Scholarships, Sharing Caring, Unified Caring Association

Scholarship Themes: Awareness and Empathy

Scholarship Themes: Awareness and Empathy

Unified Caring Association (UCA) celebrates caring and acts of kindness. One way is by celebrating the UCA Scholarship winners! Throughout the years we have held many scholarship contests, and are constantly in awe about how caring students are, and what new and innovative ways they bring caring into our communities. We have been blogging about various themes that have arisen in the recent submissions for the Fall 2019 scholarship contest. Many of the submissions had awareness and empathy in common. Below are some caring quotes from the essays and a scholarship essay that displays the unique skills that these caring ambassadors have!

Grace E Shay

Grace Shay

Ritika Managuli

Ritika Managuli

Jenna Dubbelde 

Jenna Dubbelde

Bella Brannon

Bella Brannon

“Since I can remember, my mom would recite this mantra to me. She would reference these “secret battles,” when young me was quick to judge another. No matter how many times she recited these words, I didn’t fully understand.

How could someone endure hardship and not wear it on their sleeve? Surely, not everyone can be fighting a battle. I knew a girl at school who was so stereotypically perfect. I had never seen her work for anything. I was sure that she was not fighting any battles. And if this example existed within my range, surely there were more.

So my mind continued on with this thought.  I lived in a picture perfect world, I was naive and free of hardship. I selfishly assumed that everyone was the same. I never stopped to consider that there may be more than meets the eye.

One day, the meaning of my mother’s words set in. They didn’t seep in like water. It wasn’t slow and gradual. It was a flood. One day, my mom’s words were engraved into my skin, like a burn left from an open flame. To this day, I have the scar from that burn.

The day it all clicked for me was the day I began fighting a secret battle of my own: one no one knew about.

I was diagnosed with an invisible illness, Type One Diabetes. The disease is relentless. From multiple injections a day, to waking up nightly for low blood sugars, to cutting my favorite foods out of my diet, to seizures and the stigma that surrounds the illness. It was hell and the hell was invisible.

As much as I hate my diagnosis, I know I’m not alone. Sure, I am the only diabetic on my team or at school, but I am not alone. Because everyone is fighting a secret battle.  No one is truly alone, our battles may be vastly different. The girl I thought was perfect may not have the most stable home life. Another student may have parents that only see them as a GPA.  Another student may not have parents at all.

However vastly different they are, our battles unite us. They create our collective humanity. If we take this “perceived empathy” and apply it to every situation, the world will become a much more caring place.

What if instead of getting annoyed at the lady taking forever in the grocery store checkout line, we considered her perspective? Maybe she has severe social anxiety, and this is a stretch for her? What if she just got a phone call about her dad and is struggling to not break down? You don’t know. Don’t judge. Instead, understand that she may be fighting a secret battle you know nothing about.

I know that when you first read the phrase, “secret battle,” the first that came to your mind was your own. Everyone has had that unique experience. Empathy is learned like wisdom. It can be obtained through conscious effort. That effort, that will leave the world caring and united.”

 Annie Suenram   

 Annie Suenram

“In a world of instant gratification and social media it is easy to find yourself isolated from others. Many people believe that young people in this world are not going to be successful because we have so much at our fingertips, yet we do not know how to carry on a face to face conversation. Today’s society is full of people who genuinely care for others, however they go unseen because of all the violence in today’s world. To make the world a more caring place people must start small and then branch out. If I were to change one thing in the world I would be more open to people and to be more caring myself. 

Lets face it. However nice it may seem to say, “Oh we can fix the world and make it more caring by [insert colossal change of the world here]”, it is naive and almost impossible. To really change our society to become a more inviting, caring place we need to start small. Even just going through your day and smiling at someone makes a difference because even such a small gesture is sometimes rare in society today. It’s not to say that trying to make the world a more caring place by making a big splash is necessarily a bad thing, but it is more feasible to do small things every day. When people open up even a little, it means they feel safe around that person they shared with. If said person is unresponsive or rude to them, that person will probably never open up to another person. When this happens, the world becomes a more boxed in and closed off than ever. As humans, we are social creatures, but if there is no trust between people, the society will not care about others. A way to remedy this problem is to be someone that people trust and to be attentive to their needs whether it be just listening or giving advice. 

Although being a more caring person can be uncomfortable, it is a necessary step in peruste of a more caring world. Often people think “It is so hard to be caring to this person because they have done x, y, or z.” This is exactly the reason to be nice to them because maybe they had a rough day or they just got the bad news that someone close to them died, in essence you have no idea what they are going through and if you are rude just because they were mean to you just perpetuates the cycle of anger and pain. If just one person were to be nice to the person who is mean it may make the difference between life and death. Being the bigger person is always hard because it is human nature to get mad when someone messes with you but it is a necessary step in making the world a better place. 

In order to make the world a more caring place, I want to be a light in darkness, to be a smiling face in the crowd and be someone that people feel comfortable to talk with. By striving every day to do a little better than the day before, people can easily make a difference in society and the world.”

Kei Magloughlin

Kei Magloughlin

“In today’s world, it’s easy to become cynical. Every day on the news and online, we learn about the horrible things people are doing. As we see this more and more, it becomes ingrained, even subconsciously. Many of us start to distrust people as a whole. The very concept of “stranger danger” reflects this. Children are taught from a very young age that strangers aren’t to be trusted. 

Public transportation is an excellent example of how deeply ingrained the wariness of strangers is. On subways and buses, striking up a conversation with a stranger is something that rarely happens. People sit as far away as they can from everyone else. In crowds, whether on a subway or at a concert, people are taught to keep an eye on their pockets and valuables. 

But the reality is that the chance of being robbed in that way is extremely low. That chance is what scares people though, and it’s what leads us to distrust strangers. But the vast majority of people are perfectly kind. If they’re not willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger, most of them will politely decline. It’s commonplace to hold the door open for strangers, so why aren’t greater things accepted? Something as simple as offering to buy a stranger their morning coffee is looked at askance. People start to expect you want something in return. If someone’s card gets declined at a grocery store and you offer to pay for their $15 of groceries, other people think it’s some sort of scam. Can we not trust other people to be kind because they want to brighten someone’s day? 

These sorts of issues are just the expression of the much deeper problem in society: the problem of distrust. There are many factors, everything from the modern connected world to the way children are raised. News sources gain money through watch time and clicks. The best way to get those things? Headlines that scare you into paying attention. Headlines about good or ordinary things don’t captivate our attention the same way. 

We can’t change it overnight, but we can do small things now. Pay-it-forward lines in drive-throughs can last for hundreds of cars. Although each person is going to be paying a similar amount, just the thought that a stranger was willing to make their day better is huge. One small act of kindness can, at the very least, make someone’s day less bad, and can even go as far as saving a life. 

Every action we take to support one another, however small, reminds us that individuals aren’t the same as the society they seem to make up. They’re better than what we’re led to believe. If we trust in other people, and believe that the vast majority of people will act kindly, we can help each other realize that people are worth believing in. By believing in and supporting one another, we can spread kindness and compassion, and small actions can spread further than we know.”

These amazing students help bring more empathy and awareness to the world! We are happy and proud to be able to help support them and their continuing education by awarding them with a scholarship. We have more themes to celebrate in upcoming blogs, such as self-love, that we are looking forward to sharing. Thank you to all of our scholarship applicants, you truly are caring ambassadors!

Want to read more about UCA 2019 scholarship winners and get an extra dose of positivity on your news feeds? Read our other caring scholarship blogs, scholarship blogs on gratitude. Or follow us on social media: Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. We are looking forward to sharing more with you!