Glass Half Full: Don’t be afraid to seek assistance | SierraSun.com

Glass Half Full: Don’t be afraid to seek assistance

Ruth Glass
Glass Half Full

Last week, the sunrise Rotary Club of Tahoe-Incline hosted its annual speech contest. Five very qualified Incline High School candidates participated, presenting eloquent arguments as to why service is important — in particular, the service of Rotary around the world.

The local winner, Serena Faulkner, will compete next at the district level and, we hope, continue up the ladder from state to national finals.

In speaking of the many contributions to communities around the world made by Rotary International, several speech contestants referred to the scholarships that allow students from around the world to further their education and to travel to places they couldn't possibly manage without assistance.

I was intrigued by several conversations following the speech contest to which I was privy that centered around the notion of scholarships and financial awards of any kind; namely, how many people are reluctant even to apply for financial assistance.

“I encourage Incline Village families to pursue their dreams by not being afraid to ask for assistance.”

I have long been aware that hundreds of thousands of dollars set aside for deserving students go unclaimed each year. Partly, that is a function of qualified applicants simply not knowing that, somewhere, there is a special fund for left-handed golfers born in the month of February in Nevada or future engineers who can also play the violin.

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Actually, I made up both of those "awards," though the descriptions probably are not as far off base as one might imagine.

Another reason that so much money goes unclaimed is that many people either believe they would not qualify for the awards, or that they are embarrassed to do so. Consequently, sometimes they miss life-changing opportunities, chances to experience other cultures, chances to pursue an education they could not otherwise afford.

I encourage Incline Village families to pursue their dreams by not being afraid to ask for assistance. Participate in contests. Ask about fellowship opportunities. Never assume a door is closed.

I happen to be a product of independent schools, starting in middle school, because I was a scholarship student. My daughters attended independent schools through middle school because we qualified for financial assistance. My husband attended Princeton University on a full ROTC scholarship.

I am glad that I was raised to believe there is nothing shameful about asking for help when needed. My family and I considered the financial aid we received as a kind of loan — not literally, but in a pay-it-forward kind of way.

A great part of our lives is spent donating time and energy to causes and projects in which we believe. I appreciated my education because I worked extra hard for the opportunities. Hillary and Allison never took their schooling for granted.

Scholarship awards based on financial need are kept confidential in educational institutions, whether they be on the college level or at an elementary school like Lake Tahoe School.

As a nation and as a community we are blessed by remarkable opportunities. We should never be embarrassed to take advantage of them.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.

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