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Scholarship Essays 2015/2016

The “Get to know m.e.” campaign awarded eight individual $2,000 scholarships to eight students, two from each of the host sponsor Universities and Colleges of the "Get to know m.e." campaign: 

Lindenwood University Belleville McKendree University
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Southwestern Illinois College

Alex Mitchell - SWIC

The Metro-East is a wonderful hybrid-cocktail of big city and hometown. With all the modern amenities less than a half hour away, the Metro-East allows its residents to choose from quaint and country to city contemporary. This unique blend has helped breed a wonderful culture here in the Metro-East. It has allowed us to create a loving, open community that is filled with neighbors ready to help each other, or simply spend time together.

To bolster this culture, the Metro-East offers many events that help bring our community together: Art on the Square, Apple Fest, parades, festivals, and, my personal favorite, the Chili Cook-Off. All of these events encourage intra-city connections that help bind the Metro-East as a whole. Apart from events, the land we call the Metro-East is covered in unique natural wonders. The Illinois caverns dot the area and are great opportunities for some exotic adventure that doesn't require a ten hour plane ride! Our parks and recreation department also works very hard to maintain parks for those who don't want to get all muddy in dark caves.

All this being said, I love living in the Metro-East. However, the area wouldn't be what it is now without dedicated communities and citizens. As I live and study here, I try my best to participate, and improve upon, the culture and area. I currently study electrical engineering, and am interested in doing live sound, and working in music recording. I use this talent to support the Metro-East area in many different ways. I have faithfully participated in running sound at the famous Art on the Square event in downtown Belleville. I am also the head engineer at a new recording studio in Troy. We plan to provide quality, affordable recording services to Metro-East bands, musicians, independent artists, and broadcast personalities. I use my gift in audio to develop a fun and creative music culture in the Metro- East.

Benjamin Hankammer - SWIC

The Real M.E. The Metro-East is an incredibly unique area, an area ever so special to myself and so many others. Several components of the Metro-East make it such a remarkable place, like the beautiful view from the Columbia bluffs, or the mysterious aura surrounding the Cahokia mounds. The treasured tradition of apple picking at Eckert's Orchards, the beloved family owned farm with more than 100 years of history gracing its trees, followed by the consistent playoff appearances by the storied St. Louis Cardinals adds to the cherished personality of the Metro-East. On top of the numerous attractions of the area, there is one intangible characteristic which sets this place apart from the rest.

Family and community, the two irreplaceable attributes of the Metro-East are perhaps the most recognizable out of all the outstanding characteristics. The Metro-East provides its citizens with a haven of safety and comfort where lasting memories are made and relationships are grown and nurtured. This sense of family is what essentially holds us together as a community and makes it possible to have such an enjoyable and delightful area to call home. It is the efforts of young adults like myself that fuel the future of the Metro-East and push it in a positive direction. I have recognized this important responsibility, and made significant efforts to improve the community and the world around me.

Various contributions I have provided include working on the St. Vincent De Paul Soup Bus, participating in the National Council On Youth Leadership, and promoting the importance of education by participating in Saturday Scholars. However, the highlight of my volunteer work was being a Big Brother with the organization Big Brothers' Big Sisters' in Belleville, IL, as well as being an instructor at the Althoff Baseball Kids Camp for the past three years. I believe by investing in our youth, we can promote and preserve the numerous opportunities provided to us here in the Metro-East for generations to come.

Heidi Quiggle - SIUe

About four years ago, I moved from Southern California to live with my family in Godfrey while I worked towards a college education. After I disclose to people that I have recently moved here from Southern California, I am often asked, "Why did you move here?" It seems that Midwest residents have this glorified image of California, unaware of the over population, over pollution, and over pricing that comes with the palm trees, beaches, and sunny days. I always feel obligated to express my growing love for the Metro-East area. Yes, initially I moved here due to the sole convenience of having family locally, willing to support me while I go to college. Yet, I am glad it has brought me here because my appreciation and love for the Metro-East area is growing greater every day.

Little things like experiencing the bustling St. Clair Square, going to the Grafton Winery for an outing with friends, or taking scenic drives wherever possible, I love the diverse activities that can be found in the Metro-East area. However, I think that out of all the things I love about Metro-East area, the beautiful landscapes and scenery tops it all. Regardless of what season it is, you are bound to find gorgeous views. Whether you are hiking at Pere Marquette, visiting National Parks like Horseshoe Lake, biking along the Alton river road, or exploring the diverse trails in Edwardsville, the views are endless. My love for photography is able to thrive in this picturesque and scenic area. It comes as no surprise that when people ask me why I left California, I explain to them that I don't plan on going back.

Throughout the four years that I have lived in the Metro-East area of Southern Illinois, I have had the opportunity to work with social service agencies during my education, so that I can assist in ensuring and improving the welfare of Metro-East residents. I have worked with head start to teach children about emotional intelligence, I have worked within the Madison County detention center teaching juvenile delinquents about the power of compassion meditation, I was an intern at Behavioral Health Alternative, providing services to adults with mental illness, and I have worked as an outreach worker for Children's Home and Aid youth services, providing crisis intervention to families in need. All of these experiences have allowed me to support continuous improvement for communities in the Metro-East. Currently, I am working alongside SIUE professors and DCFS workers in the Permanency Enhancement Project to identify barriers to permanency for foster children throughout Southern Illinois. This project helps Southern Illinois counties ensure that children within their foster care systems have equal opportunities to a loving, caring, and permanent home environment. In the past four years, I have been honored to have had these experiences that were so rich with opportunities to grow as a future social worker, but most importantly to give back to the community, helping others grow into their full potential.

Anna Glushko -SIUe

My boots stomped across the crunchy snow as I left my house on one of the coldest nights I remember. Suddenly, my feet were lifted 10,000 meters into the air. After I could feel the ground again, my soles swept the dust from the gravel paths, rustled through emerald grass, and clunked across the brick roads. I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz leaving her home and waking up in a different place.

Back then I did not know that this town would become the home I so dearly love. My mother and I moved to Belleville from Russia over six years ago. I was fortunate to receive my education here. Some of the greatest teachers gave me numerous opportunities to further my knowledge. As the years flew by, I graduated from Belleville East with honors and was awarded the Lancer Medallion. Three years later, I earned a B.A. in Psychology from UMSL. Today I am an M.A. student studying Industrial-Organizational psychology at SIUE. I chose to stay in Belleville because I love the openness and culture of the Metro-East. Although, it is conveniently connected to the one of the major American cities, it has a lot of unique character and beautiful hideaways. It hosts modern parts with nightlife and movies, but has also retained the historic routes, where one can almost hear the carriages and horses still thumping on bricks. Belleville has entertainment for all seasons, to name a few—parades and fairs in the summer, Oktoberfest and car shows in the fall, the stunning Way of Lights and the charming Santa's house in the winter.

The genuine European influence can be seen in the city's architecture. Belleville is a home to many beautiful churches and a cathedrals, but even more importantly it is a home for many caring people. One of them is my church choir director, Carole Eckert. Five years ago, she encouraged me to participate in music, and to join Belleville East's choir as an accompanist. We performed in St. Paul's and on the Square during the town fairs. I also joined the band and was very proud to march down Belleville's Main Street in parades and cheer Lancers on during the football season. There I also met Charlie Woodford, now 93 years old and still East's #1 Fan. He has lived in Belleville for over sixty-five years and has shown me really great parts of it. Together we went to see the artwork of local artists. Charlie inspired me to submit my work, and later it was featured and won an honorable mention. Charlie also encouraged me to join the Belleville News Democrat Advisory Board. This experience ultimately helped me to become Editor-in-Chief of UMSL's newspaper. Moving to Belleville was an enormous change, geographically, as well as culturally. Because of the great friends and experiences that I have here, I would do it all over again. Unlike Dorothy, I do not need to click my heels three times: I am already home.

Jennifer Blumberg - McKendree University

Being born and raised in Marine, Illinois is probably one of the best gifts my parents could ever give me. I loved Triad High School for all the reasons everyone else would say they liked high school. But one of the things that tops that list is the community; every Friday night you could go to the football or basketball game and half the town would be there. You cannot find that in some of the bigger towns. Growing up in a small town, you learn what is important in life. You get to know your neighbors and you look out for one another. Life slows down, but for good reasons. When you “slow down and smell the roses”, you find out that life is beautiful.

When I decided that I wanted to go to college, I knew I wanted to stay close to come. That is when I decided on McKendree University and that I wanted to commute. I love that fact that I can work on getting my degree at the university and at the end of the day, I come home to the farm and appreciate life. I love living here, especially during harvest; that is the most beautiful time of year around here. Not just the landscape, but people start to come together for everything. Another great thing about living in the Metro-East, you are only 30 minutes from downtown Saint Louis, Missouri. You can spend the day shopping at the Delmar Loop and then catch a Saint Louis Cardinal Game that night. You have access to all of the things a big city has to offer without actually having to live there. It is essentially the best of both worlds.

Since I was little, my dad shared with me the importance of giving back to where you came from. Over the years I have done countless hours of community service, some of which included an annual event that raised money to help send a local child burn victim to camp “I Am Me”. I have helped organize multiple blood drives in my community and at school. In spring of 2015, I spent a semester tutoring teenagers at my old high school in chemistry and calculus. And now, fall of 2015, I was elected Vice President of Sisterhood and Service of my local sorority. I get the chance to make a difference by sharing my passion for community service with my sisters and even set up a service site for us to start next semester. But the one thing that I feel helps me contribute and improve the Metro-East the most, is going to school to be a High School History teacher. I feel that teachers get the chance to improve their communities by educating the children that will someday be the ones that run this community and essentially the country. I take great pride in being a future educator and I cannot wait to get into the classroom!

Bradley Schniers - McKendree University

Through my personal experiences, I believe that the Metro-East area is a great place to live and has so many fantastic opportunities. There is a diverse amount of opportunities throughout the area for you to become involved in that allow for you to achieve a substantial level of self-fulfillment. These multiple opportunities allow you to achieve your own goals as well as contribute towards enhancing the overall atmosphere of the Metro-East area. I love living in the Metro-East area for multiple reasons. As a result of living in the Metro-East area, I have been able to live my life to the highest level possible.

One reason I love living in the Metro-East area is because my education, from grade school all the way to pursuing my college degree at McKendree University, has allowed me to exceed expectations academically. Through all stages of my education, I have had the opportunity of one-on-one interactions with faculty as a result of small class sizes. This availability of faculty interactions has allowed me to acquire needed knowledge of how to succeed currently, as well as later in life. Another reason the Metro-East area is such a great place to live is the family-like atmospheres of the communities within the area. This inviting atmosphere allows you to feel accepted everywhere you go throughout the area. The presence of this atmosphere allows for you to become connected to all of the residents within the area and gain multiple strong friendships along the way.

I also love living in the Metro-East area because I am a very outgoing individual and love how many outdoor opportunities are available throughout the region, such as camping, hiking, boating, and hunting. These opportunities allow you to get outside and become connected with nature in ways unimaginable. I seize any opportunity I have available to be outside, and the Metro-East area allows for many opportunities to do so.

I personally contribute to the Metro-East area through becoming involved in as many fundraising activities as I can within the region. I am an avid athlete, so I love to compete in events within the area that are fundraisers for charities, such as races and tournaments. I am also greatly supportive of the Southern Illinois Special Olympics as a result of having a sister who has Down Syndrome and competes within the organization. I love to be involved within the Southern Illinois Special Olympics through knowing that it brightens all of the disabled children involved to be able to compete and achieve accomplishments in sports. I contribute to this organization in any opportunities possible, such as volunteering at nearby practices and events as well as raising money for the organization through the Polar Plunge located at Carlyle Lake. I try to personally contribute to the Metro-East area in as many ways possible and love all of the opportunities the area provides. I believe that there is no other place I would rather live than in the Metro-East area.

Sara Dewey - Lindenwood University Belleville

There is a fantastic sense of community through the local colleges that gives people something to hold onto. Living in the Metro-East area can be intimidating, because of its size and the number of people living here, but through colleges like SWIC, Lindenwood and SIUE people can always find common ground. Common ground gives way to common interests, lending peace in times of great turmoil.

Recently, I have become more and more involved in running 5k races. Soon I will compete in one that will benefit the local Humane Societies with all proceeds going to shelters. The 5k following Race for Rescues will benefit the March of Dimes charity. I have also volunteered in care centers housing the elderly and more recently the local schools, getting involved with the children and learning how the school systems work and what can be done to help improve them.

Following my master and doctoral degrees I want to be able to teach at the college level, bringing together young and old, new and fading, people and teaching styles respectively. I want to be able to break barriers and help bring communities together. I also want to make an impact; on someone's life or a college- bringing fresh ideas and working towards a better, more focused education. I want to give back to the Metro-East area, since it gave me a life to start and live and thrive off of.

Jessica Moore - Lindenwood University Belleville

I love living in the Metro-East area for a number of reasons. The area has a small town living feel with all the perks of living close to a major city. The area provides me opportunities to be involved in many different types of volunteer work, sporting events, and cultural experiences that range from concerts to parks and museums. With businesses being so closely involved in the community and events in the area I feel like I have gotten to become a member of the area quicker than I was expecting.

With being a non-native to America, I was primarily concerned with moving into an area that I wasn’t familiar with and not feeling welcomed. However that is not the case. The communities in the metro-east area have been incredibly welcoming and are a major part of the reason I can call this area my home away from home. As someone who likes to get involved in the community as often as possible, I attend as many local events as possible in order to support the local businesses and communities. Most recently I have volunteered at the local Oktoberfest, as well as a black light colour run that was held in the area. Last year I was able to get involved with the 200 year celebration in Belleville and was incredibly proud to say I am now a member of the community.

As a student at Lindenwood-Belleville, we volunteer quite regularly at sporting and other community celebrations and events in order to help promote both the growth of the community and our school. In the end, I am incredibly happy with my decision to move to the Metro-East area as it has opened doors and created opportunities I did not know existed and I am looking forward to spending the remainder of my college years here, and watching the communities and area grow to its full potential.

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