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February College Cash Scholarship winner Demetrius Marcoulides

Congrats, Demetrius

Posted: 06.29.15

One essay that stood out from the rest of the College Cash® applicant pool belonged to Demetrius Marcoulides. Relating the financial aid process to his background in the restaurant industry, he intertwined the cooking process with the financial aid process. He writes, Before restaurant dinner service starts, each cook must finish their mis en place, French for ‘everything in its place.’ Before Central Scholarship’s College Cash® event, I thought my College Cash® mis en place was finished. I was wrong. Jen and Angela taught me three impactful messages which I have directly applied to my College Cash® mis en place.

Demetrius attended our February 2015 College Cash® seminar at the University of Baltimore. This particular College Cash® session is titled “Finding Money for College” and offered in a number of locations every winter. Demetrius is in his first year at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. In the past two years, he has worked as an HIV/AIDS educator and tester, and he hopes to work in HIV/AIDS primary care once he completes his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. An excerpt from Demetrius’ winning essay can be found below.

The first message is to be strategic about which scholarships you pursue. Jen emphasized targeting scholarships that you have a good chance of obtaining. With this advice in hand, I am now focusing on three scholarships geared towards men in nursing and one for nursing students who plan to work in HIV/AIDS primary care. For the past 16 months, I have been an HIV/AIDS educator and tester in Washington, DC and Baltimore. Additionally, as a Maryland resident, I am eligible for the state senator and delegate scholarships. I have spoken to each of my representative’s offices to acquire the scholarship applications and will submit them prior to their deadlines.

The second message came when Angela said, “Scholarship essays don’t need to be sob stories.” It dawned on me that I am a sob story junkie! For my nursing program application essays I wrote about two heart wrenching experiences. Those experiences certainly pushed me to become a nurse but are simply two ingredients in the recipe that is my life. Writing about cooking to open this essay felt easy because of how much I love it. Using Angela’s advice, my upcoming scholarship essays will center around cooking.

The third message came early in the presentation as Jen shared the statistics regarding how people pay for college education. I learned that the majority of educational funding comes from governmental and institutional sources rather than private loans or private scholarships. This reassured me that my College Cash® mis en place was lining up. My estimated financial aid offer from Johns Hopkins University and my plan to pay for part of my education matched with the statistics. Knowing that I am on the right track motivates me to reach for that 4%, the caviar, of college cash, in the form of private scholarships.

At the end of dinner service, I used to ask myself, “How can my ‘mis en place’ be better for tomorrow?” For my College Cash® “mis en place”, I will strategically focus on select scholarships, avoid writing sob stories, and use the breakdown of college education funding as a tool to understand my situation. For the salmon, maybe I will switch the kalamata olive vinaigrette for a lemon vinaigrette for tomorrow.