money you don't have and pay it off later. Sounds good, right? Well, not exactly. It is effortless to fall into credit card debt, especially if you do not keep track of your spending and whether you are paying extra for interest. So let us say that you only pay off the minimum monthly payment, $40, as an example, rather than the entire statement balance. You will be charged extra for interest because you did not pay off your credit card statement for the month. Even though you did not pay a lot of money to pay off your debt, you will ultimately pay more in interest rather than paying off the monthly statement balance. It would be best if you sacrificed in the short term for the fulfillment of the future. That is how a good chunk of being financially literate comes down to; delaying gratification in the hopes of a more promising future. Before you can help educate others on becoming financially literate, you must become financially literate yourself. You can not help others if you can not help yourself. After holding a decent amount of financial knowledge and wisdom, you can use it to assist others. Now, how can we educate others on becoming financially literate? We could use the traditional methods of dishing out advice and having them sit through hour-long lectures. But I think I have a better alternative. Rather than saying our financial knowledge, we should display and show it. Additionally, people need to be actively involved when finances are taught to them, or else they will find it boring because they sit passively doing nothing to be better at it. So how can we do this? Well, in my opinion, the best way is to provide interactive, immersive classes, whether in high school or college, that allow students to actively participate in the lessons and learn from them rather than passively. Through these classes, we can utilize technology and have students watch videos and answer questions on their devices to ensure they understand what they have been taught. Perhaps we can add a couple of games like Monopoly to instruct students about finances subtly. The secret to guiding people is not to tell them you are teaching them.
    Learning Through History Scholarship
    From childhood, I was always fascinated with history, specifically the two World Wars that engulfed the globe. Day after day, I watched videos displaying the frontline changes in Europe and Asia and documentaries ranging from D-Day to The Battle of Stalingrad, to name a few examples. Even though it's cliche to focus on this era of history, it's arguably the most critical era to learn about, as the lasting effects can be seen today 80-100 years later. As I said earlier, the two world wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945, respectively) are the era I'm most passionate about for several reasons. One, the evolution of technology will never cease to bewilder me. For example, we barely had cars at the beginning of World War I and had full-on battle tanks by the end. Another reason is that it shaped our world and molded it into the 21st century. For instance, most of Europe's modern-day borders were defined after World War II's conclusion. The last reason is that it contains many fascinating stories of courage during battles where soldiers became heroes for their country. One unbelievable story I can name at the top of my head would be when a Canadian named Leo Major captured a Dutch town occupied by the Germans all by himself and even took around a hundred men prisoner! The determination and bravery found in these war stories should be remembered as what we are capable of when facing even the most significant challenges. No matter the era, there are always lessons to be learned in history. World War I taught us that war should not be romanticized. At the beginning of the conflict, governments encouraged their men to enlist for their country, freedom, and monarchy. They misled these young men into believing dying for their country far from home was a worthy cause and that the war would be over by Christmas (This war started on July 28, 1914, by the way). As it turns out, war is no joke. Millions of soldiers were killed, wounded, or missing in what became known as "The War to End All Wars." Millions more suffered from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and could not cope with civilian life, and were often mistreated by the very same country they fought to protect. This tells us to question all information and not be disillusioned by the supposed grandeur of war. On the other hand, World War II taught us the unfortunate cruelty humans are capable of and the potentially oppressive nature of governments. At the hands of Nazi Germany, millions of innocent lives were snuffed out during what became known as "The Holocaust." In concentration camps, these "undesirables" were dehumanized because of their religion, ethnicity, and disability, to name a few. Even those who carried out these absolute monstrosities are considered inhuman, as they rightfully should be; we tend to forget that they were still human. Once governments become too powerful, they can and will become tyrannical to oppress their opposition, as seen in the earlier example. So we must remember that we can learn from history to prevent this evil from occurring again. We must ensure that our government is fair and just and understand those we disagree with rather than degrade them for uttering a differing opinion. Indeed the World War era is the most passionate era for me due to its importance in affecting the problems we face in the modern world. It also taught us valuable lessons ranging from being aware that war is not glorious to always being skeptical of our government to guarantee its righteousness and equality.
    Health & Wellness Scholarship
    Around three weeks ago, I suffered my first breakup. The coming days afterward proved hellish as I got plunged into the chaos of darkness. I did not know how to deal with this unique circumstance as it presented a new challenge for me to overcome. What got me out of this twilight of despair, you may ask? Focusing on self-improvement and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is what. This new everchanging chapter of my life demonstrated that even when I was dating her, I sorely lagged in developing myself in running, lifting, and meditating, to name a few examples. While at times we exercised together, it was too little for me to handle if we ever did it. Emotionally, the breakup was one of the worst things to happen to me. Logically, one of the best. Why? It is because I fell back on my core principles of discipline and perseverance that led me on the path to having the most productive summer yet. Healthy coping mechanisms ranging from running to lifting and meditating are what continually bring me peace and the solace of rest. I dived back into my passions of history and virtual reality. I began to enjoy the little things in life, like the rising of the sun to the sprinkling stars of the night. My family was the only people left to support me, so I relied on them and realized that just because they are your family does not mean they can not be your friends. To sum it up, it is crucial to living a healthy life because it is the best way to cope with life's suffering and uncertainty. And as a bonus, it will undoubtedly make you feel better, give you peace of mind, and become more confident in yourself and your abilities. While I am not entirely out of my recovery process, these healthy habits will eventually ascend me like a phoenix from the ashes. It was not easy at first to delve back into my exemplary lifestyle. But, the most challenging thing about maintaining a healthy lifestyle is getting started. Once the first day is over, it gets easier and easier until it evolves into a routine. However, after beginning a new habit of, for example, meditating, you will need to find ways to make it simpler for you to do it. As an illustration, you might need to place a couple of pillows on your floor to remind you of your habit and have an alarm at a specific time too. Furthermore, you will need a craving and a reward to motivate you to accomplish a healthy habit. Learning about its benefits through research can boost your morale in sufficing your craving. A reward can further encourage you to complete it, such as giving yourself a treat at your favorite restaurant or playing your favorite video game. Once these components come together over roughly a month, the habit will become a part of your routine. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will be difficult at first, but persist through the first day, and you will live the life you always wanted. Let it be known that living a healthy life does not take one day but months, if not years, of hard work and experienced maintenance. But, the rewards are genuinely worth it. I am sure I am on the right path despite my unfortunate circumstances, and you will be too if you believe in yourself.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    At five years old, I was diagnosed with high-functioning autism called Asberger's Syndrome. Since then, I have endured multiple rollercoaster waves of delight and dismay that perfectly sum up my life. While sometimes I wish I was never diagnosed with autism, I would not be here today amid my current accomplishments in life without it. As a result, my beliefs may differ from most people. For instance, I firmly believe that sometimes you have to give up when no other option is left. I am not saying to waive the towel when some minor inconvenience gets in the way of your plans, but rather, if you give it your all and complete effort and still fail, that works in your favor. Failure is the breeding ground for success. A perfect illustration of this particular belief is when I was nearing the deadline of my Eagle Scout Project, which was a mental health film showcasing the aspects of teenage depression and showing probable solutions. My "Plan A" was to shoot a movie with a crew and cameras, but the progress on that front was far too slow, so I had to adapt. I then switched to a factual documentary rather than a short fictional narrative. I asked teenagers my age to come out about their mental health experiences to give our community a greater understanding of depression in teenagers. Unfortunately, not a single one showed up. What did I do? I interviewed myself and checked up on camera about my struggles with mental health. All in all, I finished the project a month before my eighteenth birthday. While I still believe in giving up in an unsalvageable situation, that should only be the case when there is a stable alternative that can get the job done. As for me being autistic, relationships came easy to me during my elementary school years but proved far more complex in high school. My two loving parents raised me in a regular public school without special education as they saw that I could do just fine without it. How right they were. I cultivated a few of the most incredible friends I still am with in primary school. Middle school proved to be a doozy with me entangled with the biggest drama of my life over a girl. And then high school arrived, and I did just fine for the first two years until the pandemic struck. After my junior year at prom, I realized who I thought was my best friend, and the person I trusted the most did not want me in her life anymore. I questioned whether she liked me at all in the first place and just pitied me. People change for no reason, which is a harsh pill to swallow. However, good things fall apart, so better things can take their place. After the recent passing of a friend, a girl and I became closer until I asked her out to prom. And barely a week after that, she became my first girlfriend. As I learned in relationships, no one is perfect, so I fully accepted that she and I were imperfect but had the potential for a great relationship. That was close to two months ago, and we are still dating to this day, and I am still falling for her. I am trying to say that time flies quickly and to seize your moment rather than waiting for the perfect opportunity that may or may not come. You never know what you will be missing out on the types of people who you will meet and befriend. Due to my previous mental health experiences, I desire a career in a business that specializes in virtual reality and augmented reality. The opportunities are limitless where applications such as "VR Chat" and "Rec Room" are excellent examples of people all around the world meeting up and socializing without having to feel ashamed of their appearance and mental issues. Furthermore, I can learn the knowledge required to create several virtual platforms specializing in mental health to aid people in their time of need. For example, meditation chambers with a guided coach can boost mindfulness, self-confidence, and military-friendly outlets to help cope with PTSD and rehabilitate veterans to civilian life. Virtual yoga coaching sessions and visualizing techniques are other ways to raise people's mental health. These are just a few examples that someone can use to cope with their mental health issues and become a better person. I have not even topped the tip of the iceberg of what using the field of virtual reality and augmented reality can do to strengthen your mental health, as the opportunities are limitless. I greatly appreciate what I have experienced to lead me on my journey to help others on their path to living a much more fulfilling life. While high-functioning autism has its downfalls, such as tending to feel more lonely and less effective social skills, it has plenty of advantages ranging from precise concentration in specific subjects to retaining information that will last a lifetime. I am grateful that Asperger's Syndrome has influenced me for my valuable beliefs, loving relationships, and promising career aspirations.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    “Mental health…is not a destination, but a process. It's about how you drive, not where you're going,” quoted by Noam Shpancer. My mental health process began at the age of five when I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a higher functioning autism disorder. Since then, I have been dead-set on my life's journey, wandering through the many ups and downs as I attempt to find my place in this world. It has been a wild rollercoaster ride full of emotions, influencing my goals, relationships, and understanding of the world. Let us begin, shall we? One of my parents' most excellent decisions was enrolling me in a public school with regular kids instead of in special education. Why? If I were placed in special education, I would have been treated by my classmates like someone who always needs help from someone instead of having the ability to take care of myself. Moreover, I would not have realized my fullest potential in school to excel academically with straight A's with the same tools as my peers. With great appreciation for my parents, I am forever grateful that I was and still can discover myself in and outside of school. This decision changed my life for the better and allowed me to hold one of my most important values: becoming independent and self-sufficient in my life. Why become utterly dependent on someone else for your needs and desires when you are just as capable of doing it yourself? Owning the ability of self-reliance is an underrated virtue. Why, you may ask? Because it is much better to be fully in control of your life, deciding where your path goes rather than letting someone else do it for you. And I would much rather live under dangerous freedom than peaceful slavery. Forming relationships, especially with a mental disorder, is no easy task. It's effortless to fall out of control of yourself to preserve your ego. But if you don't pressure your mind to go up and talk with people and formulate connections, you don't learn, and you especially will feel lonely. I don't know how, but I was a part of a close, tight-knit friend group from sixth to eleventh grade. I am still mourning the loss after its ending because I was extremely attached to it. Despite my brain being dazed by blind nostalgia, there were, unfortunately, some bad memories that it likes to forget conveniently. There were times when I would isolate myself from my friends because I felt unworthy around them and others where I merely spectated in texting conversations instead of actively participating in them. However, the good memories of the long friendships remain and still warm my heart up because they happened. While my Asperger's condition does limit my ability to socialize, I don't let that get in the way of restricting my capability in forming relationships that last a lifetime. I learned, despite my limitations, that relationships are maintained on a two-way street, which means that it takes two people to keep a relationship up and running through hard effort and determination. As long as I force myself to become close with people and get a peek at their reality, I will always be able to form intimate friendships that will benefit us all. I found a purpose bigger than something I can comprehend through it all. With these memorable experiences I have undertaken in my life, I realized that I was not the only one dealing with mental health problems, especially as a teenager understanding his world. As a result, I decided to make a mental health documentary as my Eagle Scout project in August of 2019. The film's purpose was to analyze the aspects of teenage depression and serve as a guide for teenagers and their loved ones on how to prevent it and or cope with it to help those suffering from it. Unfortunately, I came across many different roadblocks on the road, lengthening the project to two years. These factors were but were not limited to a lack of teenage participation, the COVID-19 pandemic derailing the management of film equipment, and my very own struggle with my mental health. There were numerous times where I thought: "Why am I doing this in the first place," and "Why don't I just quit?" Through a tremendous amount of patience and pure perseverance, I completed the documentary two years after it began and was approved by the council in August of 2021. It may have been rough, but at least my project can serve as a guide and a resource for mental health assistance. If I had forgotten my purpose in conducting this documentary, it would have never been completed. Because of this particular journey, I now desire to produce even more documentaries in the future to serve as manuals to help my audience reach out for the help they rightfully need. Thanks to this project's expedition, I discovered that my life's purpose is to help others when they require it the most. Nothing is as fulfilling to me as when I serve others in their time of need. Where does that leave us now? My mental health journey will be a continuous process where I constantly search for opportunities to improve myself and my environment. My goal of serving others when they need it the most was satisfied when I created an entire mental health documentary to assess the aspects of teenage depression to aid my fellow peers during their treachours struggles. My past relationships, though gone, still teach me the intricacies of communication and understanding socially complex situations. And my understanding of the world was drastically influenced when my parents decided that I was to be taught generally at a public school without the aid of special education. All of this accumulated due to my experience with Asperger's Syndrome. Even though I have struggled tremendously with it, I would not have become the good-natured mature man that I have evolved into today.
    Robert Wechman Mental Health Scholarship
    It all started at the age of five when I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a higher-functioning autism disorder. It never proved to be a significant problem for me until I transitioned from middle school to the big leagues at high school. The main issue for me struggling with Asperger's is my inability to socialize effectively nor learn to deal with emotions properly. Despite these personal limitations, I have persevered and will continue to do so in my college aspirations. As I said earlier, my Asperger's never became that big of a problem for me until I reached high school. I matured as a man and started to learn socially through a teenage lens amidst a fog of confusion. For example, I constantly isolated myself from my friends at an amusement park in the summer after my first year because I felt unworthy and unwanted. To their credit, they looked around for me and called me to let them know if I was okay. That wasn't a particularly proud moment, but I have learned from it. You can't run away from your problems. This situation influenced me to strike my troubles instead of actively avoiding them as evading them does not make them go away; only directly confronting them does. Furthermore, my social skills were never inadequate, but there was certainly room for improvement. An example would be when I relied most of the time on other people initiating conversations instead of me making the first move and becoming more socially aware as a result. While I am better equipped to handle social situations, there will always be issues in overcoming my adversity to hold a small talk, learn from other people, and make connections that last a lifetime. I know that I am still human, but that's a good thing; otherwise, there would be nothing to strive for and achieve if I were perfect. All of these issues I have overcome in my life encouraged me to create a mental health documentary for my Eagle Scout project to help my fellow peers feel comfortable addressing their problems and destigmatizing mental health. The project took two years to complete due to the enormous roadblocks I had to endure, ranging from the lack of teenage participation to the pandemic restricting in-person interactions and communications. Nevertheless, I persevered, and the project concluded a month before my deadline of earning the Eagle Scout rank. Adaptability is genuinely underrated in life as you remain stuck and out of touch with reality without a tendency to adapt to continuously changing circumstances. I will retain the qualities I have gained and my lessons from this journey to become a better person. Where does that leave me now? Unfortunately, the friends I have developed strong relationships with are no longer here and removed from my life. My social skills, though a bit shaky, are improving every day. And my lessons from my Eagle Scout expedition are still ingrained in my brain. But through all of the adversity, there is and always will be light at the end of the tunnel. Why? Because as long as your heart still beats, you have the will to live and strive not just to survive but thrive in your life. I pray that my project is still helping my fellow peers reach out to the help they rightfully need, and I know it will. But I'm not done. I will continue to publish more mini-documentaries addressing the specific causes of mental health and be there for people who need it the most. We are all going to make it.
    Travel with a Purpose Scholarship
    Lo Easton's “Wrong Answers Only” Scholarship
    1. My father is a Jedi Master and has dominated in all seven forms of lightsaber combat with intensive force training. He has mentored me on Jedi robe tailoring and harvesting oxygen on Tatooine to make some extra profit in credits for the Jedi Order residing on Coruscant. I deserve this scholarship for my outstanding and unquestionable abilities in the face of all odds, significantly when I fell in the Sarlacc Pit and was digested for a thousand years. I still blame Master Ima-Gun-Di for that one. 2. I wish to be a Jedi like my father before me but not like him too much so that my arms are cut off with a Sith lightsaber. I'm just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe like my father before me. 3. Obstacles are just a concept invented by the Sith. There's simply no such thing as an obstacle, just minor complications.
    Dylan's Journey Memorial Scholarship
    My submission is my video down below. Thank you for allowing me to earn scholarships despite my learning limitations!
    Bold Patience Matters Scholarship
    “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting," once said by author Joyce Meyer. When conducting my Eagle Scout Project in August of 2019, I would have never thought it would take at least two years to finish. The project is a mental health documentary evaluating the aspects of teenage depression to help my classmates and their parents better understand the mental illness and counteract it. Through the many downs of the tedious process, patience is what ultimately got me through to the rank of Eagle. To complete a goal in two years requires a powerful commitment of the sheer will to still see the vision of the objective even during hard times. That's what patience means to me. The goal is forgotten if you maintain a negative attitude. However, if one understands that the obstacles in their path occur for a reason and change their attitudes to be more positive, they are unstoppable. My obstacle was time. And time was ticking. Many factors were out of my control, such as the pandemic limiting borrowing equipment and a lack of my peers willing to participate in the project. If I had rushed things too soon, I would have bypassed a backup plan to see my plan into fruition still. I limited the amount of participation to be more practical such as interviewing myself and two mental health professionals. After that, it took me a few weeks and plenty of school time getting in the way to finally edit and publish my documentary. Finally, with a month to spare, I obtained the rank of Eagle. Why is patience important to me? Because it's what got me through the two years of hardship and adversity, and I would have faltered without it.
    Bold Financial Literacy Scholarship
    "Invest in the market when it's recessing due to emotional reasons." Those were the words of Colonel Peterson at my JROTC organization in high school during a financial literacy lesson. He backed up his statement by explaining that he got a significant return on his investments by targeting the airplane industry when their stocks were down because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That's one of the multiple outstanding things I adored about participating in JROTC. After high school, what you've learned from your instructors at JROTC actually matters when you're truly experiencing life. But yet that's just one of the many parts that make up the lesson itself. Another one is sticking to your guns in your investments. Why? Because there's always volatility in the free market, and times may be down, and you'll be pressured by the fluctuation to sell when you really need to be patient. There's almost always an increase in investments in the stock market without accounting for inflation. Short-term failure does not determine long-term defeat. That's not to say to not sell at all but to be aware of the exact nature of the stock market to make an informed decision about your investments. So what's the lesson? The lesson is to stick through the stock market when investing. Because if you make an emotionally charged judgment to sell your investments when it's only a temporary decrease in value, then you've lost the stock game. Veterans of the stock market know to invest when the value of their stocks is down as they know what comes down eventually comes right back up.
    Bold Wisdom Scholarship
    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit," the renowned Greek scholar Aristotle once said. What does he mean by this quote? Aristotle indicates that excellence comes not from a single daily occurrence where we might do the right thing but rather when we practice healthy habits every day, resulting in excellence. Excellence itself is a lifestyle. What was the purpose of sharing this one sentence with the world, you may ask? The purpose is to remind people and my fellow peers that it takes time to fulfill your greatest potential. Rome wasn't built in a day. Excellence can only be satisfied when we complete simple, basic daily tasks that eventually merge into patterns and, ultimately, habits. As long as the habits are beneficial and practical, we finally find our true inner self and discover our genuine meaning in this world. Imagine this scenario; you're at home lazily browsing through your phone and stuffing your face with unhealthy junk food wishing you could get out of this state. What led you to this condition in the first place? Destructive habits. It's up to the individual to break the vicious cycle of self-sabotaging habits and implement fresh, healthy ones. Habits such as daily physical exercise, healthy dieting, and mindfulness sessions are an immaculate start in achieving excellence. Remember this, if you want to achieve excellence, the biggest change you can make is within yourself. If you forgot a habit, don't fret about it. Just continue it the next day. Consistency is key, not intensity. This world is imperfect, but everyone has the power to make it a better place by starting with improving themselves.
    Bold Perseverance Scholarship
    August 18, 2019. The Boy Scouts of America Laurel Highlands Council approved my Eagle Scout service project. I thought it would be effortless to complete my project in such a short amount of time before my 18th birthday. Oh, boy, was I wrong. For added context, my project was a mental health narrative reporting the aspects of teenage depression, such as symptoms and potential solutions. Unfortunately, the pandemic struck and hurled the whole project into jeopardy. It's practically impossible to coordinate people and filming equipment together during this treacherous time. To make matters worse, I had to adapt quickly and transfer my project to become a factual documentary instead of a short narrative due to the lack of teenage participation. I put out calls for my peers my age to be interviewed about their mental health experiences. None showed up. Instead, I interviewed two mental health professionals at my high school on their perspectives of teenage depression. And then the footage for one of the interviews was corrupted, so I had to redo it, which took up valuable time. I was unorthodox in fulfilling teenage participation and interviewed myself as an adolescent voice as an alternative. Oh, and I did all of this through many AP classes stuffed with homework, physical exhaustion from competing in sports, and going through the breakup of a trusted friend group of six years. After a strenuous two years of pure perseverance and hard work, my project was submitted and subsequently approved on August 15, 2021. I finally accomplished the rank of Eagle! How did I do it, you may ask? Habits and visioning the goal significantly helped me stay on my path. This eye-opening journey allowed me to grow in ways I had never conceived, and for that, I'm forever grateful.
    Bold Growth Mindset Scholarship
    Having a growth mindset is easy. Keeping a growth mindset is challenging. Through multiple trials, I finally managed to keep a growth mindset to propel my life forward. When the pandemic hit all the way back in March of 2020, my life changed for the worst. I was completely isolated from my school and thus my close friends. To make matters worse, I got addicted to my phone. I would do all day watching Youtube videos and browsing toxic, controversial content that immediately negatively impacted my day. I knew that it worsened my life, but I still did it anyway because it had the short-term pleasure that refused to back off. But you may ask, why is this relevant at all? It's relevant because I needed to describe the state of mind that eventually morphed into a growth mindset. Despite these shortcomings in my life, I engaged in healthier activities that ultimately developed a growth mindset inside of my being. Meditating is one underrated activity as it allowed me to devise self-positive thoughts and permitted my mindset to be one of taking life as it goes rather than complaining about the misfortunes occurring. Along the way, I treated failure not as an event to pity myself in my own sorrow but rather as an opportunity to improve my future. For example, I was rejected by a girl last year at a snowboarding park, but she did so in a respectful way. Instead of lashing out, I took it as an opportunity to find a better girl with the same excellent qualities as the later one. To answer the prompt, the way to keep a growth mindset is to develop adequate healthy habits that improve your life from within. And then, you'll see the world from a different, positive perspective.
    Bold Great Books Scholarship
    Out of the catalog of books I've read through my life, none can come close to the experience I've felt when I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It was 10th grade, and it was one of the few books assigned as homework that I actually enjoyed. But why is it my favorite book, you may ask? For one, the author was on his death bed when he wrote his novel, bringing a tone of fulfillment and stark realism as he explains the good advice in his life. It is also because he initially did a "head-fake" at the beginning of his lecture where he tricked the audience into believing that it's about pursuing your childhood dreams, but rather it's about how to lead your life the right way. But you may be asking, what was the good advice in Randy's life? To put it simply, he explains that to live life to the fullest, one must learn to be able to compromise, not to complain when life goes wrong, and instead work harder, listen to feedback from others, and never be afraid to be the first person to try something. Today, I try my best to live out these pieces of advice not just to survive but thrive in life. Overall, Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture is a crucial self-help book desperately needed in these times that try men's souls. The amount of advice and guidance in this novel alone will allow anyone who reads it to live a successful life.
    Bold Deep Thinking Scholarship
    Have you ever logged into Instagram, and suddenly, you're bombarded by posts and highlight reels of your acquaintances and friends who seem to be having the time of their lives? You then compare your own life to theirs and think, "Wow, I'm really missing out." This exact situation happens to millions across the globe, and only now are we addressing it. Of course, I'm talking about social media addiction and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). To define, social media addiction is a behavioral obsession driven by the uncontrollable urge to use social media that impacts everyday tasks. I've personally experienced it daily, constantly comparing my follower count and the number of likes I receive on posts with people I don't even care about. I know I'm not alone as, according to the Addiction Center, between 5% and 10% of Americans are currently experiencing social media addiction. So what can we do to work on this problem together? We must reduce our screen time spent on our phones drastically for a start. Set realistic goals in doing this. For example, if we spend seven hours a day on social media, we must try to add a timer to limit it to six and break it down until our amount of screen time is healthy to our own standard. Disabling unessential notifications on your phone will efficiently restrict the probability of checking your phone mindlessly for hours. Another way is to concentrate our valuable time on hobbies we desire to do, such as meditation, playing a musical instrument, exercising, etc. To summarize, social media addiction is the biggest problem facing the world due to its negative impact on depression and anxiety. But there is hope as we must and shall work together in solving this issue.
    Bold Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    As a Boy Scout, I completed a mental health documentary as my service project to earn the rank of Eagle. For context, I interviewed two mental health professionals at my high school on their perspectives about teenage depression. They both said that a helpful solution for helping people struggling with mental health is reaching out for professional help. When you talk to a therapist or psychologist, they can prescribe antidepressants or different types of therapy to address the problem. There are cases where someone feels too embarrassed to reach out for assistance, and a practical solution would be to take care of yourself. Create realistic but measurable goals to accomplish throughout your day. I have personally learned this researching for my documentary and highly recommend it. For example, perhaps you want to start running to improve your physical health and confidence. You start at the bottom and run one mile in twelve minutes, and then you build off from there the next day and get that mile under eleven minutes. Satisfying goals fulfill a sense of purpose within yourself and boost your self-esteem. Another example of taking care of yourself would be socializing with family, friends, and even strangers. As humans, we are social creatures and always desire to meet people and talk to them about our lives and what's happening. We are not meant to isolate ourselves, which in turn creates a positive feedback loop where you feel like isolating yourself to feel better when that's exactly the problem in the first place. To recap, one of the best practical solutions for helping people struggle with mental health is to tell them to take care of and value themselves. To change and improve the world, you must first look within and improve yourself.