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Stitching Together a Successful College Experience

Claire Westfall smiles at the camera while leaning on a bookshelf.

Attending college has been one of the best experiences of my life, but also one of the hardest. After I graduated high school, I thought I was going to start college a few months later and finish in four years. That’s not what happened at all. I’m also not finishing my degree at the college I started at. When I look back at my college journey, it looks like a patchwork quilt. It took me longer to finish than I expected it to. I stitched it together using courses from three different colleges and over the span of six years. It looks vastly different than I thought it would, but it’s my journey and I’ve come to appreciate it.

Now, in my senior year, I am an English major and Professional Writing minor at Ohio State Newark, with plans to graduate this spring. I started talking college classes in high school, because I was in the College Credit Plus program. Once I graduated high school, I planned on attending a regional campus for a local university, because it was close to home and affordable. Due to my ACT score, I was eligible for a scholarship that would completely cover my first two years. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline to apply for that scholarship. This mistake meant that I had a choice to make: either start college that semester without the scholarship or take a gap year and apply for it next fall. Even though I was eager to start, I knew that I should wait. I couldn’t pass up a scholarship that good. Because of a simple mistake, I would have to wait another year to begin the part of my life I had looked forward to for so many years.

Even though I was disappointed, I didn’t let that stop me from making the best use of my time. I started working full-time at a local business, kept learning by taking free courses online, and had more time to read. By the time I was starting college the next fall, I had money saved that I wouldn’t have to spend much of for a couple years because of the scholarship I’d received.

Once my first two years were drawing to a close, I had decided to finish my degree at Ohio State Newark. I chose Newark because it was affordable, the campus was beautiful, and there were scholarships available for me. The scholarships I received at Newark and the money I saved for three years, were essential to my success. They allowed me to avoid student loans completely and because I wasn’t worried about money, I was able to focus better on my schoolwork.

Scholarships have played a huge roll in my college education. Without generous donors who care about student success, I wouldn’t be graduating this semester. I have been inspired to do what I can to help students in their higher education journey, because of the scholarships I’ve received. The Professional Writing minor I’m pursuing includes a capstone internship, which I am completing at The Newark Campus Development Fund. I was interested in the Fund because of all the work they’ve done for the Newark campus and the scholarships they’ve given to students. I don’t know exactly where my career will lead me, but I always want to help others because I have been helped so much myself.