Seniors gain experience through scholarships

Kristina Tsakos, Arts Editor

Scholarships have been beneficial resources in lessening the severity of college tuition for graduating seniors this academic school year. While there are a variety of scholarships a student may receive, such as athletic, academic and creative scholarships, certain students at the school have been recognized by colleges for their skills, intelligence and hard work. Others, while they may have not received the scholarships they applied for, still gained experience in stepping out of their comfort zone through writing and interviewing.

One senior in particular, Xiwei Peng, was a recipient of the University of Maryland’s full-ride Banneker/Key Scholarship as a result of her academic achievements. As a result of her stellar PSAT score, she has been named a National Merit Finalist. “The National Merit Scholarship initially determines semifinalists based on PSAT scores. Then once a semifinalist is chosen, they complete an application including an essay to be able to advance to finalist standing,” Peng said.

The Banneker/Key Scholarship will allow Peng to attend UMD without the financial burden of tuition, room and board and textbooks. “I have plans to go onto medical school, so financial aid and scholarships were something I really cared about,” Peng said.

Peng was interviewed at UMD on campus and was given a chance to explore the environment that she will be calling home for the next four years.

Senior Noah Siman received two scholarships for his academic proficiency from the University of Lynchburg and was recruited to play for their golf team. Siman, who has been golfing for six years, was granted $2,000 from a scholarship competition and $20,000 a year for his academic work in high school. He made sure to talk to Lynchburg’s admissions counselor in order to retrieve information regarding scholarships. He has committed to the school and is officially a part of Lynchburg’s graduating class of 2023.

Senior Chloe Nguyen is another example of a student recognized for her athleticism, as she received the Interscholastic Equestrian Association Sportsmanship award. While she did not apply for the scholarship, she was granted the award because she has been riding for 12 years and has displayed commitment to the sport as she assisted with horse shows in any way she could.

Scholarships often require students to endure complex tasks that are meant to be a test for students to prove their devotion to receiving the award. Senior Mary Quackenbush heard about the Posse Leadership Scholarships from her counselor and applied in 2018. The scholarship had three rounds, each round eliminating a portion of the previous group. “The first round was a group interaction where the judges looked at each candidate for leadership qualities in a group setting,” Quackenbush said.

Fifty out of the 1,500 D.C. nominees were rewarded a full ride to one of the institutions that are partnered with the Posse Foundation. While Quackenbush was unable to move onto the next round of interviews, she still gained the experience of traveling to D.C. and utilizing her leadership skills in an effort to attain a goal that was important to her.

Senior Soraya Abediyeh applied for a scholarship for individuals with scoliosis. She was required to write an essay about her experience living with the condition and is waiting to hear back on whether or not she will receive the $2,000 reward.

While scholarships are a way to lessen a student’s chance of succumbing to student debt, students often feel lost as to how they should approach the scholarship application process. “Students do not get enough information on scholarships. I was definitely very confused early on. I hope that counselors and teachers can make scholarship information more available. In particular, local scholarships should be publicized more, since people are more likely to win scholarships in their area, anyway,” Peng said.

Additionally, students may not understand the extent to which scholarships can propel students toward success. “Scholarships do help even if it is the tiniest amount… sometimes deadlines can be way before people even start to think of scholarships so we should start telling our students to apply around end of junior to senior year,” Abediyeh said.