Interview with a scholarship winner

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Maya Palacio

Maya Palacio and Tiffany Bean were the recipients of the 2018 Bank of Bermuda Foundation Chairman’s Award. We were able to catch up with Maya in her final year at the University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia. When she’s finished she’ll have earned a Bachelor of Journalism Honours and a minor in English.

How do you feel that the scholarship has helped you so far?

Have you ever dreamt that you were about to fall off a ledge and you wake up in a panic, but then an overwhelming relief that it was only a dream? This scholarship felt like the relief of a bad dream.

My first university year, my mother took out part of her pension to assist me and I had help from family and friends who believed in me. Since then, I’ve had to work multiple jobs to pay for my schooling with the help of small, but vital scholarships.

To say this scholarship has helped me is an understatement. Summer into my last year, I was working many jobs and taking two summer courses that I had to pay for that were about $4,500. I hadn’t even begun to scrape the surface for paying for my last two semesters. I’m an optimist, but I’m realistic. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it happen for my final year, I just knew it had to happen by any means. If I had to mow lawns, I would have. This scholarship did more than help me – it relieved me.

What is the most important factor in applying for a scholarship?

Personally, I believe there are many. Over the four years of my university career there are some things I have noticed to make a difference when applying for a scholarship:

Scholarships are an investment in you

Committees are more likely to invest in serious applicants. You wouldn’t necessarily get a large scholarship coming out of high school. There are the exceptions, but the rule tends to lean toward students who have already invested in themselves, put in the effort to get far in their university career and just need that push to get over the edge – and with the diploma.

Honesty, vulnerability and pride

It’s hard to tell a group of strangers, “Hey I need money, can you give it to me?” And its even harder to acknowledge it to yourself at times. Humans. We tend to act as though none of us have worries, issues or cry. But these are universal issues we all face at some point. Be true to what makes you the person you are. Speak your mind. Don’t shy away as if you have nothing to offer because you do. Be proud of your story.

Start early

You have a favourite professor? You’ve done internship work? Have you held a job? Get reference letters. You don’t have to wait until you need to apply, get them as soon as you can. As for the scholarships, apply for many and apply for each one – specifically. Do not be general about each application, many brilliant people are going through hundreds of applications. If you start an essay with “My name is…” it probably won’t make it to file you hope to be in– speaking from experience.

What would you do differently?

If I could go back in time and be told that I didn’t have a college fund I may have started saving earlier in life. I didn’t know until my last year of high school. I encourage others to talk with their parents about money and finances early. Conversations about money are always uncomfortable but its important to know.

What are your plans for the next 5 years?

There’s a lot I want to get done.

Short-term goals would be to complete my internship back home, in Bermuda for a month as part of my graduation requirement and then graduate May 23, 2019. After, I hope to get the internship with the New Yorkerpodcast for the summer and work in New York (or the States) for a couple of years.

In the next three years, I hope to have a platform where I am able to communicate politics in a clear and perspective way to the younger generation of Bermuda and also get the opinions of the younger generation out to the larger community by using my social media platform. I also plan to compete in Miss. Bermuda pageant.

In the next five years, I would hope to have begun working with the educational system in Bermuda through multiple news stories that would lead me to meeting more educators in the system and gain information on how the public-school system is operated. I hope to be shadowing the minister of education as well and considering a place in parliament as minister of education in further years.

I also hope to continue my crochet line, use my platform to work with many Bermuda news outlets, give back to my parish (Hamilton), and run a start-up organization I have in mind to help improve the athletic arena standards on the island.

What do you know now about scholarship that you had wished you’d known then?

How to use I think the committee who operates the website should go into every high school and teach the students how to use the program, not to mention educate the educators, so that they can answer questions and teach the parents. It takes a village. Everyone loves to say, “Don’t forget to apply” and “Make sure you apply for everything” and just assume you know how to do it. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school that I found out how to do it and all deadlines were closed. For those who don’t understand, please ask questions and keep looking for help.

I remember a day in middle school my math teacher (Mr. Coddington, Whitney Institute, math teacher) asked if there were any questions and no one raised their hands. His response stuck with me. Ask the question. Even if you think its ‘dumb’. Personally, I’d rather ask a dumb question then to continue to feel dumb. Everything is a learning process with continuously changing practices. If you need help, all you need to do is ask – and apply for scholarships.

This article was originally published in the 2019 edition of the Rg Scholarship Directory.

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