I just finished reading 373 scholarship applications (108 of which came right before the deadline, which was two days ago). My brain is officially fried. I had hoped to have the winner named by now, but figured it might be best to wait for the letters on the computer screen to come into focus again before I start handing out free money.
While the project has been daunting, it’s been an education in itself. Man, there are a lot of young people with dreams out there. Here are just a few:
— one guy from California State Fullerton wants to tour Europe, learning historic European martial arts (with swords and shields and stuff).
— a gal from UC Irvine wants to chase tornadoes and another dude from from the same school wants to swim with sharks off the coast of South Africa.
— a dude from U. of Florida Gainsville wants to retrace the route of Columbus, and take a sailboat across the Atlantic in a hurricane.
— one gal wants to track down her lover in Ireland.
— a gal from City College at Berkeley wants to fight alongside the Zapatistas in Mexico.
— a gal from Florida State wants to drive up to Alaska.
— a dude from Eastern wants to build earthships in Gaza.
— one guy wants to have a blood transfusion with a Bengal tiger!
— a girl from U. of Vermont wants to tour Australia, and a gal from Cornell wants to hug a giraffe in Africa, and another from U. of C. Merced wants to visit Russia.
— a guy from U. of C. Irvine wants to honor the memory of his father with a cross-country bike trip to Burning Man, and another dude from McGill wants to cycle down North America’s West Coast.
— one gal wants to start an NGO to help find missing travelers, and a “tiny” girl from Johns Hopkins wants to climb the New Hampshire “48”—all 48 mountain peaks above 4,000 feet.
— a guy from Florida State wants to take a boat down the Amazon and another from Florida State (what’s with all the Seminoles?) wants to go on a tour of WWII battlegrounds to see all the sights his grandfather used to tell him about.
I should admit that—for every great applicant—there were several… umm... not-so-great applicants. One gal wanted to use the money to clubbing in Vegas, several wanted the money to buy cameras, and another’s dream was to become a Victoria Secret model. I’d say more than half of the applicants were looking for money for tuition, missions, or study abroad programs. These are all undeniably good and honorable—but not what we were looking for.
Many wanted to tour Europe or go on a road trip across the U.S.—and while these dreams have the potential to be earth-shattering and life-altering—we favored something a little more rugged and daring. Others wanted to tour all seven continents and become world travelers—this was great too, but we wanted a dream that had some sort of developed plan and a more precise goal.
Needless to say, I was inspired. To have over 350 apply to this is encouraging--it tells me that there are probably thousands, (millions!) who want to break away from school and work and the status quo.
I tire of people who call my generation apathetic and distracted and complacent. Every applicant was so hopeful and optimistic and brimming with dreams. Each wanted to better themselves, help humanity, or save the planet. Give our generation a cause and the opportunity, and we will wow you—I am sure of it.
Anyway, I will announce the winner hopefully within the next week or two. I apologize to all those dreamers who I cannot help out, and I thank everyone who’s donated to make this scholarship possible!