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Originally published on The Columbia Daily Tribune website

Jerrold StarrAfter starting my senior year by surviving a brutal home invasion and seeing the same faces at school for the 12th year in a row, I decided it was time for a change of scenery. I wanted to go to college out of state, to see the world beyond Missouri and prove to my family that I can live independently.

Because we are a low-income family, my mother told me the only way I could go to an out of state college was to earn a huge scholarship. When I qualified for the Talk Story, Write Story program at Hickman High School I worked hard to sharpen my writing skills on the eight complex Gates Millennium Scholarship essays.

I strongly recommend Talk Story, Write Story to future students who apply for scholarships because it saved me a lot of duplication in writing essays for other scholarships and college applications. It also was good to have many eyes on my essays. Instead of going to the trouble of finding teachers and family members willing to look them over, why not work with an experienced group of elite writers to help knock those essays out of the park?

I was accepted to three colleges: University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mizzou was my safety net school. CU-Boulder appealed to me because it has a great linguistics program, and my sister and niece live nearby. UW-Madison was my dream school because of its world language program.

When I graduate next month, I will have completed and earned A’s in five years of Spanish and French, four years of Japanese, two years of German and one year each of Chinese and Latin. I also plan to study Korean, Italian, Russian and Arabic in college.

I knew I could go to Mizzou. I was thrilled when UW-Madison accepted me, but disappointed it offered little scholarship money. I was overjoyed when CU-Boulder notified me I was admitted to the Honors college, could live in the Honors dorm, and would get an $18,000 Presidential Scholar and Arts and Humanities Reward annually.

CU-Boulder also offers Japanese as a major. It is rare for a university to offer that path to an advanced degree. Because I hope to live and study in Japan, that opportunity sealed the deal for me.

I plan to make stellar grades, get the most out of all my college opportunities and take my own life by the reins as I study to become an interpreter or college professor.

Although I did not get the Gates Millennium Scholarship, I know I am a winner. I feel immensely grateful and lucky. A new chapter of my life begins in August when I am proud to declare myself a #BoulderBuffaloBoy.



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