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Scholarship Essays 2016/2017

The “Get to know m.e.” campaign awarded six individual $2,000 scholarships to six 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

Katie Terziovski - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

The friendly atmosphere, great food, and the greatest people: there’s no place better than my home, the St. Louis Metro-East area. Residing in Granite City, IL for my entire life, I appreciate the luck I have had to grow up in this area. With a large metropolitan area being within a half hour away, citizens here have endless opportunities at the tips of our fingers that many do not have. This is one of the many things I love about the Metro-East. Even though we reside outside of St. Louis, we are still able to receive the perks of a big city. Whether it be Cardinal baseball, Ted Drew’s, Forest Park, access to great educational resources, or simply the culture itself, St. Louis has something for everyone. Though I enjoy many aspects of St. Louis, the noise, the traffic, and the general hustle and bustle isn’t quite for me. With a quieter, rural, and family oriented feel, the Metro-East area is where I hope to reside for the rest of my life.

Additionally, I love the Metro-East because it has given my family many opportunities. My father and his family are immigrants from Romania. They were able to make a great life for themselves here due to the welcoming community, the economy, and cost of living. Their success here meant the world to them as they escaped a communist country. I couldn’t be more thankful for how the Metro-East impacted my family’s life. I wouldn’t have the success I have today if it wasn’t for the viability of this area.

As an elementary education major, I plan to educate and give back to the youth of the Metro-East area throughout my career. I am passionate about my career and I truly believe that I can positively influence the lives of others. I also plan to use my minor in Spanish to benefit the lives of the Hispanic population that reside here. I recently had an experience in a school where a student did not know any English, only Spanish. It was a rewarding experience being able to communicate with him and making him feel welcomed. Additionally, I have been involved in various service organizations where I have held leadership positions. I have had the opportunity to organize blood drives, food drives, helping out local businesses, volunteering at animal shelters and many more. One of the particular events that I organized that demonstrates my passion for the people of the Metro-East area is when I brought my service organization together to donate toys, books, personal hygiene items, socks, etc. to the Good Samaritan House of Granite City. The Metro-East area of St. Louis has done so much for me throughout my life by providing me with resources in the city of St. Louis, allowing my family to have a better life, and by being great overall for my future family to live
here; it is the least I can do to help out this area as this area has helped me.

Allie Sweatt - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

People say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Luckily for me “gone” didn’t mean “forever.” My family moved to the Metro-East, more specifically Edwardsville, when I was seven years old. For me, Edwardsville will always be my home. I might not have lived here since I was born but it’s where I grew up. I walk to the Glen Carbon Library and see the gazebo where my boyfriend and I had our first kiss seven years ago. I drive down St. Louis Street and see the house where so many slumber parties took place with the same girls I am still having slumber parties with today. I walk down the halls of Edwardsville High School and think of me trying my best to stay in the top 10% of my class. I can go to any high school track or cross country course in this area and reminisce on the races I’ve ran. The good ones and the bad ones. When my senior year of high school approached I started looking at colleges but I never really gave SIUE much of a chance. I grew up believing that I was supposed to venture out on my own. So I did. It only took me a semester to realize where I truly belonged. Home was where God was calling me to be. Going through that experience of transferring has made me appreciate the metro-east even more.

I am proud to tell people that I live on the Illinois side of St. Louis! I also feel that being on cross country and track teams, both at EHS and SIUE, has given me a unique responsibility of representing my school, hometown, and the metro-east. I initially believed that Edwardsville was perfect but reality sunk in as I grew up. This summer I volunteered at the Glen Ed Pantry and Restore Décor. I have bitten off way more than I can chew and I am on SIUE’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a leader at Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and I am currently job shadowing at Children’s Home + Aid in East St. Louis. All while trying to maintain my
4.0 GPA. What has kept me moving is the famous quote by Gandhi, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Even in my perfect town of Edwardsville, IL that I love and appreciate so much, there is change to be made.

I want to write something inspirational, moving, you know something that will give you goose bumps because that is what I owe this area. I know what you’re thinking...this girl is trying really hard to appeal to your sense of generosity. But whether I win this scholarship or not I will continue to promote, contribute, and improve the Metro-East so that it can continue to give what it has already and continues to give to me.

In dedication to all the people in this area that have supported me, loved me, and welcomed me home with open arms.

Allison Loehr - McKendree University

George Bernard Shaw stated, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Living in the Metro-East area my whole life, I feel the community has definitely provided me many avenues to create myself into the person I am today. I love that my community offers so many opportunities within the schools, churches and organizations. Living in such a diverse community has allowed me to meet people that I might not have known otherwise. Although Edwardsville is a large community, it still has a close knit feeling that allows me the courage to spread my wings with the security knowing help and support is around me.

Growing up, some of the best family memories I have is riding the many bike trails. I remember being hooked to the back of my dad’s bike, to now when I ride with my friends. I have enjoyed playing recreational sports through the YMCA and Edwardsville Park system, as well as club softball. Through my clubs and organizations in school and church, I have had the opportunities to help people in the community less fortunate than me, as well as being exposed to a variety of cultures. The many restaurants and shops the community offers allows me to experience things I haven’t before.

I feel I have done a variety of things to contribute to my community. I have given time to help collect food and home goods during the holiday and other times of the year. I have provided tutoring services for students in high school and elementary school. My club and high school softball teams have provided camps to help share the love (and skill) of the game to younger girls. Through my jobs I have held at the YMCA, I have been able to work with kids. I feel I have been a leader and role model to these young men and women.

I feel I have been blessed with many opportunities living in the Metro-East and I hope that through my education at McKendree University I can continue to grow and create myself into a role model that can be asset to others.

Kelsey Sutherland - McKendree University

The Metro East area is the gem of the United States. It is a symbol of expansion and potential. There is both city life and rural towns sometimes just miles apart from one another. I have lived in Belleville my whole life and I appreciate every moment I am home. The Metro East has a lot to offer; such as the biggest symbol of the area, the St. Louis Arch, Cardinal baseball, multiple universities, annual fairs and festivals, and so much more. I have gone apple picking and relaxed by the bonfire at Millstadt’s Eckert’s in the same week end as cheering on the Cardinal baseball team. Although there is much to do in the Metro East, the true reason I love living here is because it has served as my home and my sanctuary. Both parents, both sets of grandparents, my last great grandmother, my aunts and uncles, and all of my cousins live within twenty minutes of one another. My home church, my preschool, elementary school, high school, and now university are within thirty minutes of each other. Everything and everyone who has made an impact on my life is right down the road from me. I love living in the Metro East because of the strong and immovable sense of community the area provides.

For the last several years, I have taken an active role in bettering the Metro East community. I am a member of St. Matthew United Methodist Church and began my volunteer work there. Every month, the church puts on a community meal where anyone can come and eat for free. After lunch, they are invited to choose an outfit from the thrift shop to take home with them. The volunteers eat and have fellowship with those who come to eat. For the last year, I have coordinated a program at McKendree University where a group of eight kids from East. St. Louis come to campus. Students and professors work together to motivate these kids to further their education after high school. Presently, I am working on providing a more active system of recycling on McKendree’s campus. My goal is to provide recycling bins in every dorm room and raise awareness of the need to recycle.

Emily Donovan - Lindenwood University Belleville

As someone who grew up in the Metro East, I know how much this area has to offer. My Air Force family moved to Scott Air Force base when I was two years old and has stayed here ever since because it is such a good place to raise a family. Growing up in what I believe is the heart of the Midwest, I received a quality education conveniently sandwiched between a vibrant city and the beautiful Illinois plains. Straddling these two regions in the suburbs of the Metro East, I lived in the best of both worlds.

The high school I attended, Belleville East, provided me with wonderful teachers, challenging courses, and numerous extracurricular opportunities which prepared me for professional and academic success. Considering how much I love this area, it was an easy decision to complete my master’s degree in Professional Counseling at Lindenwood University in Belleville. Downtown Belleville boasts a rich history and well-preserved architecture along with opportunities for new businesses to grow and thrive. I enjoy visiting the shops in downtown Belleville and attending the community events hosted in Belleville such as Art on the Square and the Christmas market. A lot of work has gone into making Belleville beautiful, and I see so much potential for even more growth and expansion. The Metro East also has many natural spaces. I have a passion for the outdoors and the Metro East has numerous hiking and biking trails to enjoy. I have easy access to the metro bike link right outside my neighborhood which connects to the many parks in the area, and I utilize the trail a few times every week.

Undoubtedly my favorite reason is that my family and friends are here. I have strong connections to both the people and the land, and I discover new things to love about it all the time. The Metro East is a great place to get an education, live, and eventually grow a business. I live here. I love it.

One way I’ve contributed is through promoting community health and wellness. I brought the first Ashtanga yoga class to the Metro East, teaching at both SWIC and Surya Rakta Wellness. I also trained future yoga instructors by teaching the first-ever breathing and mindfulness course at Surya Rakta Wellness. I was proud to help Belleville host the historic first-ever Belleville Marathon along the nation’s longest main street by volunteering my time in a way that connected me to the community through an activity centered on health.

I’ve also participated economically. For the past five years I have been representing the Metro East with my Etsy shop where I sell my handmade bracelets and I have been a seller at Local Lucy’s. Through this experience I connected with local Belleville shoppers, supported other artists, and contributed to the local economy. I believe selling and shopping small is an optimal way to invest locally.

Finally, I work as a graduate assistant at LU-B in the Academic Success Center. It is a passion and a privilege for me to assist students to achieve their academic goals. Lindenwood has been a powerful asset to the area since it came to Belleville by educating people from the Metro East, across the country, and around the world to become educated members of this community. It is an honor to better this community through working in higher education.

Kaitlyn Dixon - Lindenwood University Belleville

When I graduated high school, I moved 1,806 miles to the Metro-East area to attend Lindenwood University-Belleville. I was partly scared (mostly nervous) because I had no idea what I would do here, who I would meet, and what was in store for a West Coast girl like me. Luckily, I learned quickly that I had found a home here, one that I could grow with as I went through my college experience. I love the Metro-East area for a lot of reasons, but there are two that top the list every time someone asks about my home. First of all, this community embraces newcomers without a second thought. Between my university, local businesses, and community groups, I never once felt like I wasn’t welcome from the moment I arrived. Going into local establishments like Main Street Café, Family Video, the Edge, and even just the Quik Trip across the street is just a chance to see friendly faces who are always genuinely glad to see you. Secondly, the opportunities for people throughout the area are endless. Local elementary, junior high, and high schools partner up all the time, allowing college students the chance to go and teach the community’s youth about everything from the importance to staying active, to the benefits of reading. In addition, businesses and organizations all over the Metro-East offer incredible internships, so that students get the job experience they desperately need to succeed, all while earning college credit, not to mention serving their own community. When I first came here and experienced everything the Metro-East had to offer, I immediately wanted to get involved in it all. I joined my campus’ student government, which, among helping our own students, provides safe, community-friendly events for the area, such as speaker series and concerts, while also promoting university activities, such as art fairs, theater performances, and major-specific showcases. In addition, we also engage in local volunteer opportunities. We work with Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Society, and organize and participate in city-wide trash pick-ups. We want to expand even more this coming year, by allowing more students local volunteer opportunities, and getting more involved with the community. Outside of student government, my university’s cheer and dance programs go out into the Metro-East area all the time. We put on clinics to offer collegiate-level training to high school students, put many local businesses advertisements in our yearly calendar, teach little kids’ camps, and speak at elementary, junior high, and high schools around the area. We also participate in large community events, like the Halloween walk along Main Street. These are just a few of the incredible things that I am granted the chance to do. I am so grateful for these opportunities, and the only reason I am so lucky is because I am surrounded by such a great community within the Metro-East. Moving here was a huge step for me, but I have never felt so at home. The Metro-East is somewhere I am proud to stay.