Awards Membership Opportunities Writing

2015 Scholarship Essay Winners—Part 2

Fall 2015 scholarship applicants reflected on the theme—Finding Home—for the Sigma Tau Delta 2016 International Convention in Minneapolis. Application essays help judges determine scholarship awards but are also judged independently; authors of the best essays from the fall round will receive $50 prizes. This week’s blog shares the remaining two of the top four essays, which explore the notion of home as a more ephemeral thing.

Rachel Burns

Fall 2015 Scholarship Essay Winner
Iota Mu Chapter
Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC

As a child, I doodled pictures of my house, elongating the truth into cherry-red bricks and imagined smoke distilling from the chimney into a Texas sky. I found these pictures of home again when I returned from studying abroad and the yellowed pages were familiar, but the idea was not. Home had been a place, a moment in time, and the people inhabiting them both. The place itself had changed many times as my family and I moved east during my childhood, the idea of home stayed the same: red bricks and chimney smoke.

When I returned from my semester in England, a sense of loss pervaded the parameters of home which had been secure for so long. The picture had begun to fray; the bricks faded and the smoke dissipated. I had found a sense of homecoming in the friendship of strangers and in the embrace of new cities: Krakow, Galway, Berlin. Home became placeless, no longer concrete—the mortar dissolved so that all I had holding home together was gravity in the face of time. Between the cherry walls, the emptiness of the word “home” rang. It had become cliched and the warmth had fallen away, ineffectual for the immensity of everything I had seen and felt and learned.

Though I had mastered the technique of drawing miniature cherry bricks and swooping curls of smoke, I never drew the path from my front door to the road that once sat before my childhood house. It was always in my drawings, though, implied in the space where the edge of the drawing met the living world. Home is the point where the fantasy of what we wish it to be and the truth of what our lives are rests. In finding my childhood picture again, I resurrected hope in home because it became more than a Hallmark card, more than marks of colored wax. Home is more than a feeling; it is knowledge that those cherry-bricks can exist in the smile of a new friend and the smoke can be carried on a foreign breeze just the same as it when I was young. With that understanding, the world itself can be home.

Amanda Chiu

Fall 2015 Scholarship Essay Winner
Psi Nu Chapter
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

I’ve come to find over the last five years that home is not some fixed thing you’re born with. It develops as you grow and you adapt to this idea of “home” continually, mostly because I don’t believe anyone truly understands what “home” is. Yet, there exists a stigma against homelessness in our society. I think in part this is because everyone feels a bit homeless at times, a bit lost and confused. Perhaps we feel so homeless at times because we work so hard to find one. You never realize how much you lack something until you try to define it, because definitions are based on comparisons to things you’ve seen or experienced. We look at what other people say their “home” is and because ours doesn’t include all those things, it’s incomplete and we must search for the missing parts.

However, I don’t believe home is something you go out looking for. Home, most times, finds you: when you’re not looking, when you least expect it, when you need a home the most. My greatest senses of home have occurred when I’ve turned around and suddenly realized that home is all around me. It’s in the people that greet me with smiles and shouts when I come back from a long day of classes. It’s in the arms that silently hold me when I cry because they already understand why. It’s in knowing I have someone every time I need them and feeling out of place when I leave. Home is clearly not a place, but then again I’m not so sure it’s people either.

I think home might be a feeling. I think home might be a network of emotions and mutual understanding that connects you to the hearts of other people. It’s the invisible lines that create a constellation of love and support among the stars of people’s hearts. Finding home then is building those invisible strings, connecting and fastening them. It happens when you stumble upon mutual interests, when you get lost and end up having deep life discussions at two a.m. in a gas station parking lot, and when you scream at each other then spend the next thirty minutes trying to mend that hurt. Could you ever plan any of this? No. These things will happen and one day you’ll turn around and suddenly realize home is all around you.

Sigma Tau Delta Scholarships

Submissions for the spring 2016 round of scholarship applications are now open. Complete your application through the AwardSpring platform not only to be eligible for a wide array of scholarships, but also to be entered in the Scholarship Essay Contest. Your winning scholarship essay could be featured on WORDY by Nature next year.

Applications Due on March 21, 2016 by 11:59 p.m. CDT (Central Daylight Time)
Scholarships Determined by May 2, 2016

Learn more about Scholarships.

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