Wednesday, 30 May 2012

To apply or not to apply

When I was completing my application for the Pinnacle scholarship, I gave up at least four times. And when I mean I gave up, I mean gave up emphatically. Throwing the papers away, crying in frustration, deleting the whole thing, emphatically. 

The first time, it was because I had convinced myself that if I just gave myself another 6 months, I could save up the money to buy a laptop myself. I told myself to get over it, get more hours at work and work harder. I told myself that I was taking the easy way out, asking for a handout. My partner slammed that excuse down in a matter of hours, bringing home the fine point that we had already spent one year attempting to make do using the same laptop, and that the very reason I was applying for the scholarship was because it was a large expense that I needed to use DURING my university course.( She was right, it would have taken me probably the whole duration of my course to save up for the one I eventually got from Pinnacle.)

The second emphatic binning of the application came a few weeks later, after agonising over the section of academic achievement. This section forced me to look at what i had been capable of in the past, and really hit home that since the absence of financial and emotion support from a maternal and paternal point of view, I had struggled. This realisation sent me into a spin of hopelessness, having stupidly talked myself into believing I was on a downhill slide into nothingness. Again, my partner put the brakes on that track, using the brilliant logic that THIS IS WHY YOU ARE APPLYING FOR THE BLOODY SCHOLARSHIP IN THE FIRST PLACE. (She was right, the Pinnacle foundation looks for determination, resourcefulness, and potential. The reason they exist is to give a leg up to students who desperately want an education, but are struggling to complete it. Sometimes the circumstances you may find yourself in don't allow academic achievement RIGHT NOW, but that certainly doesn't mean you haven't had academic achievement in the past, or that you won't in the future, especially with some assistance.)

The third tantrum ensued when I came to the section of Personal and/or social circumstances which present significant challenges to undertaking and completing education. After a long period of writers block ( or possibly just plain avoidance) , this section rocked me from top to bottom, and forced me to think about and put into words a period of my life I try my hardest to block out and not deal with.

Pinnacle scholars may seek this scholarship for many different reasons. It can be anything from needing some educational support, or because the university you need to go to means moving away from your loving family into a new and unfamiliar location. It could be because your family doesn't want to provide financial or emotional support, or because your family just can't provide financial support to cover the textbooks this year. It could be because you could do with some guidance and advice form someone in the career you hope to be in one day, or because you want to undertake a conference that could significantly enhance your career opportunities. It could be because you have personal hurdles in front of you, emotional hurdles behind you, or social hurdles underfoot. If the challenge to your education is hard to talk about, push through, because while it may be hard to write, the people that read it are understanding and unfortunately familiar with the large variety of challenges which face young LGBTI.

Before the fourth giving up episode, I did have one minor tantrum regarding the references, in which I deplored I couldn't find any. Or rather, couldn't find anyone I willingly wanted to have to explain my situation to. This excuse for why my application was yet again deleted, was combatted with :You won't find anyone if you don't ask. (Upon putting my stubbornness aside and explaining why I needed some help from a former school teacher, he has since become a fixture in my life, and provides stability and advice for anything from university courses to rental queries. If I hadn't checked my pride and asked for help, I would have missed out on having this person in my life. If people don't know you are struggling, they can't help you.)

The fourth and final tantrum was once I had finally completed the application, and my emphatic excuses had dwindled into a sorry-looking, dejected one: Whats the point, it won't be accepted anyway. I applied in November 2011. I am now a proud 2012 Pinnacle scholar, and have been granted a brand new laptop, four brand new, beautiful textbooks and a host of other educational costs. Pinnacle also arranged a mentor for me, from the profession I one day hope to be employed in, who is unrestricted and extremely generous in her advice and assistance.

There are likely many reasons which your mind will talk you into believing are very good reasons why you shouldn't waste your time applying for this scholarship, and whether the reason is shame, embarrassment, pride, the thought of getting your hopes up for nothing, stubbornness, or just a negative outlook it makes no difference. The one reason why you SHOULD put in an application, and the one that outweighs all the reasons why not, is because you have nothing to lose, and more importantly, you have everything to gain.

Ashleigh Scriven

To download an application, go to the Pinnacle Scholarships Page.

Start getting it together, the sooner the better. Applications for 2013 study close : 15 October 2012

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