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  • Writer's pictureDina Lunken, DDS

2022 Scholarship Winners

Elizabeth Wenzel

During the challenging and difficult past couple of years throughout the pandemic, being kind to each other has been more important than ever before.

My life lesson is to show compassionate care and empathy to all and to devote myself to the best practices in nursing, while being respectful and honest. From a very young age, helping others has been my priority and I have strived to put a smile on the faces of others. Over the past few years, I have challenged myself to take on a few different roles to better the lives of others and bring smiles to faces all around. This past year, I was inspired to sponsor a child and committed to sponsoring a child in Africa. Each month I send a donation to my sponsor child, Dorcas, to better her and her family’s life. The greatest joy I receive is when she sends letters saying how her life has changed and draws pictures for me. My goal with sponsoring Dorcas is to bring peace and joy to her and her family.

I am a very active member of my church and I enjoy helping and watching the lies of others turn around because of God. I help at many of our church events by playing keyboard on state, assisting in the nurser, and being a mentor for the younger youth students. Not only do I mentor the younger youth students at my church, but I also befriend the younger students at my school. I have learned over the years that just a smile and hello goes a long way and can brighten someone’s day and could make a large impact.

Throughout my time in high school, I was also a leader and friend of out special need students. Over the past 4 years, I have become great friends with many of the students. I have enjoyed talking to them in the halls and participating in events to help them raise money. Daily, I would say hello and start up a conversation. The special needs students will forever have a place in my heart. Taking the time to say hello and smile will forever impact people.

Ashlynn Serrine

It's no secret that when a human smiles, it means they're showing gratitude, appreciation, or joy. It can often be rewarding and give you a warm feeling in your chest. But people are not the only ones who smile. Just as us humans need help, plants and animals do as well. They've often suffered environmental effects from us, neglect, homelessness, sickness, and so much more. It's important to help out humans, plants, and animals in order to keep the ecosystem stable and healthy.

When plants and animals "smile," it can be just as fulfilling.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve gained a lot of plants in my room. I’ve watched most of them grow and flourish as the weeks went on, reminding me that humans aren’t the only beings that can “smile.” I have one plant in particular called a golden pothos. It’s a green vine-like plant that grows a new leaf every few days. Whenever the end of it blooms into a shiny new petal, it makes me think that it’s grinning at me, thanking me for tending to it and helping it to survive. 33 smiles have grown so far, and I hope for far more.

This concept can also be applied to deforestation and replanting those areas. According to the science journal Nature, approximately 42 million trees are cut down each day. That means around 15 billion per year. One admirable thing I and many others have done is plant trees in an effort to help out. The results of seeing that small seed you plant grow into a sapling and then a tree can be satisfying when you know that it’s being done for the benefit of the environment. Every vivid green sprout can be a reminder, a smile of thanks, telling you that you are doing something good. Another way this can happen is through animals.

Everyone has experienced the impact Covid had on us over the years. Many turned to adopting animals at shelters and I personally have had the honor of volunteering at one. Friends of Strays is an animal shelter I volunteered at many times. They are always looking for help, donations, and visitors, especially during times like these. By assisting them, you not only got the gratitude of the owners and future-adopters, but the animals as well. They showed their smiles in the form of licks, rubbing their head on you, or simply by following you around.

You can spread smiles through kindness in ways you may not think of. And although these "smiles" are not literal, I know that it can make a positive impact on the environment and community alike.

Alaina Stasiak

**Alaina's submissions was her artwork


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