Students like Camryn Morrow are a big reason there’s great hope for our future.

Camryn, a senior at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati, has pretty much figured out her purpose in life: “I hope to improve the lives of underrepresented youth by working towards inclusion and equal access in the education system,” she tells ORBITER. Camryn elaborated on those hopes in a recent essay that won first place and a $25,000 scholarship in the Purpose Challenge Scholarship Contest, which was run by the Greater Good Science Center and funded by the John Templeton foundation. Camryn will use the scholarship while pursuing a sociology degree at the University of Cincinnati.

Here’s Camryn’s winning essay:


“Every kid needs a champion,” said Rita Pierson, a school educator in a TED Talk. She spoke of how a colleague once told her how she was not paid to like the kids, but that she was paid to teach them. To this Pierson responded, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

This was a profound moment for me because it illustrated one of human’s main desires: human connection.

I was always privileged enough to attend school—rather good schools might I add. I had teachers I did not always agree with, but I always had a teacher. Someone who taught me more than what was in a textbook and someone I knew that at the end of the day cared about me. I knew that I was not allowed to fail and that my teachers would not let me just give up.

Not all children are given the same access and opportunity to education, and not all children are expected to learn. We know why children drop out of school, and the school-to-prison pipeline is something I hope to work towards ending in my lifetime. Many of these children who are driven to the juvenile criminal justice system are not criminals; it is the people that put them there that are the real thieves. We take away chances for children to reach their full potential.

Many of us disregard the value of connection and forming meaningful relationships to one another. No one can accomplish great things alone because everyone’s life is affected in some way by someone else. If we all could learn to extend rather than reduce, our children would create a future we want to live in.

I am passionate about the advancement of those who have not always been given the same treatment and opportunities. I hope to improve the lives of those in diverse and urban environments. Promoting social justice and analyzing the effects of a lack of access and availability is something I believe I will be awarded in college. I hope to study the impact of past generations’ contributions in history and how they continue to affect life today.

Focusing on this sociological knowledge will allow me to better understand how life has evolved and how I can contribute to future growth. Having a thorough understanding of the development of society will allow me to create my own mark on the world. I hope to end up in education and have the opportunity to influence and engage children who are often left out of this advancement.

Children need someone not only to look up to, but someone to look up to them—to see what they cannot yet see and to believe in them when no one else does. Children need to learn that they are someone and that they can always be a better someone.

I want to teach because children are greatest treasure of the world. I want to be the champion that all children need. If it wasn’t for the good teachers of the world, I wouldn’t be in the place that I am now.

Being able to lead others should not be taken lightly. For a functional educational system, we must create a system that values all of its students, not just an assertive few. I hope to become a representation of hope and belief for children who are not given it. A champion is to be looked up to, but should also work to help those who are not given the same status. I want to instill the belief that “I am worthy. I deserve to be here. I deserve an education.”

Academic achievement and self-esteem go hand in hand. To become the person a child is meant to be, they must be guided. In my lifetime I hope to establish an open perspective and prepare to be an advocate for change.


Essay used by permission of Camryn Morrow. Image at top: Iakov Filimonov | Shutterstock. 
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