In 2008, the Loudoun Laurels Foundation began its greater impact on Loudoun County through simple acts of kindness, such as growing fruits and baking cakes for community members. Then, in 2013, this organization realized they wanted to expand their generosity to those who also give back to the community, especially to young individuals with rich creativity, selflessness, and potential as the next generation of leaders in Loudoun County.
Henceforth, they proudly present the Loudoun Laurels Stewardship Trust: $40,000 scholarships ($10,000 in college tuition for every academic year) awarded to kind, ambitious, and impactful high school seniors planning to attend a four-year Virginia state institution for higher education.
This rich opportunity has opened many doors for CAMPUS students, a county-wide program designed for first-generation high school students and those with family members who have yet to obtain a 4-year university or college degree. Students can explore programs and fairs and learn from visiting speakers who educate about collegiate opportunities. The program provides students with skills to help them thrive in college, such as setting goals for their future, building relationships, time management, and collaboration among those of similar socioeconomic backgrounds.
Here are a few Laurelists, former CAMPUS students and scholarship recipients, describing their gratitude for the scholarship’s support towards their college education:
“When you are from a certain socioeconomic background, a lot goes on in your mind that other people don’t see. Having a sense of security with the financial backing of this great organization and mentorship of those who have gone through this before allowed me to focus on doing well in college itself,” said Sumeet Saini, who graduated from Christopher Newport University and currently works for Arlington County Economic Department.
College is both a costly and emotional investment. Especially for first-generation college students who deeply understand these factors, this scholarship has helped bridge that anxious transition between high school and the vast, unknown world of higher studies.
“The financial part saved me a lot of hours that I would have used to earn money. It helped me financially and emotionally because these people listened to my story and saw my potential. As a first-generation student, I do not have any overlapping connections to continue my education. This felt like a helping hand from the world,” said Wendy Ramirez, a current scholar at George Mason University studying social work.
The scholarship has also helped first-generation students create a network with mentors to guide future struggles and successes since the Loudoun Laurels Foundation provides recipients with continuous financial and emotional support every college semester. Through this opportunity, recipients are also exposed to other recipients of similar ambition and socioeconomic backgrounds, fostering friendships to make the college progression less isolating and intimidating.
Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick, III, the vice chair of the Loudoun Laurels Foundation, said, “This program is very near and dear to my heart. We have found all diamonds. They are students who have made us very proud of their accomplishments.”
Every applicant has made an incredible difference in their community. The foundation encourages these individuals to consider their support in future endeavors!
The scholarship application is due for CAMPUS high school seniors on April 10th, 2023. The foundation is looking for outstanding students who embody a commitment to their community and lead by example. They are determined and dedicated to working hard to reach their dreams while exploring new opportunities.
“The applicant should let us know who they are as a person, not just as a set of statistics about your grades or things you have done; personalize your application,” continued Hatrick.
The main focus of the essay varies widely by the applicant. Still, it mainly asks applicants to share how they give back to their community, loosely defined as a group of people students care about helping (i.e., family, school, place of worship, workplace, etc.).
In addition to answering essay prompts, the application requires two teacher recommendations, one from a CAMPUS advisor or counselor and the other from a teacher or supervisor outside of school (i.e., employer, leader of an organization, etc.). Recommenders should be able to reflect positively on an applicant’s character and strengths and share how an applicant exemplifies the honorary pillars of the Loudoun Laurels Foundation: community service and leadership.
Applicants must also submit personal and educational information (i.e., mailing address, email, phone number, high school, GPA). SAT scores are optional for 2023.
While this may seem a little daunting to prospective applicants, Laurelists share some tips for simplifying the application process:
- Work on the application day by day so that applicants can keep working on the application with a fresh pair of eyes and a rejuvenated brain. They will also have more time to put their best effort forward.
- Utilize school advisors, English teachers, and CAMPUS teachers. They can edit and fix grammatical mistakes and help applicants brainstorm ideas to incorporate into their application. If applicants feel uncertain about their strengths or weaknesses, they should ask a trusted adult or peer! They may be able to identify traits and quirks that an applicant may not have recognized themself.
- Don’t write an essay–write a story. The words on a page should bring the applicant’s personality to life and share a human perspective to their profile.
Laurelists also understand the first-generational struggle of balancing responsibilities and collegiate preparations, so they emphasize the importance of practicing crucial strategies for a successful future.
“It’s okay to fail. You don’t have to be successful 100 percent of the time. Failure is a part of life, but it matters how you cope with that failure, whether you succumb or build resilience,” said Shahrozia Imtiaz, who went to Northern Virginia Community College for two years before transferring to the University of Virginia, now studying for her MCATs.
Imitiaz explains how the rapid transition overwhelmed her with her workload, but having the right mentality facilitated her adjustment. High school students who practice handling failure may feel more prepared to navigate rough transitions in college, which may turn into rewarding life lessons.
“Build a schedule or routine because Freshman year [of college] is a little overwhelming in a lot of ways. Making friends and connections along the way ensures that you are not just going straight down this academic tunnel. At the end of the day, you’ll need support, people to lean on and learn from both life and academic experiences,” adds Saini.
Saini and other Laurelists agree that having support to succeed in high school and college is essential. The Loudoun Laurels Foundation is looking to support prospective scholars and celebrate their past, present, and future accomplishments. Those who meet the scholarship’s prerequisites and want to continue their enriching impact on Loudoun County should consider applying to receive generous financial, intellectual, and emotional support for their next journey step!