Editor’s Note: Resident Julie Papke recently earned a Soroptimist scholarship to assist with her college funding. She wrote a very moving essay, which is why she was the clear winner of this award. She gave us permission to share her story, which even her family has not seen yet. She is clearly a special person with high ambitions and certainly will help many people in her chosen health profession
Since I was young, I have strongly believed in the notion that the most valuable lessons are not found in textbooks or taught in classrooms, but rather in hallways, on the field and vested in the hearts of every student that I converse with daily. By applying this theory to my everyday life, I have stifled any problems that interfere with my opportunity to learn. Recently my father Bryan was laid off from his job of 35 years. While this alone would make scarce resources for a family of four, this ravaged my large family of seven. As the youngest of five children, four of which will be simultaneously attending college next year. It is no surprise that money in my family is tighter than ever unprecedented before. My mother Laine is strong woman, recently divorced who typically seeing that if there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announced she never did care for pie. However she cannot work due to disabilities, and despite her wishes, she is powerless to help me financially through college. There is an indelible line between people who are easily overcome by obstacles and people who fight to make a change in the world, I am the latter. I am aware I have problems, but what sets me apart from others is that my problems do not have me.
I could sit here and charm you with dense ideas referring to myself as your typical student of some twenty years. Or I could talk of the notion that I am anything but ordinary, looking for something other than structure in my life. I do not feel that I capable of making those judgments on myself. I have not got it figured out. All I know for sure is that I am looking for value in life. I want to learn. I want to get all I can out of Grand Valley. I have honestly and passionately known the answer to the dreadful questions adults always ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I have always planned on earning a Bachelor of Science degree and studying Diagnostic Medical Sonography. This prestigious program at GVSU only accepts 18 students a year, now I am one of them! After graduation, I wish to work in my field in an underserved hospital and grant good news of twins to a lucky couple, as my parent’s ultrasound technologist had. However my twin sister, Emily, is not alive today because of a complication in the womb that the sonographer or physician did not catch. I will not let this tragedy happen to another family. I have gone my entire life with this “missing piece” of me, with the feeling of always being alone, even in a crowded room. Emily is my driving force-my motivation to give 100% in everything I do. I have so much immeasurable potential to live not only for me, but for her as well. She is a constant reminder for me to think, “What if I woke up today with only the things I thanked God for yesterday?”
I want to pursue my dream of going on medical mission trips to Africa. Using portable ultrasounds and with the help of a team of radiologists, I can potentially help save a life in regards to potential surgical interventions and providing these unfortunate women with care they might otherwise receive. I strongly believe in the notion that where you live should not determine whether you live. I also want to be a sign of hope for these women because I have found that even being there for people and sharing a smile can be very therapeutic.
In high school, I made it apparent to keep myself busy with talent shows, youth group musicals, sports, writing for the school newspaper, making honor roll and steadily working. I hold the record for being involved with the most clubs in a year and I also became the first “senior rookie” when I joined the Marching Band my senior year. I am not afraid to try new things, and I also possess the ability to understand people’s difficulties and perspectives and can emphasize with them. In 2007, I stayed with a host family in Southern France for a week, which taught me how easily it is to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and survive in situations I cannot control. Starting college, between school and work, I made an effort to find time to be a youth leader at my church, participated as a little league soccer coach on weekends and volunteered at walks for both Down’s Syndrome and Breast Cancer awareness. I also learned that I want to travel, I want to learn how to play the piano, I want to make the right decisions and I want to make a difference outside the boundaries of my classroom walls. I am just looking for purpose. I love learning and growing and I hope next year I can financially have the opportunity to continue on with my studies. I know somehow I will find a way to make it happen because I believe those who view knowledge and hard work as an obstacle and not as a joyous opportunity, will be daunted by the ever-lasting progressive spirit of those who acquire such a taste. However I am not ashamed to admit that I could really use your help. Thank you for your time and for considering me for this scholarship.