What has your scholarship meant to you and how has it enabled you to pursue new and exciting opportunities?
As the child of a single parent, I have long thought that college was impossible or next to impossible. As it approached, I realized that it was possible, but would require me to go into a decent amount of debt, making me worry about my financial future.
I am extremely grateful for every dollar that I am given in scholarship money, because each one eases my financial burden later in life, which will allow me to spend more time pursuing my career goals (currently to work somewhere in the field of professional writing) and focusing on giving back to the community.
Tell us about your favorite class, extracurricular activity, academic opportunity, community involvement or another unique experience.
By far, the best academic opportunity I have had is working on my Keystone project for Honors Humanities. The Keystone project is a two-year long humanities-centered project. Below is the abstract for my project, which is entitled Dear Brutus: Observations of Fault.
Dear Brutus is a series of non-fiction essays designed to provide an overall look at many of society’s modern-day social issues using real-life anecdotes to represent them. It was inspired by Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, but aims to represent broader social and political issues. In order to allow the anecdotes to stand for themselves, the essays deliberately have no direct analysis. That said, however, the anecdotes are still purposefully chosen and ordered to present a comprehensive picture of each issue. Further, the essay titles are almost all derived from famous quotations or works of literature, designed to give the reader a contextual frame for understanding the points implicit in each essay.
Dear Brutus: Observations of Fault is itself a derivation of the following line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” This is representative of the overarching theme of the book as a whole—that people will blame everyone else for the issues in today’s society while ignoring their own complicity in perpetuating them. As Joan Didion once wrote, “writers are always selling somebody out.” This is precisely what Dear Brutus aims to do; every essay seeks to highlight the actions of the people who are pointing the blame elsewhere, most often when they themselves could share in the fault. Each essay ends on an ironically blunt note, often a quote from one of the complicit people. These “frustrating endings” are designed to not only to underline the hypocritical behavior of the people in each essay, but to spurn a desire for action in the readers so that the conversation about the issues does not stop with the book.
Very rarely in this book are millennials being “sold out”—in fact, they are often the ones who have taken on the “fault.” Their voices, so often drowned out or misrepresented by others, are designed to be clearly heard here. Though the overall book focuses on general social and political issues, many of the anecdotes take place on the University of Maryland’s campus, and some cater specifically to millennial-specific issues that are not discussed often enough. “Climbing the Tree,” for instance, is specifically about the culture of academic perfectionism that has arisen at both high schools and universities in recent years.
Though the Dear Brutus does “sell people out,” its aim is not to simply lay fault on another group of people. Rather, the aim is for the essays to inspire a conversation about the issues represented in it; the anecdotes are evidence that problems still persist that need addressing. The readers can garner what they wish from the essays and the book as a whole, but the aim is that what they encounter will help expand their worldview and allow them to critically analyze their own roles in problematic actions, thoughts, and systems.
Dear Brutus is a series of non-fiction essays designed to provide an overall look at many of society’s modern-day social issues using real-life anecdotes to represent them. It was inspired by Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, but aims to represent broader social and political issues.