Sam - University of Washington - Class of 2010

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The whole high school counseling team was very enthusiastic about helping me, especially with scholarships. I really appreciated their support.

Being a disabled student with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder, has taught me to be patient, to persevere, and to be positive in overcoming obstacles. These are qualities I plan to put to good use in college. Building my leadership skills also has been important for the past few years. As I move to a new city, college, and community I will continue my volunteer work.

Hometown: Spokane WA

High School: Public

GPA: 3.87

SAT: 1890

ACT: 28

Major: International Studies and Economics

Goal: MBA with an international focus



University of WashingtonAttending
University of California, BerkeleyDenied
Whitworth CollegeAccepted
University of California, Los AngelesAccepted
Yale UniversityDenied
Marquette UniversityAccepted
University of PortlandAccepted
Freshman Year Update

Initially, coming into college, I thought I would really struggle academically. But I have been able to do well in all of my classes while being involved in extracurricular activities 25-30 hours a week. I joined the University of Washington Dream Project, a student-initiated high school outreach program that partners UW students with first-generation and low-income students in Seattle area high schools to help them with the college admissions process. I am still very committed to my international business studies. I was accepted for a class in Berlin called Tracking European Identities in Historical and Contemporary Berlin — so I will be going to Europe in August!

Sophomore Year Update

The greatest lesson that I've reaffirmed through college is to follow my passions, whether in academics or extracurriculars, instead of doing stuff for my resume. It's been six months since I dropped my business major to focus on international studies, and it was one of the best decisions I've made in college. Now I can spend more time taking courses I enjoy while having more flexibility to study abroad. I got a fellowship to study again in Europe this summer!

Junior Year Update

My studies in international development are going well. My life outside of classes, however, is where my real busyness comes from. I'm now leading the Dream Project scholarship program, which has grown explosively in the past year. I am focused on how this and other experiences fit into my future plans. I plan to pursue graduate studies in public policy to address issues of college access and affordability. I also plan to continue my studies abroad by going to Greece in August. I believe that our personal effectiveness as both citizens and leaders is enhanced when we look beyond our communities and strive to replicate our work in other communities—to improve the lives of people across the country and around the world.

Senior Year Update

I have an exciting update. I was just selected as a Fulbright Scholar to Germany! I will be conducting an ethnographic research project on education policy in Berlin. I plan to continue studies in education for graduate school, but that's a few years off since I plan to gain some work experience first.

Looking back, my ideas for college have evolved. I started out as a business major and finished with a greater interest in social justice issues and educational access. I learned to follow my heart and pursue the things I have a passion for. It's made for a much more enjoyable college experience, and it has helped me discover what I would like to do for my career.

Bears vs. Huskies

UC Berkeley and the University of Washington were my top choices from the beginning. I had spent a lot of time at both campuses, and both had what I wanted: diversity, an outstanding business curriculum, an international focus, top sports competitions, and rigorous academics. I was especially familiar with Berkeley, since my sister goes there. I was not serious about Yale and UCLA but wanted to see if I could get in. Portland, Marquette, and Whitworth were safeties. I had fee waivers for up to four campuses, so that limited me. I did not want to spend much money on applications.

It's worth mentioning that I eliminated one college due to a bad experience on a visit. I was in a wheelchair. The tour guide led us over curbs, went fast, and so on. I decided on the spot not to apply to there.

Seattle is my kind of place

I was disappointed not to get into Berkeley, but since the University of Washington was my number one choice all along, I wasn't sad for long.

My final two choices came down to "U-Dub" and Whitworth College. Whitworth is an excellent school, but it is four minutes from my house. UW was just the right amount of "away" for me. Plus, spending the next four years in Seattle will open up job opportunities, internships, and experiences I might not be able to find at Whitworth. Seattle has a culturally rich community that I can visit and learn from.

My ups and downs

It was easy to start each application but very hard to finish. The process seemed laborious. Each application had several pages and required essays, data, and information from the past four years. Thankfully, my sister warned me about this and got me started early.

The whole high school counseling team was very enthusiastic about helping me, especially with scholarships. I really appreciated their support. My friends, too, were very supportive. I have a whole group of them going with me to UW.

What I learned

Since I applied to 60 scholarships, I had a lot of essay material I was able to use over again. Asking my English teacher to review everything I wrote really helped too.

My sister was very organized in her applications. I was able to look at the copies she kept and that helped me understand what sort of answers they were looking for. She also insisted that I start early, and that paid off. I needed time to do the essays and scholarship applications. In college you have to have this sort of discipline to get the work done, so in a way it was good practice.

The money factor

I was determined to get a full ride to college. My parents are paying a great deal for my sister to go to Berkeley. And I knew I had the potential to win scholarships. I applied to 60 scholarships and won 18. I am most pleased with my Horatio Alger scholarship, because over 43,000 applied, and only 106 were accepted. My Gates scholarship will cover any unmet need over all four years, so I am set.

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