Samaneh Pourjalali (1st Quarter, 2006)

1st Quarter, 2006
Mesothelioma Memorial Scholarship
Samaneh Pourjalali

“I am very active at Mt. San in volunteer work and leadership roles while maintaining a very high GPA. As the President of Phi Theta Kappa, last year I initiated the first “Adopt a Scholar” program at our school to match up honors students with financial difficulty, and professors who were willing to help pay the admission fee to join this International Honors Society. One of my greatest achievements was a campus wide event “Can Science and Religion Reconcile?”, with the purpose of creating a union between all variations of opinion. The event brought about a record breaking 570 people, and another 100 were turned away. I intend to become a professor so that I may change the world with the power of knowledge and ideas.”

A Portion of Samaneh’s Winning Essay:

What would you do if:

Samaneh Pourjalali

You moved your family to a new country to start from scratch to ensure them a better future, but all your life memories and belongings are stolen from a U-Haul. You realize that all of a sudden you cannot see your own father simply because he is Middle Eastern and, therefore, cannot get back into the country due to the fact that he is of the same race as some of the terrorists. You have to take care of your family on your own, working 30 plus hours to fulfill your family obligation without pay. Your seventeen year-old sister gets blood deficiency problems, your father gets a heart attack and you cannot be there with him. Your mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and has to undergo surgery and chemotherapy without her own husband. Another doctor tells your mother that she needs a hysterectomy and might even have cancer there, too. Your family members don’t have the time to help you, you struggle on your own and keep a positive attitude so that your family may hold it together.

My name is Samaneh Pourjalali. After arriving in America, my family’s possessions were stolen, and my parents had to start over. They had sacrificed so much. I was determined to excel and give back to them. Each day I repeated: “I came here to make it. My family depends on me.” While adapting to a new culture, I maintained straight A’s. I majored in psychology and philosophy to turn my experiences into wisdom.

I have done research for an Oxford University conference. I tutor voluntarily on campus. I initiated web communication at church. As president of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honors society at Mt. San Antonio College, I organize events to fight cancer, which is especially important to me since my mom has breast cancer. I organize events and go to schools that would stop children from smoking. I ran a campus-wide event called “Can Science and Religion Reconcile?”, with a record attendance showcasing commonalities among various points of view. I initiated a program called “Adopt a Scholar” to help bright honors students pay for their admission fee into PTK. I, too, am saddened by the fact that good students are financially limited to continue their education.

I am currently engaged in research for a world renowned scholar, Michael Shermer, for his up-coming book. I have been nominated as a Student of Distinction for Academic Achievement. I won the All-California Academic Team Competition and will have lunch with the governor and secretary of state on April 6th of this year. I have been published twice: once in the Honors Transfer Council Journal, and I write columns in a Persian magazine on philosophical and psychological issues. I have done all of the above while maintaining a GPA of 3.94.

The Main Reason I Need Your Assistance —

My mother’s chemotherapy treatments are to start within the next few weeks, and therefore I can not go to school away from home. I have applied to the Claremont Colleges such as Pomona, Scripps, Pitzer and McKenna because they are the closest to home so that I may take care of my mom and my little sister. I am unable to get financial aid and am left alone in this time of need.

I do a lot for the community and am willing to donate my time and efforts to you in any way that I can. If I may help with promoting your organization I will do so. If I may help with research I shall do it. It will be a small method of giving back. As I mentioned, I initiated a scholarship program at my own school. I am not begging for money, I will assist you in any way that I can.

Here is a little background on me, my achievements and my goals:

The legendary news figure David Brinkley once said “a successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at him.” My life has indeed been a target to its fair share of challenges only to positively shape the precise academic path that I reside on now.

Ever since the age of three I have traveled extensively to various countries in Europe and the West. Living in different countries and within diverse cultures I was able to familiarize and adapt myself to the different types of traditions and people. I was interested in how human behaviors, mentalities and philosophies would change with respect to customs and circumstances. Through my traveling I surprised myself at how I was able to communicate and from relationships with all kinds of ethnicities and the states of mind that followed arose from them. I also had to move from one country to another every four years and had to tear and reestablish my roots in different circumstances. In the years abroad I was able to learn English and in turn tutor a partially blind girl who only possessed twenty percent vision. I had to learn to form a bond with her, gain her trust and teach her the English language. I had to use multi-sensory methods of learning and use her cognitive skills rather than methods of direct application. It was through helping her and a dyslexic teenager after her, that my passion for understanding the complexity of human psychology and its many elements developed.

When I came to America, my family and I were not in a good financial situation. On the way to California a U-haul that was loaded with our assets was broken into, and everything we owned was taken away- all that we owned, except for the clothing that we were wearing at the time. Every new item we had purchased to start our new life and all our memorable belongings were taken away. My parents had worked very hard to build a life of 26 years from ground zero and in the sight of the empty, glass shattered U-Haul, they knew they had no choice but to start over to rebuild our new life from ground zero. After a few days of dealing with the shock of what I was still unable to believe, I decided that as a psychology major I should be able to help myself turn my wounds into wisdom.

When I entered community college my passion for psychology led me to be the primary research assistant to my psychology professor Dr John Long, in a research paper that he would present at a conference at Oxford University. The topic was “Women and Leadership ” and it was a success after ten months of rigorous research. Psychology is a major that I have chosen with a full understanding and I plan to continue with in this area to fulfill my thirst for a better comprehension of the human mind. Philosophy is the minor which I have chosen as a field that not only encompasses an array of information that enhances the critical thinking skills essential to and complimentary to psychology. My zeal for psychology and philosophy has impressed the world renowned and celebrated Dr. Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic Magazine who been a guest star on Oprah, Donahue, 20/20, Unsolved Mysteries, Larry King and the like, has asked for my assistance in upcoming book. Michael Shermer was one of the three panelists I invited for an event that my team and I organized on Campus (I have enclosed a letter of recommendation from him as well to show how what an honorable man he is and how impressed he was with my performance).

The day I came to America, I rehearsed one statement in my mind: “I came here to make it.” I knew I had been given an extraordinary opportunity, and I would do all that I could to excel and give back to my family for all they had sacrificed for me.

At Mt. San Antonio College I have participated in an immense amount of volunteer activities and leadership positions that have been reflective of my interest in psychology due to the altruistic intent that belies these activities and the skills that I have been able to demonstrate from my readings on psychology. I have volunteered as a tutor at our Math Assistance Center, and I have participated as a member in the International Honors Society Phi Theta Kappa (I later became the President of this organization). I have participated in events that passed out information and raised money and awareness towards various cancers such as breast cancer and lung cancer. As the President of Phi Theta Kappa I have conducted a major campus project that had a record attendance and great feedback from the faculty, the students and the guest panelists (The event was “Can Science and Religion Reconcile”). I also initiated the first program that would help honors students pay the admission fee for Phi Theta Kappa so that they would be eligible for future scholarships and recognition. Currently I am working with the student government on initiating the first campus wide paper recycling system. I have also been published twice: once in a Persian Magazine in which I have written columns on current important issues within the field of psychology; the other was in the Honors Transfer Council Journal on the topic of the “Meme Theory.” I have currently been nominated as student of distinction for Academic Achievement as well as been selected on the All California Academic Team. Primarily only two people out of the whole college and later only a few out of all of California were selected. I will be going to Sacramento to have lunch with the governor and other government officials on April 6th.

I not only plan to graduate from University but also continue my lifelong pursuit of knowledge as I grant my services as a future university professor. This means that apart from being trained at my future university I also want to one day contribute to its community that I so deeply care about. It would be an honor to become a member of such a respectable group of intellectuals and professors who contribute their efforts to students within academia.

Ever since my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer my choices for the majors that I have selected have become even more personal. Through philosophy I can comfort my mother by reminding her about the values in life. By means of psychology I may possess knowledge of effective methods that would help in comforting her during her battle with this disease. I have not, at any other instance in my life, been more convinced of having made the correct decision about my major and minor. I am happy to have been able to grow and thrive to this extent, and I know I owe it all to my professors and the special effort and dedication they make to ensure the academic and life long success of their students–their friends.

I am dedicated and motivated to continue my education to a doctorate. Give me the chance to prove to you that I will be the most eager student you will ever encounter.

Copyright 2009,, a StraightForward Media property.

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