A few months ago I announced my intention to offer a $1,000 scholarship, no strings attached. I’ve always had a travel bug but never had the opportunity to capitalize on it when I was young. As I’ve traveled more often in the last ten years, my definition of “travel” and the benefits that come from it have evolved. I still enjoy big cities, first class flights, and luxury hotels, but I can say with confidence that those are NOT my favorite travel experiences.
A few dozen people submitted their essays. I whittled it down to three finalists, and then passed it off to my wife for her input. It was a very tough decision, and I’ll be reaching out to all three personally later today. What I wanted to know was how $1,000 would make a difference in a young person’s life. Here’s my original prompt:
Good writing skills will be critical throughout your life, so please practice them by writing a 1,000-word essay (two pages, single spaced) on your career plans and the importance of travel in accomplishing your goals. I want to know more about who you are and where you see yourself five or ten years from now. What makes you qualified for this scholarship, and how will you use the money? The staff at Travel Codex will read each submission and evaluate it on the persuasiveness of your response to this question.
Your academic accomplishments and work experience may be a factor in your selection if you can demonstrate how they relate to your passion for travel. However, there is no GPA or degree requirement.
Let’s get to the point. I’m pleased to announce that Matthew VerVelde is this year’s winner of the Travel Codex Scholarship. Matthew is majoring in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I also want to recognize two excellent essays by the runners up: D. Riley Hart, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Gino Ciarimboli, at the University of Akron.
I don’t wish to discuss the details of each essay because I consider that private. But what struck me about each essay was a good story, a clear plan for the money (regardless of what the plan was), and some evidence of introspection.
This is definitely an program I plan to repeat, although I haven’t decided the exact timing or frequency. What I can say is that it’s likely to be held in the late fall or early winter. If it becomes a semi-annual event, then spring scholarship will also be offered. Keep your eyes peeled and feel free to refer your college-age friends to the scholarship page, where the next application date will be announced!