All About Education Scholarship Winners

We’re excited to announce the winners of the Unigo All About Education Scholarship!

“How will a $3,000 scholarship for education make a difference in your life?”

Education is often thought to be the key to success. What doors will your “key” open? Our winners for the All About Education Scholarship shared with us their hopes and dreams for continuing their education. See our past winners and their scholarship responses below.

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2022 Winner

Kailani Torres | SUNY University at Buffalo

Nineteen and on the verge of being homeless nineteen and working towards attaining a neuroscience degree nineteen and working hours a week while being a fulltime student College is my sanctuary but outside of college I feel alienated Coming from a place of chaos where progression feels minimal passion is ridiculed and growth feels denied I can finally say I’ve found a place that feels like home a feeling I’ve never had before But college is not always a place of serenity Tuition is expensive a well-known fact to anyone Being the only person paying for college and other materials isn’t easy I don’t have a family to rely on honestly I don’t have a family But I am not typing this to find pity or create a sob story in fact I’m typing this from a place of ambition Failure is not in my vocabulary I’m determined to attain my neuroscience degree and go into a field where I provide aid to people in hopes they find their own sanctuary The road towards attaining such a degree is not easy I am aware that I will endure many hardships and obstacles both professionally and personally However in spite of it all my dream of becoming a doctor will become a reality If I had to identify the main thing I’ve learned within my nineteen years on this planet is to expect the unexpected I never thought I’d attend college but here I am and education is my freedom.

2021 Winner

Lizbeth M. | Skidmore College

Corona, NY

Thang Chin Lian. A name that travels back nearly nine-thousand miles to the hilly mountain-sides of Hakha, a deprived city-state in Myanmar wrought by civil war. I was five years old when my family left under the guise of darkness, taking with them nothing but the clothes they wore. When I inquired about why we left everything we had ever known, Mother answered, ‘Opportunity.’ We arrived in the United States during the peak of the 2008 recession and the opportunities Mother spoke of came in the form of denied employment, layoffs for Father, and dinner table conversations that eroded at our American Dream. Thus, Mother and Father instilled in me a deep appreciation for education because they knew that opportunity was handed to the ones with diplomas. College means opportunity and ascertaining the realization of our dreams, not just for me but for the parents who risked everything to enable their son to have a chance in life; a chance they never had. Nevertheless, college also means taking thousands of dollars out of a savings account that barely exists. College means burdening parents who come home from factories with bandages, sore muscles, and sullen eyes creased with years of labor on their petite frames that sway with the weight of the world on their small shoulders. Simply having the money to buy textbooks or pay for a semester of college will lure that American Dream closer until I can grasp it within my hands and never let go.

2020 Winner

Kristy W. | University of South Maine

South Portland, ME

Acceptance into nursing school came as an exciting surprise and great relief to me and my family. As we are settled with children and a home, we were unable to uproot and relocate, so my school options were limited and competitive. After the excitement of acceptance faded, my husband and I felt the financial pressure. Nursing is a second career for me and a second bachelor’s. As chair of my local hospital’s volunteer Patient and Family Advisory Council and former CNA, my drive toward nursing is based on firsthand experience within the healthcare system. As a volunteer, my efficacy in contributing to positive patient outcomes is limited, but as a nurse there is no boundary. However, nursing school costs add up to more than my family can pay out of pocket. $3000 could remove the financial strain university costs put on my family. It is $3000 we can put toward my tuition so we have money to pay for my son’s asthma medication; money that leaves room in our budget to fix the roof leak over the ceiling where I will study and nurse my newborn late in the night; money that allows my family to thrive while I train to be a caretaker of my friends and neighbors. If this is the only scholarship I receive, it would provide a substantial life boost for my entire family while I pursue my dream and in turn support my community.

2019 Winner

Catheryn M. | Colgate University

Chicago, IL

Scrolling down my Instagram feed I saw videos and pictures of Kylie Jenner’s baby’s birthday party. I saw a child receive an abundance of designer items that she did not know the value of. I sat there absolutely in awe that something that would take years of work for me was wasted on a baby who just wanted a warm blanket and a toy. That baby will grow up thinking that $3,000 is pocket change, but as a first generation daughter of 2 immigrants I have been conditioned to think of money as work. My family doesn’t see $20, they see 1.5 hours of work. $3,000 is 214.5 hours of work. I see $3,000 as time that I could be investing into my education and my community instead of losing sleep over money I don’t have. I plan on using that time on efforts to strengthen the communities that I come from, communities that suffer in ways that seem unreal to people who have never been without. I grew up in South Chicago and there is not only the burden of poverty, but the burden of fear. There is a fear of the environment and of losing loved ones during simple things like trips to the store. There is no such thing as peace when all I’ve seen in destruction. $3,000 is priceless to me because time is something you can’t buy.

2018 Winner

Caroline M. | University of Michigan

Arlington, VA

Steve Jobs once said, “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” If he’s right, I will change the world. I will make the world a better place, not because of childhood dreams, but because I’ve been served a healthy dose of reality.

$3,000 is enough to make a dent in college costs. It’s enough to feed a family of four for multiple months. Yet often, $3,000 will not cover one dose of cancer medication. The pharmaceutical world is racked by high costs, and for cancer patients who require frequent treatment, medication is often cripplingly expensive. Insurance might help, but with clinical trials and experimental treatments, insurance companies often shy away, looking to save themselves money. These costs need to be lowered or subsidized, to offer patients more affordable options.

I didn’t know about these issues until I lost my mother last year to a rare form of bone cancer, which spread to her lungs. I didn’t know about the sheer number of experimental medicines out there, but that these treatments are often hard to access, and harder to pay for. But as her days came to a close, I imagined what I could do, and how I could change the world. $3,000 would help pay for a college education that will start me on a path of scientific research, to help me create a world where such treatments are more affordable, more accessible, and more successful.

2017 Winner

India L.

Loxley, AL

Poverty is eating the free lunch even when it makes you gag, because it’s food. It’s squirming under the gaze of the Catholic Social Services volunteers as they hand you a bag of free groceries. It’s attending a school without air conditioning. It’s listening to your parents fight about money for the third time this week.

It’s hearing other kids talk about vacations and Christmas presents you’ll never have, and wishing you didn’t envy them. It’s applying for countless scholarships, getting a headache when your counselor talks about student loans and in-state tuition and are you sure you don’t want to attend community college?

And it’s harboring a dream, something that keeps your hope alive no matter how bad things get. I dream of helping other kids, showing them that who you are has nothing to do with your bank account. I’m determined to change the world, one person at a time, to overcome all the obstacles and silence all the naysayers. My hope thrives, against all odds.

Three thousand dollars would be three thousand steps to achieving this dream. It would allow me to become a teacher, to impart more knowledge than what’s on the curriculum: self-respect, optimism, a love of knowledge. It would help me to receive an education that matters — and to do the same for countless others.

2016 Winner

Isabella K.

Marion, MA

Cradled in daddy’s palms, three years old, I hollered along to “Kryptonite” as he zoomed me around the room. I reached to the plaster sky, gazed at the train city miles below, feeling like Superman. Loved. One with the music. Soaring. But.

Everyone has Kryptonite. Mine? Best friend dying in a fire. Mom fighting “fatal” cancer. Bullies: “Check if you hate Isabella.”

Antidote? Love, plus music. Rochester’s Jillian Jensen combined both on “X Factor” when she described overcoming bullying. Hearing Jill, I felt uplifted and thought, I’ll be like her. Use music to help people soar.

Inspired, I started doing all I could to help others. I taught Sunday School; served the poor in Puerto Rico, a Montana reservation, and New Bedford; and tutored in math and history (earning a President’s Volunteer Service Award silver medal). Needing top collegiate training to best help others, I kept my grades high (14th in class, top 5% on SATs) and excelled in extracurriculars (three varsity sports, math team, theater, captain of mock trial). But I worked hardest on my music, writing and performing an original musical, studying with Jill, making contest finals, and touring with Voices in Time. My plans now are simple. With a $3,000 scholarship for education, I’ll work hard in Belmont University’s songwriting program (I’ve been accepted with a scholarship) until my songs become powerful enough to lift people off their knees and smash their Kryptonite to bits.

2015 Winner

Mallory M.

Decatur, TX

Longhorns and Texans and Aggies, oh my! The Forest of Universities can be a spine-chilling place. A young hopeful on her way to education must first travel down the Alley of Applications; where dicey deadlines and taloned transcripts loom in the shadows. Shuddering through hordes of blinking ACT monsters and slithering housing forms she wanders, deeper into the Forest of Universities. Through darkened pools of dual-credit and entangling CLEP test branches, she struggles.

At last, she sees the light of her future on the horizon, but her hope withers as she catches sight of the last obstacle: Tuition Trench. A rickety old bridge lies across the trench, feebly assuring her passage. She takes a step onto the bridge, and then two. At five steps, the bridge snaps. The young hopeful is slipping towards the rapids and the razor-edged boulders smile fiendishly at her, whispers of disintegration on their lips. At the last second, her sweater catches on something—no—something catches her sweater. It’s a scholarship, and it’s pulling her towards higher ground! She lands in the soft grass across the trench. Shielding her eyes with her hand, the young hopeful watches as the scholarship flies upward into the sun, probably to save another on the brink of demise.

It’s me on that bridge. I’m slipping downward. I’m holding tight to the splintered rope, but not for much longer. What difference could $3,000 make in my life? It could mean safe passage across Tuition Trench. And that’s enough.

2014 Winner

Sarah P.

Sherman Oaks, CA

The sobs abated two hours into our discussion. As late afternoon bled into early evening, the exasperated voice on the other end of the line finally spat, “It isn’t fair! How much more of this do I have to take?” The anger and disgust in the voice was palpable, and with good cause: the young woman on the phone had just received word that her single mother had lost her job, pushing the family toward the brink of homelessness yet again. Sadly, as a volunteer college counselor I heard stories like this young woman’s on a weekly basis. Ostensibly trained to guide underprivileged young adults through the labyrinth-like process of college admission, I more often than not became the lone shoulder they could cry on in times of distress. As a college admissions volunteer, I hear it all: abusive households, dire poverty, unsupportive family networks, and worse. I witness daily how students with so little can overcome so much, and am proud that my work allows me to be a source of support for these amazingly resilient individuals. A $3,000 educational scholarship would allow me to complete my counseling degree and go from volunteer to full-time professional, aiding some of our nation’s most at-risk youth in their goal of obtaining a college degree. With funding aid, I can continue to be both a bulwark of support and an emotional resource to students who lack these necessities in their everyday lives.

2013 Winner

Ashley A.

Chicago, IL

I was awakened by the loud shots of a rifle; glancing over at my alarm clock, it read 3:33am. The gun shots soon followed a host of people screaming and the ringing of police sirens. My heart pounded as I drowsily forced myself out of bed; I walked to the window to see what was happening. When I saw the large pool of dark red blood surrounding a car that had crashed into the nearby field house, I lost my breath. I had seen scenes like this in movies and had heard stories about shootings on the news; however, witnessing it up close was beyond horrifying. I felt a wave of disgust and disbelief. On the Southside of Chicago death and hardship becomes the norm, and anger is the byproduct of its adversity. Fortunately, for me my frustration is the fuel behind my desire to see change in my community. The children in my community do not believe that there is life beyond the street corner; college seems like nothing but a dream. However, I want to inspire those children who don’t have high hopes for their future. By receiving funds to help pay for my college tuition, I will be able to continue my studies. It will bring me closer to my goal of inspiring the youth in my community. Specifically, by earning a college degree I will be an example of how nothing is impossible. Ultimately, I will inspire future leaders.

2012 Winner

Marissa S.

Bushnell, FL

How can we make a difference in someone else’s life?
By turning off the water, or shutting off a light?

I say it’s bigger than that.
More than a simple pat on the back.
Something that leaves you truly changed,
To take a second to get your life rearranged.

But what kind of difference can we make,
To have someone give life a second take?

I know I can put a smile on anyone’s face,
Even just for a moment to give them a taste,
Of something bigger than me,
like hope,
and faith.

Maybe that faith will let them get by just one more day,
And in turn, show the world what they have to say.

And what if their words speak to the heart,
Of someone that just seems to be falling apart.

Say those words touch that person so deep,
Their worries disappear and they no longer weep.

Think what I did with the smile I shared,
I gave someone hope for their life to be spared.

But who shall save me when it is hope that I need,
When I need the money for college in order to succeed?

To me, three thousand dollars is quite a lot,
It’s the difference of whether I go to college or not.

I’d be the First Generation in my family,
The first one to come home with a college degree.

I’ll show you how amazing I’ll be,
By using that smile you gave to me.

2011 Winner

Calvin D.

Middleton, WI

Jersey Shore. Paris Hilton. Black Eyed Peas. Fox News.

Need I say more?

Chances are at least one of these names incites a reaction inside you. Some people think these things are the decline of western civilization as we know it. Some people think they are stupid, but survive and tolerate their existence. However, a majority of America LOVES these things. They like Jersey Shore, a show about six spoiled, rich, Jersey twenty-something’s and their daily dramas, enough to have Rutgers College pay Snooki $32,000 to come speak to their graduating class! They like Paris Hilton enough to keep her in the tabloids for years when she did absolutely nothing that took an iota of genuine talent.

Over the last decade, American youth has slipped into willful ignorance. They prefer mindless television and music to entertainment you actually have to think about and have substance. If I were to ask the average 22 year old what they thought about the philosophies of Nietzsche, they would look at me like I was crazy and change the subject. If I asked them about what happened on The Real World last night, they would go off for an hour about how awesome that episode was.

We can fix this. Education is the answer to reversing this trend of rampant anti-intellectualism. I truly believe that if we can improve schools on all levels and encourage productivity and a love for learning, we can again become a competitor on a global scale in the sciences.

2009 Winner

Lynn B.

Seattle, WA

Inside my mailbox was a letter accompanied by a key. ‘Dear Lynn, Unlock your future. Sincerely, Admissions.‘ Everything I’ve worked for has paid off: a year and a half of sweat from researching the right path, familiarizing myself with the machinery through self-teaching, and volunteering to develop a strong design portfolio. I stood in front of the door, inserted the key, and reached for the doorknob. Locked. This cannot be… Two years ago, on course for completing a business degree, I was introduced to industrial design at the cause of a snowboarding accident right before my graduation. I was unable to walk for two months and relied on crutches and other medical support devices to have daily mobility. These devices taught me the importance of quality design and its impact on the user. My affinity for industrial design was thus developed. That summer, I worked at an international investment bank where I found my curiosities for design to be overwhelming. I constantly noticed how everyday office products could be improved. It confirmed my passion for design and my drive to make an impact on society through product design. I stared at the door and noticed the thin slot with “Tuition” written above it. 50 Benjamins. 50 Benjamins to help me unlock this door, bring me closer to my dreams of becoming a problem solver and a creative thinker. Beyond this door is a room that provides the tools needed to become an industrial designer. Please help me turn this knob.

Tiffany S.

Brooklyn, NY

My mom looked at me, her face glowing with pride. “So, honey, are you ready for Harvard?” I grin back at her and answer, “You bet!” Dad came over and put his arms around the both of us. “I‘m so proud of you. I knew from the start it was worth sacrificing our retirement funds for you to go to college!” I was about to reply when frantic barking cut through our tender family moment. “Oh, looks like the mail has arrived!” commented Mom. She was right. For a second later, Fido raced into the room and deposited a soggy letter at our feet. I recognized the prestigious logo on its front: Harvard. I opened the letter with shaking hands. My eyes grew wide with horror as I scanned it. “Mom? Dad … I … I won’t be able to go to Harvard …” They gasped simultaneously, “What, why?!” I answered, “The tuition is $145,765,000 a year …” “No! I thought it was only $145,760,000,” was Dad’s reply. “We‘re 5000 dollars short,” I said numbly. “Let‘s remain calm.” Mom fanned herself with the envelope as she reached for her wallet. A paperclip fell out of it. “Ohhh! We’re broke! We have no money left! Oh, injustice! Oh, shattered dreams!” Dad shook his head, “If only you had gotten that 5000 dollar scholarship.” I hung my head as the letter falls out of my hands. A sigh escaped my lips, “If only …”

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