4th Quarter, 2006
Liberal Arts Scholarship Winner
She is a twenty-six year old mother, writer and poet born and raised in New York City. She has performed at many “open mics/spoken word” venues including a featured performance at the V-Day Poetry Benefit Concert on Feb 2005 and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Friday Open Mic Poetry Night.
A Portion of Nicole’s Winning Essay:
For my entire life I have been told that in order to succeed in this society I must “buckle down” and “focus” on a specific subject that will lead me towards my degree. This in turn would be the key to granting me the ability to function independently. Yet, no matter how anyone would explain these “necessary” steps, I always felt that the mundane choices that lay before me were often boring and, worst of all, unfulfilling in the long run.
For example, when I was enrolled in John Jay College studying Criminal Justice many of my family members, high school teachers and friends were very pleased. In fact my mother often pushed the ideology on her children that as African Americans our only way to be seen as successful was to earn a degree as either a doctor, a lawyer, or some other “white collared” professional.
But my heart was truly set on other ideas, such as becoming a writer, traveling across the globe and pursuing some sort of career pertaining to the subjects of History, English Literature and Linguistics.
Even though I liked studying about Criminal Law I couldn’t really focus on that one aspect of American life.
Eventually, from boredom, dissatisfaction or simply wavering interests, I dropped out of school at the age of 19 after having been there for just two semesters. If I had known about a Liberal Arts education then, maybe I would have been on the path I am now a whole lot sooner. It has sincerely fueled me when it comes to making my passions of writing, traveling and philanthropy correlate with my academic pursuits of History, English Literature and Linguistics.
First and for most, as a writer/poet I believe that my work is the purest form of my self expression. One of my personal goals is to utilize my writing as a way of commenting on my life, including my personal experiences and beliefs. This would not have been possible without a Liberal Arts education. It has taken me beyond the basic academic courses of English that are just core requirements–as many courses other than Liberal Arts do.
For example, during this winter recess I have been registered in an English course that discusses the creative process of many famous poets– from Langston Hughes to Gwendolyn Brooks, to Sylvia Plath and William Blake along with countless others. These additional courses allow me to see what is behind the creative process, exposing me to both the ascetics of poetry and the more realistic corporate market of publishing. I am able to understand how both meet or do not meet most of the time, insuring that I will be able to navigate my own career as both a writer/poet and most of all a business savvy entrepreneur.
Secondly, as an aspiring connoisseur of different socio-cultural attributes around the globe, it has been a great dream of mine to travel as much and as often as possible. This desire far exceeds that of mere tourism. I want to rightfully experience the underbelly of life that exists in regions such as the Amazon Rainforest, the Himalayas, Tibet and others. It is my firm belief that even though the societies of the human race differ greatly, underneath it all we are all members of the same human family. I definitely owe this philosophy to my Liberal Arts education.
Over the past few semesters, I have been privileged to forums of thought that have enriched my own outlook on life. This has only motivated me to hunt for cultural awareness outside of the barriers that have been placed before me. It is my goal to create connections with people, places and things that were once said to be out of my reach. Without my Liberal Arts education I would have never thought that to be possible.
Lastly, my Liberal Arts education has challenged me to create a life that can positively influence others as well as benefit myself. After I left John Jay College, some years later I joined the United States Army. Although, I am very proud to have served my country–both here and abroad– I do believe that it was not my calling to change the lives of others as a soldier. This conclusion came to me especially when I was deployed to Iraq during the summer of 2003.
Ever since my return from Iraq, I have also discovered that my Liberal Arts education gave me a great basis for transitioning back into the civilian life. It also became a major source of my emotional growth and healing. Since then, I have dedicated the use of my craft to vocalizing my dissenting opinions, controversial thoughts and asserting my identity as a member of the returning Veteran population. Most of all Liberal Arts education has graced me with the tools to evoke thoughts and emotions that I feel are necessary in order to embrace the universal stories behind the human struggle.
Now that I am 7 years older with a daughter to provide for my definitions and values about the idea of success has truly been broadened by my well-rounded Liberal Arts education. When I finally acquire my Liberal Arts degree, I will continue to pursue my studies majoring in Anthropology. I believe that my patience towards the investment in my scholarship is again due to my Liberal Arts education. I heartily believe that I have discovered more than a job or career out of it. My love for Anthropology has become my purpose in life; the very engine of why I am a strong supporter of a Liberal Arts education. It is the very reason that I see now that I could not function successfully by separating my academic interests and personal enthusiasms.
Since Anthropology is the study of what shapes civilizations-those of the past, present and future it is very beneficial for me to have a wider scope when it comes to possessing knowledge and information about other cultures along with my own. On a more personal note, I believe that being a student of Liberal Arts gives me the continuous thirst to learn from my experiences-both good and bad, past and present. This in turn will make me the most successful at what counts the most for me-becoming a decent, responsible mother for my child.
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