There is much to be learned from life’s adversities. I was reminded of this when I read over some of the very candid and inspiring essays submitted by the Give Something Back Foundation’s student applicants.

Part of the application process for a GSBF scholarship — in addition to obtaining recommendation letters and attending in-person interviews with our staff — is to write an essay based on one of three topics presented:

  1. What makes you the interesting person you are?
  2. Explain the impact of an event or activity that has created a change in your life or in your way of thinking.
  3. People “give back” in lots of different ways, big and small. Describe a person who gives back that you admire or who has influenced you a great deal. Tell us why.

The responses the students submitted are stark indicators of how much life these kids have already lived and just how valuable our program will be in giving them a chance that they likely would not otherwise receive: getting to college and graduating in four years without any debt.

Although devastating, being able to overcome an adverse situation can give a child the confidence that he/she can come out the other end of almost anything. The grit and resilience learned in the face of adversity can be the key to being successful later in life. In fact, during one of our first student interviews, one remarkable young lady said her greatest strength is, “that I can get through anything.” She was reluctant to reveal what she has already endured, but we are certain she’s had more hardship in life than most kids at her age.

I think you will agree that the excerpts of the essays below are very powerful. I know we are going to help these hardworking students — not only by providing them with a college education free of debt — but also by pairing them with a mentor to support them socially and emotionally through high school and help them better prepare for college and for life. They already have what it takes to persevere and with a little support from us, imagine the possibilities.

Just another reason why I can’t think of anything better to do than what the Give Something Back Foundation is doing!


Both my mother and father are addicts and have not been in my life since 2005. Since then, my grandmother has been raising me, one of my brothers and one of my sisters. My great-grandmother raises another brother and another brother is being raised by his grandmother. Because of their addiction and the impact on me and my six siblings, I do not want to drink alcohol, do drugs or smoke cigarettes. I also plan to focus on my education and not have children until I am older. That is because I know having children is a big responsibility. I want to be able to focus on my children and be able to afford them. I really just want to make sure I do not make bad decisions like my parents and I plan to work very hard to make sure that does not happen.



When I was in fourth grade I received some devastating news, my father was being sent to prison. This event changed my life forever. We lost our new home and left town to live with friends and family.

 This event had both good and bad effects on me. Some of the negative effects that I still deal with today is that my mom had to go from being a stay at home mom to a single parent with a job. I don’t get to spend as much time with her as I want to. My little brother doesn’t remember having a father, we are always sharing memories and explaining things to him. My older brother had to take on a lot of responsibilities and help around the house and help my mom. He had to grow up faster than normal and learn to take care of us younger boys. Some positive changes that happened are that I had new motivation to succeed. It brought my mom and my brothers and I closer together. We had to help each other get through the hard times and to be more patient with each other.


The person that gives back in a great way and whom I admire the most is my mother. My mother is a very caring and lovely lady. She is always finding a way to give back. My mother gives the clothes that myself, my sister and my baby brother can no longer use. She gives them away to people in need. She’ll take slightly worn winter coats to the homeless shelter for anyone to have. My mother also loves to collect and donate food to give to the shelter. Anything we can no longer use she’ll find someone who can use it. If a person is in need of spare change she would give it to them without a thought. If someone comes up short at the register she is the first one to help out. My mother told my siblings and I that we don’t have much but, there is always someone out there that may need more then we do. My mother taught me to always give back when I can. I love my mother for always wanting to give back.  


Let me know if you’d like to become a mentor to one of our scholars. You can make an enormous impact on a young person’s life!