Principles Scholarship Essay Contest



Win a $1,000 Scholarship


We're looking for people who have Principles and those who not only talk about them but also LIVE them!  Do you have a Principle that you live your life by?  If so, we'd love to hear about it.  It's easy to enter the contest and you could win $1,000 to help out with your college expenses.


CONGRATULATIONS TO ERIC BEELER YOU ARE THE FREE COUNTRY PRINCIPLES ESSAY WINNER!

Eric is attending George Washington University and his essay is titled "Give Everyone a Chance".  You can read the full essay below. But first we would like to thank all those who entered (over 250 of you!).  There were many excellent essays for us to choose from which made our decision extremely difficult.  Thanks again to all of you and please keep living by your Principles!

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Give Everyone A Chance

Eric Beeler

George Washington University

The students I've encountered through Project LIFT, an Atlanta-area non-profit aimed at empowering "at-risk" youth, reminded me of the importance of helping those less fortunate. It taught me that if I could change one thing about my community, it would be to ensure that all kids are given an equal chance at success. Too often, kids from disadvantaged backgrounds see their circumstances as obstacles, but I know from experience that they have the ability to find a sense of inspiration that many will never comprehend.   

Looking back to graduation day last May, I'll never forget that feeling in my stomach when Tomas crossed the stage. Despite my efforts to keep my composure, I unleashed a roaring cheer, rivaling even the proudest parents in the auditorium. "Tomas Villanueva," my principal said, as my mind shot back to our first meeting. I remember when Tomas and I first stood side-by-side after being randomly paired together by Project LIFT.

Nearly three years ago, I committed to serve as Tomas's peer mentor. My role included tutoring, teaching organizational skills, providing guidance, and being a friend along the way. We coordinated a schedule to meet after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but after several meetings, we still weren't connecting. Tomas's grades weren't improving, and I felt as if my words met deaf ears. Besides our age, we both thought we had nothing in common. But on a Tuesday afternoon in late-September we learned just how wrong our assumption was.

That afternoon, Tomas wouldn't speak. His puffy eyes and sullen cheeks hinted that something was out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, despite my exhaustive prodding, his mouth was sealed. I wove my arms in the air, like a white flag, and told him that he could go home for the night. Tears rushed down his face. "It's not you, it's my family," he muttered. He told me that his father had just been arrested for selling drugs. Because of Georgia's "Three-Strikes" law, his father faced life in prison. Tomas feared returning to an empty home – his mother worked obscure hours and his brother just moved out in search of a better life. Now, it made sense: his academic struggles were not due to a lack of interest, but a lack of support at home.

The reality was Tomas and I actually weren't that different. We both struggled with parents who lacked reliability at home and often relied upon us to help pay the bills. I saw a lot of myself in Tomas: his longing for a better future stifled by his sense of immobility in the present. Because I share these similar struggles with Tomas, I realize that too many people must face hardships at home. I have decided to live by the principle of giving everyone a chance – because while every person deserves an opportunity to succeed, some seem to have more obstacles in the way than others.

 I’d like to personally urge every person to lend a hand to those in need. You may never know what is truly going on in another’s life, and that person may be too shy or too ashamed to open-up. In the end, your helping hand and kindness could be the influence that changes one person’s life forever.

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ABOUT FREE COUNTRY

Free Country is a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of authentic recreational outerwear, activewear and swimwear for men, women and children.