Firstly, I would like to thank the Mitchell-Beall-Rosen and NASA Federal Credit Union for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship. The lucky few who do not have the worry of trying to fund further education cannot possibly understand how important and valuable such opportunities are. The related costs of undergraduate education are skyrocketing. Even parents like mine who began saving early on find themselves woefully short. I feel badly for them. They have more than met their responsibilities in that respect. But as the saying goes, “one can only do what one can do.” At the risk of sounding maudlin, this application then is as much for them as it is for me. One of the difficulties in being young is the adult expectation that young people actually know what they want to be. The annoying question comes hurtling from every direction: from family concerned about your future; from teachers and guidance simply doing their jobs. Even peers uncertain about their own futures ply each other for answers, as if someone else’s decision may help them determine their own. “I don’t know” is an often than not proffered response. Statistically, according to Junior Achievement studies, it comes from at least 15 percent of the young adult population. From personal experience, I’d say it is higher than that.
Young people today find themselves sifting through a variety of possibilities. Their focus, perhaps too often, centers upon the financial rewards of particular careers with job satisfaction not even a secondary consideration. Sad. Ultimately it is the knee jerk reaction to “I don’t know.” From a purely practical perspective, citing a career with guaranteed high financial rewards is often what parents want to hear. They need it to assuage anxiety over the sheer cost of education as a worthy sacrifice. Not that there is much wrong with that. It is a tough world out there, and one might just as well approach career choices as armor against its vicissitudes.
A few among us are spared these “I don’t know” anxieties. Clarity comes at a very young age—something cerebral ignited by events or situations shout, “There it is!” Eureka! That’s what I want to be; in my case, a physician. At age ten, I used the term “doctor.” Yes, at ten I became fascinated by the flurry of doctor shows on television. Sifting through the often tawdry dramatic aspects, something rare about the characters’ power over misery seemed valuable. The challenge of it all was not a job but a persistent daily drive toward achieving things humanly important. Why this affected me I can’t say. But as Dr. Martin Dysart from the play “Equus” says in the last lines, “In an ultimate sense I cannot know what I do in this place, but I do ultimate things, irreversible things.” It is hard to know what about the human spirit allows it to be inspired.
The general consensus is that medicine is a lucrative field. I am not so innocent that I don’t know this. However, I did not know this at age ten. My motives then in wanting to become a doctor can be considered fairly pure. At age ten, getting rich never enters the equation. Of course at age ten one is also oblivious to the educational costs of getting there.
I have discussed all of this with my family. They are completely supportive of my goals—both as an undergraduate and whatever it takes to get me through medical school. They are the best, and I know they mean every word. Every possible funding avenue will be explored, including as a first defense, FAFSA. Being a family of middle class means, FAFSA funds while helpful may be somewhat limited to Stafford and Perkins Loans. Between the two we are probably talking about a four-year contribution of around $17,000, enough to cover one year’s tuition. I plan to participate in a ten-hour per week work study program As a good student (GPA), my academic abilities are solid enough to suffer work without sacrificing grades. I will also commute to school (University of Maryland, Baltimore) and save money on residential-campus housing. The last I checked housing even on the lowest end is $5,900. Any remaining costs beyond FAFSA aid and whatever the family can cobble together will fall to me and to the unsettling prospect of student loans.
When someone says “banks” to me I automatically feel unsafe. Undoubtedly this has to do with everything that has gone on over the past several years in terms of questions regarding the credibility of such institutions. As a student with limited resources and reliant on others to help pay my education, the prospect of graduating and six months later dealing with unrealistic payback pressure from avaricious lending institutions is not particularly pleasant. It certainly takes the joy out of undergraduate education.
With reports almost daily of students buried in thousands of dollars in loans, the prospect of taking on $32,000 in loans is frightening to say the least. Enter NASA FCU. My family had previous positive experience with NASA when financing vehicles. Before seeking loans elsewhere they advised me to approach NASA and explore loan possibilities there. We were happy to discover that not only could I count on NASA for loan aid, but that their competitive interest rates and best of all, flexible repayment options convinced me. As part of the NASA family we were treated with respect and understanding, not as the “beggar at the door” characteristic of other loan organizations.
For many students the most daunting part of assuming loan debt is the prospect of repayment. Who really knows what one’s financial status will be upon graduation? Life is an uncertain activity. Anyone assuming loan debt feels more comfortable knowing that when the loan comes due, someone on the other end gets it; they understand the importance of that a flexibility when it comes to monthly installment payback. This was important to my family who, while willing to help out, could only do so within the constrictions of an already fairly tight budget. As a family we are committed to “living within our means.” Any financial decisions must be realistic and coincide with that philosophy.
In line with the above, our family is currently calculating our current resources, factoring in all possible lines of financing over the first four years. Our goal is to take as little as possible from the private loan community, with an eye toward what will be required for medical school. That goal includes applying for every scholarship available—including Mitchell-Beall-Rosen.
In summary, it will take a lot of resources from various contributing areas to achieve my goal. But achieve my goal I will. I want to be doctor. Dreams of childhood should not be denied. To give up on them now would represent an ignominious defeat. To say that this scholarship and NASA FCU play an important part in the attainment of that educational dream is an understatement. I hope the committee sees fit to honor my application.

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