Workshop helps students personalize essays



Joelle Berg, left, Native American Programs retention specialist and event organizer, helps students write scholarship essays in Cleveland Hall.

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen editor-in-chief

Native American Programs hosted a workshop to help students ace their scholarship essays Wednesday at Cleveland Hall.

Joelle Berg, Native American retention specialist and event organizer, said the workshop’s purpose was to help students complete the WSU General Scholarship application.

“We think scholarships are really important for folks to fill out and complete,” she said. “A lot of folks sometimes wait until the last minute to fill things out, so it’s the perfect time to get it done.”

Berg presented a slideshow to inform students where to look for scholarships. She also demonstrated how to navigate the scholarship search engine on the WSU Student Financial Services website.

Berg encouraged attendees to read the instructions and create an outline before writing scholarship essays.

It is important to share personal stories to show how an individual is unique, she said. Essays should be a personal and passionate revelation of self.

“Your essays are your opportunity to bring yourself to life,” Berg said.

Sharing snapshots of life is better than writing autobiographies in the essays, she said. Addressing any weaknesses in the application should be included in the essays as well.

“If the failure was yours, own it, and tell how you’re doing things differently now,” Berg said.

Students worked on six short essays in the personal statement section of the application. This includes questions about leadership contributions, experiences in dealing with adversity and handling systemic challenges.

Paige Anderson, WSU junior nursing major, said the brainstorming ideas Berg shared helped spark ideas for the essays. She said Berg provided her with valuable input to improve her writing.

“Ask for help,” Anderson said. “I definitely probably would not have come up with these answers all on my own.”

Jamie Kness, WSU first-year science communication and multimedia journalism double-major, said the workshop presented an environment for her to write the essays in one setting. The workshop was motivating and helped her stay on-topic in her essays.

Kness said the essay question that stood out to her was about her experience in facing discrimination.

“When I was first filling this out, I was kind of surprised with [the] handling systemic challenges [question] because before college I was always used to people not really questioning systems,” Kness said. “It was really refreshing to be able to put down my experience with how systems have treated me.”

The WSU General Scholarship application is due on Friday, Jan. 31.