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How My Daughter Applied for and Won 18 College Scholarships

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Here's how my daughter applied for and won 18 college scholarships.

Here's how my daughter applied for and won 18 college scholarships.

Scholarships and Grants

Students should not despair if they don’t have the necessary money to attend college. There are many scholarships and grants out there to assist anyone who truly wants a college degree.

One avenue that is overlooked by students to obtain a college scholarship is through their own high school. In our county, many professional people and businesses offer scholarships to students they believe to be worthy of financial help.

Our high school publishes a booklet at the beginning of the school year with a list of the available scholarships. The booklet lists the name of the person or organization that is offering the award and the qualifications for that award.

Local Businesses and Professions Fund Scholarships

There are local attorneys who select a student who is interested in law. Some local veterinarians will select a student that wants to pursue a career in that field. Our teachers give a scholarship to a student who wants to be a teacher. Then there are organizations that set aside funds to help any student going to college for any profession.

Most of these scholarships are based on financial needs and the sincerity of the student. The largest scholarship of all is the Horatio Alger scholarship, and it is the most sought after because its high standards make it one of the hardest to win.

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. bears the name of the renowned author Horatio Alger, Jr., who wrote stories of ordinary people overcoming adversity and believed hard work, honesty and determination could conquer all obstacles. They look for students who have demonstrated those attributes. My girl certainly did those things. She overcame adversity in her life but was determined to succeed.

My Granddaughter Wants to Attend College, but We Have No Money

I had been the legal guardian of my granddaughter since she was in the sixth grade. Now, she was graduating from high school and was faced with the desire to attend college at a state university, but she knew we had no money. I had not been able to save any money toward her college expenses because I live on Social Security.

The state of Florida gives a scholarship called Bright Futures for students who have maintained at least a B average throughout their high school years. She knew she would qualify for that. That scholarship is very limited, so we still had a big deficit. Shortly before she reached her 18th birthday, I adopted her. If you adopt a child in the state of Florida, their college tuition is paid by the state. The cost of tuition is minimal when you add up all the other costs of college: books, housing, food, etc.

The U.S. Department of Education has student financial aid if certain qualifications are met. They use a formula based on the expected family contribution of the student. A high EFC will eliminate some federal aid; for example, $4,617 is the highest EFC for a Pell Grant. There is a form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form has to be completed well ahead of the anticipated date of college enrollment.

So, based on my income, we felt sure she would qualify for Federal Student Aid. There was no way to know for certain just how much money would be available.

She Begins The Application Process

My granddaughter brought home the booklet from her high school and carefully went through the available scholarships. She chose 25 altogether. She wrote a letter to each scholarship committee stating why she needed their help. She included her official high school transcript (up to that point) and three letters of recommendation as to her character, ethics, and determination. These were to be from a teacher, her clergy, and a neighbor.

The instructions she had to follow to apply for a scholarship were to include:

  • Her personal letter, stating why she needed funds for college and why she thought she was deserving of the award.
  • The three letters of recommendation
  • The official high school transcript

She spent about three weeks gathering all this information and preparing a separate brown legal-size envelope to mail the information to the organization awarding the scholarship.

My Granddaughter's Letter to the Scholarship Committees

This is the letter she wrote:

She introduced herself with her full name.

I will graduate from High School in the spring of 2007. I have lived with my grandmother, who is my legal guardian, since I was in the sixth grade. She also has custody of my 15 yr. old sister, and my 11 yr. old brother. Before I came to live with my grandmother, my mother who is in poor health tried to homeschool the three of us, but I realized I needed to attend school. So, I would get up in the mornings, get ready for school, and get the bus so I could attend public school.

When I was an infant I had severe ear infections which left me deaf. At age 10 I underwent surgery to make new ear drumbs by grafting skin from behind my ears. The first surgery was very painful and was not successful. The surgery was repeated a year later. I regained most of my hearing after the second surgery. Knowing that I may never regain full hearing, I took sign language classes and learned to sign. It took a third operation when I was 15 years old to completely restore my hearing for which I am very grateful.

I became a Cheerleader while in the 6th Grade, and enjoyed cheering for the next two years. Even though I could not hear well, I could feel the beat of the music and still perform. By doing this, I took on the responsibility of getting to practices on time and making sure I knew all the routines. This experience helped me to learn to be a more responsible person in general.

When I began Middle School, I became a member of their Color Guard squad. This involves precision flag twirling and dancing. I was appointed an officer for one year, and was voted Co-captain the second year. This involved a lot of hard work and discipline, and this was the beginning of my love of the Color Guard, which I still enjoy at Martin County High School. I was voted “the most improved” member in my freshman year. I have served as Captain of our squad for the past two years. It is a very important part of my life and I hope I can continue in college. In fact, I would like to be able to teach other students to do the same. This has been a big incentive to keep my grades up because in order to remain on the Color Guard, I had to keep a 3.0 GPA or better. This experience has taught me how to get along with others and to be able to work with them.

It is very important for me to attend college. I believe that by obtaining a degree, a person shows determination and self-discipline. In order to succeed in today’s world, a college degree is essential. I have applied to the following Universities: The University of South Florida, The University of Central Florida, Florida State University, and the University of North Florida, These schools offer degrees in Education, and I would like to participate in their Color Guard which is important to me.

I would like to pursue a career in the teaching field. At this time I think I would like to teach Elementary School children. Currently, I am working three hours each morning before school as a Teacher’s Aide at Bessey Creek Elementary School. I am the middle child of eight brothers and four sisters, so I can relate to children. I took and passed the Certified Baby Sitting Course from the American Red Cross, and that has given me self confidence in caring for children. I know I will never become wealthy by teaching, but I would be happy to know I could make a difference in the lives of children in a positive way.

I feel I am a worthy candidate for your scholarship. I am a very responsible person, and I am determined to get a college degree. Because my grandmother is on a low fixed income, my desire to get a college degree may not be realized without the help of an organization such as yours who offer scholarships to students that might not be able to attend college without financial help from others.

Thank you for the opportunity of applying for your scholarship.

My Granddaughter's Efforts to Win the Scholarships Paid Off

She was informed by the High School counselor to be sure and attend Scholarship Night. She was very excited because she knew she must have won a scholarship. She was called to the podium to receive her scholarship. It was from the Horatio Alger Foundation. This is a very coveted award. She had no idea she would win that award. I was so very proud. She would have been content just knowing she had won that scholarship. But to her surprise, she was called to the podium 17 more times!

Not only was she awarded a total of 18 scholarships that night, but she holds the record for the student who won the most scholarships from her school that year.

It took a lot of time and effort on her part to apply for all these awards, but it really paid off.

Between all of these awards, Federal Grants, and the grant awarded from the college of her choice, the University of South Florida, her four years of college were almost paid for. She chose not to live in a dormitory, so she worked two jobs so she could live off campus and drive and maintain the 1997 Toyota Camry she purchased in her Junior year of high school.

She bought that car by working after school. Her scholarship money did not stretch all the way through her senior year. She had to take out a student loan to get her through. She will always be grateful for all the financial help she received. She wrote a personal handwritten note of thanks to each scholarship committee chairman for awarding her their scholarship.

The graduate in front of the University of South Florida sign.

The graduate in front of the University of South Florida sign.

Our Family Established Our Own Scholarship

Money is available for students to go to college. It just takes determination and work.

Our family was so grateful for the financial help she received that we decided last year to forego exchanging gifts. Instead, we pooled our money to fund a $1,000 scholarship in the name of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, who died in 1988. This was awarded to a high school graduate who will attend Veterinary School, and it will help defray some of her costs. It was a beautiful feeling for my family and me to give this deserving student her scholarship.

Bailey went through all four years of her Mom's college life.

Bailey went through all four years of her Mom's college life.

My girl and her 1997 Toyota Camry

My girl and her 1997 Toyota Camry

The graduate and her proud family

The graduate and her proud family

Bailey (the Shih Tzu) is very proud of her mom.

Bailey (the Shih Tzu) is very proud of her mom.

My Girl Is A Teacher Now

I'm proud to add to this article that my daughter is now an elementary school teacher! She reached her goal and is happy teaching.

Oh, and she still is driving her Toyota and still has her best friend and companion, Bailey.

© 2012 Mary Hyatt


Helena A Kuffuor on November 12, 2018:

I am very proud of her

Mary Hyatt (author) from Florida on March 24, 2015:

Good Morning, pstraubie48 You could certainly relate to the ear problems my daughter had. She suffered so much pain as a baby in her ears. I spent many nights rocking her back to sleep, only to have her awaken in a while, crying.

Her hearing has not been restored 100%, but she manages very well.

Thanks so much for reading about my daughter and her scholarships, the votes and the shares. I appreciate that, Mary

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 23, 2015:

What an awesome story/

I read with interest of her ear surgery. I had many illnesses with my ears as a child and when I was 12 had a mastoidectonomy. My hearing was very poor prior to and after that. Then when I was 35 I had a hole in my eardrum and a growth on the other side of the perforated eardrum. skin was taken from behind my ear to make a new eardrum as you described here in your hub. My hearing improved dramatically after than but now thirty years later I am hard of hearing so over the years I have learned to read lips.