Erica Jackson Speaks at the Spring 2009 luncheon of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce

Hello and good afternoon, my name is Erica Jackson, and today I was asked to say what it means to me to receive a scholarship.

Receiving a scholarship from an organization such as the Charlottesville Community says two things to me, first I think of opportunity. I have been given the opportunity to explore and learn. College is all about exploration, adventure, and most important furthering your intellect. College is a huge adventure where you gain that independence that is so vital to adulthood. You start to see more and more as you get older that your parents start to lessen the grip and your choices are your own, in most cases, for others the grip may need to stay a little firm for a little while longer (laugh), but in most cases your responsibility level becomes greater and decision making isn’t as easy as it was in middle school or in high school. I have learned that this year, finishing my first year of college that the world is a real place and you are your own boss, and as an individual you have to make those choices that will allow you to succeed, and that the success you strive for will only come with hard work and determination.

Secondly I think of investment. Receiving a scholarship means that someone or something such as an organization is making an investment into your future and your dream. Yes, the person, or the organization is making a monetary investment, but they are doing more than just handing over a check and saying go to college. I see my scholarships invitations of support and encouragement. Someone is offering to support me and encourage me to be someone great. The amazing thing is that this encouragement comes from people that I don’t even know, or haven’t actually had a conversation with, but they still believe in me. They see that I am willing and able to make a difference, a contribution to the greater society, and think that I can in some way make the world just a little bit better.  I see scholarships as tokens that not only fund my dream, but make it seem more tangible, more real, and not so far away, because other people can also see my dream. My family and friends see my dream, they support me and love me and tell me all the time that they are so proud, my mom is my biggest fan, she asks me is my room clean first, and then cheers for me. (Laugh)  And then there is the community, this organization here today that sees my dream and, you all believe in me and have invested and given me even more encouragement.

So to receive a scholarship means to me that I have been given the opportunity to get closer to my dream, to make it reality, through the investment of others, and with their investment I genuinely am grateful for their support and encouragement that drives me every day to succeed. Thank you!