If I could give one piece of advice to high school students (or anyone, really), I would tell them to not waste any time waiting for anything. Waiting for “life to begin.” Waiting for the world to fall into place. It sounds cliché, probably, and it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that you’re “stuck” in the town that you live in, “stuck” at the school you go to, “stuck” in a state where you cannot actually accomplish much of anything. I thought this, both as a freshman and a sophomore. I thought that my town didn’t offer me much of anything. I just couldn’t wait to get away. And, in the midst of that, I didn’t see the great memories being made-the memories that make me who I am-until later. The truth is I love my school and my town.Does that mean that I’m not ready to move away? Not exactly. But, it does mean that I appreciate what I’ve learned throughout high school, even though it didn’t always come in the form of textbook-style learning. I have another piece of advice: don’t rely on your textbooks for everything. You will learn so much from the classes where you explore your interests and yourself; the classes where you feel challenged, unable to locate the answers in your book or on the internet.I can honestly say that some of the classes I learned the most from were Creative Writing and Digital Media, a broadcast journalism course where I helped produce the daily announcements. These classes stressed me out, but they also provided me with much independence and taught me so much about the world and myself. Still, a realization hit me when I came back to school after the summer before my junior year. Teachers asked us to share about our summers, and I realized I did nothing but fantasize about the future. I planned everything down to which college I would go to and which classes I would take and which internships I would have. None of that has stayed the same. I still don’t consider that time completely wasted, because I learned to not wait for my dreams to come true. But still, sometimes I can’t help but think of all the things I could’ve been doing. After that, I tried to get involved. I took action. I was so busy and so happy. I’d ride home from school just thinking “this is perfect. Everything’s perfect.”In high school, I met so many interesting people. I filled my journals with so many funny and sad and beautiful and broken stories. In high school, I rode the bus, even during my senior year. I hated it at times, but I also loved it. I hear country music now and feel nostalgic about it. In high school, I humiliated myself at Zumba classes and learned so much from the kids I tutored and explored various forms of literature and began to understand the world despite the size of my isolated small town. In high school, I discovered who I am and what I want. I’m still discovering, and that’s okay. Though high school presents you with many lessons, you do not by any means have to find all the answers. In high school, I stopped waiting. I started living. I started learning. I didn’t wait to learn and discover and explore and accomplish my goals. And, though many things will change this year, I believe that will remain constant.
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