Reaching for Dreams Scholarship Luncheon
I was sitting at one of my all time favorite establishments, that happens to be a five minute walk down Ralston Avenue from campus, trying to figure out what I was going to say to you all today. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but this little place called Starbucks was the current host of my chaotically nonstop thought process, my abnormally high vocal decibel level, and of course my exponentially increasing addiction to coffee. I call it love and my personal contribution toward economic stimulus; my sociology and psychology-major friends call it an addiction, and I just tell them to take a business class and maybe then they’ll understand my commitment to the coffee bean.
My point is, I was staring at my coffee cup, the epitome of our long nights doing a lot of homework and often even more socializing, pondering how exactly I was going to convey my experience, scholastic and co-curricular, to you in three minutes. Unfortunately, I can’t. I can’t do it in three minutes, I can’t do it in 10 minutes, and I can’t do it in a lifetime. But I can start, and I can start with this:
A few minutes ago, I was introduced to you as the president of the Associated Students. That’s what it says in your programs, and that’s how people in the broader community often refer to me. While I may hold this position, I never introduce myself in this fashion because it is not the most accurate statement that can be made.
My name is Stephanie Dawn Biehl, and I am a student. A student by definition. A student by character. A student by action. After nearly four years at NDNU, I am still a student. But the difference between August 26, 2008, my first day of college-level class, and this very moment is just that: it’s four years at NDNU. That’s the difference. That is what has defined me.
Let’s go back in time a little bit: by my second semester here, I was named the captain of the women’s cross country team. Shortly after that, after my peers learned that I was a 100% European girl who speaks Spanish fluently because she loves to, and after they started calling me güera, which loosely translates into white girl instead of Steph Biehl, I could not hide from our Latinos Unidos club for long. So, I started my three-year journey as secretary for the club. I became a resident assistant, a senator, a member of our Black Student Union, our Filipino club, our Hawaiian club, a reporter for The Argonaut, quickly moving up to co-editor of the paper, a summer conferences manager, and an Orientation Team leader. There are probably a few more highlights that I am forgetting, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve done all of these things. What matters most is that I’ve done all of these things because I came to NDNU.
Travelling a little farther back in time: I can tell you that I had no intention whatsoever of coming to NDNU. I applied because my mom told me to, I got in like my mom said, I visited because my mom forced me to sign up for Argo Day, and honestly, I ended up here, not at UCLA or UC San Diego or Santa Clara University, or any other big school I thought I wanted to go to. I ended up here because I received scholarships when no other institution desired to invest in me. I came here because I could run cross country while getting my college education, because I could afford it, and because my mom told me that NDNU was the place for me. She has never been more right in her life. What a concept: parents being right, knowing a bit more about us and about life than we want to believe.
But the only reason I could afford this education was because of my scholarships, and that’s the bottom line: my scholarships are everything. They have pushed me to be rigorous and excellent in my studies and to fulfill my double-major by studying abroad in Spain. They’ve allowed me to get involved in countless co-curricular activities. They’ve allowed me to actively embrace the Hallmarks and core values of our institution by starting an ESL program at Samaritan House, by being a site leader of Call to Action Day for three years, and by being an avid and passionate member of the Belmont community.
But most of all, my scholarships have allowed me to be a student, a student in the classroom, and a student of life by giving me the opportunity to continue my education, which would not have happened had the university not granted me scholarships.
Now, I will graduate on Cinco de Mayo. I will graduate, more intelligent, more socially conscious, and more impactful. I cannot predict life after graduation, but I have applied to various law schools because that has been a dream of mine and because my education here has enabled me to do so.
Do I know exactly where I will be, come August? Not at all. But I will be somewhere, changing lives, learning, and most significantly, continuing to be a student.
I am not just reaching for my dreams, I am achieving them, and soon enough I will be living them. I will be living them because I was given this opportunity.
Hello, My name is Misael Romero Jr. I am a sophomore at Notre Dame de Namur University where I plan to graduate with a bachelor's degree in science and a minor in business. I am a first generation student, Hispanic, and a male; statistics say that I shouldn’t be in college, but here I stand today sharing my educational experiences with you.
When I began high school, I did not think much about college, or what I would do after I graduated. But that all changed my junior year. I found out about the opportunities and careers that a college education can offer. Later on I began to think about my financial situation. My parents didn’t receive a nice income that could put my siblings or me through college, but soon enough I found an answer to that problem, a key factor that would help me with my pursuit of a higher education: scholarships. Scholarships have made it possible for me to be at Notre Dame de Namur University. Without such assistance I would not be able to afford a private education. I am pleased to be a student at NDNU, because I know that I can attain the sort of discipline and education that is not offered at large universities. For example: I get the individual attention and assistance I need from my advisors, I get the classes I need as required by my major, professors get to know their students strengths and abilities, and I can graduate within four years. The university has many great qualities, the learning environment is great and there are many opportunities for exploration and advancement as an individual. Within the last two school years I have been involved in leadership positions as a residential assistant and student ambassador.
As a student of NDNU, I know that I will obtain the necessary skills that will prepare me for the career I desire, a career that will not only benefit my well being, but one that will also benefit the well being of others. Healthcare has always been a passion of mine. I started to explore healthcare occupations in high school. I attended Community Health and Medical Practices at Crawford High School in San Diego. I chose to attend that specific school because their theme is educating about the well being of others through health and nursing practices. My experience from elective courses in high school gave me the opportunity to apply for competitive internships, such as Scripps Hospital in San Diego. I was among the 25 high school students who were chosen from a pool of 280 applicants.
From my experiences I learned about the various professions in health care that are all directed towards the well being of people, but only a few gained my attention. I narrowed my choice to the occupation of physical therapy, because I have always been amazed with the strength of the human body and how it can recover from injuries.
I am a recipient of The Smith-Weinberger Endowed Scholarship, as well as The Walmart Scholarship, and a few others. The scholarships have given me the opportunity to continue pursuing my career goals, but have also given me a sense of pride, a pride that my parents also feel. My parents are proud of the accomplishments I have achieved so far in my life, despite the hardships and the environment I grew up in. I am a first generation student, meaning not one single person from any other generation of my family has attended college. For instance, my mother only made it to high school, but then dropped out, and my father did not make it past the second grade. Because my parents did not receive a proper education, well, mostly because they did not get the opportunity to study in the United States, I am determined to put forth a great deal of my effort into changing the culture regarding education within my family. Attaining a higher education is important for students like me in order to break the educational boundary that cycle within our families’ generations.
I thank you all for the opportunity to share my story of how scholarships have helped me attend NDNU. I hope this experience provides me with a wide variety of career opportunities and experiences in my future. I will one day achieve my goal of becoming a physical therapist, but first I must achieve my goal of graduating from Notre Dame de Namur University with a bachelor's degree in science and a minor in business.