A Story Worth 12,000 Votes? I’m a Finalist for a $10k Scholarship & I’m Losing Horribly.

November 16, 2011

First thing’s first, I found out I was a finalist for a scholarship yesterday- YAY!  The scholarship is for bloggers and is worth $10,000 for college tuition.  My Master’s Degree is not cheap.

The finalists were announced yesterday evening at around5-6pm CST.  By about 9pm someone already had 700 clicks.  This morning, someone else had about 1200.  I have about 50.  It’s amazing how quickly the internet can tell you you’re not cool.*** UPDATE: About an hour after writing this post, logic clicked in and I realized that it wasn’t that I was uncool, (ahem, since I’m totally cool) but instead, it was cheating.  You know who consistently gets 100+ votes an hour consistently for 48 hours?  Oprah’s nephew and he’s not running.  Turns out that the website had more votes than it had traffic and while they didn’t disqualify anyone who obviously cheated, the voting did start over.  

Here’s the thing- I think my story’s pretty snazzy and I need your help to click this button, but more importantly-  SHARE THE LINK WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW.

Tweet. Post on Facebook.  Post it on your blog. Email everyone in your address book.  It takes one click for “Shannyn” and you’re golden. I promise it’s easy and I pray it will be worth it.

This is the updated link since the ballot was stuffed last time and we’ve had to start over with the voting!

 In short, I’m asking you to be the vivacious Avon lady, slanging this promo door-to-door so I have a snowball’s chance in heck of winning.  Will you do that? I don’t know.  Could you try? I’m desperately hoping so.

This scholarship would pay my tuition and help me finish up my Master’s Degree in sociology.  I have no idea how I’ll get 12,000 votes, but damn I shall try.  Your efforts to turn this cause into a virus is most appreciated. I love you, and you rock.

So, here’s my story:

One year ago, I was sitting in a bar with a long time friend from college.  He had flown into Chicago to visit me during my first semester of graduate school and we were discussing life over a beer.  At this point, we couldn’t have been more different- he was making his money online and I had strongly vowed to earn my salt the old-school way via Ph.D. to teach at the university level.  I had only been in Chicago for a few months after relocating from the west coast, and I had big dreams and goals to use sociology as a platform to study the world’s issues and hopefully, to  fix them.

I wanted to go to graduate school more than anything. I was a first generation college student with something to prove.  I spent an entire year planning for my application and preparing to take the test while finishing up a full course load.  I got accepted into the graduate program at Loyola Chicago to get my Master’s Degree in Sociology, and while I didn’t get funding, I didn’t care- I had made it and I would write my exams in BLOOD if I had to!   I wanted to be a teacher, an innovator and someone who could use my knowledge to give back- but at that moment, when he asked me what I thought about being a “real graduate student,” it was at that exact instant my feelings had come into sharp clarity.

I literally began crying into my beer.

Why the heck was I crying?!  Rewind a few months back, after gaining my acceptance to graduate school  – I got a call.  My good friend Lauren was on the phone- she wanted to make sure I was sitting down and when I was, she said that Kassie, one of our dearest friends had been discovered by her parents earlier in the day.  She apparently had suffered a pulmonary embolism and died instantly- there was nothing that could have been done and no way to have known.  Kassie and I had both graduated from college the week prior.  In fact, we had made plans to celebrate with a giant Pizookie (a giant cookie that’s baked like a pizza) and now I’d never have the chance to see her again.

After driving up to her funeral and taking part in the memorial service- seeing the stuffed grizzly bear I had given her being handed to her parents from the casket, my life went into hyper drive.  My mind was filled with memories of us doing fundraisers together for the Teddy Bear Cancer foundation, getting into cake fights and the tremendously brave and giving woman she was.

I wasn’t just GOING to grad school, I was running to it.  I needed meaning in my life and I needed to make a contribution fast.  It was this intense sense of self-awareness, coupled with the hollowness of loss and a desire to honor her life, was what exacerbated the worries that graduate school wasn’t going to fulfill me and help me live the life we had dreamed up together  as younger versions of ourselves.

After drinking my tear-beer and hearing me out- my friend thought I should tell my story.  Surely, I couldn’t be the only one struggling to create meaning, find funding for school and cope with life’s unexpected catastrophes!  It was then the idea for a blog was born and while it began simply as means to share my survival tips for school and city living and navigate adulthood, it evolved and in every sense of the word, and I believe I did as well.  It opened my eyes to the fact that I could create a community and help others in a variety of ways through my outreach and writing.  Little did I know how much it was really helping me both emotionally and financially as I used the blog as a platform for expression and mentorship and even earning a small income to supplement my student loans to fund my schooling.

I’m still working on my graduate degree and while I’ve decided not to stay on the path for a Ph.D. , I have created new goals.  My passion for blogging and emerging technology in the new economy has coupled with my loved for social philanthropy and sociology.  I am writing my Thesis on philanthrocapitalism and how social media, for profit companies like TOMS shoes and bloggers are all coming together to change the world and revolutionize philanthropy.

My goal is to use my research experience in the classroom plus my hands-on experience with my blog to work for a company that promotes the social good.  I am thrilled to be alive and I feel I am honoring Kassie’s memory by coupling academic achievement with heartfelt and authentically purposeful action geared to help others.

The blog has been a way for me to test the theories learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world.  I have been able to implement several fundraisers to test ways to revolutionize charitable giving through online methods, gauge response to social media and understand ‘brandraising,’ and how it applies to both large-scale corporate philantrophy and budding entrepreneurs like myself.  I am learning in the classroom and experimenting with these ideas online, I love what I’m doing but mostly, I’m excited by what’s possible.

My life has become the hybrid of many personal and technological  forces- and I feel there is no better time to be alive than now.  I still ache inside to think that Kassie won’t be able to live up to the vast potential I know she possessed- but I am dedicating my time on Earth to represent her heart and her memory.  I feel infinitely grateful that at this time in my life I have the gift of being able to learn and give and I thank you for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship to help progress my degree.


2 comments so far.

2 responses to “A Story Worth 12,000 Votes? I’m a Finalist for a $10k Scholarship & I’m Losing Horribly.”

  1. Alexis says:

    Wow, you have an amazing story Shannyn and you definitely deserve to win! You are an incredible person and I feel blessed to know you, even if it's only online. 🙂 I have already voted for you and I will definitely share it so that others will too! I wish you the best of luck! SEE yourself winning!

  2. Hey Shannyn, there are already some BIG numbers for a couple of people there. I've voted and will tweet your post as well, best of luck!


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