The Knudson Churchill Scholarship Trust
Applicants for the Knudson Churchill Scholarship are required to submit an essay that outlines their career aspirations in automotive technology or print journalism; how this scholarship would help them achieve their career goals; their specific plans for their educational program; and why they would be an ideal candidate as a Knudson-Churchill Scholar.
The winning essays are printed in The Sacred Octagon and will be posted here.Read the winning essays below.
Print Journalism First Award
Isabel Mendez Johnson - Print Journalism First Award I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a journalist. Unlike many of my STEM focused peers, I prefer the journey our assigned readings provided over any biology worksheet. I spend my free time writing poetry, reading social justice novels, and perfecting my yearbook spreads. Many of my peers scoff at the idea of studying journalism, calling it a dying profession. But my future has never been limited by the views of my classmates. Studying journalism is the perfect path for me to develop the skills I need to tell stories on my own terms. I am passionate about sharing meaningful stories: both my own, and those of others. When the criticisms from my peers try to choke me with contempt, I use words as my outlet.
My ambitious goals are to pursue print journalism and to publish critically acclaimed articles. This goal requires a rigorous education that provides many writing opportunities to reach said goals. I have applied to many out-of-state schools with exceptional journalism programs knowing that at these institutions, I will be receiving the best education for my field. However, a quality education is costly. I want to graduate from undergraduate school as close to debt free as possible, so I will have the ability to pursue a masters degree in journalism. I want to attend a university that has the classes, programs, and facilities I need in order to pursue my goals. The Knudson Churchill Scholarship would help me reach my career goals by allowing me to explore and attend an esteemed program that encourages my drive.
Wherever I ultimately end up, I plan to be as involved with the journalism major as possible. As of now, I plan to attend The University of Southern California majoring in journalism. According to the QS World University Rankings, The University of Southern California is ranked third in the world for communication and media studies. I hope to be heavily involved in writing for the school paper, The Daily Trojan, specifically pursuing opinion writing. I want to shed light on important issues on and off my campus, to ensure my fellow peers are aware of important events happening in our local campus community and in the world outside our own. At USC, I also intend to join the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. As a member of the Latinx community, I think it is important now, more than ever to have Latinx representation in the media.
I strive to write for those whose voices are often not heard. My junior year of high school, my honors Spanish class exposed me to the disastrous events happening in Latin America; For the first time, I became aware of all of the catastrophes that ensued as a result. I would never have learned about these crises if it was not for this class. My classmates and I were stunned to learn of these developments. While we learned about the holocaust, we were never made aware of the military dictatorships in Latin America that stole children and separated families. Similar atrocities are still happening today. We see this with the Chilean government where political stagnation evokes perpetual protests, we see this with the fleeing of Venezuelans for safety from political persecution from their government; they are threatened with torture, family disapearrances, and are subjected to poor prison conditions.
These are stories that must be told, but are far too often overshadowed by the mainstream media. In America, the most popular snapchat filter makes bigger news than the important events occurring around the world. Sometimes it seems as if journalism has become a means for discussing new trends, celebrity scandals, and relationship advice. It is easy as Americans to avoid understanding lives outside of our own. It is easy to focus on the here and now rather than the there and when. But we as Americans have so much to learn about the other parts of the world. I believe it is my duty as an American citizen to help inform the rest of the nation, so we as a nation do not turn a blind eye to issues that are difficult to discuss. As important as our own community is, it is necessary to acknowledge the pressing issues around the world so that we can better understand our own local issues. I want to immerse myself in a world outside of my own. The greatest gift I could ever receive would be to create a career that interests and educates citizens about issues they did not even know existed. My ultimate goal as an aspiring journalist is to know that I have made a notable difference, or have impacted the lives of others for the greater good.
Earlier this year, I was invited to the Univision Studios in Chicago to be interviewed by broadcast journalist Erika Maldonado. This was my first real experience with professional television media and I was in awe to say the least. Walking on to the set was extremely surreal and I for the first time felt that the world of media was where I truly belonged. I knew these hidden stories needed to be told.
As the editor in chief of my school’s yearbook, student council historian, Hispanic Heritage Foundation Scholar in media and entertainment, intern to a Northwestern Medill graduate, and personal blog writer, I believe I am a perfect candidate for the Knudson Churchill Scholarship. Academically, I have taken challenging AP classes related to the journalism field such as AP Literature and Composition, IB World Literature, IB Film, AP Spanish and Language, AP Statistics, AP Government, and have accumulated a 4.18 GPA. I will be proudly attending Valparaiso High School’s 4.0 Banquet on April 26, 2020 with my favorite Spanish teacher who ultimately influenced me to explore bilingual journalism. Additionally, I have participated in countless other school activities. I was class president my freshman, sophomore, and junior years and I currently act as student body historian my senior year. As historian, I take photos, and create written documents explaining what we are doing as a student council. I am involved in our school’s Peer Tutor program where students exchange a study hall to spend a period with the kids in the special needs department. My friend and I are extremely involved in the program. We began a “Spread the Word to End the Word '' movement at our school in which money raised would go right back into the Peer Tutor program ensuring that the kids will have the best opportunities through our schools resources. In my film class, I chose to attribute my documentary to the importance of the Life Skills program. Additionally, I was selected as one of ten out of over 45 applicants to lead a Natural Helpers Retreat as a peer leader. I dedicated almost three months to planning this retreat with my fellow staffers to create a safe and loving environment that showed just how beautiful things can be when we work together. I swam as a Varsity Swimmer all four years of my high school career, promoting teamwork and smart decision making, acting as a role model for many of the younger swimmers. All of these activities exposed me to distinct perspectives that are essential to reflect as a good journalist. I await the time I will be able to fully explore my passion for print journalism and receive a stellar education that supports my interests. I put my whole heart into our school yearbook - ensuring I was covering interesting topics and stories occurring at my school, including people that usually would be excluded, and taking on extra assignments for the school’s newspaper because I wanted to utilize every outlet I had to showcase my writing.
My senior year, I opted to not have a last hour class so I could intern with a professional freelance journalist that has had over 10 years of experience in her field. I have learned more about what it takes to be a working journalist than I ever thought I could. Through this experience, I was able to do research, write short piece ideas, and offer my digital design experience to help build a website. I took initiative to seek my own way to obtain hands-on experience that was not otherwise available to me at my school. My higher education goals are a crucial piece of my ultimate life plan and will prepare me for a successful career in journalism. If selected to become a Knudson Churchill Scholar, I assure you that I will make the most of this opportunity to reach my fullest potential.
Isa Johnson will be attending the University of Southern California majoring in journalism. Johnson has been an active member in her local community volunteering for various political campaigns. Her passion for writing blossomed from her love of yearbook where she eventually became editor.