Story is incredibly powerful. Here’s how I connected with the Elks, won scholarships, and made lifelong friends in the process:
I was the first person in my family to go to a four year university, but life was tough sometimes. I always had the grades, drive and desire but our family never had the money. Nevertheless, I remember my mom saying to me as I was filling out college applications, "I don't care if I have to make payments the rest of my life, I want you to go to school."
I didn't want my mom burdened like that, but I did want to go to a good university.
At the time I was mowing lawns and selling stuff on eBay to save up some money. Bent on finding a better way, I learned that there was a ton of opportunity out there for graduating seniors through scholarships.
I put hours and days into writing essays, honing applications, and sharing my vision for my future. Eventually, I won enough scholarships to graduate debt-free from a top school.
In the process, I came to know some of the different organizations and the people behind them as family. The tables were turned when I sat in boardrooms asked to help review applicants. I served on advisory teams and even helped guide other students and parents through their application process. I learned a ton.
As I became more involved with the Elks, the Elks National Foundation, and other local Elks scholarship recipients, I eventually heard about the Alum of the Year Award. I took the time to write a note from the heart about how my plans and life had changed significantly from that very first essay I wrote. I filled out the simple application. Not long after, I traveled to Phoenix to accept my award and speak as 2011 Elks National Foundation Alum of the Year.
That's just a slice of my story. What's yours?
Make it your time to shine: brag a little, share your vision, inspire others, connect with Elks scholars in person, and apply to be Elks Alum of the Year right now: www.elks.org/ENF/scholars/AlumniAward.cfm.
2011 Elks Alum of the Year