DeAira L.

First Place Winner

As I observe the young girls while they demonstrate a proper pirouette in passé, I envision how dance training is able to benefit cancer patients. In my mind I also hear scoffs from individuals saying that the performing arts and medicine have nothing in common. But I know that training these young women in dance and presenting them to cancer patients simultaneously provides holistic healing and encourages the young girls to pursue science-related careers.

When I created my own program and left my mark on young women in my community, I knew that I started a legacy of future Black female doctors, chemists, and engineers. My program merges my two greatest passions: medicine and the performing arts. I feel that I personify the message of the novel Push by Sapphire. My hunger for an education is similar to that of Claireece Precious Jones in the novel. Like Claireece, I have overcome many adversities, including being an extremely low income student. Despite the odds being stacked against Claireece and me, we push forward and become beacons of light in our community. I triumphed by forming my own community service program. I first assessed my community to find its weaknesses and then I looked inside my heart and discovered what was near and dear to me. I then decided to provide free dance lessons for young women in my mentoring group to give them free artistic training. I also provide tutoring in biology, chemistry, physics, and ea rth/space science to give the young girls in my program a strong foundation in science. I wanted to create a support group that would nurture these young women and provide them with resources and experiences that they have never been exposed to. I also knew from my research that Black women are underrepresented in the science and medical fields, and I wanted to do something about this. I deemed it important to help bring up the next group of Black women that are leaders in medicine, engineering, and mathematics. So, I used my experience as an artist and my training from New World School of the Arts and started my own program.

Personally, my project helped me to truly understand what leadership is about. It also helped me to improve my communication skills, and realize that art is universal. It is the language by which every human can understand. I learned to hold onto my craft, and use my gifts to uplift others. I proved that talent, and a desire to serve makes a huge impact that reverberates throughout many generations and walks of life. My enlightenment from the novel Push has encouraged me pursue a career in medicine because like Claireece, I realized that my circumstances do not define my destiny. From this revolutionary novel, every day I shine my light filled with personal talents and experiences. In my school as well as my community, I inspired other young Black women to shed their light and talents in their own part of the world. I know that collectively, all of these unique lights would illuminate the experience of the Black woman throughout the world and break countless barriers.

I know that my ability to overcome my struggles and extend service to others will serve as a catalyst at any campus community, which is why I deserve to be a recipient of this scholarship. I will inspire others to pursue service learning while holding themselves to a higher esteem. This scholarship will help to alleviate the financial demands of a college education, and inspire others to achieve their dreams, similar to their favorite novel character.