“I had recently moved back to Alaska from New Zealand, I had major trouble adjusting to my new Bethel lifestyle, and I had to make life-changing decisions all on my own. This essay, especially, made me come to know in my heart that I have overcome the worst things and that I can and will make something of myself.”
Danika Bailie is a Senior at Bethel Regional High School and a 2015 Gates Scholarship Finalist. Her mentor is Megan Shaw.
2015 Reflection on Gates Millennium Scholarship Application Experience
I was introduced to this scholarship at an Upward Bound summer program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Applying for the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship was no easy task. Like anything you really want, it takes hard work to get there. When I was first told of the opportunity to do this scholarship, I pictured in my head that working on the essays would be a breeze. It sounds pretty easy if you know yourself. But it was harder for me because I am still trying to find out who I am, as an individual.
My motivation for completing this scholarship was my living situation. Luckily, since I believe I have a good mindset, I knew what would help me reach my goals, and always kept my future in mind. Knowing that one day I would succeed has been my drive throughout this whole process. I didn’t even think about failing.
Another thing that motivated me was that I knew what I wanted to do — I am going to college and study electrical engineering. I already have been accepted to the University of Washington in Bothell. I know I will make something great of myself one day, whether I receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship or not.
I knew I could not quit on this scholarship. Of course, there were times where I felt like I wasn’t worthy of the scholarship. But I always quickly shuddered off those feelings and kept going. My teachers, especially Ms. Megan Shaw, helped me through this rigorous process. I seriously couldn’t have finished without the help from her and my mentors Tad and Dean Wariner, who were also extremely vital to my drive for excellence in the essays. I had met them at Upward Bound at UAF and they were the ones who told me “you can win if you try.” They made sure I kept focused the whole time by emailing, Skyping and talking on the phone. They read all of my drafts and helped me make them better.
I also kept in mind how great it would feel to accomplish something like this. Whether I receive the scholarship or not, I am proud of myself for pushing through it.
Rewriting the eight essays definitely made me think about my life, especially the third essay. This essay was about how I was unfairly treated in my life. I had recently moved back to Alaska from New Zealand, I had major trouble adjusting to my new Bethel lifestyle, and I had to make life-changing decisions all on my own. This essay, especially, made me come to know in my heart that I have overcome the worst things and that I can and will make something of myself. By writing my way through my challenges, I never gave up on the essays because I knew I could do it.
Now that I have finished all of the essays and application, it is a total relief. Re-writing was the hardest part, but the most worthwhile. Pouring my life goals, experiences, aspirations and hardships into eight essay papers was absolutely exhausting! But with the help of my teachers, counselors and Tad and Dean, I made it through. Completing the Gates application has helped me know myself better. I have confidence in applying for more scholarships and other things in life that were once outside my comfort zone. I can and will make something of myself.