Education Insider: A Reception to Remember

Posted on March 31, 2014 by Melissa Hollander

Melissa accepts her scholarship award.

Melissa accepts her scholarship award.

Last November, I took a look at the scholarships section on the John Jay College website and immediately noticed an opportunity that I would be eligible for. The MBJ Scholarship for Students with Disabilities was available to a matriculated student with at least a 2.5 GPA who was registered with the Office of Accessibility Services.

Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to receive a Pell Grant, Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS), SEOG grants, and the Sidney Baer scholarship (numerous times). I’ve also been turned down twice for the Lilly Reintegration Scholarship and two other opportunities through my school; part of me was hesitant to apply for the MBJ scholarship, but I decided to go through with the process.

Filling out the scholarship application and typing the essay took me a good two hours. The essay was supposed to be limited to 300 words, but I tend to write more than less. At over 500 words, I didn’t know if I would be eliminated from the process. I dropped off the materials two days before the deadline and just settled back into my regular routine. At the worst, I expected a rejection email, but I tried to push it out of my mind and focus on the semester.

A month later, I received an email regarding the scholarship I had applied for… I had gotten it!!! I remember my jaw hitting the floor and had to re-read the email either three or four times. The feeling was similar to when I crossed the stage at my graduation from LaGuardia Community College (I didn’t cry this time, though). My perseverance had finally paid off.

A few weeks later, I was contacted by a development associate who invited me to an upcoming reception. I would have the opportunity to meet the two donors who so generously provided support. The email from the associate indicated that the event would be “business casual.” Now for those of you who know me, my clothing almost always involves jeans and sneakers/boots. I really don’t like dressing up, but with the Fountain House boutique’s extremely reasonable prices ($1 for members and $2 for staff), there was no excuse for looking sloppy. With the help from the folks in the Culinary Unit, I picked out a three-piece suit (pants, dress shirt, and jacket) that made me feel attractive and confident.

Every time that I receive a distinction such as making the Dean’s list and a prestigious scholarship, I take time to thank the people who believed in me -  whether it’s by making a phone call or writing a thoughtful email. I was especially grateful that Cheryl (my wonderful, supportive Fountain House worker) agreed to join me for the event.

There were many students at the event who also received scholarships, but there were plenty of others who couldn’t attend due to work or school obligations. Cheryl and I met Mr. Osansky and Mr. Vasques, who are the administrators of MBJ food services (the school cafeteria); they were extremely amicable and excited to hear about what Fountain House offers. I even had the opportunity to meet with the President of the college, who asked what I was studying and wished me good luck with future endeavors.

Following the reception, I sent my donors a thank-you card. Between my John Jay scholarship and the Fountain House summer scholarship, I will be set for the summer class that I want to take. So if you’re in school and looking for assistance in funding your educational goals, then check out the scholarships section on your college’s website. Something wonderful might just happen for you too!

Melissa Hollander
Research Unit, Fountain House


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