A philanthropist has offered to pay for the college education of two students needing financial assistance.  Your committee has been assigned the task of awarding the scholarships. Nine students have been referred to the committee as possible recipients.  Partial comments from their essays are written below. Your task is to decide as a group which two students will receive the financial support to attend college.


SUZANNE:  I am an unwed mother of a two-year-old boy.  My son’s father disappeared 3 months before Josh was born.  I still live with my parents but things aren’t good at home.  I think they hate Josh.  I am 17 years old and work part-time at McDonalds after school to pay for daycare.  I am interested in the secretarial science curriculum in college so I can get a better job and support myself and my son.

JUAN:  Two years ago I left my family and Nicaragua and came to the US for a better life.  I live with my grandparents who are old and sick. They keep telling me I can “make it” in America—but it is so hard and I miss my mama and dad and 4 brothers and sisters.  I’ve learned English, but I still can’t read or write too good.  My teacher says I will graduate but I will be at the bottom of my class.  I’m not sure what this means.  I want very much to be a success and will work hard.

DARLENE:  I am 17 years old and people tell me I am attractive and smart.  My leukemia has recently gone into remission.  I want to study health education and work directly with other cancer patients.  My parents have been very supportive emotionally during this illness which has strengthened the bond of our family. They want me to go to college but the medical bills have taken all of my college savings.  Your scholarship will make a great difference in my life.

LEO:  I spent the last 5 years in the county reform school.  They said my juvenile record is really long.  Now I am determined to make a new start.  I am doing good in school but my buddies say the real money is made dealing drugs on the street.  I wonder is education worth the hassle?  My friends think I am crazy to spend so much time reading but I think I could improve myself with a college education.  I would work hard if accepted.

SAM:  Everybody is always getting me to play basketball in the neighborhood. I’m on the high school team.  I can slam dunk any way you would like to see it, but I’m not the best player on the team so I don’t think I’ll get a scholarship. The coach told me the way to the NBA is through college, so I started studying. It’s tough for me but I’m trying.

SANDRA:  My aunt is raising me and my 3 brothers.  She says I am talented in art.  I like art but other subjects in school are pretty boring.  My boyfriend is pressuring me to get married but I dream of making a big success with my paintings.  I work nights and weekends as an usher at the Metropolitan Opera House.  All the people I work with tell me to go to college.  I think they are probably right.

PHOEBE:  I am 57 years old and work on my GED at night.  I have 4 children that I put through college working at the tollbooth on the turnpike.  My husband died 2 years ago and left me little money to live on.  I like school a lot and make good grades.  This would be a marvelous opportunity for me.

TONY:  My brother wants me to join his gang “The Warriors” but I don’t really like any of his friends.  I do pretty well in high school and really like my sociology class.   I spend a lot of time at the community center helping the director run the place.  Mom is an alcoholic and dad left us 5 years ago.  I desperately need a chance to get away from home and the chance to go to college.

NANCY:  My teachers tell me I am really smart and should go to college. But why should I go to college when I can make $500 an evening as an escort for my friend’s business?  I don’t like it,  but the money is great.  I think college would be fun so I would like to try it.

–Sara White, Upward Bound, Berea College, KY

Another educator believes this case originally appeared in a student success text by Jewler & Gardner.  If anyone knows an original source, please inform me.  We all know how sources can be lost after we’ve used an activity over a number of semesters.  Email Skip Downing.

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