Tuesday, January 18, 2011

DMT Scholarship Update


I can't believe how popular the scholarship has become. The DMT scholarship page has been viewed 27,000 times, and we've received 162 applications. (The deadline is in two weeks.)

Josh and I have read through every application and narrowed it down to eight finalists thus far. It is going to be INCREDIBLY difficult to pick one winner from so many outstanding candidates.

We are evaluating each candidate with criteria that best be kept secret, but I will say that we are looking for students who seek to challenge themselves; who wish to venture off the beaten path; and who desire to sever ties with the dominant institutions of our day—whether it be church or state or school. We have nothing against "institutions," but to live a whole life within their confines can be detrimental to one's development. Just as a sapling can only grow so much in a flowerpot, our growth, too, will be stymied if we're not given the space to freely thrive.

Institutions have a homogenizing effect. When we are part of an institution, we are fashioned—in ways big and small—like every one else in that institution. A journey, on the other hand—especially a journey that follows no one's footsteps—has the capacity to help a person develop into an individual. Because no one has embarked on that journey before and no one ever will again, the traveler will be shaped in wildly unique ways. To go to the ends of the earth under the auspices of a university or church—albeit for honorable reasons—is to, let's face it, participate in little more than glorified tourism.

Also, a true dream or a true journey cannot be "invented" haphazardly. You cannot merely say that you are going to walk across America, and that's your "dream" for lack of better ideas. A dream should come from you, your soul, your whatever—that’s because the dream is you in a sense; it’s a reflection of your beliefs and values; it will be the realization of the person you most want to be. Such a dream is a lightning bolt that rarely strikes. Josh and I are looking for people who've been struck.

The feedback we've gotten has been heartwarming. Students are delighted to see a scholarship that has nothing to do with GPAs, résumés, or professor recommendations. While students receive bountiful support for their pursuit of career goals, they rarely receive encouragement to pursue their "impractical" goals—which is regrettable because it is the impractical goals that they're especially passionate about.

While I wish I could provide aid to 100 of these applicants, I look forward to helping out at least one.

16 comments:

Nick said...

Incredible. It's amazing what you've started with this scholarship Ken.

It's sure going to be a lot of fun reading about the winner's experience, whoever it is. Best of luck sorting through the talented 162 :)

Ken said...

Nick--thanks. I think it has a lot of potential. Ha--I wouldn't call them all "talented." There are a few offbeat ones in their who want to use the money to go dancing, or to buy gifts for themselves. While disillusioning, I get a kick out of these.

Anonymous said...

So is this scholarship supposed to be one person's dream of helping other people through their dream or is it about a person's personal selfindulgence of a long sought after dream seeking only to help themselves?

Ken said...

Anon--good question. As I stipulate in the scholarship description, it can be either (for self indulgent reasons or to help others). A dream is a dream and it can be many things. I'm reluctant, though, to use the word "self-indulgent" because I think it has negative connotations (selfish, egotistical). I think travel can be considered more of as a need and less as a luxury. So just as we don't consider breathing self-indulgent, I wouldn't consider traveling self-indulgent either.

J.R. said...

I'd agree. Anyone that seeks to change the word needs to have a deeply impactful personal (or, self-indulgent) experience first.

Jackie said...

I think even "self-indulgent" dreams impact people in ways that people aren't aware of. It's an individual change that ultimately brings about some of the largest changes in the world. It's over rated to say someone's going to change the world with their actions, sometimes it's more than enough just to change one's self.

N said...

Jackie, I think your comment is spot on.

Anonymous said...

There's already to many scholarships out there for people that want to make a difference in the world, I think it is about time someone started a scholarship that starts at home - within the individual!

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the finalists that don't get to realize their dream. That has to suck. Are people allowed to reapply in the following years?

Anonymous said...

Hi I was wondering how do we apply for this Scholarship? It seems very interesting.

Ken said...

Indeed, I agree with everything everyone's said!

Anons--Sure, people can reapply in future years. I think most will still be able to realize their goals without this scholarship. $1,000 isn't the biggest hurdle in the world.

You can still apply but time's running out. Just click on my Scholarship page under the picture of me and the van--everything you need to know is on there.

Anonymous said...

When are you going to announce the winner and are you going to contact the winner first or will you be letting them find out via your blog since you didn't ask for phone numbers? I guess you could call one of their contacts and ask for their number though. Or email, but it might go to junk mail - I just wanted to give you a heads up. Which I'm sure you already know.

Ken said...

Anon-- Good questions/advice. The winner will be announced first via email (and I will make sure he/she gets it). Then I will post the winning essay on the blog. I will also send out a mass email to the people who do not get the award. I'm hoping to have the decision made in a week or two. I've had 350+ applications, so it's not an easy call.

Shannon said...

Is it harder than you imagined to pick out the ones you like or is it less difficult?

Shannon said...

So by the 14th we should expect the final results?! How nerve wracking!

Ken said...

Shannon--I was looking for something fairly specific so it was fairly easy to narrow them down. Ideally, the winner will be announced in a few days. I'm working on it.