Scholarship Review

Brenna Callahan

Leechburg Area High School
Senior? Yes
Elite top 100? Yes
Letters of recommendation: Letter of Recommendation 1, Letter of Recommendation 2


I believe everyone in this world is here for a reason. We all have a purpose. Whether that purpose is fulfilled is completely up to us. After years of self reflection, I believe my purpose is to help others through progressive volunteerism. As I continue my educational journey, I hope to pursue a law degree, which will allow me to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a civil rights attorney. I will help women, minorities, and those who face the struggles of societal indifference have a voice. Although this will be my future contribution to assist those in need, I can thankfully look back and recognize the experiences that allowed me to acknowledge my purpose.

As an actively involved member of my school and community, I have had the opportunity to participate in many volunteer programs throughout high school. However, after years of volunteering through outside sources, I decided to take a longtime concern into my own hands. The water fountain water supply at my school has always been difficult to drink due to the poor taste. I eventually started to bring in my own reusable water bottle filled to the brim so that I would not have to refill all day. With knowledge of the emerging sustainability crisis, I began to notice the amount of plastic water bottles other students were using daily to prevent themselves from visiting the fountains, and to accompany that, they failed to recycle their bottles nearly every time. Consequently, I compiled information regarding new filtered hydration stations in place of our current fountains to present for our upcoming budget. As the school board liaison, I held a meeting with the administration to address my concerns. I communicated that there are currently no federal laws in place regarding drinking water standards in our nation’s schools, and how the lack of such laws can place schools years behind in safe water testing. The filtered hydration stations will ensure safe, better-tasting water for our district, and will ultimately prevent the misuse of thousands of plastic water bottles every year. Although the administration is in agreeance with the proposal, they asked me to fundraise and research grants. Since January, I have been dedicating my time to exactly that. I recently submitted grant applications with the assistance of my superintendent, and will begin a “Pie the Teachers” fundraiser at the end of March to involve the student body. With that said, our school should have new filtered hydration stations by the end of summer.

Volunteerism has played a vital role in my high school career. It has given me countless memories and experiences to look back on. But most importantly, it has taught me how to be a leader with others in mind. Standing up and speaking out for your community members and classmates is extremely important if you plan to make change. Through my voice alone, I have thankfully witnessed the power of change through volunteerism, and its ability to bring a school together for a common cause.