Hey Everybody! No sewing post today, sorry! But I do need your help. I've entered an essay contest for a scholarship at CollegePlus and if I get the most votes from all of you I could win an iPad on top of it! Woohoo! Please go vote for me!
Please share on your blog or twitter too and help me get votes! I didn't even learn about the scholarhsip until there was only a few days left till it was over, so I'm sneaking in right under the wire. :-)
You all know about my storytellers competition piece that I won, but what most of you don't know is that I declined the scholarship and have moved on. If you don't want to go read the essay when you vote, here is the whole of it.
I knew what I wanted to do: I loved photography; I loved foreign cultures and travel; I loved people; and, I wanted to be a missionary. I would be a famous photojournalist and a missionary while I travelled the world! I needed to go to school and learn to be a better photographer. People said I had talent. What better way to use your talents than on the mission field, right? Such was my thinking as I started my senior year of high school. I started looking into schools and reading the flyers I got in the mail. We received one from one of the most prestigious art schools in the country.
The school was only an hour away from our home, so my Mom and I visited it. I brought in some portfolio photos, and my admissions counselor was stunned. She said she was shocked that I hadn’t used Photoshop on them, and that they looked like graduate level work. She explained the amazing programs and teachers they had. Sure it was expensive, but you got an incredible education and it only took three years! That would give me a head start on everything, including the mission field. Sure I would have to work through holidays and summer and commute two hours everyday, but I would be worth it, right? The only thing that remained was paying for it - all $97,000 of it!
There were two different photography contests I entered. For the first, I shot a photo story on Human Trafficking. The other contest required portfolio work and an essay. I ended up winning both scholarships totaling $30,000. The photo story continued to the national level. Even with the great scholarships I had I would still be $50,000 in debt.
It has been said that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. Well I would be adding school debt to that to that list. One of my friends described it as a black cloud that always hangs over you. People I looked up to said that I simply could not go overseas as a missionary with debt, and others seriously advised against bringing debt into a future marriage. Circumstances started to sink in. I would have to have a full-time career in the art world for at least 15 years to pay off the debt. So much for getting to the mission field early! However, if I won the national level scholarship, I would only be $10,000 in debt, and that didn’t seem very bad compared to the alternative.
I graduated from high school knowing that I would have to wait until the middle of the summer to find out if I had one the scholarship that would “determine my fate.” Not, mind you, whether or not I would go to the school, but how miserable I would be afterwards. As the summer went on, and I continued to tell people about my plans and this great art school, I grew to hate talking about it because doubt had crept into my mind. Everyone I trusted, looked up to and wanted to be like was a little wary, and started asking serious questions without necessarily discouraging me. Others congratulated me and said they were so proud of me for “following my dreams.”
I realized slowly and almost too late that I didn’t want to follow “my dream” but God’s plan. I looked seriously for the first time past the awesome photography education and at the unconscious influence the secular environment, professors, and peers would have on me. Was this going to prepare me for the mission field? Or was it going to discourage me and stunt my growth by keeping me from my family and responsibilities at home? What about my Christian friends and my ministry in my church? All of these things would be put on hold for three years while I studied the Arts, and then for another 10-15 years while I had a full time job to pay for school. As I felt the Lord leading me away from the path I was on, I actually prayed that I would not win the national-level scholarship because that would make it harder to follow the Lord and surrender the scholarships to the art school.
I left behind my dream of art school and my scholarships that day. I found though, that when God takes a dream, he always gives you a new one. I learned what truly matters to me, and now, have the freedom to pursue it to the glory of God.
I now seek a learning environment that will push and challenge me on toward a good, wholesome future instead of questioning and scoffing me into a fast paced secular career. I want the flexibility to remain involved in my family, and continue to learn from them. I want to be able to remain at my church, and grow in my relationship with God alongside people who want to do the same. I want to be a steward of all that God has given me, especially finances. Of course, I am entering this competition to earn financial assistance. I believe an excellent education is worth a lot of money, but that does not mean that I have the resources to accomplish my goals right now. I would like to win so I can participate in CollegePlus and still make responsible economic decisions.
With a degree from College Plus in International Studies I will not only be prepared mentally and scholastically for being an effective missionary overseas but through living at home and continuing under the tutelage of godly Christians, I will be furthered in my spiritual life and God’s plan for me.