Germantown High School graduation, a tribute in pictures

Althea Escorce, Germantown High School Class of 2011, earned a reported 1.3 million in offered scholarships for college next school year. In this shortened version of her commencement speech, she offers encouragement to her classmates and practical advice on applying for scholarships.


I want to start off by saying that each student at Germantown High School has a special talent within him or her. Whether it is writing lyrics or studying Physics, you all are gifted individuals, and there are scholarships out there for each one of you.

A good life is not always handed to you. Sometimes you have to go after it.

From a very young age, I realized this hackneyed saying was very true. I also realized that I could use my most negative experiences and turn them into the sources of my motivation.

Growing up in a low-income household, watching my friend suffer as she died from AIDS and losing my grandfather at a very young age. To most people, these are everyday scenarios, but these experiences deeply affected the way I view the world today.

Today, it is about making more opportunities for myself. I realized that I wanted to help my family and become an asset to my community. I also knew that a college education was compulsory. However, like many students today, I knew that I could not afford college. I also knew that scholarships were available and one of these scholarships was the Gates Millennium Scholarship. This is a full scholarship that will pay for your undergraduate studies and graduate studies at any university or college of your choice. This essay’s purpose is to provide others with the information on how to apply for this scholarship, maintain it and use it to the best of their abilities…

Your part in this process is critical. You need to write about seven essays. The essays are basically about your goals, your leadership activities, events in your life, your community service and extracurricular activities…

Now, do not be afraid. You can start your writing now by writing about a few events that you have overcome in your life time. The important thing is for you to be you. You should write like you were telling a story to someone but in a more formal way. These are your goals, your struggles and your accomplishments. Also, please take the essay writing process very seriously. You can ask for help from our wonderful teachers or the staff in the Student Success Center. Please do not be afraid of seeking help. I asked for help and the seniors before me asked for help too.

With the many brilliant and proactive students in the future senior class, I am sure that you will receive this scholarship once you dedicate yourself to the process.

Lastly, when you have received it, you still have to maintain the grades at your respective schools. It requires a 3.0 (B average) or better. You just need to stay focused and remember that you worked hard for your college education. This brings me to my point of making opportunities for you.

It does not matter if you live in a low-income household because I have been there. It does not matter that your parents went to college or not. It does not matter where you come from. It all depends on you, and I know that each of you are gifted. Even if you do not receive this scholarship, there are THOUSANDS of scholarships out there for you. I just want to say that I am proud of the senior class of 2011. We have indeed set the example for our brothers and sisters at Germantown High School. I believe that the junior class can achieve all of their dreams. I believe in you, but you have to believe and trust in yourself. For this is the only key to success.

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