Congratulations to our first two College Cash® scholarship winners, Wanda Parks and Fela Langston. Wanda Parks (pictured on the left) graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Coppin State University this month. She attended the January “Finding Money for College” College Cash® session. Following the event, we ask College Cash® scholarship applicants to write an essay describing what they learned. Wanda wrote:
In a session about finding money for college, oddly, the most important thing I learned was the part about writing the essay. As a whole, I am confident in my writing skills. I am currently taking English as a minor and have even published some of my writings before. So, while there was quite a bit of good information during the session like “use your time wisely,” “build your network,” and “proofread, then proofread again,” the most important things to me were the reminders to stand out, to show my passion, and to be excited about me. I consider myself to be quite ordinary and somewhat boring. I am still in the process of figuring out how to stand out, and to be excited about me, but I am so glad I attended the session to get my thoughts flowing in the direction of identifying my passion.
In the College Cash® seminar, the question was asked, “What is the key thing, the main aspect of who you are?” The first thing that came to my mind was, “I am a mom.” That sounds so basic and normal and there isn’t really much exciting about it. So, I struggled with that. I thought, “How do I translate that into something that helps me to stand out, show my passion or get someone excited about me?”
As I thought, I began to remember just how many things I have done that have been tied up in being a better parent and helping others to be better parents. At 20, I volunteered at the Woodbourne Center with teen moms; later I attended MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) both for support and to be supportive. When four of my children were lead poisoned, I helped to start a grassroots organization informing parents about lead poisoning. I have led parenting classes and have worked at organizations dedicated to helping parents raise healthy children.
This exercise of thinking about what is or shows my passion has actually helped me in deciding the direction I want to take for graduate school. I now know that I want to look into public health, particularly policy that affects women and children. I plan to eventually earn my doctorate, maybe write a book or two. Regardless of any of the other things I hope to accomplish in my life, I will always consider being mom to six of the greatest children ever as my “claim to fame.”
I am still working on creating a brag sheet, how to stand out and be excited about me. I’ve come to realize that is important whether it helps me to get money for college or not. I will apply this information to be a better, more confident me. And, I will work on showing that, not just in essays but in everyday life.
Fela Langston (pictured left) just completed her junior year at Salem College. She is pursuing a double major in music and political science. Fela also attended January’s session and wrote about what she learned:
Central Scholarship’s College Cash® event provided me with a new outlook on the search for scholarships, grants, and loans. The yearly search for scholarships has been more difficult than deciding which schools were best suited for me. It was much easier to look at colleges and universities and decide which ones fit my interests. When applying for scholarships, I always look at the requirements in terms of what I am good enough for instead of what “fits my talents.” I was so happy to hear that phrase during the event because it has a much more positive impact on the search for college cash. Finding scholarships that fit my talents will encourage me to highlight my accomplishments instead of focusing on things I lack or need to improve.
Some information I found extremely valuable was the fact that a lot of funding goes unused because a lot of students are unaware that it exists. For example, although I knew about some local funding, I knew very little about legislative scholarships before attending the College Cash® seminar. Although I will not be able to take advantage of this information during my undergraduate career because I currently attend a college out of state, I will definitely apply this information during my search for grad school funding.
Although I have taken out student loans, the College Cash® event made me realize how little I actually know about federal and private loans. For example, I didn’t know loans could be paid off through funding, nor did I realize that the government pays interest for my subsidized loans while I am a student. Another message that stood out to me was how important it is to email professionals to thank them for speaking or lecturing. Thanking professionals for their time has the potential to build my network and develop a relationship with an individual or company that could lead to an internship or job opportunity.
Overall, Central Scholarship’s College Cash® event was extremely beneficial. Attending this seminar made me feel like I will have a more guided and productive scholarship search in the future.