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“Surprise! You just got elected president. What's your first Tweet?”
Oluseye R. / Johns Hopkins University
Listen. Listen to each other. I will listen to you. The strength of our nation is in our diversity of ideas. When we listen, we thrive.
"Weighing the expected investment and return, is college worth it for you? Why?"
“I've never seen people like you read for fun." Every time I heard this statement, my head throbbed and my motivation wavered with the emphasis of one devastating, degrading truth: it was not expected of me because of my background. It only got worse with the mention of college. As a first generation, low -income Hispanic woman, the weight of such low expectations seems to drag me down endlessly into the dark abyss of failure. How will I afford it? How will I travel there? Who honestly expects me to make it past freshman year? Is college really worth the effort?
Whenever I get home, my questions are answered. My mother leaps forward clutching yet another college acceptance letter. Her joy is palpable, and soon I am smiling along as well. She notices my reluctance and takes my face between her calloused hands. “In America, anybody can make it,” she assures me in broken English. Gazing into her adoring eyes, I realize that no amount of student debt or condescending comments can stop my mother from believing in my success. Not only would I have a career because of college, but she will also be proud. Her faith strengthens my resolve. Her joy encourages me to look past all the barriers.
Yes, I assure myself once again. College is worth the investment.
"What's the biggest challenge facing college students today, and how can it be addressed?"
It is the ruler of all monsters. Reckless and cruel it carries the pain of a thousand knives. With the skills of a professional assassin, it consumes its favorite snack, me, selfishly feeding off my darkness. The mystery monster goes by the name stress. In reality, stress does not sound that scary; however, stress is a relentless battle that college students have to face on a daily basis. When most people first start college, they fall into a whirlpool of debt, loads of homework, a never ending list of deadlines, and complicated personal relationships. As students are distracted by everyday life, stress is able to sneak up on its prey and do what it does best…destroy.
So how do college students fight back and slay stress? Simple! Go out and have fun. Learn to successfully take time out for yourself while managing to maintain good grades and spending your money wisely. Watch an action packed movie with a friend or read a mushy gushy romantic book while relaxing at the park. Basically, find time to laugh. You laugh once. The beast is weakened but still strong. You laugh again. The monster has fallen to its knees. You laugh some more. It is weak and begging for mercy. You laugh one final time. You have finally beaten the monster…yes, you beat stress.
"Racist. Sexist. Ageist. Don’t be an ist. Things like race, gender, sexual orientation, and age are important parts of your identity, but the stereotypes that accompany them are not what define you, despite the social forces that try to tell you otherwise. In 200 words or less, tell us how you defied a stereotype someone had of you, or defied a stereotype you had of others."
Port St. Lucie, FL
"You are a girl. Wear dresses, play with dolls. Be graceful, elegant, and gentle—be lady-like.” Words thrown at me, meaningless pebbles smacking against my skin. They are heavy and infuriate me, this inane stereotype that all girls must grow into porcelain women who move like water, speaking softly and laughing like bells. When I grew, I resisted dresses, the pink hues and the idea that I must be covered like some shameful idol—that my skin mustn’t tempt others. I grew into myself instead, this defiance of the Catholic expectation of ‘woman’. I tore off my skirts, skinned my knees, and spoke like the boys. I planned tattoos and sought not to be seen as a manufactured object, but a woman even with my short hair and sharp tongue. I became the daughter who played with the sons, the daughter who fell for other daughters, yet all the while stayed a woman. I destroyed their notion of a perfect, pearl paragon, and yet I was a woman nonetheless. A girl does not always need to flow like oil or be silent as night; she can be as loud as fire, as tough as leather, and remain just as beautiful.
My wallet and dorm keys? Lost. My phone? Dead. Metro station? Closed. To top it all off, I was stuck in an unknown part of D.C., at night, and I was scared. What didn't help matters was the homeless man sitting on the bench with me staring at the side of my face. I was on full alert ready to scream for help. I'd heard the rumors and horror stories about the homeless population of D.C. None of which I wanted to experience firsthand.
Little did I know that the man sitting next to me was a veteran. He'd served in the US Armed Forces for five years and was discharged after being diagnosed with PTSD. How do I know this? He told me, but only after he paid my bus fare and rode with me to assure I made it safely to campus. Needless to say, I was ashamed of how I had first perceived him. As a black female, I know all too well how harmful and crippling stereotypes can be to society and to one's own humanity. Now, I'm glad I lost my wallet, because I found something much more valuable that night, an open mind.
"Where are you going? ... In school? ... In life? Share your journey and tell us where you want to go."
San Antonio, TX
One life is a solo, two lives — a duet. But multiple lives? That's a symphony. An extravagant blend of timbre and passion. A collaborative effort to a common goal. A journey to no destination, for the destination lies within the journey. I want to go there. To dedicate my life to the path of music. To fill my soul with the joy and innovation which lies within. To bring music to others. To teach its wonders. To see its blessings. That is my calling. To broaden my horizons. Reach higher, but be the ladder for others to climb. To walk with others, rather than leading the way. My journey is my destination. My music is my life. But more importantly, it is the life of everyone. An eternal symphony. That is where I must go.
The pager goes off, they call me awake.
It's 3 a.m. and I feel great.
I know what's coming. I've done it before.
I know what's at stake. I bolt out the door.
A surgery's pending, a heart to mend
Syringe and anesthetic; my ink and pen.
"Will it hurt?" I'm asked. "No, don't be scared.
Count to ten." I say. They're caught unprepared
as their eyes roll back. With their mouth unglued,
They're fast asleep before they say "two."
A life to lose or a life to save
A cut here, blood there, time to be brave.
The sun comes up and then goes down,
Lives in danger now safe and sound.
At home again I blink some sleep
when the pager goes off and starts to beep.
I open my eyes, I'm wide awake.
It's 3 a.m. and I feel great.
To go or not to go — that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to brave
The kinks and obstacles of tortuous paths,
Or to stay immobile against the fate of life
And, by opposing, end it. To act, to lose —
No more — and by a loss to say we avoid
The beauty and the thousand natural occurrences
That flesh is heir to — ‘tis a misjudgment
Wrongly to be wished. To act, to lose —
To lose, perchance to free. Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that loss of action what freedom may come,
When we have escaped this lethargic veneer,
Must give us pause. For who would
Forfeit the joys and hitches of time?
Thus, ‘tis no question at all — there is only “to go.”
Th’ tortuous path, the less traveled by road,
The pangs of rigorous education, the heart’s call,
The patient task of change, the occupation of the Earth,
The tests of parentage, and the lures
That destiny leads of th’ uprooted soul —
When I myself decide to go is all where I’ll
Soon be. Thus I want to go
To where the winds may blow,
And thus I, a drop of dust, will inexorably grow.
"Which five words illustrate what your life will be like 10 years after college graduation?"
Animation, determination, direct, audience, film
Animation is my life you see
A film can bring such happiness and glee
Through determination and sweat the process moves on
All the way through the break of dawn
But to direct a film with such a feat
And have the audience on their feet
Now that is the future I hope to see
And I welcome it with much glee
Gyunyu, Tamago, Gohan, Calpico, Omocha
Milk, eggs, rice,
a soft drink, and a toy
Groceries for the night
A drink unique to home
A small surprise for my little girl/or boy
6 years in Japan
Roots now planted back in my homeland
Satisfied for the night, running errands
Milk, eggs, and rice
Basic sustenance for life
Powering this professor to teach English
A family and a classroom to call my own
A country, a child, and a home
Appreciative of everyday
I prepare for the next one
Sipping Calpico from the can
Blue Springs, MO
Baking, blooming, beating, burdenless, buoyant
Like the smell of cookies baking, my life will draw people closer to me. Like a flower slowly blooming, I will know my journey is only still beginning. Like a heartbeat, I will steadily be working. No longer needing to figure out a major or apply for internships, my burdens will be lifted. I will have a light air about me, seeking ways to keep others afloat with me.
San Anselmo, CA
Focusing, challenging, solving, inspiring, connecting
Unigo. You and I go.
A unique entrepreneurial business model.
You and I go forward together, collaboratively.
Focusing, challenging, solving, inspiring, connecting.
Focusing will identify opportunities to act on.
Challenging norms, stigmas, concerns, issues and applications.
Solving problems that confront our community.
Launching into this world, I will inspire.
A role model for those around me to find the courage to lead from inside themselves.
You and I go ... forward, together, connecting through an entrepreneurship model to change the future.
"How do you picture your success after college?"
As a teacher, I dream to inspire;
To be that match that sets others on fire;
To raise up my students, to help them come higher;
From the day I am hired 'til the day I retire.
I'm committed to teach history with far more passion than anyone ever before!
Essay image choice:
Vacationing from work at a beach in paradise.
Sounds like success, right?
But, that's not me.
See that figure parachuting in the distance?
That's me, dropping in to a remote village
on the island awaiting access to healthcare,
and I'm their bridge.
Now that's success, and the sky's the limit!
Essay image choice:
Major: English Composition
Traverse City, MI
Do you see that stubborn little plant?
That's me, well on my way to a successful job
in the publishing industry.
With my roots seeded deeply into the books I love
and the endless possibilities sprouting like leaves,
my future as a book enthusiast is boundless
and worth every word.
Essay image choice:
A bundle of nerves
Deep thought, precision, dedication
Life's most wonderful application
Stretching in every possible direction
What a move, a touch, a prime navigation
A bundle of nerves
Job's main love
White coat, mindset, latex glove
Patients fearless, brain is open
A smile, a success, a neurosurgeon has won
Essay image choice:
Life contained in a little bowl
Too much moxie for it to hold
Worlds of wonder within my soul
A future waiting to be told
Determined not to sink or fail
I'll brave the deep and unknown
Mingle amongst the shark and whale
This little fish will hold her own
Essay image choice:
"Building an awesome future starts with finding the right school for you. If you could design your ideal college experience, what would it be and how would it help your future?"
Major: Film/Video and Photographic Arts
A Recipe for Flight
Instruction level: Challenging
Materials: A bowl, a camera, and an open mind.
For best results, collaborate with others of similar drive. Allow room for innovation. This ought to be a memorable experience — be sure to make good use of that camera before you are done.
- Ensure stove settings align to a degree you're passionate about. Set a timer; you won't have long.
- In the bowl, mix one-third theory with two-thirds practical application.
- Sprinkle a dash of acceptance for idiosyncrasies and quirks. (Any college YOU attend is going to need it.)
- Knead to the correct consistency. If done correctly, workload and extracurriculars will appear evenly distributed. This may take some effort.
- Baste in positive influence — obtainable from professors, classmates, and alumni. Wait until completely absorbed. (Vital for when it comes time to affect the world yourself.)
- Cook until golden about the edges; indicative of personal growth.
- Garnish with the breath stolen from every glance at your campus and home.
Congratulations! You've concocted Potential!
To test, take the Potential, go outside, and throw it to the birds. Watch — they fly.
Major: Public Health
College is the key: the key to education, the key to fulfillment, the key to life.
For me, college is large, urban, diverse: ready and willing to prepare me for a world of academia.
College is a challenge, an awakening, an illumination.
For me, college needs to have my interests: linguistics, French, translation studies.
College is a home, a way, a life.
For me, college can be: vast when it needs to be, intimate when it needs to be, the rest of the time, somewhere in between.
College is friends, teachers, community.
For me, college is a support system: on day one, at graduation, throughout life.
College is my training, my experience, my career.
For me, college needs to prepare me for: graduate school, professorship, and a rigorous academic career.
College is a goal, a rite of passage, my next step.
For me, college needs to bridge the transition: between my high school life, my undergraduate life, and my graduate life.
College is my personality, my expectations, my apprehensions.
For me, college should need me, I should need it, we should need each other.
For me, college is a place to grow and become.
Let's plant the seed.
Not just a place
Where childhood dreams
Not just a place
Where your future
It's where you learn
To create and believe
It's where the fire
Burning in you
Where your new life
And your new dreams
Don't wish, just do ...
Won't let my dreams
Just be dreams
Walk with purpose,
Collide with destiny,
Never give up,
Work with passion —
This is college.
I only have one chance.
My world is waiting for me.
Oak Harbor, WA
In an age where lords and barons no longer exist, many will emerge wiser than a sage, more precarious than a saber-tooth, and far more relentless than a reciprocating saw.
The dojo becomes their domicile to train in every facet of human endeavors: philosophy, humanities, science, art, logic, technology and rabblerousing. Balance is perfection.
The hand of fellowship is always extended towards them; the unity of their peers is like an invisible strength comparable to those jelly jars that won't ever open. Those who know them don't really know them. Those who don't know them can't forget them.
Nature is a rival due to her simplicity and consistency and discipline and longevity and variety and cyclical beauty, not to mention she is highly photogenic. On account of their desire to be like her, they spend much time at her feet, learning through observation and experience.
I tell you the things that they do, not so you know what they do, but so the things that they do tell you who they are.
This is the future of education; these are the students of the future.
Major: Public Health
Welcome to Life University!
We prepare you for life because we are life. Our programs are built around the individual, so each curriculum is unique. Your education is distinctively designed, based on your career ambitions. Here's how it works:
- The admissions process is actually a job interview, and your Academic Adviser is your future mentor and employer. Together, you plan your academic and professional careers in one combined step.
- By contract, you make a commitment to your employer, and your employer makes an investment in you. Successful completion of the program guarantees a positive outcome for both parties.
- The world is your classroom. You study, learn, and gain on-the-job training while experiencing an actual workplace environment first-hand. Academic theory progressively gives way to real life situations.
- Your salary while in school is comprised of room and board, with potential monetary bonuses for exceptional performance providing additional incentive for you to excel.
Experience is the best teacher. Don't spend years in a traditional classroom when you can learn by working, gaining valuable experience and making a positive contribution in the career you desire — right now! Get more out of life. Learn to think beyond the ordinary. Come and experience Life University!
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2017 Unigo $10K Scholarship winner and tips
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