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2014 STAC Scholarship Winners
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 2014 STAC Scholarship Winners



Dekonti Davies

My name is Dekonti Davies, and I am a graduating senior at Walter Payton College Prep. I live on the south side of Chicago where hopes and dreams are easily crushed. Raised in a community infested with drugs and high school dropouts, I was determined to be different and developed a desire to want a better way of life for myself and my community. Because of my living environment, I was never allowed to play outside with the other children. My weekends and evenings were spent studying science and mathematics. While my peers were getting into trouble in the neighborhood, my mind was challenged and prepared to understand science and math concepts and my body was conditioned to dance. My participation in math and science activities became an integral part of my life. I have always been involved in math and science activities. Currently, I am an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and I have served as the president of the NSBE, Jr. Chapter at Chicago State University. I have been to every NSBE regional and national convention since I was born with the exception of one because my mother could not afford the expenses associated with the event. I had a fit and vowed to never miss another conference. Through NSBE, I found my voice. My passion for math and science was cultivated through NSBE activities. As president of my local chapter, I developed leadership skills and communication skills. I prepared for math competitions and was a member of the NSBE Try-Math-a-Lon team for four years. Try-Math has helped me to handle the difficult math and science courses at Walter Payton College Prep and to earn an ACT composite score of 30. Last year, my team came in third place at the NSBE Regional Try-Math-a-Lon Competition. As a participant in the NSBE Engineering Design Competition, I have spent many Saturdays at Chicago State University working on designing and programming robots. My team and I would start at 9:00 a.m. in the morning solving math problems and stay to the wee hours in the morning designing and programming robots. The robotic competitions have prepared me on how to be professional and how to work as a group. Robotics has taught me a lot about engineering.

I plan to attend the University of Missouri after graduating from high school to major in biomedical/electrical engineering and minor in dance. I also plan to attend medical school after I earn my undergraduate degrees. While there may appear to be a vast contrast between my intended college major and minor, I discovered a relationship between the disciplines. Science and dance taught me discipline and how to process situations one step at a time. These fields of study have helped me to decide on a career in engineering.

In addition to NSBE activities, I was inspired to seek out other STEM related activities. I learned about biomedical devices after participating in a summer research program at Chicago State University. At the university, I studied electromyography (EMG) and learned that EMG signals can be used to help disabled people gain the use of a lost limb with the support of biomedical devices. The summer project was to design a robotic arm that could be controlled by EMG signals. After the program, I continued my research on the topic and found that biomedical engineers were developing technology to assist people with poor eyesight. I became interested in this topic after my Na-Na confided in me that she had been diagnosed with diabetes. Because of my extra-curriculum activities and the love and support of my Na-Na, I had a happy childhood. Na-Na was always transporting me from robotics and math practice sessions to dance classes. She always made sure that I was prepared for my sessions and that my belly was full. As her health started to decline, Na-Na mainly suffered with loss of vision. I witnessed her experience painful eye surgeries that were unsuccessful. I wanted to help Na-Na. I wanted to help her restore her eyesight back to normal. However, the only help I could offer was to write out her checks and help her read the morning paper.

I also have a vision disability as a result of being born two months premature. Nystagmus, an involuntary eye movement, is my disability. I experience limited vision and have trouble focusing. When I get too tired, one eye shuts down and the other eye has to do double the work. Never wanting anyone to treat me differently or notice my eye conditions, I was in denial about my disability. I had a hard time seeing but worked extremely hard to compensate for my short comings. People noticed and I grew up with comments like "Your eyes are moving. You must be lying.” Or "What are you looking at?”

My dreams for my future are to become a biomedical/electrical engineer. My plans are to design biomedical devices that could help people like my Na-Na and myself. I would love to travel to struggling countries where diabetes is prevalent to offer my professional services. My plans are to specifically assist and educate others about diabetes and to create biomedical devices that will assist a diabetic person with their failing eye sight due to symptoms of the disease.


Adriana Trizna

This coming Fall, I will not only begin expanding my knowledge at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, but I will also set the building blocks for a successful, highly rewarding career in investment banking. At Indiana, I plan to pursue a degree in accounting and a minor in financial literacy. As a direct admit into the business school, I will have the opportunity to immediately start taking courses in my field of study. I intend to take 17 credit hours per semester, so that, I will have accumulated enough credits, including the college credits I have earned in high school and internships, to be eligible to take the CPA exam. By attaining a CPA along with my degree, I will become a more competitive applicant when applying for a job at an investment firms. I will utilize the knowledge that I have gained about financial transactions and banking at the Kelley School of Business to fully develop my skills in my professional career. After years of professional experience, I hope to one day be promoted to President of an investment banking firm.


Ryan Dearon

Hi, my name is Ryan Dearon.

Graduating from high school in an urban area like Chicago has reinforced the significance of persevering and has taught me how to rise above the obstacles that have come along to discourage me. Chicago has made me aware that there is more out in the world - more successes, more struggles, and more steps to climb. More importantly, this city has taught me about myself and the importance of giving back to the community. Witnessing both the worst and the best that this city has to offer throughout my life, I have realized the disparity of opportunities that occur between neighborhoods. The neighborhood that I have grown up in is often plagued by increased violence whereas more affluent neighborhoods do not suffer from those same problems. Looking deeper into the dynamics of the neighborhood I live in and upper-class, thriving neighborhoods, what stands out beyond the violence, or perhaps beneath it, is a disparity in the level of education and availability of academic resources. Discovering this has awoken a desire in me to do something to make a change. This is where my passion for helping others and my dream of becoming an educator originates from.

My educational plan in the upcoming years includes attending Oberlin to earn a degree in English (with a concentration in African-American Studies) and Vocal Performance and graduating with honors. At school, I plan to participate in the school literary programs that focus on journalism and reporting, as well as join one of the many music ensembles. After I graduate, I hope to continue my studies at a graduate school to focus on education and then become a high school English and Music professor. My long-term career goal, in addition to being able to teach and share my love and passion for music, is to create my own educational program that focuses on using art, literature, writing, and communication, along with providing internships, college-preparatory workshops, and career-oriented classes. I believe my educational plans will assist me in accomplishing my career goals by providing me with the foundation of a strong liberal arts education.

Intensive study in English, will incorporate and instill in me critical reasoning and analytic skills, as well as exceptional written communication abilities that I will need to teach. Combining these qualities with my studies in Vocal Performance, I will acquire the skill to use music as a tool to inspire and enhance students’ academic experience. By exposing the students to a method of learning that involves applying their skills creatively and illustrating these through performance-based assessments, they will be able to innovate and think critically. Knowing that education is invaluable and truly gives people a purpose in life, I would like to apply this belief to how I teach. I plan to lead by example by harnessing my intense appreciation for music, and inspiring students to never stop learning.

The biggest reason I chose to go to Oberlin is because I wanted to be in an intimate setting around people who share the passions I do. Oberlin is known for its rigor both academically and artistically, and in my experience is unlike any other undergraduate school in terms of student environment. During a visit to Oberlin, I encountered so many people who have been strong advocates for literacy and artistic expression. I have been active in local library events as a volunteer and mentor. I have participated in many Chicago Public Library programs such as the Teen Volume Reader’s Theater Troupe, which focuses on promoting literacy through performing current books to young children and teens. While visiting Oberlin, I was enormously encouraged to find so many people who were involved in programs similar to those I had participated in. This experience was the main reason I decided that Oberlin was a place I could thrive in and why I know I will succeed there.

Being an ambitious person, I will tirelessly strive to attain my dreams. I know that these dreams are completely within my reach, especially now that I have the opportunity to attend college. Following the educational plans that I have made for myself - continuing to study English and Music as a major in college, being active in school literary programs, the musical environment, and graduating and going on to graduate school - are my top priorities. In addition, finishing college with my plans in mind gives me the foundation to focus on my future as an agent of change in the world of education. I find meaning in passing on information and teaching others, so that information is never lost or forgotten. Ultimately, that is my career goal for my future.


Kelsey Martin

My name is Kelsey Martin and as I begin my sophomore year at Indiana University, I am currently a Speech-Language Pathology major while also pursuing a Spanish language minor. With this said, my career goals are to become a Speech Pathologist working in a school setting, so I can work with children. In addition, with a Spanish minor I hope to find more job opportunities because I will have the ability to work with children of both English and Spanish language backgrounds.

Throughout my freshman year at IU, I took a few major specific classes, for example linguistics and speech-language disorders, and through these I realized that this subject is something I find very interesting and one that I can be passionate about because of my own life experiences. I say this because throughout my childhood, I personally had to work with a speech pathologist to overcome my speech impediments. I believe that with my own experience in the field, I will be able to take on this career at a whole new level, relating to the students I work with more than your average speech pathologist. After I finish my four years of undergraduate school at Indiana University, I plan to attend graduate school at a new university. This way I can pursue the masters degree necessary for my career while also getting the experience of living in a new city and expanding my horizons.

All in all, I believe that the most important part about a college education and pursuing a career is doing something you love. I believe that I have really found a field that I will thrive in and love. I definitely have my work cut out for me in these next couple years, but I am nothing less than ecstatic that it’s for something that I will thoroughly enjoy in the future. Thank you so much for considering me as a candidate for the STAC Scholarship Fund. I wish your association continued success for many years to come.


Emmanuel Odiase

Hi my name is Emmanuel Odiase. I was born in Nigeria and have 5 brothers and sisters. One along with myself currently set to start college. My journey started ten years ago when my 4th grade teacher asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told her,” I want to get a great education and become a professional basketball player.” My dreams were certainly in front of me. Ten years later, I’m now a whopping 5”10 and a lot of things have changed but one thing still remains a constant; my love for fitness and my intention to get a great education.

After talking with several professionals and doing countless hours of research I have determined that I wish to pursue a degree in Kinesiology. I currently attend Purdue University in Calumet. Although I am currently getting a quality education there, it hinders my goal of receiving a kinesiology degree. Currently the university does not have this program. On the other hand, Purdue University in West Lafayette has an illustrious and highly ranked Kinesiology program. I plan on using this degree to pursue a career in physical therapy. Additionally, I have decided that I wish to have a different college experience, one with a rich history, and reputation for greatness. The experience of going to one of the most diverse and sought after universities along with studying a broader horizon of sciences is an opportunity too good to pass up. The problem is that this move is cost 15,000 more dollars and although it may not make sense financially, I know that it is my dream and that is worth fighting for. I want to make a difference in my community and I fully believe that attending this school can illuminate the path to success for myself.

I ask that you consider me for your scholarship so that this immigrant born in the back roads of Benin City, Nigeria may have a chance to achieve his dream. Nine years ago I told myself along with my peers that I would pursue a great education, and that’s exactly what I plan to do if given the money to enroll at this great institution.



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