At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we pride ourselves on doing what we can to boost our local and nationwide communities. As part of that dedication, we understand the importance of education and how crucial it is for aspiring students and professionals to receive a college education. We decided to start a scholarship in 2018 that was specifically geared toward first-year college students. Our first period for the scholarship– Fall 2018– just came to a close.
We were humbled by the amount of applications we received as well as the overall quality of every essay. The essays were fantastic and we enjoyed reading them! We’d like to thank everyone who applied.
We’re pleased to announce we’ve chosen a winner.
Congratulations to Zoe Terner of Lake Worth, Florida!
Zoe will be attending George Washington University’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in Fall 2018. She’ll be pursuing studies in History and Political Science.
The essay topic was as follows:
Tell us about a volunteering experience that helped you grow.
Here is her winning essay:
“Everything I know about bravery I learned from six eight year-old girls.
Early on our first morning at Camp Jenny– a free sleep-away camp experience for elementary school students from inner-city Georgia– my volunteer co-counselors and I took our cabin of girls to the nature specialty area, where we went on a walk through the woods. The specialists who led us through those slightly-menacing trees had only one rule: if it doesn’t fly, don’t make it fly.
They had the girls repeat this over and over:
“Do rocks fly?” they’d ask.
“Don’t make them fly!”
“Do twigs fly?”
And so on.
On the walk, our girls marveled at a caterpillar spinning its cocoon, blades of grass so tall they tickled the campers’ knees, and a butterfly that landed on the strap of one of our sandals. To kids who’d never before left inner-city Atlanta, everything from the tallest of trees to the smallest of bugs was new and exciting. For an hour, they were in awe. Then, like eight year-olds do, they moved on.
Eventually, we arrived at the ropes course, where a zip line stretching across camp waited for our apprehensive girls. As they watched the boys shimmy up a pole that reached into the sky, their complaints grew louder.
“No one’s going to make you do anything you don’t want to,” my co-counselors and I told them. “But we’ll be so proud of you if you just give it a try.” Despite our best efforts, the girls weren’t having any of it. Finally, one of my exasperated little campers reached through our cabin huddle, took both of my hands in hers, and looked me in the eye.
“Zoe,” she said. “If it don’t fly, don’t make it fly.”
My co-counselors and I looked at each other and gave in—how could you argue with that? The girls had won, and we were ready to let them move onto their next activity.
It was then that a magical thing happened: the cabin next door arrived and started to get suited up for the zip line. When my girls saw their peers, a switch was flipped. The same campers who had fiercely argued to leave the ropes course two minutes ago were running to be first in line.
As cute as she was, my camper was wrong. It’s true that rocks don’t fly, and neither do twigs. But, sometimes, with just enough encouragement, little girls do.
The big secret is that I’m terrified of heights, and—despite convincing my girls to do it—I’d never been on a zip line myself. Yet, as my girls sped through the air, I felt like I was right there with them. They were on top of it all, and the whole world zoomed by underneath those muddy little tennis shoes.
A few months later, I found myself in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest, standing on top of a platform with a helmet on my head and a harness around my waist. I’d been in Central America for nearly two weeks, helping to rebuild a rural school, and had dreaded this moment from the day that I arrived. I watched my friend slide across the zip line before me. Every fiber of my being wanted to turn around and climb back down to safety. Instead, I let myself be hooked up to the rope, gripped onto it until my knuckles turned white, and took a leap of faith.
I think I’ve decided that true success is when those whom you lead—your little campers—achieve so much more than you believe you ever could. Camp Jenny is more than a brief volunteer experience, or an opportunity for more privileged students to become fleetingly involved with the lives of a few elementary school students from Atlanta. Rather, Camp Jenny forges complete and endless bonds, and allows both volunteer counselors and student campers with the opportunity to forever change each other’s lives. When I return to camp this summer as one of its co-directors, I hope I can lead with all the bravery and fearlessness of my campers.
When I finally zip-lined, my girls and I were 1,000 miles apart, but, I swear, it was like we touched the sky together.”
For more information on the next scholarship period which will be for Fall 2019, please see our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Zoe!