Win Scholarships, Carry On Tradition

April 4, 2019
Maya Mundell

It’s super easy to forget a scholarship’s mission while applying for it. We get so caught up with all of our accomplishments and our dreams of graduating debt free with money in the bank.

But, we must remember that winning a scholarship is never just about you, it’s about a greater community, a greater cause, a greater mission. Let me give you an example. After being awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship, aka GMS (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), we recipients were flown out to Washington DC for a three-day conference and orientation. We stayed at a fancy Marriot hotel and ate gourmet meals during the whole orientation. We celebrated our accomplishments and the fact that we were among the top 10 percent of the scholarship’s applicants. Knowing that we were chosen out of more than ten thousand other students, we were proud of ourselves. Just as we were reveling in our accomplishments, eating dinner at the Marriot’s 5-star restaurant, the keynote speaker and president of GMS reminded us that our award did not begin or end with us. He emphasized how fortunate we were to have been awarded the scholarship that grants full tuition to any US accredited university or college. He told us that we have a responsibility to others, to our communities, to the less fortunate. Just as GMS supported us, low-income students; we were also to support those who have even less than us. The president quoted Bill Gates’ words, “from whom much is given, much is expected.” Embedded in the speech was a valuable piece of information. The scholarship selection committee didn’t choose us because we were all straight-A students. Although academic performance was definitely important, it wasn’t everything. We were chosen because we expressed a commitment to the well-being of others. Whether it was through our participation in community service, volunteer work, or organization leadership, our applications showed the selection committee that we would carry out the Gates Millennium Scholarship’s mission to improve the lives of others. We showed that we would carry on the GMS tradition.   With that said, you’ll want to start paying more attention to a scholarship’s mission and think about how you can add value to the lives of others. What can you do? What do you have access to? A soup kitchen? A nursing home? An orphanage? Whatever you choose to do, make sure you do it well and you’re passionate about the work. As for applying to scholarships, if a particular program’s mission isn’t explicitly expressed, pay attention to what the program is about and who it’s supporting. Who funds/sponsors the program? Is it a scholarship that’s geared towards helping first-generation Americans pay for school? Is it a grant dedicated to supporting upcoming scientists? Is it a fellowship aimed at funneling students into academic careers? Whatever the program is about, make sure that your application shows that you are also about the same mission and cause. Clearly expressing (in your application) that your values, goals, and actions are aligned with a scholarship’s mission shows that you’ll carry on the program’s tradition. The selection committee will notice you and they’ll have no choice but to consider you for the award. Click the image below to join the Student Debt Prevention Movement and get your free “Be Free After Graduation” PDF guide!