JobApplicationsOnline.com Working Your Way Through College Scholarship Winner (August 2015)
The Working Your Way Through College Scholarship program has concluded for 2015, and we’re proud to announce our newest winner.
Working Your Way Through College Scholarship Winner for August 2015
from Lake Forest, IL
His Thoughts on Winning the Award
This scholarship helps me pay for my final year of schooling at Lake Forest College. This extra financial support will allow me to graduate on time and pursue my dream of opening my own business. It is my hope to open my own athletic store that specializes in soccer gear. While growing up, soccer was my therapy, my hope, and my life. I believe working with and engaging youth in soccer is a powerful way to lead youth in the right direction. Secondly, I want my younger brothers and sister to give back to their communities as well. Therefore, it is my dream to save money to support them. I would not be here today without the help of others, so I want to thank JobApplicationsOnline.com for helping support my schooling.
Olivier’s Winning Essay
The term “security” has greatly changed throughout the course of my life. When I was young, security quite literally meant taking all the necessary steps to secure our lives until the next day. As we were able to escape the war-ridden zones, security evolved into finding a stable source of food and shelter. With the future in mind, my mother saw investing in our education as a way to escape a life in poverty. As time continued, security meant securing a place on the high school soccer team, getting into college, and now graduating college with the hope of pursuing financial security.
In 1994, my family was forced to flee our home land of Rwanda in search of safety. My earliest memories are being carried on my mother’s back across the Democratic Republic of Congo. While growing up in a war environment, no one in my family had a steady job or income. We were entirely reliant upon the food/shelter/clothing donations provided at refugee camps across Africa.
I could see in my mother’s eyes accepting handouts killed her pride, but she did whatever it took to protect her family. When we finally settled in Cameroon, my mother started her own business and garden. By the grace of god, we were admitted into the United States under refugee status when I was entering middle school. My mother’s goals for me to pursue education did not always align with my personal goals. School was not easy for me, as I struggled academically and socially.
Even after coming to the United States, money was always tight with my family. However, my mother wanted us to value our education above all else. After working hard in high school to learn English and excel in my courses, I was admitted to Lake Forest College. Naively, I thought going to college was the solution to all my problems; however, I found that financing my education has proved to be a trying experience.
I am a legal resident of the United States, though, not a citizen. This has greatly limited my scholarship and grant opportunities. I never had a parent figure in my life that could teach me about loans, paying bills, and financing options; hence, this has been a learning experience in itself.
In the beginning, I desperately wanted to prove to my mom that I was an independent man who could handle this financial burden on my own. Because of the rising costs of books, I opted not buy them. I attempted to cut costs in other places, though, all of these short cuts were also causing me to sacrifice my education.
After a difficult freshman year, I sat down with the financial aid officer at my school and created a long term funding plan. As much as I did not want to walk out of college drowning in student loans, this was the only option to cover my full tuition. He also encouraged me to seek out any scholarship opportunity. After taking handouts for my entire life, I was quite frankly sick of asking others for more. But as my mother once told me, education is the great equalizer.
Being able to pay for my final year will allow me to graduate and pursue my dream of opening my own business. I want to make my mother proud and thank her for saving my life. Knowing how many other Rwandans would love to be in my shoes right now inspires me to work hard and appreciate the opportunities given to me. It is my hope to open my own athletic store that specializes in soccer gear. While growing up, soccer was my therapy, my hope, my life. I hope to spread the love of the game to others while also saving money for my younger siblings to attend college.
Specifically, I want to be a first generation immigrant who contributes to both society and my family. I believe working with and engaging youth in soccer is a powerful way to lead youth in the right direction. Secondly, I want my younger brothers and sister to be able to attend college. Therefore, it is my dream to save money to support them.
Financing my own college has been stressful. I will be walking away with several thousands of dollars in loans; however, this process has made me wiser and more prepared for the future. I have learned it is okay to seek out help, the value of long term financial planning, and not to let lack of funding prevent me from achieving my long term goals. By financing my education myself, I believe that my degree means more to me, and I am better prepared to budget my money and hopefully one day support my mother.
JobApplicationsOnline.com Working Your Way Through College Scholarship Winner (August 2014)
The Working Your Way Through College Scholarship program has ended for 2014, and we’re proud to announce our winner.
Working Your Way Through College Scholarship Winner for August 2014
from Kenosha, WI
His Thoughts on Winning the Award
“A large and generous Thank You to JobApplicationsOnline.com for awarding me the Working Your Way Through College Scholarship! Though college expenses are soaring to staggering heights, this scholarship incentivizes students to take proactive measures toward long-term financial stability. I am elated to be awarded such a special scholarship, and am appreciative of JobApplicationsOnline.com for helping with my college costs!”
Joshua’s Winning Essay
From textbooks to tuition, and meal plans to dorm room essentials, college expenses have risen to enormous financial expectations. Personally, I committed to Carthage College, which meant taking on the challenge of investing my time and money into a four-year private university. A $45,000 annual price tag can be intimidating; I can still remember heading into my freshman year thinking to myself, “Is it really possible for me to afford college?”
Academic success is always useful for a student’s intended career path, but can also help ease the strain of college costs. Competitive scholarships and grants have made a huge impact in knocking down the yearly expenses for my college investment. Still, tens of thousands of dollars were left on the table for me to pay. From there, student loans have lifted some of the weight off of my tuition, even though I will be paying them off after graduation. Ultimately, I was left with several thousands of dollars for out-of-pocket expenses.
Looking back, there were many financial lessons that I learned from attending college. One particular lesson was to understand how my personal skills could be financially valuable. During my freshman year, I worked roughly fifteen hours a week at two on-campus jobs at minimum wage. The work was not exciting, but I needed to sharpen my professional talents and build a resume to help gain respect from future employers. Though I did not earn a lot of money, I learned to stay disciplined to my cause of paying off my expenses to Carthage. As my value increased, I looked for more prestigious jobs that offered higher compensations. Currently, I work full-time over the summer, and twenty-five hours a week during the school year, at what is now my third marketing internship. Since my freshman year, I have doubled my hourly pay and work ten more hours per week. Understanding my value has been essential, and has offered higher career opportunities as well as a healthier paycheck.
Managing my cash flow has been another distinct challenge, but has presented an amazing lesson. It is very easy for purchases, especially college payments, to mount without giving much attention. Setting up an account through Mint.com, a website that offers free tracking on my expenses, was the smartest move I could make with my money. During my junior year, I moved into an apartment off-campus which resulted in monthly rent, energy bills, and internet fees. Nonetheless, the move offered an opportunity for me to save compared to Carthage’s room and board. By checking weekly reports on Mint.com, I could analyze my spending habits, net income, and set financial goals for myself.
Stemming off of managing the cash flow, I adapted my social expenses to compensate for money owed to Carthage. Rather than throwing away my cash at the movie theatre, I choose to visit my friends on campus for a movie night. Also, with gas prices well over three and a half dollars per gallon, carpooling with a friend to get to work has helped save money. Learning to leverage my necessary expenses as opportunities has also been very enlightening. A biweekly trip to the grocery store, textbooks for classes, and car insurance are all fixed costs within my life. By using my credit card to earn points toward the purchases I already make, I am earning cash that was otherwise unexpected. On top of that, my credit score has increased by paying off the bills on time, and has created a financially responsible reputation for me.
Some of the best learning experiences in college come outside the classroom. Through experiencing the challenges of earning and managing my own money, while at the same time juggling the classroom requirements and activities that a college student’s life entails, I now have confidence in my financial situation relating to college. Moreover, I have strengthened the lifelong skill of managing a budget. Upon reflection, I can answer the question that I asked myself as a freshman with, “Yes, it really is possible for me to afford college.”