SCHOLARSHIP ESSAYS :: JBL SCHOLARSHIP

J. B.L. Scholarship Trust, Inc. Essay
Brendan McDermott
2012-2013 Academic Year

Bleary eyes, hunched shoulders and a throbbing headache from information overload — no I'm not describing my late night study sessions. I'm imagining what scholarship applications must feel like from your perspective. Before you read any farther, I encourage you to indulge in a stretch break. It's important to me that you view my essay, and me, with refreshed eyes and renewed energy. You know my G.P.A. and my SAT score. But what do they have to do with me? Where's Brendan? Buckle your seatbelt and get ready for a crash course in me.

I'll tell you right off the bat what it took me quite a while to realize. I am a leader. I don't pursue leadership opportunities to position myself as top dog or to win praise; rather I see my world as a place where I can make things happen.

My entrée into leadership, and one of my proudest accomplishments, occurred while I was the vice president of my middle school. After the students raised several hundred dollars to hold a "Field Day", the cash-strapped school district seized our funds. Most students and teachers disappointedly accepted the decision, but I took action by assembling a petition to the district asking that our funds be returned. I had a two hour "discussion" with the principal, where she chastised me and insisted "Field Day won't happen!" I stood firm, making the local media aware of the situation and a news radio station took up our cause. It was quite a roller coaster ride, but suffice it to say, Field Day did most certainly happen, and the principal and I grew to have a great deal of mutual understanding and respect.

Leadership drives me. It drives me academically, as I achieved Eagle rank in scouting, while acting in Community Theater, in political campaigning, in Model UN and in American Legion's Boys' State and Boys' Nation programs. Leadership isn't a position to me; it is how I embrace my personal power and responsibility to affect positive change, and make the most of every opportunity and blessing I have been given.

Don't think leadership is all I am, however. I have lots of talents and quirks that would add to the diversity and personality of any university. I sleep with my eyes open. I'm left handed. John McCain nearly ran me over once, and I've seen Barack Obama three times. I lost 75 pounds during my freshman year and beat bulimia. I am a regular lector; otherwise my church attendance is terrible, but I've read the Bible cover-to-cover and pray daily. I am a force to be reckoned with on the intramural badminton court. I am 100% Irish, and 100% man. I'm an intellectual, an actor, a political animal to the core, an optimistic, a cynic and a romantic.

I hope that you feel that the full picture of Brendan is worth investing in. I know you have many students competing for a limited amount of JBL Scholarship money, and I'm confident that my commitment and effort will make your investment worthwhile. It is my pledge that your belief in me will be returned one hundred fold in dedication and achievement.

So before you move on to the next application, please accept my sincere thanks for your interest and attention. Brendan was here.

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J. B.L. Scholarship Trust, Inc. Essay
Briana Benenati
2012-2013 Academic Year

Dance, Dance, Where Ever You May Be

Hop two, three, four, five, six, seven... back two, three... back two, three. If only I had known thirteen years ago how much these steps would form my life. Irish dance. To some, my obsession may seem like a silly cultural phenomenon. Big curly hair, 1950's style poodle socks, leprechaun shoes, and dresses plastered with rhinestones. To me, it is something that I am proud to call my life. While some kids choose to listen to Puff Daddy on the radio, to this day Dean Crouch's treble jig remains the soundtrack to my life. Dancing has given me the courage and opportunity to step out of my element and share my love of dance with the world. It has also taught me lessons that I have carried into other elements of life including my academic studies.

Whip two, three... step leap down and one, two three... step leap down. Irish dance has blessed me with the opportunity to soar to great heights. In my short life, I have been able to achieve more than I ever dreamed. With the luck of the Irish on my side, I won my first world medal at the 2009 World Championships and my second one this past year in Ireland. What may seem like a small piece of metal is nothing short of a huge accomplishment. Dancing in front of a huge room of people is no easy task. With years of dedication and perseverance mixed with a small dose of blood, sweat, and tears, I have reached a new level of confidence that I will carry with me throughout my life. This same level of commitment is found in my studies and as a result I have consistently achieved honors.

Leap down and spin...treble, heel, toe, and click. Dancing has provided me the opportunity to give back to my community. I have performed annually for various charities, hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, schools, fundraising events, and the Helen Graham Cancer Center. Every spring, I have danced at cultural events at the Hagley Museum. Delaware Children's Museum has filmed me dancing and it is part of a permanent exhibit.

Bang, bang... treble and a treble and a treble hop back. The hard shoes are known to be the heart, soul, and rhythm of Irish dance. Although my own pair is five years old and three sizes too small requiring the use of a shoe horn to get them onto my feet, I would not trade them for anything. When I put the shoes on my feet, it is as if they have magical powers and I can do anything that I set my mind to do. If only my magical shoes could find the limit to the given function for my Honors Calculus homework! Over the last few years I have been able to mold the shoes, and in return, they have molded me into a hard-working, dedicated, caring, competitive young woman with the determination to succeed. These are the same skill sets that are required to be successful in pursuing a college degree.

Point and bow. Although every dance eventually comes to an end, there is always a new one to learn, new steps to practice, higher heights to leap, more beats to treble, and new adventures to embark upon. I would like to study Communications and have a career in media or journalism. As I leave Padua Academy to enter into the University of Delaware, I am excited to see what the next dance of my life takes me to experience. I feel confident that my high school experience has prepared me to successfully accomplishment the challenges for obtaining my degree.

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J. B.L. Scholarship Trust, Inc. Essay
Caleb Buchler
2012-2013 Academic Year

Thank you for the opportunity to apply for another grant from the John B. Lynch Foundation. It hardly seems like a full year has passed since my initial application. However, my daily routine now is dramatically different than it was at this time last winter.

I am a freshman at the University of Delaware and love it for many reasons. I agonized over where to go to school but ultimately chose Delaware, even though it meant giving up my long held dream of playing intercollegiate soccer which I could have done at some of my other choices. I actually do not regret my decision, though I would be less than truthful if I said I did not suffer some pangs of longing as a spectator during the fall soccer season. I did try out for UD's club soccer team in September since I had heard they played very competitively at a high level against club teams from nearby universities. I thought surely it was a given I would make the team since I had been a high school standout and had multiple offers from smaller colleges to play. You can imagine my surprise when over one hundred other "high school standouts" showed up for tryouts. I thought I had shown well and was hopeful after the three day tryout, but unfortunately I was not one of the six chosen for the team. I was very disappointed and briefly wondered if I had made a mistake by coming to UD since soccer had been such a huge part of my daily routine for so long. I wallowed in misery for about three days licking my wounds, complaining to my mother, and showing very little enthusiasm for my own brother who had been one of the chosen six. I then decided to offer myself up as an additional practice player if the team could use me in order to have better numbers for intrasquad scrimmages and practices. This allowed me to keep my foot on the ball all fall while getting to know the team, and I plan to try out again this spring. This whole experience has been lesson one in humility for me.

Lesson two is tied to my academic performance. I had been salutatorian of my high school class, so along with being a soccer phenom, apparently I was truly brilliant! I think, however, I was what folks commonly refer to as a big fish in a little pond. The University of Delaware sometimes feels like an ocean, and I am astonished and impressed at the amazing academic abilities of some of my fellow classmates. I earned a 3.14 GPA first semester. Though perhaps respectable for a college freshman, it was disappointing to me personally. I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and professors (especially my geography courses), but I feel my grades do not reflect that. I realize there is a learning curve when it comes to effectively studying and successful time management in college. In my defense, I did work hard and never skipped a class. I absolutely expect to do better this spring and look forward to the opportunity to redeem myself.

I have been having some second thoughts about my chosen course of study at UD. Currently, I am a geography education major and will ultimately end up with a secondary social studies certification. However, the vast majority of teaching positions for this certification are not in actual geography but are in history, which I personally have never enjoyed that much. I am also a Spanish minor. I loved my Spanish class last semester and am excited about the professor and the 200 level course in which I am currently enrolled. I really like the idea of becoming proficient in another language. I am hoping to do a winter term study abroad next year in Costa Rica to fully immerse myself in the language. I am contemplating changing to a Spanish major and could actually still get teaching certification in the language if education is definitely the field I see in my future. If I ultimately chose not to teach, proficiency in Spanish would still be an asset as I entered the job market, especially if I return to my hometown area where there is a very large Hispanic population.

I mentioned that there were several reasons I ultimately chose to enroll at UD. I love the big college atmosphere especially with the various sports teams. I am currently completely in awe of our girls basketball team which is ranked in the top ten nationally. I went to a small high school and have enjoyed meeting so many new people that a big university allows. My brother and I are extremely close, so going to the same university as him is a plus. We are actually going to be roommates next year which completely shocked our mother! I also like being only two hours from home — far enough that your parents do not drop in but close enough to get to them when you need them. (Not entirely fair, I know!)

Though I have mentioned various reasons I find myself content at UD, I actually chose the university initially for financial reasons. This year, my parents have three enrolled in college which is a huge financial burden. We are all expected to contribute where we can which is completely fair. Along with my brother and a friend, I cut grass in the summer. We currently maintain about forty lawns, but we did acquire a riding mower this winter so we hope to expand that number. I am under no illusion that I will actually personally be on that mower. Since I joined their existing partnership, I am low man on the lawn care totem pole, so I am quite sure I will be pushing or weed whacking my way through town! I have also worked in a local restaurant the last several summers. Since turning nineteen this year, I can switch from bussing to waitering where the money is much better. I also help with my father's summer business teaching surf lessons, but there is no pay for this. I do not complain about this since I am sure over the course of the last nineteen years on the balance sheet, I owe my dad! I actually enjoy giving the lessons. Any time spent on the beach is time well spent in my book.

I hope you can glean from this essay that I am a determined worker and that I have acquired a much clearer understanding since starting college of what is required of me in order to succeed. My basic goals have not changed, but I now have a greater appreciation for any successes I have (both large and small) since I know the true effort it takes to achieve them. Thank you so much for your grant last year, and I hope you find me worthy again. I promise I will not disappoint you.

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J.B.L. Scholarship Trust, Inc. Essay
Dylan McDowell
2012-2013 Academic Year

As usual, there is a lot to report since the last time I submitted an essay to your organization. However, this time I am writing to you from Vladimir, Russia, the city where I am currently studying abroad. For the reason that I am speaking almost exclusively Russian here, please excuse what, in my opinion, will almost certainly be a less grammatically sound essay. Regardless, I am excited to tell you about the ways that I have grown and learned over the past year.

The spring semester of the last year finished wonderfully. My sophomore year panned out exactly as I had planned and hoped it would. I took the year off from working to strive for better academic marks and achieved that goal, reaping the fruit of my tireless efforts. I learned the subject material from each class thoroughly but also grew to become a much better student.

One of my very best friends from High School who attends Virginia Tech also had a
good semester. We rewarded ourselves by making good on a high school promise to split up the first and second halves of our college careers by traveling somewhere interesting or doing something truly memorable. In the event that this plan was realized, we had diligently saved up money in our respective jobs since high school. A cancelled Spring Break college trip to Russia freed up the additional funds I needed to travel. Thus, we set our eyes on the common goal of American college students — Europe. Starting at around the time I sent the last scholarship essay, we began to draft plans for where we would go, what we would do, and how all of this would happen. There are few things I am more proud of than the way things turned out. Our planned itinerary for "EuroTrip'11," as we soon came to know our trip, was spotless. All of our hostels were booked, documents acquired, trains marked down, and things packed. We left the perfect amount of breathing room between travel days and ensured that a realistic budget would be met.

We benefited from our pre-departure work by being able to focus on expanding our world view and experience in Europe. From Barcelona to Switzerland and then to Paris, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and London we stayed with friends and family when and where possible. My friend Pat has Aunts and Uncles who live in Norway and the Netherlands and we made friends with some kids from London while participating in a parade there with our marching band in High School. Seeing the continent was not only educational and full of truly landmark memories, it was fantastic practice for studying abroad.

My fall semester at American University was difficult. I occasionally worked odd jobs for the athletic department, allowing for a flexible schedule while still compiling a small income to help prop up my bank account. My classes pushed me harder than ever before and I learned what it is to be truly up against the odds. Nevertheless, I completed the semester with good grades and walked away a better researcher and a more rigid academic thanks to an International Relations research class and difficult teachers. Where my other classes opened up new areas of studies, I fell back on Russian as a familiar class with a beloved teacher of mine to expand my language abilities. Through all the madness, I prepared to throw all caution to the wind and study abroad in Russia.

And that is exactly how it felt as I visited my friends at AU for the last time. For two days we were put in a hotel in DC by the American Councils study abroad program. On the night before my departure, I visited my old apartment that my two best friends and I lived in during the first semester. One of those was not studying abroad and was still there. As a stranger in my own house, I sat and talked to him and the new subletting residents about the daunting challenge presented by flying to Russia to live with a family who speaks only Russian, taking classes in Russian only, and generally being deeply and completely immersed in a culture that is very foreign to our own.

I am overjoyed to report that my fears were only the pre-departure butterflies that every traveler gets before an ambitious journey. Upon landing, I slipped right back into the rhythm of traveling, no doubt largely thanks to my time in Europe. Traveling can only ever mean that you are away from home. And yet, the feeling of being abroad and depending on yourself to navigate large distances and foreign cultures can feel like home with practice. Here, I have further realized that I am a fantastic traveler and a man who does not feel out-of-place or threatened when in other lands. But also, I am thoroughly immersing myself into the Russian culture. I have established strong, loving relationships with my Russian host family and teachers here. I have even begun to make Russian friends my age with whom I can better practice my language skills while enjoying the company of foreigners from my generation. This experience is clearly going to be one of the most definitive in my life.

I am currently engaged in this massive life event and will undoubtedly have many more that will shape the man I hope to be and the life I hope to live in the future. I am applying for a number of paying internships for the upcoming summer. I am hoping to live and work in DC until the start of my senior year. Until next spring (which will certainly be a warmer one than here in Russia), I have some major decisions to make and important paths to follow.

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J. B.L. Scholarship Trust, Inc. Essay
Jacqueline Grifith
2012-2013 Academic Year

Camp New Hope

I was a camp counselor at a bereavement camp Delaware Hospice provided for children who had lost loved ones in the past year. Some of the children in attendance had lost relatives and friends within the few weeks before camp. I was intimidated by the thought of this camp at first. I had been trained how to console people in their time of grief but, these were children. I had never been in a situation like that before. Then, I realized that I kept putting myself into the equation and I felt selfish. I had never experienced a loss so extreme. Several children at Camp New Hope had lost both parents. I then thought, this camp was not about me, it was about the kids. I was able to put my feelings aside and help a wonderful group of children. It was life changing. I was a counselor for a young group of girls and they were the most inspiring and talented kids I had ever met. It was hard leaving them at the end of camp but, the girls made my summer the best of my life. In the end, I think they taught me more than I could have ever taught them. These kids helped fuel my ambition to become a physician assistant. It taught me humility, compassion, strength, and love. These characteristics are found in a great leader. I know that I will carry the lessons I learned from this experience with me for the rest of my life. In order to ensure that others could also learn from my experiences and soon there own, I created a committee that recruits Delaware Hospice volunteers with my high school National Honor Society chapter. I have been able to touch the hearts of so many people through Delaware Hospice. My experiences with this organization have shaped me as a person. I understand now that life should never be taken for granted and that you should cherish every moment of everyday. Also, I take comfort in the fact that I know I am blessed in my life. I hope to be able to spread my good fortune to others live. My volunteer work with Hospice taught me to grow as a person and I am very grateful to have been a part of such a worth while organization. This experience taught me skills that are vital in being a leader and also how to be the best person I can be.

I am pursuing a biology degree at East Carolina University, this coming fall. I have been accepted into their Biology Pre-Physician Assistant program, one of their most distinguished degree programs. I feel as though my high school experience has thoroughly prepared me for this undertaking.

I currently volunteer with Delaware Hospice Inc. and act as a liaison in order to recruit volunteers from the National Honor Society at my school. In order to do so, I created and chair a committee called the NHS Delaware Hospice committee. Our committee members become full fledged hospice volunteers and complete tasks hospice requires of us. We recruit volunteers, assist in the application and training process, help set up and run events; and this summer, we will be volunteering at a program called Camp New Hope. This program is a bereavement camp that helps children, who have suffered a loss in the past year, learn to grieve in a healthy way. I was a camp counselor this last year and was so inspired by the program; I decided to create the NHS committee at my school.

When I am not working with hospice, I volunteer with the Interact, Amnesty, and Jefferson Award clubs at my school. I just recently underwent training with the Americorps to become a mentor. My volunteer experiences are what truly inspired me to go into medicine. I have worked with local PTOs, animal shelters, was a member of FFA at my school, tutored children in my neighborhood, and etc. My efforts earned me a spot in the 2011 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards conference as a delegate and also a Jefferson Award in 2011.

I believe my experiences have prepared me for my college endeavors. I maintain a modest 95 GPA. My essay is short but, I believe that the work I do is worthwhile and I cannot simply condense my experiences into an essay. All I know is that I wish to continue my studies and community service efforts when I am in college. I am grateful for the memories I gained and the skills I have learned through volunteering and hope I will be able to apply them when I continue my education at East Carolina University.

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