Two years ago, I was a senior at Science Leadership Academy, figuring out which college or university I wanted to spend the next four years at. Financial aid played a large role in my decision-making process, but finding the school that fit my personality and a school where I could excel was a struggle for me. I was the first generation in my family to receive an education here in the United States and to have goals to attend college. I had no mentorship at home in regards to higher education, and that’s when I came across a scholarship opportunity called the Jill Melmed-Buzzeo Award.
I was one of many candidates competing for this award that offers $2,000 and a mentor who will help guide you through the process of adjusting to college life and making good decisions that will benefit you and help you better yourself. Luckily, I was chosen to be the inaugural candidate, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Going into college my freshman year was the scary part. I didn’t know what to expect, how to adjust, or how to be a responsible adult. I was 18 years old, about to turn 19, when my mom dropped me off in the middle of nowhere at Juniata College. I said my goodbyes and had a “freakout” moment. The first question that came to my head was, “How am I going to get through college?” My mom never went to college so she couldn’t really give me advice on what to expect. But each day got better and easier because my mentor reached out to me and helped me each step of the way when I encountered an obstacle that I didn’t know how to face.
My mentor has helped shape me into the adult that I wanted to become and was there for me in ways that my parent couldn’t be. Without this award, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Through this award, I gained a mentor, a friend, and someone I consider family.
-- Amy Chen, 2015 JMB Award recipient