Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I am worth the investment!

Sitting at the train station in Fez, after a long flight back to Morocco from France, I received a Facebook message from my friend. I was exhausted, it was two in the morning, and I still had to wait to catch the train from Fez back to Meknes. Sitting in the café, I starting getting knots in my stomach. I was thinking, everyone was probably already notified. I slowly made my way to my email, as my phone was dying. There it was four emails, one with that really scary red exclamation point, which means high urgency! I went directly to the email, only to read:

 "Congratulations Ida, you have been awarded the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship"

I started jumping up and down in the café, the people who were around me were looking at me like I was crazy. After reading the entire email I realized  the email did not reveal how much money I had won. My friend told me she was awarded $1,000.  At this point I was thinking I probably was awarded around the same since I waited until the very last minute to submit all my work because I did everything in my power to perfect my papers.

After I signed into my applicant award recipient, Gilman had notified me I was awarded $5,000. When I read this all I could do was smile and think about all the people who had helped me achieve this scholarship. I did not win this scholarship because of luck of the draw, I told the scholarship committee why I am worth the investment!

The Gilman application was due on October 2, 2013. I started working on this scholarship essay in the summer, two months before I left for Morocco because I knew once I arrived in Morocco it would be a little more difficult to quickly get in contact with my advisors. Who gave me the best directions and outline to think like a winning applicant. I restructured my outline so many times with Emma Sponge, I owe her and Phillip the biggest thanks for helping me think like a committee member.

When writing my essay's I was telling my personal story. I spoke about my identity as a diaspora of the Ethiopia. This is such a large shaping factor of my life, personality, and aspect on life. This is my identity, who I, Ida Ethiopia Ayalew am. I had to prove myself to be worthy of this investment of time and money. I spoke about my desires, dreams, struggles, and achievements. Making it evidently clear that nothing can deter me from the success I desire.

People want to invest in student's futures when they show progress. I polished my resume and made sure to make it clear that my future was in my control. I have to ability to change what my parent's could not change for me, but what I can change for myself. The financial need was also evidently there, being financially independent from my parents, I needed some help trying to keep the cost of student loans very low, if possible none. Regardless if I received the Benjamin Gilman Scholarship or not, I would still have studied abroad for a year, but I would have without as comfortable means the Gilman has provided for me.

After I have completed the rigorous hours of putting thought into my essays, I had to start developing a plan for my on-site project for my school, once I returned from my journey abroad. My project was actually spun out of an initial idea my advisor Kate Wozniak told me about. She explained how not many minority students are afforded the opportunity to study abroad. That's where my idea came steamed from, to start a personal informational setting to work with the Multi-Cultural Affairs Office. I wanted to speak to people about personal experience as a minority abroad, what kind of impact it made on my life and an educational opportunity to help others achieve what I have, loan free.

Without the help of my advisors, I would not have been able to accomplish as much as I have. This year, I am loan free, $21,000 in scholarships to cover the entire year, living comfortably abroad. A HUGE TIP for my fellow students, START EARLY! The early bird really does get the worm. Get help from your advisors, these are the people who are on scholarship committees and understand what people are looking for in an applicant. Studying abroad loan free is possible! You just have to prioritize and put in some hard work.

A HUGE thank you to the International Academic Program Office at UMKC, for all the support, emails, and encouragement.

Ida Ayalew

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