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 degree. We decided to start a scholarship in 2018 that was specifically geared toward first-year college students. The Fall 2021 submission period 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 Cheyenne Schad of Colorado!
Cheyenne will be attending University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus to pursue a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology.
The essay topic was as follows:
You have your own late night talk show, who do you invite as your first guest?
Here is her winning essay:
Rick Riordan: Questioning Social Norms through Diverse Young-Adult Literature
If I were a late-night talk show host, my first guest would be Rick Riordan, the author of the Percy Jackson series. I started reading this series when I was in middle school, and they were encouragingly different from anything I previously experienced. During this time, there were not a lot of diverse books, especially ones targeted at adolescents. Rick Riordan showcased characters with differing backgrounds, making them connectable with teenagers who were not deemed ‘normal’ by society. How Riordan normalized diversity strongly influenced my life, encouraging me to embrace my differences rather than be ashamed. His new writing style is why I would invite Riordan to be my first guest on my talk show.
As someone who has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), it was life-changing to see my favorite characters have this same diagnosis. Riordan put a positive spin on neurodivergence, making it an advantage for his demi-god characters. All demi-gods had ADHD, as they were to be warriors. Having higher levels of energy enabled them to fight against monsters in long-lasting battles. All demi-gods were also dyslexic since they were born with a natural preference for studying and reading ancient Greek. The modern English we use today did not align with their demi-god tendencies. Their dyslexia helped them to learn Greek quickly, enabling the successful completion of their quests. Outside of their community, the demi-gods faced societal stigmas for their neurodivergence. Before they learned of their heritage, society indoctrinated shame of their differences. It was not until they experienced the benefits of their diverse brains that they started to accept themselves. Reading stories that turned traditional learning disabilities into superpowers made it easier for me to respect my diagnoses.
Riordan further showcased diversity in his works by creating characters who came from different cultures and non-nuclear families. Most of his characters were demi-gods, meaning they were a child of both a deity and a human. None of the mothers or fathers who were deities stayed long after the conception of their children. Therefore, their children were raised in households with either single parents or step-parents. Riordan portrayed the positives and negatives of these upbringings instead of only one version. The importance for these stories only grew. My parents were never married, separating when I was two years old. My mom remarried when I was five, and my stepdad raised me as his daughter. My father also remarried, but the relationship I had with my stepmother is tumultuous, as she was emotionally abusive. Reading Riordan’s stories convinced me my experiences were not abnormal, allowing the acceptance of my unique family situation.
I would use my social standing as a talk show host to portray positively influential people, not feeding into the negativity associated with today’s media. Too often, talk show hosts only showcase the biggest celebrities, overlooking people who work to change our world into a better place. Riordan is not actively working to change the physical environment, but he is highlighting the redundancy of societal norms. He showed children who consider themselves to be different that their individuality is not something shameful. Riordan’s writings were one of the first pieces of young adult literature to embrace diversity. His works were truly inspirational for me. His positive impact on my generation makes him an easy choice as the first guest on my late-night talk show.
Congratulations again, Cheyenne!