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Scholarship Essays 2017/2018

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

Lindenwood University Belleville Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Julia Whitworth - Southwestern Illinois College

I am one of eleven children and have grown up in the metro-east, born and raised in Smithton, IL. I have always loved the small town feel of my hometown. More recently I saw just what living in this close community actually means. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer at the beginning of May. Being the fighter that she is she didn't just sit back and let it take her over. She has been doing everything she can to get herself better from the moment she found out that she would have to fight to live. The most important part of the story is what everyone else has done to help in my mom's fight. Friends, family, and community members came together and planned for my mom one of the most incredible benefits I have ever been to. Every detail of the night was precisely planned and well thought out. It was incredible to me the amount of time and effort these people some of whom I hardly knew put in to help out my family. Several times throughout the night of benefit my breath was taken away. It was hard not to get emotional and feel blessed seeing the generosity of the community that I am so lucky to live in. The very best part of the story is that my mom received her last chemo treatment a week ago. She is virtually cancer free. While she most likely still has a tough fight ahead of her I know that with the support of our family, friends, and community we will make it through. That's what living in the Metro-East means to me. On my days off from school I spend babysitting. I feel that this is my contribution to the community. Molding young minds the best that I can in order to create the best next generation possible. While a lot of young people can't wait to move on from there hometowns, I can honestly say, there is no place I'd rather be.

Del'Brica Flowers - Lindenwood University Belleville

I love living in the Metro-East and I would not change the fact that I have grown up here. I was raised in East Saint Louis, and because of the location I did experience the best of many worlds. When I reached high school, I realized the importance of East Saint Louis and that not many people know the history of the town. East Saint Louis is formally known as Illinoistown, later there was a vote to change the name to East Saint Louis in 1861. East Saint Louis was also one of the most popular places to live during the time of railroad and industrial expansions. It is incredible the impact and pride that being from the Metro-East has given me. I am proud to say that I know some of the greatest educators, athletes, food, and people hail from the Metro-East. Miles Davis, Jackie Joyner- Kersee, Katherine Dunham, and Eugene Redmond are a few influential people to have lived or contributed to East Saint Louis. These talented people range from being athletes, musicians, and scholars. Miles Davis and Eugene Redmond happen to be impactful to me because I attended East Saint Louis Senior High School and am a former member of the jazz band. We competed at the national jazz competition, Essentially Ellington and were ranked one of the top 15 jazz bands in the country. Eugene Redmond is influential because as a creative writer, I am interested in poetry and he happens to be the poet laureate of East Saint Louis. I still enjoy some of the same activities that I did as a child. Going to Lincoln Park to spend time with my family and friends happens to be one of the activities. There have been new additions to the park for people to enjoy like the new playground, softball field, and tennis court. It is also near one of the best places to get ice cream, Mello Freeze. My friends and family look forward to the opening of Mello Freeze each year and it has become a tradition to go there for our ice cream. For my family, Eckert’s farm is enjoyable too. Another place that I have enjoyed going to would be the St. Clair Square. I have many memories as a child shopping for school, and I continue to shop there as a college student. There are so many places to discover and enjoy. Being part of the Metro-East community has encouraged me to volunteer. I aim to inspire more students that may be at a disadvantage, to not give up. There are many opportunities waiting to be discovered. Volunteering for Parents Night Out, at a juvenile detention center, my former high school, and the food pantry has impacted me the most. I learned that I desire to focus any skills that I have towards the betterment of children. I continue to look for more volunteering opportunities and chances to meet other people that assure me that what I am doing, matters.

Amber Hansch - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

I was raised in a place that neighbors wave to you as you they pass you on the road. The people, who lived next door to you, or even down the road from you, were not strangers. Mrs. Boston used to buy the most candy from me during my school fundraisers. When Peggy's husband was diagnosed with cancer, the whole neighborhood put amazing effort into ensuring she was taken care of. I have had the pleasure of growing up in a tight-knit community in Madison County. It is apparent that these morals and values are still maintained today within the Metro-East society. I see families coming together to create fun activities for children and adults alike. Granite City, in particular, hosts an ongoing scavenger hunt called "Granite City Rocks" in which ordinary rocks are painted to be made extraordinary, and then hidden throughout the park for anyone to find. Besides the wonderful population that makes up this area, St. Louis has many added benefits. The Gateway to the West was founded on a historical basis when Lewis and Clark stopped along its riverbanks. From then on, the city has grown to be a unique location. Education is a priority in our neighborhoods; St. Louis funds many organizations such as the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Zoological Park which promote growth and learning to its residents. Personally, I contribute to my community by volunteering my time at the Granite City AMVETS, Post 51. AMVETS is an organization dedicated to American Veterans. This institution organizes things such as V.A. bingo, events that sponsor an annual scholarship, and collecting various necessities to send to our troops overseas. I am also employed at the American Red Cross. I aide in the testing of blood, collected from the Missouri-Illinois region, to ensure that the collection is safe to be transfused into a patient in need. However, I think my biggest contribution is that I personify the values upheld within the Metro-East community. Similar to many citizens in this region, I present dignity and respect to others. Whenever a helping hand is in need, I can be depended upon. I am proud to say that I am from the Metro-East.

Morrisan Connolly - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

“We lie beneath a city of stars, counting our small-town dreams.”, said Christy Ann Martine. That is exactly what I have gotten from living in the St. Louis Metro-East area. I have grown up in Alton, IL and found myself lucky to be blessed for being in a small town like mine so close to a large city like St. Louis, Missouri. I love to live in Alton. It’s a close-knit town drenched in history, the town consist of deep roots for everyone whether it be the underground railroad, haunted tours, or the Alton Observer by Elijah P. Lovejoy, the first abolitionist newspaper. As a close-knit town, when tragedy strikes, everyone bans together to help those effected. From the death of a fallen hero such as Blake Snyder, the St. Louis police officer from Alton who was killed in the line of duty a year ago. The entire town stood silently, cohesively, and solemnly together to watch this hero be laid to his final resting place. I stood with neighbors, friends, family, and strangers – all mourning for someone that we either knew ourselves or didn’t know at all. All some people knew was that he was a part of our Metro-East family. The amazing part of our community is that you don’t have to be a hero for everyone to come together, sometimes all it takes is a little six-year-old girl sick with stage four squamous cell carcinoma for the community to ban together. That little girl was me. My grandparents, who raised me, looked in my mouth one day after I lost my two front teeth and I kept insisting something white was coming out. These were not teeth, it was a mass. My grandparents took me to St. Johns Mercy Hospital in St. Louis because luckily, we lived close enough. After a long hard battle, miraculously I was cancer free. Now, I have decided to make it my life’s duty to helping the kids of the Metro-East by going to college and hopefully medical school for pediatric oncology. Throughout my life my grandparents have taught me the importance of contributing to the community whether it be in college and high school through various organizations and projects or choosing to stay in the Metro-East to practice medicine to help better the lives of the children in my community. I am thankful every day that I live in the Metro-East, truly my life depended on it. My grandma has always told me that everyone’s life who is successful should be surrounded by the three T’s; time, talent, and treasure. My time has gone into bettering not only myself but those around me and bettering my future to help everyone I can. My talent is my heart and soul that I pour deeply into every person that I meet hoping to impact their lives – and my talent for science. My treasure is the little pearl of happiness I hold deep within my heart and home in the Metro-East.

Kelsey Walsh - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

The Metro-East area is home to such a diverse group of people, who all play a vital role in the functioning and improvement of the community. Growing up in the Metro-East area has given me ample opportunities to become a valuable member of the community, taught me what it truly means to be a supportive citizen, and raised me to be the individual I am today. I spent the greater portion of my high school career traveling across the Metro-East for various sporting events; I have seen a majority of the area that encompasses our vast community. When I left for college, I knew that I wanted to continue to be a part of this community that I had grown to know and love. I made the decision to attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Being a part of a community like the Metro-East taught me how to be culturally inclusive, be socially aware of my worldview, and experience a great portion of what professional life has to offer. Living in such a diverse has given me the chance to see that people come from all lifestyles. From Jersey County’s farming, style, to city living in Edwardsville, and everywhere in between, such as the lifestyle of Alton or Belleville, the Metro-East displays every way of life. With this type of inclusion, I have learned to interact with all types of people; a skill I will carry with me throughout my professional career. Without traveling far, I am socially aware of the vast culture within my community. Even on a small scale, I experience different ways people live their day-to-day lives. This helps me to put into perspective the types of culture that exist in the the rest of the world. Furthermore, the location of the Metro-East also allows me to foster the growth of my professional career, as it is the perfect transition from the small business world into the larger scale that is the city of Saint Louis. The close proximity of Saint Louis allows professionals to learn the basics of their career before transitioning to Saint Louis, where they can meet greater potential. The Metro-East is, and will continue to be, a large factor my development as an individual through diversity, social awareness, and professional opportunity. The Metro-East is the perfect place to live and grow as a person and I could not imagine my life any other way. I love to share the community that I grew up in with the students I go to school with now. Being able to tell them about leisure activities, places for community service, and the history behind this area is something I am very proud of. Throughout High School and College I have been a part of many community service groups and have done service projects within the Metro-East. Giving back to this community is truly a passion of mine. This community has given so much to me and I am proud to repay that with my service.