I am proud to say this is the fourth year that I’ve given out this scholarship, which was established to honor the craft of creative writing and encourage students to discover their authentic voice through the process.
The theme for this year’s writing prompt was “Innovation.” When I visited the class a few months ago, we spent a few minutes brainstorming about what this buzzword means, what characteristics an innovator might have, and what kind of impact an idea might have on the world or a local community.
To sum up, Innovation = Insights + Ideas + Impact.
So right away, the challenge of this writing prompt was to designate meaning to a very ambiguous formula.
Insights: Reflecting back on their high school experience. What was a moment that rocked you or lit you up? It could have been a specific moment, a special class, a relationship(s), a particular year or a general reflection. But had to be something they found surprising, made them think differently or led them to discover something they didn’t previously know. And as a result, are changed in some way.
Ideas: What lessons did they learn from their insights? What idea(s) emerge? This should be something they would want to spend time, effort and energy to nurture, grow and develop.
Impact: Looking forward to the future. I asked what they wanted their legacy to be; to think about the story they have yet to live, and the idea that will help them live it. This is where the idea becomes realized and made real.
All of the submissions I received this year were really great and inspiring. There was one in particular that I really admired. There was strength in every sentence, courage under every word, and an emotional intelligence rarely seen in a person of such a young age. No doubt, the insights that emerged from such a deeply trying time came at a significant cost; but the ability to sift them from the rubble and use the pieces as cornerstones of one’s life direction is an incredible feat. It’s what I call, gaining some serious Experience points.
This year’s winner wrote about how losing a friend to brain cancer has impacted her journey. Unknowing to me, that friend’s legacy is also being honored here tonight with a scholarship in her name, one that my writer had helped fund and establish. Here’s to the power words can give us when we write them down and wade through the anguish of all that is unsaid. Here’s to the action it inspires in helping turn the page with a purpose that goes unforgotten.
This year’s winner took the abstract concept of Innovation and directly applied it to their life—without shame and without doubt, and instead with a fortitude and selflessness that I am sure, will have a lasting impact on all those who end up crossing her path. I am honored to award Taylor Hager with this year’s Inspired Scribble scholarship.