Category Archives: Grants and Scholarships Personal Narratives

Why me for Fulbright?

Program Identified: Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

Prompt: Who are you and why should you receive this grant/scholarship?

Program-Specific Prompt: “The statement should be a 1 page narrative that provides a picture of yourself as an individual․ It should deal with your personal history, family background, influences on your intellectual development, the educational, professional, and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you․ Also include your special interests and abilities, career plans, and life goals, etc. It should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application or an elaboration of your Statement of Grant Purpose․ It is more of a biography, but specifically related to you and your aspirations relative to the specific Fulbright Program to which you have applied․”


For someone who has actually never been abroad, I have a great appreciation for foreign languages. Learning a foreign language and culture has been a part of my academic, professional, and personal development for as long as I can remember. I cannot remember a time during which I have not been learning a foreign language. My father studied German throughout middle school, high school, and some of college and had always wished that I follow in his footsteps. Although I did not realize this at the time, my father and I share a similar curiosity for all things in general, which makes learning a language a great, intellectually stimulating adventure. I was most definitely up for the ride.

It is very safe to say that my high school was the place where my addiction for learning foreign languages, particularly German, really sprouted from. There were two teachers of German, both of whom have taught me for many years and with whom I was incredibly close. They took me under their wings and mentored me, increasing my love for the language and culture. One of my German teachers was largely the reason for why I chose to attend Emory for my undergraduate degree, and I am the only student to date that has taken all of the German courses offered by my high school. I was granted the opportunity to take AP German Language and Culture at my high school, an academically challenging and rewarding program that I still value today.

Moving on to my undergraduate experience, I began my collegiate foreign language education strongly with the opportunity to participate in research as a first-year student. Through this experience, I was able to design my own education and learn about topics of interest to me. This also allowed me the opportunity to improve my language skills by being able to speak at a better, more fluid pace in individual meetings with my professor. This experience opened my eyes to many other opportunities to engage with the foreign language community at Emory. I was also invited to apply for the Global Languages and Cultures Cohort in which I engage with other students studying foreign languages at Emory. This experience serving on the cohort has allowed me to interact with students who study languages different from mine and actively reflect on why I chose to study a foreign language. It truly became clear to me that, as a result of my language studies, I am a better, more well-rounded person with skills that are irreproducible in other areas of study.

Studying foreign languages have exposed me to the cultural differences that exist between the German-speaking world and America. Since I hope to become a scholar in philosophy and teach at a collegiate level, I now have a good aim at potential research interests including the philosophy of culture and immigration. This research will allow me to integrate my love for foreign languages and cultures with my love of philosophy and answering bigger questions.

TaLK Program: Statement of Purpose

Written by: Katherine Ahn 

 Directions of the Statement of Purpose: Please use this opportunity to provide a clear and precise statement.  Examples of topics may include: insights about teaching/learning, your potential role as a Scholar/Teacher based on your experience, self-introduction, family background, educational background, work experience, motive to apply, plan of service & other activities as a TaLK scholar, plan for further studies during your time in Korea, etc. 

The following is not an essay of my Statement of Purpose, but an organizational outline of what I wrote about. 


1. Why South Korea?

My past experiences in South Korea immensely entailed being in my comfort zone by meeting friends and family. However, it is one thing to vacation in your motherland, where it is another to work and live there. South Korea is the location for where I can serve as a cultural ambassador for Korean Americans, teach English to primary students and continue to learn more about Korea through being a TaLK Scholar.


2. My Experience with CASIE (Center for the Advancement & Study of International Education) 

Even though I do not have experience in teaching English, as a workshop leader for a non-profit pedagogy organization, CASIE (Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education), I presented information in varied and creative ways to IB teachers so that they can learn more about how to teach in an innovative and creative space.  I also worked closely with the respective directors of this organization, who assisted me with difficult situations in the workshop and who encouraged my pedagogical ideas and put them into action. I presented a brief project on the interrelationship with language acquisition and theater, then acted as a mediator to facilitate discussion amongst teachers and present problem-solving strategies. By the use of theatrical elements such as acting and ensemble activities I will incorporate these elements as a TaLK English Teaching Assistant in a Korean classroom.


3. What I got out of CASIE – Teacher responsibility.

My experiences leading me up to the English Teaching Assistant opportunity taught me to recognize and encourage self-worthiness in students. Even though linguistically speaking, it is difficult to learn a language on a secondary school level, it is neither impossible to comprehend and produce a second language. It becomes the teacher’s responsibility to create a course where students feel confident and safe, while actively engaging with the target language. I truly want to create an environment where students can be passionate about learning a second language.


3. Community Involvement Plans in South Korea and in the US- Comfort Women History. 

I have a passion in knowing more about the comfort women history. My exploration with the comfort women history is not limited o participating in demonstrations, but also, I want to contribute my English language to translating and interacting with survivors and observe how other schools teach the comfort women history. With that, I can carry on the known to the Korean American Greater Atlanta community and continue to advocate for the comfort women survivors, since there is a comfort women organization and memorial in Atlanta.

4. Final Statement – 3 key points 

  • As a Korean American pursuing a career in international education, I want to begin challenging myself personally and professionally in my motherland.
  • The opportunity to teach in South Korea to primary school students will not only present me with leading and teaching opportunities, but also learn with students and other TaLK scholars.
  • The TaLK program is an opportunity that palpably infuse a strong foundation to my career path in international education.

Learning and Teaching as a Fulbright Indonesia English Teaching Assistant

“The statement should be a 1 page narrative that provides a picture of yourself as an individual․ It should deal with your personal history, family background, influences on your intellectual development, the educational, professional, and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you․ Also include your special interests and abilities, career plans, and life goals, etc․ It should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application or an elaboration of your Statement of Grant Purpose․ It is more of a biography, but specifically related to you and your aspirations relative to the specific Fulbright Program to which you have applied․”

The simple exchange of “Hello, how are you today?” and “I am fine, thank you. And you?” between myself and the students to whom I teach English has become a precious ritual to me over the years. This seemingly mechanical interaction has been the starting point for much deeper relationships and communication between myself and my ESL students. Language education begins by learning such simple greetings and progresses towards communicating about interests, work, family, values, and culture. As both a language learner and teacher, “Hello, how are you?” has been the basis for the relationships I formed with people of completely different backgrounds from myself in Atlanta, Seoul, Beijing, and Phnom Penh, and also my ability to enable my students to communicate with others through English. 

My Korean host family (2014)

My commitment to language-learning began when I spent a year in high school studying Korean in Seoul through a State Department scholarship program. Leaving my predominantly white Tennessee town to live with a host family in a completely unfamiliar country made me fall in love with language’s ability to give me access to new people and cultures. The moments I shared with my host family—laughing at my mispronunciations and charades—taught me that the process of learning languages is equally important to relationship-building and positively representing my country as language is itself. 

When I started college, I continued my Korean studies and began learning Mandarin. I also began to explore the other side of language education: teaching. I was hooked after one week of teaching ESL to refugees during my first semester. I taught English to immigrants at a community center every Thursday evening. Together we laughed at our mistakes and discussed our backgrounds between activities, and I realized I had much more in common with them than I previously imagined as I shared my low-income background and they told me about their economic hardships. They told me about their struggles adjusting to US life and shared their triumphant moments speaking English, such as calling the plumber or making appointments. Seeing the connection between language and these immigrants’ livelihoods inspired my commitment to education for marginalized groups before I ever realized this was my path.

My students and myself in Phnom Pehn (2017)

In the words of my professor, I got the “ESL bug” from my first semester onward. I sought training in education for marginalized groups as an ESL instructor in lieu of Emory’s suspended Education Studies program. I drew on what was most effective in my language studies to inform my teaching practices, rejecting lecture-based teaching to focus on task-based learning, in-class discussions, and watching films to improve proficiency. I began tutoring ESL to international students and took an opportunity to teach an eight-week, self-designed ESL class while living at a drug rehabilitation center in Cambodia during the summer of 2017. The women I met had lived in the slums for years as addicts, and the Center in which they lived had no electricity, internet, or indoor plumbing. I came into the Center intimidated by my task, shocked by the systematic inequalities between myself and my students and overwhelmed by living so far outside of my comfort zone. These concerns faded as I formed relationships with the women and children. Like my experiences learning Korean with my host family and teaching ESL to immigrants, communication with these women began with simple greetings and grew to talk about food, our families, faiths, and hopes for the future. 

My love of language stems from my desire to connect to other peoples and cultures. This desire has driven my academics and personal pursuits as well as my pursuit of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. As an avid language learner and educator, I am excited to work as an ETA in Indonesia and continue to teach and learn from my students. 

Why the Ford Foundation Fellowship is perfect for me

Personal Statement describing the applicant’s background and experience and commitment to the goals of the Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs by addressing all of the following that apply (abridged version):

  • Sustained personal engagement with communities that are underrepresented in the academy and ability to bring this asset to learning, teaching, and scholarship at the college or university level
  • Capacity to respond in pedagogically productive ways to the learning needs of students from diverse backgrounds and likelihood of using the diversity of human experience as an educational resource in teaching and scholarship
  • Applicants should describe their past and ongoing community service efforts such as: tutoring and mentoring students in challenging environments, participation in housing or public service projects, leadership and organizational skills that benefit a larger community, campus-based student activities, language teaching, involvement in professional organizations that serve the community
  • Applicants should note anything in their background that speaks to their unique perspective, such as: first person or generation in family to achieve college degree or seek advanced degree
  • Applicants may also cite the following: teaching methods and academic interests that are inclusive and sensitive to diversity, any successes that can be attributed to using new techniques to create an inclusive and respectful teaching and learning environment, personal goals, both long-standing and future-focused, that involve increasing understanding in the college or university setting and are in the broader context, employment that demonstrates a long-standing commitment to diversity and depth of understanding of a multicultural society, efforts to improve access and opportunity for all, particularly in one’s local community (neighborhood, place of worship, geographic region)

My experience as a Spanish learner has led me to engage with the Hispanic community in the US. I’ve always had a passion for Latin American culture, and I’ve always been conscious of the lack of resources in education for immigrants and other underprivileged groups. Only 63% of ESL students graduate from high school, and less than 2% of those students pursue a degree. These students are not given the opportunity to achieve their full potential due to their socioeconomic status and inability to speak English (Sanchez 2017).

Jocón, a traditional Guatemalan dish with indigenous roots

Furthermore, I’m currently working on an honors thesis on the grammar of an understudied Guatemalan language called Chuj. I was introduced to this language through my connection with the community that speaks it. In order to conduct my research, I interview native speakers of the language. Through my research I’ve formed relationships with people that belong to an underrepresented community, one that many people don’t even know exists in the US. One of my future goals is to bring more awareness to indigenous culture, which is one reason I have chosen to teach high school Spanish after I graduate. I want to use my privilege to be the voice for a group that very few are familiar with. My deep interest in indigenous culture has also drawn me to apply to the Ford Foundation Fellowship.

I’ve been accepted to be a high school Spanish teacher with Teach For America after I graduate, and I plan on simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in education. Afterwards, I would like to continue the research I started as an undergraduate and pursue a PhD in linguistics. The experience I will gain as a teacher will improve my eligibility as an applicant for the Ford Foundation Fellowship, since it explicitly mentions education and teaching methods that cater to the needs of a diverse classroom. Teach For America emphasizes closing the opportunity gap that affects underprivileged groups, and therefore I will learn more about these groups and how to do my part to lessen the gap.

Additionally, I am the first person in my family to pursue a bachelor’s degree. My parents were never able to help me with homework or essays, and they knew less about the college application process than I did. I know what it’s like to navigate college applications on one’s own, and to be the only person in a group whose parents don’t have professional careers. I will be able to use this experience to guide other students in the process of applying for college when I’m a high school teacher, and for graduate school when I’m a professor.

Source: Sanchez, Claudio (Feb. 23, 2017). “English Language Learners: How Your State Is Doing.” Retrieved from:

An Office Overseas

Fulbright Personal Statement

Portugal, Study/Research Grant

“The statement should be a 1 page narrative that provides a picture of yourself as an individual․ It should deal with your personal history, family background, influences on your intellectual development, the educational, professional, and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you․ Also include your special interests and abilities, career plans, and life goals, etc․ It should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application or an elaboration of your Statement of Grant Purpose․ It is more of a biography, but specifically related to you and your aspirations relative to the specific Fulbright Program to which you have applied․”


There are two main things that I look forward to learning about on a daily basis: foreign language and biology. As a child, my mother enrolled me in an immersive Spanish program in school. Initially, she expected me to hate it; much to her surprise, I came back gleefully regurgitating all of the words I had learned from the day. I haven’t stopped taking Spanish since. In college, I decided to take my love for foreign language a step farther and pursue learning Portuguese as well. I knew from a young age that I wanted to enter the science field, and I quickly realized that foreign language had to be involved somehow as well. I hope to someday combine these two interests in my career; I would like to be a medical doctor “without borders.”  Although those two subjects are my main passions, I love learning about anything and everything, and I am aware that some of the best lessons are not learned academically.

One of the most influential experiences I’ve had was at a local free clinic. The clinic needed Spanish-speaking volunteers; approximately 90% of the clinic’s patients were Latinx, with Spanish as their native tongue. Only about 12% of the doctors could speak Spanish, however. As a Spanish and Portuguese student with a passion for the medical field, I knew the opportunity was one I could not resist. Upon arriving at the clinic, I quickly realized that speaking/listening to a foreign language in an academic setting is much different than speaking/listening to a foreign language in the “real world.” Although the task was initially overwhelming, the challenge ultimately exposed me to a wide variety of new vocabulary and prepared me for real-life application scenarios that I am likely to come across as a professional in the medical field abroad. Perhaps most importantly, the experience allowed me to connect with my local community in significant ways that I otherwise would not have been able to do.

My “real-life” experience in the clinic inspired me to apply to a study abroad in Lisbon, Portugal. After listening to various Fado performances and learning about Portugal’s restrictive past under António de Oliveira Salazar’s ruling, I was inspired to conduct research on the relationship between Fado music and the Estado Novo regime in 20th century Portugal. After researching the complex history of Fado music in Portugal and its relationship with politics over the years, I realized that there is so much more to explore about the topic than a simple undergraduate thesis could cover. Fulbright would give me the invaluable opportunity to continue my research while also developing Portuguese cultural and linguistic knowledge. The experience would allow me to be a better and more qualified candidate for my future career; most importantly, it would broaden my horizons, expand my knowledge on critical historical events, and enable me to connect even more to Portuguese-speaking communities.

The Experience of a Lifetime – Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program

“Why do you wish to go to Japan and participate in the JET Program and why you are interested in the position for which you are applying (ALT or CIR)?”

There are an infinite amount of ways to change the lives of others. The ‘how’ of achieving this goal is, of course, steeped in subjectivity, but it is no secret that it can be done. In some way or fashion, everyone has experienced or will experience a life changing experience. Whether it be through the loving advice of highly valued colleague or through the discovery a particularly interesting piece of knowledge, life-changing moments can happen everyday. There is a profound beauty in these moments, but such beauty is amplified when you are the one facilitating this change. The chance to witness how you alone have made a difference in the life of someone you care about is not only life changing for the one you care for, but for yourself as well.  The joy of knowing that you have been instrumental in someone’s life is a monumental, ongoing experience that never ceases to give both you and the one you’ve poured into a sense of satisfaction. This joy is precisely what can be gained as an Assistant Language Teacher through the JET program. As such, it would be a privilege to go abroad to experience said joy of bringing foreign language into the grasp of eager young students in Japan. 

Classrooms around the world are filled with excited learners who long to be engaged. Many students are in need of teachers who will be able to understand them not only academically, but personally as well in order to create a fun, appealing learning environment. In discussing ‘how’ achieving a life change is possible, for many school-age children, feeling heard and understood in the classroom can be something that gives them that sense of monumental joy.  Assistant Language Teachers in the JET program are tasked with the rewarding job of teaching young Japanese children a foreign language. Although this task can certainly be daunting for a foreign national like myself, there are several ways, through the responsibilities of this position, that I believe I can use to facilitate the joy I was long to give to students. A great example of this is through the exchange of information that will happen between my students and I. In addition to giving my students an exciting environment through which to learn English, it is also personally important for me to create an outlet for the children to learn more about my home culture and for me to learn about theirs. In this way, students will walk away from class not only having learned new words to add to their repertoire, but a new perspective on life abroad and how to apply their understanding of foreign language into an internationalized world. Exchanges like these will allow students to understand that as their teacher, I am not solely interested in them grasping the foreign language I am teaching them. Instead, they will know that I am focusing on not only on their academic performance, but their knowledge of the globalized world we live in, and the importance of acceptance of those who are different from themselves. These types of interactions will certainly be life changing for them and are just one example of how the opportunity to serve as an Assistant Language Teacher will give me an opportunity to develop students’ minds and bring them closer to the joy of having a life altering experience through learning. The honor of being able to bring this type of experience to a learner’s life alone is enough to drive me towards an opportunity to join the JET program as an ALT. 


Anywhere but Here – Jada Chambers

My name is Jada Chambers, and I do not belong here. Where is here? I don’t know. I think it’s the house I grew up in, or maybe it’s the quiet southern suburb where everyone marries someone who went to their highschool. Here could also be Mississippi, a place where a few people still believe everyone in the world should speak English, especially in the United States. Maybe here is Georgia, or Dekalb County, or Emory. Maybe it’s the United States. Maybe here is anywhere but there. Where is there? That’s easy. There is a town in the French Riviera, with a classroom full of children eager to learn English. There is a publishing house in Paris where French novels are waiting to be translated. There is a French cinema company with movies that need to be subtitled. There is where I want to be, where I must be. 

In my tiny Southern community, moving out of town to trade it in for a big city is almost unheard of to anyone over the age of thirty. My town is a place where, if you stay too long, you will die where you were born. It’s a place where people never travel more than a state or two away in any direction. Some people are okay with that, and that’s fine. I am not some people. I do not want to die in the same town I was born, not without seeing what lies beyond the quaint houses built in the 60s, the supermarkets, and the crepe myrtle trees found in the front yard of any respectable southern family. I love my hometown, I know it will always be there to catch me if I fall, but I would not be able to live with myself if I didn’t at least try to see what else the world has to offer. However, if my father has taught me anything, you can never, “have a want in one hand and a wish in the other.” I couldn’t just wish I was somewhere else, I had to make it happen. Thankfully, I was raised by two people who always told me if I wanted something, I could make it happen, even the impossible. 

When I was applying to colleges a little over a year ago, I applied to six in total, and every single college I applied to (with the exception of just one institution) was out of state. One of those colleges was Emory. It was an expensive, elite private school– seemingly out of reach for someone from one of the lowest ranked states in education, and one of the highest in poverty. When I told people I had applied, and later, was attending, Emory, they usually asked, “What’s Emory?” If they knew what Emory was, they raised their eyebrows in disbelief. How could someone from here get into Emory? I still don’t know the answer to that question, but I like to think it was because, despite our low income, my parents still pushed and encouraged me to take my wants and my wishes and turn them into realities. A Fulbright grant would help me turn another wish into reality. It would help make sure I don’t die in the place I was born, at least not without taking me from here to there first. 

What a scholarship means to me

I decided to look at The Bobby Jones Scholarship for this post. I only heard about it towards the end of last semester, when two mutual friends received the scholarship. When I found out, I was excited for them but very, very confused. Who is this Bobby Jones anyway and what does this scholarship even do?

I learned that the scholarship was created to honor Bobby Jones, a famous world-renowned golfer and Emory alum who was revered by his peers. The school awards the scholarship to four seniors or Emory graduate students who best represent Emory University abroad at The University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland. This scholarship grants one year of study at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland, including tuition as well as a stipend. The program looks for applicants with “the qualities required to fulfill this ambassadorship… academic excellence and exemplary character, integrity, and citizenship”.

Besides the standard application form, transcript, and resume, The Bobby Jones Scholarship requires you to have three recommendation letters, and two essays: a Personal Statement and a St. Andrew’s Program Proposal.

As a sophomore in the college, I must wait till my senior year to even apply. Even so, I can still prepare for it. As an Emory student, I am granted many opportunities to communicate who I am as a person and why I should receive this (or any) scholarship.

Who am I then?

A shot from my summer job’s photoshoot.

I am a logophile, an Emory student, a space nerd, a Delta Phi Epsilon sister, an activist. I contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman says. I love Emory and the people who are a part of this wonderful community. I am lucky to be here, and I would be honored to represent our community at The University of St. Andrew’s.

I dream of becoming a forensic linguist. I think in the study of language – how, what, and why we do what we do. I analyze language whenever I read a book, watch a movie, eavesdrop on a conversation. I am an American history nerd and my love for language encouraged me to pour over the Constitution, old court cases. Language is one of the last ways we can legally discriminate against. I want to use the power of language to change that. Linguistics affects all fields – medicine, law, business, arts, STEM, teaching. Language connects all of us. It connected me to people and ideas I could have never thought possible.

Me after my first time voting in college

My close friends from Connecticut at my goodbye party

I left my home unexpectedly during my freshman year of high school to live with my aunt and uncle in Connecticut. I felt out of place and scared at first but with resilience and sheer tenacity, I became a member of this new community and forged friendships that I have long maintained, even after returning to my home and heading off to Emory.

During my freshman year at Emory, I gave a TED Talk about my experience growing up LGBTQ and the death of my father when I was eight years old and how the search to know who my father was, which led me to finally accept myself. I owe Emory for giving me the platform to share my story.

My freshman year RHA holding the trophy we did not actually win

At the University of St. Andrew’s, I would get to immerse myself in Scottish and British culture, as well as pursue my academic interests. This would be an opportunity for me to learn more about the English language and where it started as well as how I can use language to help others. That is what I would want from the Bobby Jones Scholarship


NIH STEP-UP Program Undergraduate Application

  • The various events or experiences that have helped shape your desire to learn more about biomedical, clinical, social or behavioral research
  • Your short and/or long-term academic and career goals
  • How a research experience through STEP-UP will positively influence your career development

The STEP-UP program is an opportunity to make my thoughts, ideas, and goals a reality. I would like to participate in STEP-UP because this program will not only expand my research horizons, but give me the skills I need as I continue my college career.

From a young age, I had to maneuver around my allergies and sensitivities. Random irritants would bother my skin, normal products caused  inflammation, and I was always skeptical about the food I ate because I was afraid I would spontaneously react. It was a hectic way of living, so my mom finally decided to take me to the allergist. After taking the allergy test and the results revealed an extensive list of allergies, my suspicions were confirmed. While it was not the most enjoyable visit to be poked and prodded with needles just for them to tell me what I seemingly already knew, this was not the only realization I had at the doctor’s office that day.

  Watching my doctor calmly interact with me as a nervous patient while informing my mom what the results revealed and direct his employees simultaneously fascinated me. I’d heard of doctors owning a practice before, but it never appealed to me as much as it did when I was in the patient room. As soon as I got home, I hopped on my computer and began doing some research on immunology. It was both interesting yet alarming to read about the body’s processes and disorders. It was even more surprising to find out that I am one of the millions of kids in my generation developing a multitude of intolerances and allergies. The more I read, the more I discovered the correlations between agricultural and environmental sciences with immunology and the state of youth today. The foods we eat directly affect our body’s overall health, whether that be for the good or bad. 

With my newfound interest, I decided I would like to study environmental sciences and Spanish throughout my undergraduate years while also on the pre-med track. My dream is to become an immunologist and eventually have my own practice. As an established doctor, I will then create an environmentally sustainable organization that will focus on educating people about our role on the planet and what we need to do to maintain our communities. I want to launch an organization promoting environmental conservation because our earth is just as important as the people in it. It is our job to take care of our environment we live in because we will have no future without it. I have always had an interest in conservation, but it quickly became a passion after my trip to Costa Rica two years ago. Costa Rica is one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world and while I was there, I saw all of the ways that other countries could implement solutions to our environmental issues in daily life. For example, Costa Rica’s sanitation system is eons ahead of ours because they have minimal waste and recycling centers are common. They utilize hydroelectricity for a lot of the island and actively work to preserve their wildlife. Just as people in Costa Rica advocated for environmental change, people need to be the catalyst that creates these opportunities in America. I would like to be one of those people. Environmental science studies encompass many of world issues today, such as the agricultural industry, pollutants, allergies, and disorders that younger generations carry in abundance. These topics are so heated that a lot of research is dedicated to finding alternatives and solutions to these issues. While I may or may not be researching one of these topics specifically, getting the chance to research at an institution during my college years would be an invaluable experience.  

As a first-year at Emory University, my studies will cultivate my enthusiasm for the people of this world and the success I know I can achieve. My interest in bodily systems, specifically the immune system, as well as environmental protection is unwavering. I chose my career path in an effort to leave the world a healthier and happier place for those who come after me. 

Because of my career choice, research is guaranteed for the rest of my life. This hands-on, professional experience is exactly what I need as I continue to transition into a different period of life. NIDDK’s goal of maintaining a strong foundation of students studying diseases and conditions aligns with my own agenda as a future doctor and entrepreneur. 

Image result for nih step-up

The program I intend to participate in this summer!

The Merits of Shredding Paper for a Non-Profit – Lucy Yates

“Humanity in Action seeks to ensure that its programs challenge the thoughts of everyone, including those who challenge society…The power of the reformer is that he or she changes things; the danger of the reformer is self-righteousness. For every ounce of diligence we devote to correcting the inequalities of society and the world, we must devote twice as much energy correcting ourselves.”

Please respond to the challenges presented in this quote, referencing your passions and aspirations. How does this insight inform your motivation to join Humanity in Action?

When I was sixteen, I started volunteering at an after school program for the children of refugees. The program was small, held in a little house with a larger outside play area for the kids and only two women running the show. I would help the kids with their homework, and then toss them onto my back and run around the playground as more tried to catch me. I would leave the after school program tired and sweaty – but happy. I was putting time and physical effort into volunteering and seeing the immediate effects of my work – the more I showed up, the more the kids recognized me and the bigger the hugs I received.

Then, in the summer, I worked at their summer camp program. During this time, church groups flocked to the little house to play with the kids. I would come some days and there would be almost as many volunteers as children – and some of the volunteers were children. My presence wasn’t necessary. They had twenty other adults looking out for them. Why was I there then? To make myself feel better? To make myself feel like I was making a difference? When people asked what I was doing with my summer, it felt pretty great to say “Oh, I’m volunteering with refugee children.” 

But that wasn’t the only reason I was there. I wanted to become involved locally improving the lives of refugees and immigrant communities.

The school in which I volunteered as the front desk administrator

I shifted my focus. It was still very important for these kids to have adults to look after them and help them with their homework, but there were plenty of people on the case. I started volunteering as the front desk administrator at a refugee girls’ school. I buzzed people in, took calls, copied papers, and graded assignments. Then, the following year, I volunteered at a non-profit supporting refugee and immigrant women who had experienced domestic violence and sexual abuse. I sorted donations and shredded paper.

It can feel a lot smaller than playing with kids. But it is just as important. This kind of office work supports refugee and immigrant communities just as playing with kids does. And it teaches me practical skills that I can use when I eventually work for an NGO or non-profit so I can better help these communities flourish in the long run.

I want more than anything to be engaged in local refugee and immigrant communities and this was my introduction; playing with kids. But there is more to be done. It’s possible for people to have a bigger, systemic impact if they’re willing to put in the time. 

I can change things. I can start organizations, form committees, fund raise for causes. I just have to keep pushing myself, to look for opportunities which may not seem immediately fun or gratifying, to learn the skills I need to support those who have enacted change, to enact change myself. So instead of playing with the kids whenever it works for my schedule, I can be the one running the after school program, devoting that time and effort day in and day out.