Announcing the Fall 2024 First-Generation Scholarship Winner

Burnette Wins Editor World's Fall 2024 Scholarship

Ryleigh Burnette, a student in North Carolina enrolled in a program to become a physical therapist, is the winner of the Fall 2024 Editor World First-Generation Graduate Student Scholarship. As part of the submission, applicants were asked to write an essay that provides examples of the applicant's academic success and discusses how access to resources (e.g., family support, financial resources) relates to education.

Essay Response: 

For as long as I can remember, being able to attend college felt like a dream. Not the type of dream that was possible, like getting a puppy or having your favorite cereal for breakfast, but the type that was too good to be true, like aliens coming down from the sky or superheroes that save the world. Being a first-generation student I had no representation of what impacts college could have on a person, and how important this higher education is in pursuing a future that I would be proud of. If I were to go back in time and tell my elementary school self that I would be graduating college in three years with an honors degree, have a 3.9 GPA, be the President of a student organization, be consistently active in community service and volunteer opportunities, and get accepted into my dream program to earn my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, well, she probably wouldn't even know what that means.

Growing up, my parents instilled the belief that you get out of life what you put into it. Neither parent went to college and only my father finished high school. Instead of receiving higher education to better their own lives, they both worked countless hours every week to make ends meet. My parents never thought twice about the sacrifices they had to make to give my brother and me the best childhood they could. Even after they divorced, their constant work ethic played a major role in crafting the person I am today. Every day since high school I have continuously attempted to copy their work ethic to achieve my career goals and I have finally been granted the opportunity to show my parents that their hard work was worth it. I want them to be able to look at my life and see how their sacrifices paid off. I aspire to be able to provide for them the way they have provided for me all these years.

Access to resources plays a massive role in receiving a higher education. As a twenty-year-old who has been paying for school full-time for the past three years, I am relying on scholarships to aid in the process of paying for my doctorate degree. I have worked three concurrent jobs throughout my college career to support myself and pay for my education. Along with financial resources, I have relied on community and family support to handle the physical and emotional stress that comes along with being a full-time college student. Having friends and family in my life who have continued to push me to succeed even in times when I was doubting myself has been a resource I will always be thankful for. Time management resources have assisted me in managing all these responsibilities. I am blessed that my university has offered services to me that have built my time management skills as well as offered other professional development tools that I have relied on to get to where I am today.

In this essay, I have described the resources that have been available to me during my college journey, but it would be ignorant of me to ignore how lucky I am to have access to these resources when so many others do not. College would be virtually impossible without access to services like those listed above yet so many students are not offered or are not eligible for them. I am forever thankful for the blessings I have received during my time as an undergraduate student and am looking forward to the opportunities ahead that they have granted me.