Scholarship Review

Summer Arner

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


I hate to admit that my initial experience with volunteerism was involuntary. I joined Girl Scouts when I was ten years old, and besides going to camp and selling cookies, there was the aspect of the organization that involved community service. As a child, I didn’t understand the value of my contributions to others and often viewed them as ways to earn another badge. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I entered high school that I realized the importance of volunteerism, for I experienced seeing hardships that changed my perspective.

In the spring of 2016, my aunt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I didn’t anticipate how long or difficult the fight would be for her physically and emotionally. Soon after treatments began, my family organized a spaghetti dinner to help raise money for her procedures, and my high school’s Key Club offered to help the cause. That was the first time in years I felt a true connection to my service work; knowing firsthand how badly she needed the support from this dinner, I made sure I contributed all of my efforts that day. From then on, I became proactive in volunteering for medical philanthropy.

In the following months, more opportunities to volunteer were provided by the Key Club, and I willingly signed up. One service project involved making blankets for Project Linus, an organization that donates blankets to children in need. I especially enjoyed that task because the blankets were donated to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh; my little sister has often been hospitalized there due to her Crohn’s disease, so I empathize with the fear and discomfort that many children feel in that environment. I also involved myself in a charity toy drive for a first-grader named Ella who was diagnosed with cancer last year. And a few months ago, I helped send care packages to cancer patients over the holidays. One of my favorite annual events was the Awakeathon, where a group of students stayed up for 24 hours to raise money for a specific organization; this year’s choice was the Cancer Society. It was clear that the volunteering efforts for these medical events made an impact from the thank-you cards and phone calls that the Key Club received; I then saw how my service helped others in different ways.

As years of struggle went by, my aunt continued to battle with her devastating disease, having experienced multiple rounds of chemotherapy and various treatments. Despite the pain, she continued to be positive up until the time of her recent death. The hardships made me realize that there are so many people in the world who need assistance, but I am blessed to be in good health; this is motivation enough for me to try and make an impact. I’m pleased to have turned around my perspective on volunteerism, and the experiences I’ve had assisting those with medical conditions have inspired me to pursue a career in nursing after graduation.