Dakota Trinka

Attached is my college essay showing what an important role the Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program has played in my life and in the development of my platform "Uniting Against Bullying". This essay was sent to the colleges I applied to along with other essays that were specific to each question posed by the individual college. Thank you Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program for all you have done for me and so many other young women in Southwest Michigan.

Full, elaborate dresses, long, curly hair, and ultimate beauty are the first few thoughts that would come to any person's mind when one mentions the word pageant. Those same thoughts bubbled in my head before I participated in the Southwestern Michigan Scholarship Program pageant. The skills that I have learned through this program have been of priceless value. Every day I learned something new or saw something in a whole new light. It was an eye opening experience that made a huge impact in my life.

This was not just a beauty pageant, but a real life experience full of valuable lessons. Every Saturday of this summer, all of the contestants would get together and take classes like writing, speech, and etiquette. We learned how to behave in an interview, be a leader, and command a room. This program was not recreating us; it taught us how to be stronger and more powerful women.

One of the traits that make a truly powerful woman is education. The Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program reiterated the importance of scholarship. I firmly believe that scholarship and diligence go hand-in-hand. I have always been diligent in both my school work and in my community, but there are always opportunities to work harder and do more. For this particular program, we were not required to have community service hours. However, I found myself loving the time I spent as a volunteer so much that I volunteered for 11 hours throughout the course of the pageant.

There was on service project that was required. Each contestant needed to have a platform, an organization or prominent issue, which they did community service for and supported. I chose the platform of bullying prevention. This subject is dear to my heart because I have experienced bullying in all forms throughout my life and it is an important issue of today. Though I did not win the pageant, I am still supporting this issue in any way I can. I have been working closely with my church by arranging several speaking engagements to speak on my platform. I am currently working on getting several speaking engagement lined up at my high school as well.

Without the Southwest Michigan Scholarship Program, I am not sure if I would have been able to do this. This self-confidence I gained while in this program gave me the ability to share my story and make a difference in young people today. Since the pageant, I, among others, have noticed changes in myself for the better. I have always been energetic and responsible, but now I feel completely empowered and determined to succeed at whatever I do.

November 4, 2012