Oluebube Akujieze

Growing up I was not familiar with the concept of race; mostly because I grew up in Nigeria, a racially homogenous country. I saw myself and the people around me as people despite our religious and tribal differences. Not until my mother and I immigrated to the US about nine years ago was race such an apparent obsession people had. It became evident to me very quickly that this obsession is systemically rooted and for this reason, some peoples' first impression of me would be on notions based on the color of my skin. Despite this, I still strive to be unapologetically me the best way I know.

The conscious reminder that I am Black has been a blessing moreover. I have been able to educate myself on topics regarding race and how I perpetuate detrimental stereotypes even within my own race. It has allowed me to deliberate on how I can actively work towards dismantling those misconceptions I hold while simultaneously advocating for others to amplify their voices. Soon I came to realize that the medical field is also a way that racism is perpetuated.

This realization has helped shape my academic and personal goal of becoming an OB-GYN. The particular reason is oftentimes women of color, specifically Black women, are underestimated when narrating their symptoms and health concerns to a medical personnel due to implicit bias. Having been a victim of this myself, it has become a driving force for me to want to change. I believe that if I want change, it has to start with me as the saying goes "Be the change you want to see." Hopefully, I can change the perceptions of other individuals as well in the process.

Moreover, my mother was my initial exposure to the healthcare field as a medical lab scientist herself. She continues to support and motivate me in all my endeavours. For this reason, it is a personal goal of mine to make her days remarkable; for her to see me in my future profession and I can boldly say it was a result of her supportiveness which fueled my determination that I am able to become a doctor. Currently I am a freshman Undergraduate student at the University of Delaware and although my journey is long, as many note when I express my dreams to them, I am willing and determined to make the journey and fulfill my goal. Lastly, I hope by graduation I am content with the decisions and connections I made, lessons learned and ready for medical school. I hope you consider me to receive the J.B.L. Trust Scholarship to help defer some of the high cost of tuition, and assist me in achieving my goals.

Reuben Becker-Klein

I want to do a lot in my life and I feel like I have a good start towards my aspirations and goals. For a person of my age I think I know a lot more than most people do about what they want to do in life and college. While a lot of my friends are still trying to figure out what they want to major in for college I am pretty set in what I want to do. For almost as long as I can remember I have enjoyed being in nature and building things. I built legos, model airplanes, and even desks and a basketball hoop. This is where my interest in making things came from, however as I grew older I became more interested in how things work and where they came from, which resulted in me getting more into science.

My family has always been outdoorsy; growing up in New England, we went on hikes and walks in the mountains and tended to walk and bike to as many places we could. When we moved to Delaware I still enjoyed hiking and biking and also started to enjoy learning more about different things in the environment, from the flora and fauna to different types of soil and how to prevent erosion. Junior year of high school really helped me realize even more what I wanted to major in for college. I took AP Environmental Science that year, and even though it was cut short due to Coronavirus, I still knew what I wanted to do the rest of my life.

Environmental science encapsulates two large parts of my identity: my interest in nature and the environment, and my more scientific side. I could learn how things are made and what makes up different types of soil and organisms while also being outside in nature. There are few things that I could think of that I would rather do more, both now and for my foreseeable future. I want to go to college and get a bachelor's degree in environmental science before going on to graduate school and getting a Ph.D. in environmental science or a related subject. I then want to go on to help the environment by finding new ways to clean water, reduce pollution, and if possible try and solve the climate crisis. I know that this is one of the most important careers right now as the global temperatures are rising at an unprecedented level, but I also know that I will enjoy trying to save the one thing that all people have in common, mother earth.

I have already been doing as much as I can to learn more about environmental science and the environment itself. This includes being the president of the environmental club at my school which led a walkout about climate change last year and was featured in Delaware Online. I had to do extensive research and communicate with the administration as well as news agencies to make this go smoothly. While doing this, I learned a lot about the fight against climate change and those who are helping to lead it. I hope to be able to do something to help stop climate change and subsequent consequences by following a career in environmental science.

Danielle Kalaygian

As a child I once told my mother that I wanted to be the manager of Burger King as well as the President of the United States. I wanted to run the country and manage Burger King to make the drive through line move more quickly. While I was mostly motivated by my desire for chicken nuggets at the time, my goal to make change has remained the same. I have since decided to change my career path to become a therapist. I want to improve lives on a more personal level and give people the tools they need to be able to manage their mental health and live happier lives. To do this I need to earn my Master’s degree. 

My freshman year of college was very difficult for me academically, and I am still trying to make up for it. I am constantly striving for the high grade point average I will need to get into a good graduate school. Since the University of Delaware transitioned to online learning in March of 2020 I have been thriving. The work has not gotten easier, but I am working harder. I have gone out of my way to form study groups and group chats with my classmates which has helped greatly. I have always been a good student, but since online learning began I have taken on even more responsibility due to the difficult circumstances. I took a lifespan development class, but there was no instruction, not even a pre-recorded lecture. All I had to help me was my textbook, so I taught myself the material. I created a group chat with my fellow students, I read every single day and worked hard on every assignment, no matter how emotionally, physically, and mentally drained I felt. I ended the class with an A and I could not be more proud of myself. I made the Dean’s List the past two semesters with a term grade point average of 3.6 each time. I have been pulling my cumulative grade point average up with each semester, my hard work is paying off. So far I am on track to achieve my goal of earning high grades and getting into a good graduate school. 

            As for my personal goal, I would simply like to become a better person. I consider myself to be a good person right now, but I can always improve. I recently took a course called “the art of happiness,” and it has opened my eyes to what a good person really is. It is someone who finds happiness in being kind to others, someone who enjoys the little things in life, it is someone who is able to let go of what upsets them and is able to find peace. I believe that I am slowly becoming this person that I want to be. For example, if I see someone in public wearing a “Black Lives Matter” mask I will compliment him or her because I can tell that it is something they are passionate about and it is nice to be acknowledged. I had different assignments in that class that taught me how to improve as a person and find happiness. As long as I keep practicing what I have learned I think I will become a better person. We once learned about forgiveness, and how it only hurts us not to forgive those who have wronged us. That unit could not have come at a better time for me. At the time I had not yet moved in to my apartment, but my roommates (who I did not know very well) had been there for months. I found out that for months they were letting a man I did not know sleep in my bed that I had moved in earlier, three of them had the coronavirus and did not tell me, and that man gave them money when he finally left but it was not offered to me, as it should have been because I was paying rent. At first I was livid. I quickly came to realize that being angry was making me feel miserable and holding on to that anger was not going to change what happened. I forgave those roommates that apologized and I moved on. I am no longer upset about it, in fact I am quite at peace. If I keep this mindset I will have no problem becoming a greater, happier person.

            A fun fact about me is that I am the President of the Epilepsy Awareness Club at the University of Delaware. I joined as the Vice President during the spring semester of my freshman year, and I have enjoyed it very much. While the club is small, I see it as a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness for a cause close to my heart. I have epilepsy myself, and it has been so rewarding to have the chance to raise awareness and money to find a cure. Since joining the club I have accomplished this in several ways. I attended the Fusion for a Cause 5K on behalf of the Epilepsy Foundation to hand out informational pamphlets and little papers I made about seizure first aid. I sat at a table in a freezing cold barn for the entire 5K, but I was able to raise awareness and that made it all worth it. The former president and I also helped the Epilepsy Foundation at the Barn Bash gala last winter. We set up a game for the attendees and donors where they paid to play a ring toss. We collected their money and taught them the rules. Everyone had a great time and we raised a lot of money for the foundation. It has been an honor to work so closely with the foundation and to get my fellow students involved, I want them to know that they can make a difference. Being a board member of this club has been an amazing experience, and it is something I will remember long after I graduate.                

I believe I am improving greatly as a student and as a person, and I look forward to continuing to grow. I am confident that I will achieve my goals and I will one day become a therapist. I am on the road to becoming a happier person and I will do anything to help others do the same. I know I have a bright future ahead of me, I just have to keep up the hard work.

Thomas Pierce

Ever since my first year of middle school, I have been an extremely hardworking individual capable of fully experiencing my given academic opportunities, fulfilling personal goals, pursuing extra-curricular interests, and maintaining a healthy social life while balancing a stable job. While those looking at all my areas of interest on paper may think that I’ve spread myself too thin, in reality, I’ve been able to fully develop myself in an academic sense, spiritual, sense, and through the arts.

First, I have been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA ever since I found out what a “GPA” was, but that hasn’t fully satisfied me academically. Consequently, I’ve always set my goals higher and higher, striving to reach them. In the past, I’ve managed to score multiple 5’s on AP exams, including one for a class I never took, and I always try to enroll in difficult classes that challenge the way I think and inspire me to become smarter. In my free time, I read academic books such as Europa by Julio MacLennan and I do research on the internet to expand my knowledge outside of my Political Science major. This semester, my biggest goal is to maintain my straight A and Dean’s List record from the first semester, which should prove more difficult this time considering that I am currently enrolled in three times the Honors classes that I was in the first semester.

For the past year especially, listening to and playing music has been an ever-growing part of my life, becoming one of my favorite hobbies and an important way in which I de-stress. Another thing that is always on my mind is my future career and how I can set myself up for it now, even though I have a few years to go before I graduate law school. Subsequently, my main personal goals throughout my college life so far have been to build up my resume and to expand my musical horizons. A few months before college started, I picked up a guitar for the first time, before quickly realizing that it was a lot harder than I thought. I gave it up shortly thereafter, planning to return to it once college started, in stereotypical student fashion. Since the start of last semester, I have made leaps and bounds in my guitar skills, and I am now able to play full songs like “Drops of Jupiter” by Train and “To Zanarkand,” a complicated piece that originated from the Final Fantasy video game series. Next, I’ve successfully fulfilled my plans of building up my resume already, but I show no signs of stopping. Last semester, I was accepted onto two of my schools sports teams, being the men’s volleyball team and the eSports team for Hearthstone and Smash Bros. My coaches have told me that I’ve made incredible progress in both fields, and I was appointed as the volleyball team’s social media manager last week. While we haven’t had any games yet for volleyball, I currently hold a 2 – 2 record for the NACE Collegiate Hearthstone tournament. Furthermore, I was made one of my schools two Programming Assistants this past week, meaning that I’ll be in charge of setting up fun events, fundraisers, and student-life-improving programs next semester. Throughout the rest of the year, I hope to continue expanding my qualifications and getting better at playing guitar.

 I got my first job working with my dad in a lawn-mowing and landscaping company back in seventh and eighth grade, but I started my first “real” job (that I unfortunately have to file W-2’s for) in my sophomore year of high school. I started at Bachetti Bros., a local shop on Kirkwood Highway, as a cashier and have been working there ever since. Bachetti’s is a grocery store, deli, meat market, prepared foods store, and catering company all rolled into one, and, since starting, I have worked in each department. This was a very important experience for me since it’s allowed me to learn a lot about what different job types are like. At Bachetti’s, I’ve done everything from catering weddings at DuPont estates to replacing ceiling tiles while rewiring electrical wires. Last year, I actually got a second job on top of my job at Bachetti’s working at the Home Depot across from the Christiana Hospital. I was able to maintain both jobs while being enrolled in school (which was virtual due to COVID-19), and I still graduated with a 4.0 GPA and numerous awards/honors, including being on the board for the National Honors Society. While at Home Depot, I worked in the afternoons and in the garden department officially, often pulling twelve-hour shifts, but I also covered some days in the electrical department. While I am not currently working due to being away school, I am still on the payroll at Bachetti’s so I go back on the holidays and some weekends to help out, and I have a job at the Bellevue Estate lined up for next summer after becoming friendly with the groundskeeper.            

While I’m not quite sure what to write as a fun fact about myself, one of my biggest passions ever since quarantine started has been mental health. Mental health-related issues have often been swept under the rug, but quarantine has thrust even more people into the throes of depression and anxiety, and I think that bringing those issues to light so that people can know they are not alone and can seek help is an important step into deconstructing the social stigma around mental health and working towards a world where nobody feels the need to end their own life or hurt themselves/others. I often endorse motivational artists such as Charlie Mackesy on social media platforms or to my friends, and I am a big fan of the message behind Dear Evan Hansen, a Broadway musical about suicide and mental health that I actually focused on for my first-ever college research paper. This paper was over ten pages long and for my Honors Composition class, and I ended up getting a full score of one hundred.