Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Scholarships, Attitude, Community Service, and Honors All Is Right

"Scholarships," "Attitude," "Honors," and "Community Service" from kindergarten-age--is putting my daughter completely through school along with her husband. The catch here's... start very early in the children's lives. I can't even emphasize enough how those three things can make college a place of learning without the burden of debt for parents or students. I want and need to blog this hoping that young families realize the importance of starting-out young. Kiely didn't mind the pushing, except the last year (at the summer after she graduated) she raised an animal for fair and I could see she was so tired. She knew how to push herself, now.

I haven't blogged lately, but have a definite feeling the overwhelming task of blogging absolutely everything that's been happening in our lives. So, I've hit the brick wall! It's not a matter of having anything to say. It's all I want to say and filling-up a huge post. Too much to read and see.
This is to my lovely daughter Kiely and to her new husband Matt Aitken and together graduated from Snow College. They both were students and Resident Dorm Leaders and they both recently graduated and are now Utah State University students still at Snow College. They walked together at the recent graduation and wore their "Honors" and I couldn't be more proud of my students. Kiely especially, because how hard she's worked all these years and not just for school, but to make enough money to attend school. Her quest to only get scholarships (a huge job in itself) and not go into debt to attend school. She was also a part of Student Life and a Vice President at the school and it did come with a scholarship, also.
Kiely is top right
 All those years from the time she held an office of "pledge leader" at age five, she was actively a leader in some form from then on, THAT made the difference. Her resume always goes on top of the stack and now instead of applying for jobs, near the school, they are asked.  Kiely and Matt lead or are always in charge of something during the semester. Kiely is already apart of the student body staff at USU this year and happily again she is getting a scholarship. Matt also works as a maintenance person at the school, shining floors and is very keenly tuned-in to show Kiely how to obtain the Pell Grant and filling-out forms they have needed to continue their education. Kiely and Matt also are paid to be the "parents" of the dorm. Big job for a whole bunch of freshman and most often away from home for the first time. I thought for sure she wouldn't do that again, but they love it and already have plans to move to the next dorm. I'm not actually amazed by her, because I knew always that she should do it. I'm just so happy for her and so happy she married the dearest man, Matt.
Lounge area of the Dorm. Steve is in front, me on the bright blue bag and the rest of the hoodlums.

If I listed all that she accomplished since joining 4-H, this whole post would be a "brag-fest" or "Christmas Letter." All  I want to emphasize is that if your child is engaged in her community, church, and active in school she has a great advantage over all of the other young adults applying for college. My job was keeping a record of absolutely every single thing she did. I know that even collecting can foods doesn't seem a lot of community service but when it's on her Personal Progress or on her 4-H Personal Development Record for 14 years straight, even that is a huge amount of work. Have I mentioned I know all the ancient and modern history of China? I didn't have a job, I helped my children in their "passions." And, we paid a lot of money-out to fund their pursuits. We had a computer, but they knew, all of them that they had a lot of priorities to accomplish and messing with Pac-Man or Mario Brothers wasn't on the list.

I got this countdown everyday! Today's the Day!  Snow College Bell Tower
Last semester she was admitted to USU and told that she couldn't attend Snow College as a registered student. She could take the classes because USU and Snow are sister colleges. Actually, even Julliard is a sister college to Snow. I am tickled to know that even through her dance she can have the very best teachers and small classes to learn from the best. Kiely and Matt's majors are Agri Business. I have very little in common with all the classes that they have to take. Calculus, micro-economics or is it nano-economics? Anyway, I know statistics is super hard and I dropped-out of economics and accounting. I'm so impressed--even Spanish! She wasn't allowed to take it at Santa Paula High School because they thought she'd fail, lose her honors-roll placement, and be dropped from the Agriculture Academy. Where did the Santa Paula High School GET THAT? My little kid excels in Spanish and loves it.  Kiely has over 110 units and that seems impossible to me. I really wish she had taken us to the extension office where she takes her Utah State classes.

I know graduation was going to be a long production, but I loved every minute of it. Especially when they walked across the podium area. I'm glad she took that "rite of passage" and even though it's community college, it was a lot of learning and signifies that both of them are committed to learning and reaching their goals. I'm sure to Kiely and Matt there time in school is taking forever. To me, it's going fast. Maybe because I'm older, but also because I see it as a great place to be. The job of  hunting for employment isn't really good right now so this is truly the place to be.

Peek-up Girl!

Matt has his hand on Kiely's shoulder

Kiely receiving her diploma, finally!
Such a small school, she personally knows the Dean

I know that in life there are "bumps" in the road. I'm not even saying that our honorary couple have any bumps or complaints. They have trials. I don't know a student ever that hasn't had some trials at college, but it only makes them grow. I'm talking about trials with teachers not teaching correct principles or huge tests that can make or break your standings with your grades. Or the fires the students start in the dorms. They did have two this year and it was an "easy code" with Kiely knowing evacuation, calling the fire department, and calming the students. They're "Pros" but the unknowing part when another fire will come was a bit unsettling.

Matt and Kiely's home this past semester.
 If there's anything that my kids have done the few things have been the most important in obtaining funds and acceptance into college are these few things, but they add-up to huge criteria when the paperwork comes in to the college admissions. This is how to get your admission on the very top.

First thing we made sure if any of my daughters wanted to attend college? My son just wanted to be a fireman and he knew that route, but applied these steps, but they were a little different. That one goal is really important because it has to be something they wanted really bad.

We all started-out making sure that our children had the right "attitude" and this is a huge part of being connected because no one wants to be around anyone else that is whining, sluggish, or complaining. My kids sometimes didn't even want to go to school and we'd get in the car and (I know this is bad) I'd hand them a can of Mountain Dew with a handmade sticker attached to it saying, "PEP" and they knew from me... that it stood for "Positive Energy Power." If there's anything that catches an adult, teacher, leader, or's a kid that "out there" giving themselves assignments and staying busy and finding things that need to be done before they could think to ask someone to do them. I can't emphasize this enough, even if it's just sweeping, keep busy and a "self-starter".

The next thing is to find any and all scholarships and do this early. I don't think that the looking should begin in the Junior year of high school. Do it before. That FASFA site misses a lot...not sure if that's the right acronym for it. The funds are everywhere, really!

Don't wait to be in high school to start community service. Start them as soon as you can get them out and helping. Walking for causes, making your community beautiful, collecting food for the needy are some of the different ways even little ones can accomplish. Read your local news and online maybe too late. I only say that because often there's great opportunities to do service and they're always listed in the newspaper. You will be in the news if you honestly commit to helping others. The most important part of doing the community service is document everything and add a paragraph about how you felt doing something to help and I hope it isn't negative, because that will work against you and if you do gripe about it, in my book it doesn't count.

Lastly, it's just simple, do your homework and get good grades. Oh, if you only knew that if you don't "get it" go to You Tube and learn it. There's always a way. Some of my children weren't getting the help in high school that they wanted so they all went to college early. There's two advantages here because if you have a disability for instance like dyslexia, anyone enrolled can be tested and receive help. The college contacts the high school and they're required by law to get a tutor or extra help required for any and all courses taken at the high school and college. I promise, that's a wonderful service and again, it's free. High school-age persons get in FREE to college and the credit counts toward your college units. Sometimes  easy classes can be taken just to bring-up a grade-point average even in high school. The transcript is just required to be taken to the high school. Kiely was good at dance and always got an "A", and my Bree loved photography...easy "A". All this may take time, but it was worth it because it brought-up the grades and my children were fulfilling their passion. Kiely had a term for dance, "Dance-it-out" when things became overwhelming.

I know that much of our lives in this world consist of rewards and achievements. We set our sights on deadlines or goals and it inevitably each one has a little or big bump in it. I think if any person, me...anyone, doing any worthwhile goal or defining pursuit, there's always some little sharp piece of rock, maybe a boulder, or a seemly impassable stream, that holds us back. The sunshine in our lives has a dark cloud that passes by and cuts the lights from us. We know there's a sun behind it, shining.

That "knowing" is faith and hope. Do we know for sure the sun is behind the cloud? I'm not wiser now that my children are raised, but I do know that all, no matter what we try on this earth, we will find opposition in the work. There will be an end to it, a finale. The end of a play. Our life on earth does have a finale, but it's how we play-out the rest of our lives on earth and the hope is that we have "played it right." It's that part of doing well is what's the most important ingredient to living here.

There will be not gate to climb or hitting an electric-livestock fence in heaven. We'll come to the "Gates of Heaven" and they will be there for all of us. If we keep our promises and live a worthy life.

We will all have a chance to have that celebration of "making it" if we do our part. This graduation for me watching Kiely and Matt was truly a bit of heaven and I did feel the "sun" without any clouds, not one.

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