What can I do? As soon as I put the book down, I knew I had to do something. Kisses from Katie, a book describing one college freshman journey of moving to Uganda and starting a nonprofit, captivated my attention from the time I picked it up to the time I finished it. My sheltered 11-year-old life was a stark contrast to the abject poverty and dire family situations described in the book, and that both crushed and motivated me to make a difference.
I immediately began planning how to raise money for the organization described in the book, Amazima Ministries, and started knitting scarves to sell for profit. I raised hundreds of dollars for the organization and happily donated it, feeling like I had made a difference.
Eventually, my knitting days came to an end as school and life became more challenging, but my passion for helping others never wavered. While my sheltered worldview had been shattered by reading that book several years prior, its newer reconstruction viewed poverty and dysfunction as distant problems solved only by donations to international nonprofits. This all changed my sophomore year of high school when I first got dropped off at a local apartment complex to volunteer with a nonprofit. Many afternoons were accentuated by the faint smell of garbage from the giant dumpsters right by the picnic tables where the volunteers and kids met to talk about life, make crafts, and eat snacks. These kids struggled with poverty and dysfunction, and their problems were not so far away. I quickly realized that I was not powerless to make a change in my own community.
I had always dreamed about leaving the United States someday to travel to a developing nation in order to make a difference and there always seemed to be an element of glamor to that until I realized that all you need to make a difference is willingness to serve wherever you end up. Since I started volunteering in my community, I’ve learned that there’s nothing glamorous about talking by a garbage can, but there is something fulfilling about forming a personal connection instead of sending money through a computer screen.
My passion to serve is why I am so excited to major in Spanish and possibly International Development to be a voice for those who are often marginalized and abused in the United States and around the world. My deepest desire is to provide a safe space for children to go after school and to have the unique opportunity to be a role model during a pivotal time in their lives. Starting or joining an after-school program in a predominantly Hispanic community in order to connect with children who have just immigrated with counselors, other children who have experienced the same trauma, and a vibrant bilingual community that loves both English and Spanish is what I am passionate about. And most importantly, when confronted with local and international injustice in the future, I am hoping to learn from that little voice inside me that refuses to stay quiet but instead asks, What can I do?
Scholarship Essay by Elizabeth Booze
UCA’s most recent Scholarship Essay Contest for High School Juniors and Seniors officially ended on May 15, 2020. While the theme has always been to explore ways to make a more caring world, our most recent Essay Contest specifically asked how they would make a more caring world in one of four categories – Children – Animals – Reforestation – Elderly. The winning essays have been posted and awards distributed.
Because there were so many impressive essays submitted from across the U.S., we decided to share many of these students’ inspiring caring actions with you in this publication. Through their essays, the students provide a refreshing insight into their minds and hearts, offering an in depth view of our world that we often overlook. They take us on a journey rich in knowledge, personal experience and creative solutions. It is our hope you will feel as informed and inspired as we do. We are proud to present to you the writings, thoughts and dreams for a more caring future through these articles.