Scholarship Profile: Julia

Julia is a recipient of the O’Hare Scholarship and is a History and Religious Studies major. She maintains a 3.9 GPA. She wants to be a world changer, but will take this one step at a time by attending graduate school and becoming a teacher. With such tenacity and ambition, she will continue her success at Georgia State University.

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I returned to school after nearly a decade-long hiatus, a nontraditional returning freshman with a very low GPA from my first try at college. I was running a startup business at the time, plus working a second job, so I was always on the move, from class to work to class again. I also did not have a car, so I walked and biked everywhere. This time in my life, while challenging, proved to be a great learning experience, shaping my confidence and ability to succeed in school.

What life experiences shaped your decision to attend Georgia State University?
I have many friends who had great experiences at Georgia State, and it was near my house and on the train line, so it just made practical sense. But, once I began classes, I realized that this school was the one for me. Its urban campus is great, with access to so much culture and convenient city living.

How do you plan to contribute to the Georgia State University community?
I love encouraging friends my age who are thinking about returning to school to go to Georgia State. The attitude of the professors and administration, approachable and encouraging, definitely trickles down to the student body. This truly is a great research university with fantastic access to much, so it is easy to brag about. Additionally, I engage with students about my study abroad experience and encourage them to travel while in school.

What financial challenges influenced your decision to apply for scholarships?
Being self-employed definitely poses many challenges, one big one being, spending money on yourself and not putting it back into the business. I had good grades and fit the requirements to many scholarship opportunities, so I knew it would be foolish to NOT apply. Persistence paid off, as I applied for several scholarships multiple times and finally began receiving some. Good grades and a good attitude are key to attaining scholarships.

How has receiving this scholarship positively impacted your life?
It has made it possible for me to continue and finish my degree; so, in a word, immensely. My HOPE scholarship ran out last semester, so the timing for receipt was perfect. I am incredibly grateful for having received it!

Can you tell us anything about yourself that we would not know at first sight?
Before I returned to school, I was a touring singer-songwriter. With two records under my belt, a bandmate, distribution and artist representation, I began playing college shows coordinated by student organizations. It was at one of these schools where I realized I wanted to try my hand at college (again). I literally remember standing on a small campus coffee shop stage thinking that I might like to return to complete my degree. Now, five years later, I am two months from graduating with honors, and I am in the process of applying for grad schools. One day, I’ll be playing at colleges again, but, I might be a guitar toting professor lecturing by day and playing a show at night!

What is your proudest accomplishment?
Doing so well in school. I never would have dreamed I’d have been able to bring my GPA up so high after such a bad start after high school, losing my HOPE scholarship in the first semester, and failing a class for the first time in my life, much less excel in my honors courses and receive multiple merit scholarships. My parents did not go to college, and there was no expectation for me to ever finish school. My drive has come entirely from within, and while I don’t talk about it a lot, I have well exceeded the expectations I set for myself when I started out.

How do you define success?
Being able to engage with the world in a productive, positive, and compassionate manner. Following through with tasks, even challenging ones, for self-betterment and promotion of positive ideas for the greater good of society. The ability to be self-sufficient and help others become self-reliant, confident members of society. All of these elements lead to success, and from them come the traditional measures of success, including prosperity and happiness. Without the aforementioned elements, neither prosperity nor happiness can coexist in long-lasting, meaningful ways.