Unfortunately, some of the scholarships I received my freshman year were one-time awards and not renewable for my sophomore year. That left me with not enough money to cover tuition my sophomore year.
Going back to my search, I contacted the Community Foundation of the Ozarks again, asking for scholarships for people already in college. I was pleasantly surprised — there are actually a lot of opportunities for those already enrolled in college, and the requirements are a lot vaguer and easily accessible.
Another great resource is a school's financial-aid employees. For example, I was notified I received a scholarship through the alumni office because I was in the pre-law program. I hadn't applied for the scholarship, but the right people heard through the grapevine that I needed more money for tuition and had recommended me for the award.
The only student loan I took out was to pay for my study abroad program to London the summer after my second year.
What this money has meant to me
This fall, I start law school. I have a sister starting her second year of college to pursue nursing and a brother starting his third year in construction management. They're also beneficiaries of generous scholarships.
My 10-year-old sister dreams of being an artist or maybe a police officer. My brother, a senior in high school, is set on a career in business. My other sister wants to be an architect.
My youngest sister can't quite decide yet what she wants to do. But that makes me happy, because I love that I can tell her that indeed, she can be anything she wants to be. No one will deny her college acceptance or send her to prison because of her religious beliefs or economic status.
John F. Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." I will spend my lifetime trying to give back and to pass on the generosity shown to me by this country and its citizens.
Words could never explain how grateful I am for the people, organizations, and foundations that have supported my education. I have been incredibly blessed, and I will strive to grasp every opportunity and work hard to make my parents' sacrifices worth the years of underemployment, poverty, and prayers.
This is my American dream, and I'm living it one day at a time.More from LearnVest...