Education Matters Scholarship Winners

Nearly $500K in Unigo scholarships awarded, and we're not stopping there!

We're excited to announce the winners of the Unigo Education Matters Scholarship.

“What would you say to someone who thinks education doesn’t matter, or that college is a waste of time and money?”

This fun scholarship helps puts an end to the naysayers, the ones who may think that college is just a waste of time and money. Our scholarship winners helped show why education is so important, and how it’s totally worth the investment. See our past winners and their scholarship responses below.

Want to be a featured winner? Check Our Scholarships for a new scholarship opportunity every month. Or, get instant, personalized matching from millions of scholarships worth over $14 billion with our Scholarship Match.

2015 Winner

Winners will be notified in advance by email or phone and announced here by February 29, 2016.

2014 Winner

Monica B. Falls Church, VA

Major: Animation and Game Design

Strip me down. Take away everything I have. Take away my house, my clothes, my money. What do I still have? Physically, nothing. However I still have one true possession- my mind. My mind is mine. It cannot be taken away from me. It is always hungry for new knowledge, because the more it knows the more it is; the more I am. Education is food for the brain; the brain thrives on it, it relishes in it. Money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy education, which in my opinion is the closest thing to happiness. Many people say ignorance is bliss, but to me ignorance is a parasite; ignorance is fog on the lenses of my glasses inhibiting me from taking in the beauty all around me. Education is the cloth I use to wipe away the fog so I can see clearly. With my foggy glasses, I see a plant. With my newly cleaned glasses, I see a complex photosynthetic organism, green because of its chlorophyll, green because it makes its food out of all the colors of the light spectrum save green, reflecting it to me. My retina absorbs the green light like a sponge; I perceive it, I understand it. My mind works like a machine, processing, making connections and constantly in awe of the intricate world around me. Without the knowledge I’ve attained through the education process I would be blind to these complexities. I’d be wearing foggy glasses all the time.

2013 Winner

Joshua A. Chandler, AZ

Major: Linguistics/Creative Writing

“Sir, would you mind stepping inside my time machine, please?” I said, gesturing to the incongruous mass of corrugated metal to my right. “Don’t give me that look: I didn’t spend six years at MIT for nothing.”
“MIT?” the man said, laughing as he accompanied me inside. “Is that another street name for PCP–”
In a kaleidoscopic swirl of light and sound, we sped off toward our destination: Woolsthorpe, England in 1684. There we watched the golden child of the Enlightenment, Sir Isaac Newton, witness the fall of the apple that inspired his gravitational theory. I went on to explain its basic principles, only to be rudely interrupted by my slightly nauseous friend.
“Wait a minute! Are you trying to tell me that this guy needed a degree from Cambridge just so he could play hooky in the countryside and contemplate physics? What a waste!”
“You’re forgetting the most important detail: Contemplation bears the fruit that education ripens. Without knowledge, thought lacks focus. After all, discoveries like these are years in the making–not to mention quite a few headaches.”
As my friend nursed a headache of his own, I opened the doors.
“Well, do you finally understand the value of education?”
“–oh well,” I said, pushing him out, “everybody learns at their own pace. If you need help building your time machine, I’d suggest the University of Cambridge. Or maybe just frolic in the countryside: It worked for Newton, so maybe it’ll work for you!”

2012 Winner

Yash P. Pittsburgh, PA

Major: Biology

A cry brings us into this world and a silent breath facilitates our passage into the void. It is what we do during our time on this earth that distinguishes us for who we are. From crying infants to mischievous children to rebellious teenagers to mature adults to wise elders, we grow day after day, taking in the world and attempting to recognize it for what it is. Lifelong education is the one goal that keeps us on the track of humanity and civility, guiding us towards the shining light of wisdom. This beacon of education is what helps us maintain our direction through life’s various ups and downs. While ignorance may be bliss, awareness is our strength and our drive that propels us towards greater understanding. The fundamental question that we human beings should ask is: “What is our purpose here on earth?” If we can answer it, then education may yet be meaningless. If not, then wave the flag of knowledge and gather the whole of humanity under its shade. Education is what allows us to live as cognizant human beings, making us ones who can give back to the world that bore us. Without knowledge, there is no understanding. Without understanding, there is no goal. Without a goal, life is meaningless. Education is what allows us to understand who we are and gives us the ability to find out why. With that knowledge, we can truly change the world.

2011 Winner

Katie K. Ellensburg, WA

Major: Film and Video

The sun shines in the window of a modest house located near Billings, Montana and sparkles off a new wedding ring. The rich, pungent smell of banana pancakes and crispy bacon floods every room as a young woman, dressed in a soft, ratty nightshirt pours batter onto the griddle. A baby, dressed in nothing but a diaper and fuzzy blue socks romps on the rug with a gentle golden retriever.

In a trendy penthouse, some 2,000 miles away in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a sharply dressed woman attempts to dress the squirming two-year-old at her feet. The room smells like a mix of perfume, freshly brewed coffee, and baby powder. The young woman passes the little girl off to her husband with a quick kiss to both and a promise of a picnic in Central Park at noon.

These two women lead totally different lives, but a college education allows you to choose whatever life you want. Even if you want nothing more than to be a stay-at-home parent, an education will help you be a better one, and if life throws you a curveball, you will be ready.

Many people think of college merely as an academic education, but I think college teaches more than Psychology and Latin- it helps you to gain confidence and expand your opportunities, to find your direction. I would tell anyone who thinks education does not matter, that college is the key to opening the world of possibilities spread out before you.

2010 Winner

Sierra S. Cypress, TX

A plain bar of iron is worth $5. That same iron, if fashioned into horseshoes, is worth $10.50. If made into needles, the iron is worth $3,285. If turned into balance springs for watches, it is worth over $250,000. People are the same as iron. We begin as raw material, but if we shape and fashion ourselves, our value can increase to immeasurable heights. We can’t do it on our own, however. Education is what provides us with the tools to enhance our significance in this world. As we progress along our school careers, our shapes are chiseled and smoothed. Education helps us clarify who we are and what we are capable of doing in life. As we advance through high school our forms remain abstract and vague. A college education is what really unlocks doors into the working world that allow us to become citizens that actually make a difference. As we work and give back in society our true worth is realized. Education doesn’t end with college. College is a foundation that teaches us how to continue learning throughout our lives. As we live and persist in using the tools our schooling gave us, our raw material will be shaped into works of art that continually grow in value and beauty.

2009 Winner

Joshua D. Flagstaff, AZ

Major: Engineering

1997. 19 years old.

“I just need to go. I gotta get back to the mountains.”

“What about finishing school?” Dad asked as he looked thoughtfully at the tomatoes ripening on the vine in the late afternoon sunlight.“School is for those people who can’t tough it out and work their way through. Look at Grandpa. No school. Died as VP of Local 705 in Chicago. I’ll be like him; drive a Coca-Cola truck or haul bricks to the mason or…I don’t know. I’ll do anything. I just can’t handle being cooped up in that damned school. “My old man just sighed and said, “Times were different then, son.” “Times didn’t change, Dad, your generation’s perception of what’s classified as ’qualified’ did.” He just shook his head slowly. I turned and left.

2009. 31 years old.

“I just need to go.”

“What are you going to do for work?”

I sighed, “Dad, I’ve been working like a blind mule that knows nothing more than the routine for twelve years and I’m in no better position now than when I embarked on this whole journey. I’m not too concerned about finding work whilst being a full-time student.” Dad sipped his beer, gave me a wry smile and said, “Well, I’ll be. Times have changed, eh son?” I thought this over for a moment or two and replied, “I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps they have. I do know this for certain: my perception of what’s important to me definitely has.”

2008 Winner

Maxwell H. Atlanta, GA

Major: Neuroscience

Life is serendipitous; while considering this question, I happened to come across a bumper sticker quoting Derek Bok, the former Harvard president, stating:

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!“

Though obviously witty and eye-catching, the words struck a chord in me because they made me think about what life, without education, would be like. Sure, education, in particular college education, is important, but with the economy in decline, is it worth it? Although a college degree unlocks many doors, there are certainly success stories of college dropouts who have still “struck gold.” Are the rising costs of college justified? Are four years in an ivory tower worthwhile? In my opinion, the answer is “yes.” Beyond the increased likelihood of career success, college helps us to better understand the world. College campuses are mini-communities where we, as young adults, can initially experience our independence. What happens outside of college classrooms (i.e., club participation, dorm living, etc.) is just as much a part of the “education” as what occurs in the classroom. The academics equip us with information necessary for achievement and scholarship, but the social learning provides the foundation for civic mindedness and community involvement. So, to those who say that education is a waste of time, money and effort, I respectfully disagree. For the few who are lucky enough to succeed without going to college, I offer my congratulations. For the rest of us, Ignorance is not bliss, and college is the surest way to avoid it.

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