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Taryn Claassens

1620

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

As a South African immigrant to America, I am a unique blend of cultures and experiences that have shaped my worldview and built my resilience. I have learned not to take my privileged American life and education for granted. One value I learned from my South African culture is using resources wisely and appreciating my environment. During my visits to South Africa, I have seen people make do with so little yet be so creative and expressive; this is most apparent in South African art and music. Learning to appreciate resources, art, music, creativity, and people's generosity made me want to contribute to my community. I received my Girl Scout Gold Award for my "Mind Full" program, which raises recycled material to provide art and music therapy kits to counseling programs for school-age kids. I want to be a catalyst for change by working on initiatives advancing education, and mental health by giving people the tools they need to face obstacles and realize their full potential. Another facet of my personality is my love of music and art. My goal is to study psychology and neuroscience. I am fascinated by the human mind and its complexities. I would like to investigate the complex interactions between human cognition, the nervous system, and the power of music and art therapy.

Education

Harrison High School

High School
2021 - 2024

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Psychology, Other
    • Music
    • Neurobiology and Neurosciences
    • Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology
    • Research and Experimental Psychology
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Mental Health Care

    • Dream career goals:

      Sports

      Swimming

      Club
      2016 – 20182 years

      Research

      • Biopsychology

        GSEF - 3rd place Biology — submitter
        2020 – 2021
      • Biopsychology

        GSEF — Submitter - 2nd place Biology
        2021 – 2022

      Arts

      • ACMF - Atlanta Chamber Music Festival

        Music
        2019 – Present
      • Chamber Orchestra - Orchestra

        Music
        2020 – Present
      • Honors GMEA

        Music
        2020 – 2021
      • GYSO

        Music
        2021 – 2021

      Public services

      • Volunteering

        Girl Scouts of America — troop member
        2013 – Present
      • Advocacy

        Mind Full — I started this program
        2022 – Present

      Future Interests

      Advocacy

      Volunteering

      Philanthropy

      Dr. G. Yvette Pegues Disability Scholarship
      My medical profile contains a series of challenges, which include sensory processing disorder (SPD), chronic migraines with aura, dysgraphia, and attention deficit disorder (ADD). It paints a picture of the neurodiversity that has defined my life. In elementary school, I was the kid with the noise-canceling headset around my neck. I found comfort in music, reading, writing, and art from an early age. These creative outlets helped me make sense of a world that was too loud, too bright, and often overwhelming. My journey has been a series of setbacks and small victories, each experience molding and shaping the person I am today. The human brain is a complex organ. For example, I have mastered advanced techniques on the violin. However, simple tasks like using utensils or tying my shoes are still awkward. While my sensitivity has challenged me throughout my life, it has hidden talents. For example, I am adaptable and innovative. Having a neurodiverse brain has required me to work harder and build resilience to navigate the world around me. It is one of the many reasons I plan to major in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Alabama this fall. Sensitivity has been both a frustration and a gift to me throughout my life. Getting by in a world built for neurotypical people has forced me to put in more effort and constantly pivot. My experience has also helped me develop a passion for encouraging others to value their individuality and focus on building resilience. As I navigated high school (with anxiety), I learned that many people with disabilities, especially neurodiverse brains like mine, are at risk for depression, stress, and anxiety. One way I have addressed this in my community is through Mind Full, a program I founded that provides expressive arts kits for K-12 students. What began as an effort to provide relief for peers battling stress, anxiety, and depression expanded into a program equipping school counselors with sustainable, low-cost therapeutic tools to aid in mental health needs.        Mind Full works on the premise that education and awareness create empathy; we are "destigmatizing" mental health and accepting people for who they are by creating a more compassionate and aware environment. With those goals, high school students gather and curate my kit materials. Students earn community service hours by participating in kit preparation workshops where they learn about Mind Full's purpose and mission. Mind Full offers integrative therapy kits to aid school counselors, teachers, and therapists working with K-12-aged students in conjunction with other treatments to help identify high-risk students and assist students in articulating feelings or emotions that are difficult to verbalize. To keep students in school and provide them with a means to express thoughts, feelings, stress, and anxiety, the school counselors we supply use them in small groups and individual sessions with students in the school environment.      My dream is to "destigmatize" mental health and to teach people that coping can be done with affordable resources. Bringing active programs into schools that focus on creating emotional intelligence creates a more supportive environment among students. Having a school committed to a mental health program also focuses on getting a student's help sooner. I plan to contribute to the communities in which I live, whether where I study or back home, by getting involved in charities that work with education and mental health and furthering my own charity, Mind Full. I have found a deep purpose in accepting my neurodiversity and being a source of understanding and acceptance. By sharing experiences, I want to encourage a culture where everyone feels heard, recognized, and respected.
      Andrew Michael Peña Memorial Scholarship
      In my early school years, I faced health and anxiety challenges that taught me the importance of persistence and determination in everything that I do. It was during the period of coming back to school during COVID-19 that I had my "Annus Horribilis," better known as my sophomore year. The stress in the classroom environment during COVID, along with my ADHD and sensory issues caused me anxiety and depression and contributed to triggering migraines. I was constantly going home between panic and migraine attacks, disrupting my education. I rebounded in school by utilizing art and music therapy. Finding outlets for stress and depression allowed me self-expression for feelings, to decompress, and to reach out for help. I have built resilience now that I am older and have gained control managing my mental and physical health. The most significant difference for me, aside from having manageable medications and a better understanding of my body, is the inner grit I have built from my health and emotional struggles. My charity "Mind Full" was born from my mental health journey. I had to learn coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety to do better for myself, and I wanted to find a way to help others navigate this process. The "Mind Full" program supplies school counselors with art therapy kits for K–12 students. We use recycled, easily sourced items to supply most of the materials in the kits. The purpose of offering integrative therapy kits is to provide a tool to allow the student to articulate feelings or emotions that are difficult to verbalize, which improves well-being. In my opinion, many students have difficulty identifying and articulating their feelings. The kits are designed to aid school counselors, teachers, and therapists working with K–12-aged students in conjunction with other treatments to help identify high-risk students. Additionally, students benefit from stress and anxiety relief through learning outlets of expression. I aim to keep students in school and provide them with a means to express thoughts, feelings, stress, and anxiety. Most of the school counselors we supply use them in small groups and individual sessions with students in the school environment. My other goal with Mind Full is that empathy and emotional intelligence can be learned through awareness and education. On that note, destigmatizing mental health works the same way. While we are learning empathy, we are also destigmatizing mental health by creating a more compassionate and aware environment. With those goals, high school students gather, curate, and make my kit materials. We get our volunteers through school clubs and announcements. Students earn community service hours by participating in kit preparation workshops where they learn about Mind Full's purpose and mission and about having empathy for others. We work alongside Sources of Strength (SOS), and all my workshop leaders must also undergo SOS training. My South African heritage calls this "ubuntu," meaning finding resilience through humanity. It means "I am because we are." I want mental health awareness and "destigmatization" to be my "ubuntu." Maya Angelou said, "I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." It has made me a stronger person to come out on the other side. I have found my inner strength through my trials, and I am determined to help others find the strength to succeed.
      Mattie's Way Memorial Scholarship
      My name is Taryn Claassens and I am a graduating senior at Harrison High School in Kennesaw GA. My journey through school has been crucial for transforming me into an advocate for change. In my early high school years, I experienced mental health and sensory challenges that taught me the importance of diligence and determination in life. I rebounded in school and life by developing strong study habits and resilience through expressive arts. Mind-Full, a program I created provides expressive arts kits for K-12 students and it was born from my struggles. What began as a small-scale effort to provide relief for peers battling stress, anxiety, and depression expanded into a program equipping school counselors and charities with sustainable, low-cost therapeutic tools to aid in mental health needs. Mind Full works on the premise that education and awareness create empathy; we are destigmatizing mental health by creating a more compassionate and aware environment. With those goals, high school students gather and curate my kit materials. Students earn community service hours by participating in kit preparation workshops where they learn about Mind Full's purpose and mission. Mind Full offers these integrative therapy kits to aid school counselors, teachers, and therapists working with K-12-aged students in conjunction with other treatments to help identify high-risk students and assist students in articulating feelings or emotions that are difficult to verbalize. Intending to keep students in school and provide them with a means to express thoughts, feelings, stress, and anxiety, the school counselors we supply use them in small groups and individual sessions with students in the school environment. While forming Mind Full, I also became active on the Tommy Nobis Center Youth Advisory Board and founded the Psychology Club at my school. My participation in these extracurriculars has crystallized my resolve to major in psychology and to participate in research on music and other expressive arts' therapeutic potential to heal on a neurological level. I will attend the University of Alabama Honors College in the fall and major in Psychology and Neuroscience. My long-term education goal is to get a post-doctorate degree in Psychology. My dream is to destigmatize mental health and teach people that coping can be done with affordable resources found anywhere. Bringing active programs into schools that focus on creating emotional intelligence creates a more supportive environment among students. Having a school committed to a mental health program also provides a more supportive focus on getting a student's help sooner. My South African heritage calls this "ubuntu," meaning finding resilience through humanity. It means "I am because we are." I want mental health awareness and "destigmatization" to be my "ubuntu." Maya Angelou said, "I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." It has made me a stronger person to come out on the other side. I have found my strength through my trials. I am determined to succeed and use this strength to help others find their inner resolve. Please find more information about me along with a resume both digital and full description (includes achievements in each) downloadable here https://claassenstaryn.wixsite.com/resume And my charity Mind Full can be found here https://mind-fullproject.org/
      Mental Health Scholarship for Women
      In my early school years, I faced health and anxiety challenges that taught me the importance of persistence and determination in everything that I do. I rebounded in school by developing strong study habits and building resilience. It was during the period of coming back to school during COVID-19 that I had my "Annus Horribilis," better known as my sophomore year. The stress in the classroom environment during COVID caused me anxiety and depression and contributed to triggering migraines. I was constantly going home between panic and migraine attacks, disrupting my education.  I have built resilience now that I am older and have gained control over managing my health. I no longer panic when I feel out of my element or in pain. The most significant difference for me, aside from having manageable medications and a better understanding of my body, is the inner grit I have built from my health and emotional struggles. I carry sunglasses for my eyes, medicine in my backpack, and the inner resolve to not allow this to stop me from succeeding. Growth-wise, I have learned how to prepare if I need to leave class. Some strategies include working harder to become more organized, always working ahead of deadlines, reading ahead of lectures, and making notes from readings.         My charity "Mind Full" was born from my mental health journey. I had to learn coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety to do better for myself, and I wanted to find a way to help others navigate this process. The "Mind Full" program supplies school counselors with art therapy kits for K–12 students. We use recycled, easily sourced items to supply most of the materials in the kits. The purpose of offering integrative therapy kits is to provide a tool to allow the student to articulate feelings or emotions that are difficult to verbalize, which improves well-being. In my opinion, many students have difficulty identifying and articulating their feelings. The kits are designed to aid school counselors, teachers, and therapists working with K–12-aged students in conjunction with other treatments to help identify high-risk students. Additionally, students benefit from stress and anxiety relief through learning outlets of expression. I aim to keep students in school and provide them with a means to express thoughts, feelings, stress, and anxiety. Most of the school counselors we supply use them in small groups and individual sessions with students in the school environment. My other goal with Mind Full is that empathy and emotional intelligence can be learned through awareness and education. On that note, destigmatizing mental health works the same way. While we are learning empathy, we are also destigmatizing mental health by creating a more compassionate and aware environment. With those goals, high school students gather, curate, and make my kit materials. We get our volunteers through school clubs and announcements. Students earn community service hours by participating in kit preparation workshops where they learn about Mind Full's purpose and mission and about having empathy for others. We work alongside Sources of Strength (SOS), and all my workshop leaders must also undergo SOS training. My South African heritage calls this "ubuntu," meaning finding resilience through humanity. It means "I am because we are." I want mental health awareness and "destigmatization" to be my "ubuntu." Maya Angelou said, "I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." It has made me a stronger person to come out on the other side. I have found my strength through my trials and am determined to succeed.
      Janean D. Watkins Overcoming Adversity Scholarship
      My medical profile contains a series of sensory challenges, which include sensory processing disorder (SPD), chronic migraines with aura, dysgraphia, and attention deficit disorder (ADD). It paints a picture of the neurodiverse landscape that has defined my life. In elementary school, I was the kid with the noise-canceling headset around my neck. I found comfort in music, reading, writing, and art from an early age. These creative outlets helped me make sense of a world that was too loud, too bright, and often overwhelming. My journey has been a series of setbacks and small victories, each experience molding and shaping the person I am today. The human brain is a complex organ. For example, I have mastered advanced techniques on the violin. However, simple tasks like using utensils or tying my shoes are still awkward. My handwriting is awful, yet my fine arts skills are sophisticated. While my sensitivity has challenged me throughout my life, it has hidden talents. For example, I am adaptable and innovative. Having a neurodiverse brain has required me to work harder and develop resilience to navigate the world around me. This difference has made me want to study how the brain and nervous system shape our experiences and perceptions. Sensitivity has been both a frustration and a gift to me throughout my life. Getting by in a world that is built for neurotypical people has forced me to put in more effort and constantly pivot. My experience has given me a deeper understanding of who I am, and I have developed a passion for encouraging others to value their individuality. I believe that diversity, in all its manifestations, is an asset that enhances our knowledge as a group. I want to become an advocate for understanding and a voice for people whose opinions don't always align with the majority. I plan to contribute to the communities in which I live, whether it be where I study or back home by getting involved in charities that work with education and mental health. I have found a deep purpose in accepting my neurodiversity: to be a beacon of understanding and acceptance. I want to encourage a culture where everyone feels heard, recognized, and respected by sharing my experiences. My dedication to creating an inclusive community is unshakable as I begin my academic path because I firmly believe that our diversity is the thread that makes a harmonious society.
      Ray’s Supply Scholarship
      In a world where mental health is stigmatized, my journey through school has been crucial for transforming me into an advocate for change. My Girl Scout Gold Award led me to create Mind-Full, a project that provides expressive arts kits for K-12 students. What began as a small-scale effort to provide relief for peers battling stress, anxiety, and depression expanded into a program equipping school counselors and charities with sustainable, low-cost therapeutic tools to aid in mental health needs. Mind Full works on the premise that education and awareness create empathy; we are destigmatizing mental health by creating a more compassionate and aware environment. With those goals in mind, high school students gather and curate my kit materials. Students earn community service hours by participating in kit preparation workshops where they learn about Mind Full's purpose and mission. Mind Full offers these integrative therapy kits to aid school counselors, teachers, and therapists working with K–-12-aged students in conjunction with other treatments or to help identify high-risk students to assist students in articulating feelings or emotions that are difficult to verbalize. Additionally, older students benefit from stress and anxiety relief through learning outlets of expression. I aim to keep students in school and provide them with a means to express thoughts, feelings, stress, and anxiety. Most of the school counselors we supply use them in small groups and individual sessions with students in the school environment. Since forming Mind Full, I have also become active on the Tommy Nobis Center Youth Advisory Board and founded the Psychology Club at my school. The combination of these experiences has resulted in me going beyond recognizing stigma in mental health to actively participating in dismantling it. Participating in these extracurriculars has crystalized my resolve to major in psychology and participate in researching music and other expressive arts' therapeutic potential to heal on a neurological level. My goal is to go to a research university and major in psychology. I am particularly interested in music's ability to heal beyond the emotional level and its effect on the health of the brain and nervous system. I plan to obtain music and art therapy certifications after I graduate from college to use in conjunction with counseling treatment plans. My long-term education goal is to get a post-doctorate degree in psychology. My dream is to destigmatize mental health and to teach people coping mechanisms that can be done with minimal resources. Bringing active programs into schools that focus on creating emotional intelligence creates a more supportive environment among students. My ultimate dream is for Mind Full to go nonprofit and spread to different high schools. The high schools, in turn, supply the local schools around them. Mind Full helps schools flag students for care earlier than usual. My website (mind-fullproject.org) lists resources that are free for immediate care. Students spend most of their day in a school environment. Having a school committed to a mental health program also provides a more supportive focus on getting a student's help sooner.
      Trees for Tuition Scholarship Fund
      In a world where mental health is stigmatized, my journey through school has been crucial for transforming me into an advocate for change. My Girl Scout Gold Award led me to create Mind-Full, a project that provides expressive arts kits for K-12 students. What began as a small-scale effort to provide relief for peers battling stress, anxiety, and depression expanded into a program equipping school counselors and charities with sustainable, low-cost therapeutic tools to aid in mental health needs. Mind Full works on the premise that education and awareness create empathy; we are destigmatizing mental health by creating a more compassionate and aware environment. With those goals in mind, high school students gather and curate my kit materials. Students earn community service hours by participating in kit preparation workshops where they learn about Mind Full's purpose and mission. Mind Full offers these integrative therapy kits to aid school counselors, teachers, and therapists working with K–-12-aged students in conjunction with other treatments or to help identify high-risk students to assist students in articulating feelings or emotions that are difficult to verbalize. Additionally, older students benefit from stress and anxiety relief through learning outlets of expression. I aim to keep students in school and provide them with a means to express thoughts, feelings, stress, and anxiety. Most of the school counselors we supply use them in small groups and individual sessions with students in the school environment. Since forming Mind Full, I have also become active on the Tommy Nobis Center Youth Advisory Board and founded the Psychology Club at my school. The combination of these experiences has resulted in me going beyond recognizing stigma in mental health to actively participating in dismantling it. Participating in these extracurriculars has crystalized my resolve to major in psychology and participate in researching music and other expressive arts' therapeutic potential to heal on a neurological level. My goal is to go to a research university and major in psychology. I am particularly interested in music's ability to heal beyond the emotional level and its effect on the health of the brain and nervous system. I plan to obtain music and art therapy certifications after I graduate from college to use in conjunction with counseling treatment plans. My long-term education goal is to get a post-doctorate degree in psychology. My dream is to destigmatize mental health and teach people coping mechanisms that can be done with minimal resources. Bringing active programs into schools that focus on creating emotional intelligence creates a more supportive environment among students. My ultimate dream is for Mind Full to go nonprofit and spread to different high schools. The high schools, in turn, supply the local schools around them. Mind Full helps schools flag students for care earlier than usual. My website (mind-fullproject.org) lists resources that are free for immediate care. Students spend most of their day in a school environment. Having a school committed to a mental health program also provides a more supportive focus on getting a student's help sooner.
      Ryan Yebba Memorial Mental Health Scholarship
      Winner
      One hurdle young people face is developing emotional intelligence, managing their own emotions, and being aware of other people and how they may feel. As a person with ADD with sensory issues and anxiety, my school environment was unbearable, especially during COVID. The COVID environment was stressful enough; the kids were worse. The environment was right out of a page in Dr. Zimbardo’s book on social psychology. I began to get sick and depressed, and I went home a lot. I had to learn coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety to do better for myself and survive school. "Mind Full" was born from my journey through depression and anxiety. It has become a mental health initiative in our schools in Cobb County, Georgia. The “Mind Full” program supplies charities and school counselors with art therapy kits for K–12 students and patients. We use recycled, easily sourced items to supply most of the materials in the kits. I wanted the materials to be easy to source and low-cost, so anyone could do it at home or school. The purpose of offering integrative therapy kits is to provide a tool to allow the student to articulate feelings or emotions that are difficult to verbalize, which improves well-being. In my opinion, many students have difficulty identifying and articulating their feelings. The kits are designed to aid school counselors, teachers, and therapists working with K–12-aged students in conjunction with other treatments or to help identify high-risk students. Additionally, older students benefit from stress and anxiety relief through learning outlets of expression. I aim to keep students in school and provide them with a means to express thoughts, feelings, stress, and anxiety. Most of the school counselors we supply use them in small groups and individual sessions with students in the school environment. My other goal with Mind Full was to work on the premise that empathy and emotional intelligence can be learned through awareness and education. On the same note, destigmatizing mental health works the same way. While we are learning empathy, we are also destigmatizing mental health by creating a more compassionate and aware environment. With those goals, my kit materials are gathered, curated, and made by high school students. We get our volunteers through school clubs and announcements. Students earn community service hours by participating in kit preparation workshops where they learn about Mind Full’s purpose and mission and about having empathy for others. We work alongside Sources of Strength (SOS), and all my workshop leaders must go through SOS training as well. Mind Full crystallized my desire to major in psychology in college. My goal, therefore, is to go to a research university. I plan to obtain music and art therapy certifications after I graduate from college to use in conjunction with counseling treatment plans. My dream is to destigmatize mental health and teach people coping mechanisms that can be done with minimal resources. Bringing active programs into schools that focus on creating emotional intelligence creates a more supportive environment among students. I hope that it will reduce bullying as students become more aware of others. My ultimate dream and something I am working towards is for Mind Full to go nonprofit and spread to different high schools. The high schools, in turn, supply the local schools around them. Mind Full helps schools flag students for care earlier than usual. My website (mind-fullproject.org) lists resources that are free for immediate care. Students spend most of their day in school. Having a school committed to a mental health program also provides a more supportive focus on getting a student's help sooner.