Youth Forward Scholarship 2017 – Helping a Star to Shine

Name: Tiffany Benjamin
From: Naples , FL
Grade: 11
School: Community School of Naples
Votes: 75

I enjoy working with the children of community to enable them to dream
big. I plan to volunteer to work with young aspiring actors, singers,
and dancers and help the become the stars that they hope to be
someday. When I was younger, the most fun I had was when I was on
stage performing. Throughout my years of participating in productions
created the most memorable moments in my life.

Were it not for the people who believed in me when I was younger, I would
not be the young woman I am today. As a young girl who struggled with
my self-image and self-esteem, theater was the place I felt safest. I
was able to rely on my peers and staff members to believe in me even
when I could not believe in myself. I want to be that same support
system for another young girl who wants to be a star, but she doesn’t
think she is pretty enough. I want to be that confidant for the young
boy who does not feel like he belongs. I want to help inspire the
youth of my community to dare to dream– not only to dream– but to
dream big. So often are children told that their dreams must be
realistic. I want to be the one who shows them that they can reach
for the stars if they wanted to. Sometimes all it takes for someone
to succeed in life is a little encouragement. I don’t know where I
would be were it not for the encouragement of my family, teachers,
and friends. It pains me to know that some children out there have no
support system behind them. This lack of support is a main
contributing factor for why children become involved in gangs,
decline in school, or become asocial. A form of learned helplessness
develops when: a child believes that they are alone in this world, or
that they have no worth.

“It takes a village” a common phrase used when referring to how the
raising of a child takes more than just the parents. A network of
support for the parents and the child is imperative in the healthy
development of a child and social stability in the home.

Growing up as an only child of a single mother with a terminal illness, I
learned this at a young age. My mother’s career as a high school
teacher kept her busy, but teaching an elective at a public school
was barely enough to pay the bills. The hours she worked, although
they were similar to elementary school hours, sometimes required she
worked later. Because of these unpredictable work hours, my mother
asked our family for help. My great-grandmother came to live with us
for sometime to help take care of me, my great-aunt watched me
sometimes as well, and my mother’s close friends, “her
lifesavers”, as she calls them helped her through some of our
roughest times. Without the support my mother received from her loved
ones, she and I would not have a home, and in a most extreme instance
she might not even have had me.

My goal is to be apart of somebody’s support system. I want to share
my story with someone, to let them know that things get better, and
what better place to share than the place where I feel most
comfortable… at the theater. The theater is my second home, and I
hope to make younger ones feel the same hope, passion, love, warmth,
and confidence that I felt when I am at the theater. Maybe one day I
will start a theater program of my own, but for the time being I will
stick to volunteering as an instructor to the young bundles of joy
that have a budding love for the stage.


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