Registered: March 2014
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Scholarship Fall 2014
February 26th, 2014
Growth never comes from Comfort
My name is Luke Bakken and in this paper I will be sharing with you why studying abroad will change me as a person. In my eyes change is a good thing. I have been seeking change my entire college career. The entire reason why I chose North Dakota State University was to start fresh and to see what kind of man I could be. I came into the university with only one friend and unlimited potential. The university was at my fingertips and I was ready to grasp it. In this paper I will first be talking about the experiences I have had at NDSU. Next I will be explaining how study abroad will impact my life and change me as a person. Then finally I will be talking about my financial need and why I have a 2.5 gpa.
My first semester as a freshman was like any typical new college student here at NDSU. I made friends, went to my classes, ate at the dining centers, went to the NDSU planned events and hung out with my RA. Not until second semester is where my experiences changed my life forever. I made a friend named Jasper from my introduction class who had a few other classes with me. One day we were approached from one of our study group partners about joining a fraternity that was new on campus. He invited us to Applebee’s and at first I was cautious about accepting his invitation. Frats had a reputation about partying and hazing and I did not drink so I thought I would be automatically disqualified. Jasper told me he would go to Applebee’s if I joined him. Even though I was worried about what would happen and the rejection I may have faced I joined him and it was one of the best choices of my life. After that night of meeting the men of Delta Tau Delta all I wanted to do was join their fraternity. They were men of excellence standing for truth, courage, faith, and power. Pillars I also wanted to live my life by. My fraternity is about community service, philanthropy, academic excellence, and living your life to excellence and that’s what I truly live my life by every single day. My leadership experience through my fraternity serving as pledge class president, social chair, and then finally executive recruitment chair has made me grow as a person more than I could have ever of hoped for and the only way that was possible was for me to step out of my comfort zone and take a risk.
Half way through my second semester I had no plans for spring break. One of my fraternity brothers knew that and invited me to participate in a Students Today Leaders Forever trip. He told me that this was a spring break trip where college students hop on a bus and go from state to state doing community service in each state to finally reach a destination city where over three hundred students participate in one giant community service project. This sounded amazing to me but I had to work part time as a film boy for the Bison football team to pay the rest of my tuition so I wasn’t able to go. After a long discussion with the treasurer of the organization she was able to give me a scholarship to pay for half of my costs. Luckily my mother was able to cut back her expenses to pay for the trip at a reduced cost. This trip was way out of my comfort zone where I was stuck on a bus full of strangers for two weeks. These were very energetic students who sang bus songs and did bus twister. I was very shy and only made about one or two actual friends the first semester of my college career. This trip changed my life for the better allowing me to break out of my social bubble and make lifelong friends with over twenty college students who I would of never of imagined being friends with in the past. I served my community and loved doing it. After the trip I had a passion for doing community service. I pursued my passion through my fraternity and eventually won the most community service award from my fraternity with having over sixty hours of community service for the semester. I was in need of more experiences to make me grow as a person so I took on the role of bus core. The bus core was in charge of planning out a busses rout as well as doing the night time activities. I was in charge of finding a location to sleep, a community service project for the entire bus, and food to eat. Needless to say I had the time of my life serving as a bus core leader. I was put in a position where I had to be in charge of a bus with over thirty college kids and half of them were older than me. That caused enough discomfort for one person to handle alone but if that wasn’t enough I also had a high risk for my plans to fall through and then frantically having to accommodate. That uncertainty for leading the trip and pressure to take care of over thirty people changed me. It changed me for the better. Shortly after the trip was over I was asked to serve as chapter core. Chapter core is in charge of coordinating the entire trip. The responsibilities consist of recruiting for the busses, financially planning out each trip, and making sure the bus core know what is expected of them.
I have had even more experiences within my fraternity from receiving my fraternity’s member of the year award as well as to being recognized for tweeting a record amount of times at our fraternity’s national event. Each experience was uncomfortable for me at first but as soon as it was over I realized it changed my life and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. Other experiences include being a member of Mr. NDSU and having all of the people who were going to help me bail out at the last second and having to resort to doing a ribbon dance by myself in the middle of the stage in front of everyone in the crowd. If you are familiar with the movie old school it looked exactly like Will Ferrell’s ribbon dance. Even though that almost gave me a hard attack because I was so nervous it made me grow as a person making me realize that I have no limitations. If I set my mind on a task and let my passion take over for what I am doing I can achieve anything.
Studying abroad is one of the scariest choices I can make looking forward at my NDSU experience. I have no idea what to expect within a foreign country, I have no idea if I will make any friends, and I have no idea what I am about to get myself into. But that is the excitement of it. I know I will grow from my experience no matter what happens when I am studying abroad. When I first came to NDSU I had no idea that there was even a thing called study abroad due to my parents not going to college. Then when I found out about the program it quickly left my mind because I knew I would never have enough money to pay for the trip. I barely had enough money to pay for myself going to NDSU. Just like the Students Today Leaders Forever experience one of my fraternity brothers went on a study abroad trip to Chili and had to tell me all about it. He told me how it changed his life and I had to go on a trip. Money was an issue still so I had to congratulate him on his experience but then revert back to my realization for lack of funds. Not until a week ago that I realized that I had the possibility of being able to study abroad. I have had a buildup of financial aid that I had not used due to working more than average hours at the bank so I could support myself financially because my parents weren’t able to anymore. That financial aid was meant for me to spend on books, food, and rent but I was already paying for that with my job so I kept it for a backup plan in case my car broke down and I needed it fixed or I got really sick and needed to go to the hospital. Next semester came around and I got another chunk of money from financial aid and yet again I saved it because it was becoming more of a reality that my parents would not be able to help me financially with anything unlike other college students. What gave the final push for being able to study abroad was my tax reimbursement which I stuck right into my savings account. That is why I am later in submitting my scholarship essay because just last week I had my first thought about studying abroad. I have had countless meetings with Dominique about where I should go, what school I should choose, and what would be a realistic price range I could chose for my trip. You could say that studying abroad has been on my mind more than food, sleeping, or even breathing.
I recently just came back from a family vacation to the Dominican Republic. We stayed as a family for one week in Punta Cana and you could say I got the traveling bug. This was our first family vacation and I almost turned it down because it would have used up all of my money that I saved from working two jobs over the summer. I was working full time at the bank and then part time on the weekends at Century Ten. I was working around sixty hours a week. Luckily I had a backup plan in case something went wrong due to financial aid. Another reason I went on the trip was because my sister just recently got married and wanted to go there for her honeymoon. The only way she could have gone was if we did a group package giving us a large discount. My mother and father put it on my brother in-laws credit card and are slowly paying him back over several months. I mention this trip because when I was there I fully got immerged in the Dominican Republic culture and wanted nothing more than to learn more about their way of life, how much they got paid, the food that they ate, and what they did for fun. Learning about another culture was a brand new experience for me and I got hooked. Most of the workers main language was Spanish so I made it my goal to learn a few Spanish sentences for basic needs like going to the bathroom or finding out directions. This was the most fun I have ever had on a trip and all I was doing was speaking (or attempting to speak) another language. This directly relates to studying abroad. I want nothing more than to be fully immerged into their culture and to learn the language that they speak, eat the food that they eat, and to live how they live. I could even write an entire paper on how much I love trying new food. Every new freshman that I meet I tell them two things. I say that joining a fraternity and going on a Students Today Leaders Forever trip made me who I am today and I cannot wait until I can tell them that the third thing that changed my life the most was studying abroad.
I know that I do not have the best grades as most of the candidates for these scholarships do but I can explain why I have a 2.5gpa. I had the same grades in high school as I do here in college but the there is a difference between back then and now. I never knew someone could study as much as I do for every one of my exams. I can whole heartedly say that I work very hard for good grades. To start I am very busy with organizations as well as working. I put so much effort into my organizations because I am passionate about what I am involved with and all I want to do is make a difference in someone else’s life as others made a difference in mine. I work more than the normal person because my family is not able to support me with any of my needs. If I want to eat, I have to work. If I want a roof over my head, I have to work. If I want to have any fun on the weekends, I have to work. This causes the amount of free time that I have away from classes and my organizations very limited for me to study or finish my homework. To explain my family’s financial situation I have to start from when I was very young. My father is an alcoholic and he has struggled to maintain a job ever since I can remember. He has been fired and he has been laid off and each time it happens my family suffers financially. The first time my father lost his job we lost our home and had to move into a town house my mother was managing. The second time he lost his job is when I lost my financial support from my family. Because we lost our home my mother and father had to file for bankruptcy. My mother chose, I believe section seven, where they have to continue to pay off their debt in order to have a chance to save their credit. This was a good idea at the time until my father lost his job for the second time. Now my family struggles to pay off their debt from the past as well as support themselves today. I received a Federal Pell Grant last year because my father lost his job but I met with the financial aid office and she informed me that I will not be receiving one for this upcoming year. This is because they took into account that my father had a job and didn’t factor in that he lost it for the second time. We were also receiving unemployment at the time but as of now the benefit is gone and my father has a lower paying job to help pay for the bills. I hope you take these reasons into account as to why I do not have a Pell Grant for this year. I also have a learning disability which I had when I was younger but tested out of it due to me studying for countless hours to pass the qualification test. I did this because it was either I pass the test of I get dropped a grade and lose my connection with my current friends. This was when I was in Junior High. I currently still have the same learning disability. I am in the process for receiving medication to help me study. My father also has a learning disability and he is also dyslexic. My mother also has a learning disability and she is currently seeking out help for something to help her focus while she is at work. Also my gpa is a 2.5 because of my extra anxiety and stress in result to my father’s alcoholism, my family’s financial struggles, and overcoming my learning disability. Even though my gpa is low I am very proud of what I have achieved and I hope you take everything that I have said into consideration.
I have had many experiences here at North Dakota State University and I have grown from every single one of them. From that growth I seek out new experiences to further increase living my life to excellence. Although I live my life to excellence I couldn’t be more nervous to study abroad but in that nervousness comes growth and from growth comes unforgettable experiences.