#WeBelongInCollege Scholarship Winners
Below you can watch the inspirational #WeBelongInCollege stories that were awarded $1,000 scholarships. But first, check out these videos that capture the moment when they learned they had won!
When things got tough during the college application process, it was Thalia’s siblings that kept her going. As the first person in her family to apply to college, she was determined to be a role model for them.
For Yahshanda, going to college meant escaping an abusive household. Still, she felt lonely during her first year of college and sought comfort in alcohol. In her story she explains how she was able to heal after realizing that “pain is not where the journey ends, it's where it begins.”
It was only when he started to apply to college that Ruben learned that he was undocumented, and as a result could not apply for federal financial aid. He thought this meant he would never be able to go to college and was devastated. Thankfully, Ruben’s school counselor provided the guidance he needed. Now he has a message for undocumented students like him: “It is possible!”
After being physically abused, Madeline struggled with her mental health. She doubted herself and her ability to succeed in college. But she decided to persist towards her educational goals so she could become “the person she needed when she was thirteen.”
Every step of the way, from getting the documents to apply for financial aid, to figuring out how to feed himself in college, Freddy has struggled. But he views the hardships he has faced as “wood to throw into the fire that is determination.” His determination to persist will inspire you.
Ratha’s mom was adamant: her daughter had to go to college, something that is not possible for so many other Yemeni women. But after Ratha gave birth to her son, she started to question whether she belonged in college. It was only after she discovered her passion for sociology that Ratha came to truly believe she belonged in college.
Myles was a student-athlete but sustained an injury that left him sidelined. Depression followed but eventually he found ways to cope.
As soon as classes began, Stephany started to question if she belonged in college. She was afraid that she would fail because she is a recent immigrant and is still mastering English. She knows when she transfers to a new school next semester, the same fears will return. But this time, she won’t let the fear make her question if she belongs.
José did not have the same advantages that most of his classmates had in high school. As a result, he had to work (at least!) twice as hard. But that’s not all he did. He decided to become a tutor to help students in his neighborhood who had even fewer educational opportunities than he did.
When Jazmin's father was deported by ICE she was devastated. It felt like nothing else mattered. In her story, she shares how she managed to keep from giving up on her college dreams.
Meril looked forward to going to college so that they could finally be themselves. However, Meril was heartbroken to have to choose from only two gender options, neither of which they identified with, on some of the college applications. As a result, they started to question if they belonged in college.
Katia rushed to the hospital in extreme pain and soon learned that she had a tumor in her breast. As she endured multiple surgeries, her hopes of getting a college degree began to collapse. As a first generation and undocumented student, college already felt out of reach. To pay off her medical bills, she took a year off from school to work in retail. It was this experience that led to her to believe that she does belong in college.
Roger had no interest in college until he took a drama class in high school. Everything changed when he discovered his passion for filmmaking and started creating videos with his friends.
Growing up, Melody always had lofty education goals. But things changed when she felt discriminated against for being queer. Feeling lonely and like she didn’t belong led to severe depression. Listen to how Melody came to believe that she DOES belong in college.
As a commuter student, Chris struggled socially in college. It seemed that the other students, especially those who were dorming, were socially engaged in a way he wasn’t. So he came up with a strategy that worked and ended up benefiting many other students who were also eager to make more social connections.
Abdullah has always felt like an outsider due to his stutter. People at school would make fun of him relentlessly. He started to feel that college might not be for him. But with encouragement from his family, he realized that he belongs in college and now he’s working to inspire other students with disabilities to believe that they belong there too!
Leidy had always dreamed of becoming a doctor. But when she struggled with pre-med requirements, she started to question everything and left college. When she finally found the support she needed, she found the motivation to pursue her true passion.
Carter dreamed of going to military school and everything was going according to plan. He got the scholarship he needed after getting a nomination from a Senator. But then, after a serious football injury, everything changed. In his story, he shares how he refused to give up on his college dreams.
There is nothing more inspiring than someone who is in the midst of their own struggle and chooses to dedicate themselves to helping others. Serena shares her story because she wants to help other students who are figuring out how to cope with the pandemic.
Macina has dealt with so much, including homelessness and chronic health challenges in her family. And yet, she manages to care for her children and her sister’s children all while pursuing her college degree. Macina has truly proven that “if you push yourself, you can still make it.”
Returning home from college because of the pandemic and figuring out how to focus on her studies and stay healthy has been a real challenge for Amber. Now she has some really great advice to share: “Get on a schedule. Everyone’s saying it - BECAUSE IT WORKS!”
After she selected the college she would attend, Anna reached out to try to find a college roommate. It stung when she did not receive the kinds of responses she had hoped for. She started to get really nervous about being able to make friends in college. But she found a way to reassure herself, and has this wise advice to share: No matter what, “be yourself, because you wouldn’t want to hang out with anyone who doesn’t love you for who you are.”
As a DACA recipient, Samantha couldn’t qualify for any federal financial aid. After her father was deported and she had to work full time to support her mother and siblings, she started to question her college plans. Read her story to understand how she came to believe that, despite the many barriers she faces, she belongs in college.
Arlene was a dedicated student and was engaged in all kinds of extracurricular activities, but her grades took a hit when things started to fall apart at home. And eventually, she ended up in foster care. In her inspiring story, Arlene shares how she managed to become the first generation in her family to go to college.
Once she entered college, Jennifer began to experience domestic violence and as a result, had to transfer to a school far away. She now works two jobs to support herself while attending school full-time. In her story, she encourages students to persist because, “if the road isn’t clean or clear, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth the struggle.”
After talking with other high school seniors, Jordan was left feeling very dubious about whether he belonged in college. His friends talked about the extensive lists of impressive extracurricular activities detailed in their applications to ivy league schools. Jordan began to question his worth, his ability and his potential to succeed in college.
Abigael had long dreamed of going to college, but she found out that she was undocumented when it was time to apply for financial aid. She thought about giving up on college, but considering how much her mother struggled just to provide for her and her siblings motivated Abigael to keep fighting.