The SimpleTexting 2018 Scholarship Winners
University of Calgary
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Ann Tran is currently a first-year student at the University of Calgary pursuing a bachelor degree in Biomedical Sciences under the Cumming School of Medicine. Ann chose this degree because she has always been interested in biology, healthy living, and the overall wellbeing of all individuals. Being Vietnamese-Canadian, and coming from a family of six, her family and culture is of huge importance to her. She also has an identical twin sister! Some of her hobbies include hiking, sewing, and learning new languages. She enjoys volunteering during her spare time, and has worked with the summer camp, Camp Bonaventure, and with multiple organizations and student societies at her school. In addition, she loves music, having played the piano for over ten years and has recently picked up playing the guitar. Ann is also a passionate advocate for the environment and education for young, disadvantaged children. She has volunteered for the the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and raised funds for young school girls in Malawi as well.
University of Alabama
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Kaitlynn Morgan is a freshman at the University of Alabama majoring in criminal justice and criminology and double minoring in Arabic studies and political science. She grew up in New Hampshire, but was born and lived in Alabama for the first half of her life and always missed the south thereafter. She graduated from Milford High School in New Hampshire in 2018 and excitedly set her eyes on returning home to Alabama for college. She spent her entire life working diligently in school in order to ensure a chance at a successful future, because paying for college out of pocket or with loans was improbable- if not impossible- for her family. Thankfully, her hard work paid off and she was awarded numerous scholarships and grants as a result of her academic accomplishments. The financial help she has received has made her education, and future, possible. She is extremely grateful to SimpleTexting for helping to fund her college and allowing her to focus on pursuing her passion, criminal justice.
Students were asked to write an essay about their experience of learning they’d been accepted into college and who they shared that special moment with. This year we received more than 1,000 submissions from students in the U.S. and in Canada. Though it was difficult to choose only one winner, there were two submissions that stood out from the rest. Ann and Kaitlynn will both receive $1,000 to put towards their college expenses for the thoughtful, engaging essays below:
My older sister was a living legend at all her schools. Elementary, junior high, high school, with lots of friends and teachers that adored her. Her past work would be framed and even five years later, teachers would still gush about her academic capabilities and shining spirit to me. When I was younger I always looked up to her and after she graduated, I knew I had to follow in her footsteps.
It was always a game of catch-up and I knew that I was never going to be as successful as her. It was difficult competing and checking off boxes. Having the mindset that this person has this position, therefore I should get that position at this time. Stressing out, when I couldn’t get things done in time, and taking things very hard when something went awry. In grade 11 it was hard when rejection letters came pouring in, applying to all these summer internships that I spent hours pouring over the application, only to have an email saying I didn’t get chosen. This caused me to struggle mentally, having anxiety attacks before school and I distanced myself from my family.
However one person stuck by my side. Whenever I was struggling in high school, my older sister would always ask to help and offer to look over my homework. My sister has always been supportive of me, no matter what hardships I have been through. It hurt to ask for her help, and I felt ashamed to be in need of her support. I wanted to hate her—for setting the bar I could never reach, and her placing that big of an expectation on me—but I couldn’t. How could you hate someone who would support the whole world for you. As we spend more time together, my sister and I grow closer together.
So grade 12 rolls around and many people start applying to university. There is so much buzz around application time, who got the big scholarships, who is going out of town, who is writing the SAT. All conversations circled around the same thing, university. There was a program that I had my eyes set on, Biomedical Sciences. I mostly joked around with my friends, saying becoming a doctor was only a plan. It cracked a few people up, but the underlying reason why I was reluctant to tell people my dream and push it off like it was no big deal was because I was used to not living up to expectation. Why tell everyone your future goals when it was not even guaranteed.
Applications open up and I start. Transcripts, and then essay questions, and my older sister was there for every step of the way. When telling my friends and family about what program I was applying to, I got a lot of questionable looks. “Are you sure? You want to become a doctor? That’s too hard isn’t it?” There were so many questions surrounding it and it broke me down. I started to doubt myself, but from the encouragement my sister provided I submitted my application.
Now this was the waiting game. Something I’ve experience too many times. One by one my friends got admitted into the program. I felt scared, worried, dumb for thinking I actually had a chance of being in the program. Everyone was just waiting for me. I got angry and pushed away people who asked about university. I thought people who asked about the status of my application were just mocking me for not being accepted. Still everyday I checked, every hour during class I would keep refreshing my email. It was when I was walking up the stairs to my next class I got a ping from my email. My status had been updated. With weary eyes and shaking hands I logged into my account and in tiny font I had been accepted.
I actually had to sit down on the steps. After the initial shock was over, I was elated! I felt proud of myself and I couldn’t wait to tell the person who believed in me from the start, my sister. She was always at the top, one of the people I texted the most and I sent her a screenshot of the acceptance status update. I knew she was working and I anxiously waited for her response. She then texted me back and said she had a confession. I was confused, what happened? She then admitted to me that the money she had been saving each month for the New Zealand trip she was planning to take was actually to help pay for my tuition. It was something I couldn’t believe. With happy tears, I gripped my phone tightly, that was the best school day ever.
My senior year of high school was an extremely stressful time of my life. On top of the typical stressors senior students face like applying to colleges and maintaining a high grade point average, I was living in a new household with a new family. Over the summer before my senior year, my mother had lost her job a few months prior and struggled to find work and pay bills afterwards. I started working to help alleviate some of the financial burden, but as much as I tried, I was unable to support the two of us. As a result, my mother and I were evicted from our apartment. We had a place to stay with a friend in a neighboring state, but staying there would require me to transfer schools during the most important time of my high school career. Thankfully, one of my own friends and her family offered to open their home to me so I was ensured a stable life and home for at least my senior year. My mom had me as a teenager and raised me completely on her own; as a result, we had always been incredibly close. Living apart from her was one of the most difficult decisions I made, but I was able to do it knowing it would help ensure my success, which was the only thing she had ever wished for me.
I applied to eleven schools and for countless scholarships. I was a first generation applicant, so I learned to navigate the college process on my own. The most important school I applied for was The University of Alabama. My mom and I both grew up in Alabama, but moved to New Hampshire when I was ten. The University of Alabama not only had an excellent program for my studies, criminal justice, but it represented home. The University of Alabama would provide my mom and I an opportunity to return home to our family and start new. When I applied, I was nervous my application wouldn’t stand out upon the hundreds of thousands the university receives each year. I applied on a whim and didn’t even tell my mom I had applied; I didn’t want to get her hopes up.
A month after I submitted my application I came home to my friend’s house and checked the mail as I did everyday. Immediately, I noticed a large envelope from the University of Alabama. My stomach twisted and I rushed inside with all of the mail; I made a beeline for my room so I could rip the letter open. No other college application notification made me feel this way. I suddenly realized how much I so desperately wanted to open that letter and see the word “Congratulations”. When I finally opened the envelope and read the package inside, I saw something far better than even that. The University of Alabama had not only accepted me, but was offering me nearly $80,000 over my four years there. I reread the letter at least ten times before I erupted in overjoyed and thankful cries. The only thing I wanted to do was run down the stairs and hug my mom while I told her the exciting news, but of course, I couldn’t. She was a state over. I picked up my phone and thought about how to word my text to her, before I realized I had no words which could accurately describe just how excited I was. Instead, I just sent her a photo of my acceptance letter. Almost immediately, she called me crying. It was an incredible moment for both of us.
Sharing that news with my mom is something I will never forget. We had been through so much together and faced hurdle after hurdle as I grew up. She always told me how much she just wanted to see me succeed, and finally, I could tell her that I was on my way to doing just that. We could both go home and start new where we had a support system should we need it. I could study criminal justice and further myself on the path to my dreams. Now, we are both happily back in Alabama, and I am thankful every single day for that acceptance letter and the generous scholarship offer which helped to alleviate much of the stress for paying for college. My mom is working again and our family is ecstatic to have us home. I am so grateful to have shared that moment with my mom, even from hundreds of miles away, because that moment helped change our lives completely for the better.
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