Annual Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship

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Renamed after the passing of our favourite author, Robert Jordan, the Annual Scholarship here at TarValon.Net is now open to all fans of the Wheel of Time series.

Winners of past Scholarships and their essays

2018 - Aradia Farmer

I am currently in school to learn about earthquake hazards and disaster management in the Pacific Northwest. My post-graduation intention is to work on preparations for the inevitable large earthquake that will strike here sometime in the next several decades. My specific goal is to be a bridge between earth science and social policy, interpreting and distilling the research being done into messages that can carry weight for policy makers. Earthquakes are a type of natural hazard that affects everyone in a given geographic region (relatively) equally. Their destruction leaves little unscathed, and recovery can take years. Suitable preparation to withstand prolonged minutes of shaking is politically and economically unappealing, because it is expensive and might not be useful for years or even decades to come. However, preparation can be the difference between a major and minor regional apocalypse, with thousands of lives in the balance. The last time a major earthquake struck the Pacific Northwest in 1700AD, entire Native American villages were destroyed, and oral histories of the event are found up and down the west coast to this day. We have the benefit of knowing that this hazard will strike again in the geologically near future, so we have the opportunity to prepare now. Earthquakes are notoriously difficult to predict or forecast. Subduction zones, such as the one off the west coast of North America, generate quakes far less frequently than strike-slip zones such as the San Andreas fault. This means that many people living in the hazard zone of western Oregon and Washington have no idea the threat they are living with every day, and have not taken personal or administrative steps to mitigate their risk. In addition to scientific research into the exact nature of the fault zone and when it might release again, there also needs to be public education and outreach to spread accurate and fact-based information. This will allow individuals, cities, and industries to take appropriate action to reduce their risk and make recovery easier. By working on this long-term and under-appreciated problem, I have the potential to save the lives and property of countless people I will never meet, from all walks of life, at an unspecified point in the future. I will be a Servant of All because I will not get to pick who I help, and my efforts will affect individuals, businesses, and governments alike. In a time of massive social upheaval and strife, it is easy to forget that the natural world is working on its own rhythm and cares not a bit for our troubles. Somebody has to keep an eye on, and spread information about, this hidden danger lurking under our feet. Participating in the effort to study, understand, and prepare for a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake is how I will be a Servant of All.

2018 - Deji Ologbenla

I spent the first 21 years of my life growing up in Lagos, the largest city in South-Western Nigeria. While I grew up in an upper middle class family with access to basic necessities and amenities, the reality was that not many were as privileged. Even today, the majority of the population has limited access to food and clean water and quality healthcare is a luxury many cannot afford. Because public hospitals are not well funded, they often lack basic equipment and doctors are frequently on strike due to months of unpaid salaries. The only way to get decent healthcare in Nigeria is via private hospitals which are almost impossible for the average person on the street to afford. Witnessing these experiences alongside a brother with sickle cell anemia helped shape me into who I am today: a passionate and aspiring medical doctor who wants to contribute to the health and welfare of his community and beyond.

After completing my undergraduate studies in Nigeria, I moved to Canada in 2011 to pursue my aspiration of becoming a doctor. I completed a graduate program in Biochemistry in Toronto in 2013, became a permanent resident of Canada in 2015 and subsequently got accepted into medical school at Dalhousie University in the fall of 2017. My first year of medical school at Dalhousie was very intense, but equally as exciting. Getting to learn about medicine and gaining exposure to patient care in the community has helped reinforce my desire to serve by taking care of the sick and vulnerable.

I intend to use my medical degree to become a Servant of All by making sure I go the extra mile to help anyone I come in contact with and ensuring that their physical, mental, emotional and social health needs are taken care of. In addition, I understand the privilege that comes with being a doctor and I intend to use that privileged position to advocate for less privileged members of the society. For example, I have volunteered as a mentor for high school kids from underprivileged communities in the past and I understand the impact a mentor can have towards inspiring a youth to greater heights. My position as a doctor will enable me to organise outreach and mentorship programs on a much larger scale for vulnerable kids in my community. These programs will be geared towards creating a safe space for self-discovery and personal development, providing the kids an opportunity to create a better future.

Furthermore, the fact that I grew up in a substandard healthcare system in Nigeria motivates me to be involved in the field of global health. I strongly believe that as diverse as the world is, every human being has similar basic needs. Quality healthcare is one of such needs that every human deserves irrespective of race, tribe or tongue. I will manifest my passion and desire to be a Servant of All by partnering with organisations like WHO, UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, etc., either via donations or by volunteering my time and skills with them. I also plan to take occasional trips back to my roots in Lagos to volunteer and help treat patients there and also educate them on how to lead healthier lifestyles.

Over the years, I believe my capacity for compassion & empathy and willingness to serve and help others has only grown. I am looking forward to having a successful career in medicine where I can meaningfully impact the lives of people in my community and beyond. Engaging in all these endeavours will ensure that I am not only serving those in my immediate community, but I am seizing the opportunity to be true Servant of All by contributing to the lives of many around the globe.

2017 - Jessi Dean

"How will I be a Servant of all? I must admit that for the longest time, I could not answer this seemingly simple question. I entered college knowing what I wanted to study, knowing what career I wanted to pursue, even knowing how that job would help the world. Yet, year after year, staring at the same question on this application, I could not answer it. Now I have my answer, and it is not quite what I had expected. The answer, however, is much less interesting than the journey I took to find it.

Had you asked when I was 7 or 8, “Jessi, how are you going to change the world?” I’d have told you “I’m going to be an astronaut.” Then I might not have known how that could help anyone, but a few years later I could give you a long explanation of how space exploration could both find solutions to the problems we face on earth, and how it could be the ultimate solution if earth was beyond saving. And with a shrug I would add “and if that doesn’t work, I’ll be a teacher.”

Had you asked me when I was 15, near-sighted and far from physically fit, I would have told you “I’m not sure; I guess teach. Literature is fun.” A year after that I would excitedly tell you “I’m going into genetic research. Have you heard of Tay-Sach’s? I’m going to cure that someday.” A particularly upsetting project in a biology class taught me about the terrible genetic disorders children are born with daily and can do nothing at all about. This thought--children dying and nobody stopping it--drove me for a very long time. But always at the back of my mind was one thing: if that does not work out, I can teach. It was the backup plan I always had in place.

I went to college with genetic research still on my mind. I was going to save the world, one sick baby at a time. So I began a biochemistry program. Something never felt quite right about that, however. I watched the brilliant, ambitious students around me. They wanted to be doctors and researchers. They were planning for med school and internships. I was doing none of that. I did not fit. And I could not figure out why.

Still, had you asked me at 19 years old, “Jessi, how are you going to change the world?” I would have said “I’m going to do genetic research, try to figure out Tay-Sach’s.” Even though I could still tell you the same sad story about the poor, dying children I had learned about in high school, the enthusiasm would have faded. I was no longer sure that that was what I wanted to do. Worse, I didn’t think I could do it. An attitude of “I’m not the right person for this job” had slid into my mind and refused to leave.

Last summer, I started critically thinking about this problem. After doing terribly in organic chemistry, my biochemistry major had become just biology. I was not of a mind to go to med school, or even get my masters. Research just did not seem to be the place for me. But if not that, then what? My backup plan loomed in my mind. “If that doesn’t work out, I could always become a teacher.” As Plan B, the thought had always been there, but I never figured it was an actual possibility. To me, for the longest time, teaching would be admitting failure. As the saying goes “those who can, do; those who can’t…”

I did not want to be “those who can’t.” I was a successful student, so why could I not do whatever career I wanted? But that summer, for the first time, I put that bias aside and started to really consider the possibility. Could I be a biology teacher? I found myself elated with the idea. I could picture myself in front of a classroom, moulding young minds much like my own, putting the same love for science into students as my teachers had done for me.

What’s more, for the first time, I was sure I had picked a job that could actually serve the world. I might not cure Tay-Sach’s or cancer. I might not find genetic markers for addiction or autism. But maybe I could teach someone that does. Maybe I could inspire just the right student, the one that goes on to do what no one else has done.

Or maybe not. But I could, for sure, be there for a student that is going through a hard time and wants someone to talk to. I could, for sure, be there to step in when a bully finds their next victim. I could, for sure, be there right when children are facing the toughest part of their lives and maybe make it just a little easier.

Now I am 21 years old. Ask me once again, “Jessi, how will you be a Servant of All?” I will smile proudly and happily tell you “I’m going to teach!” And for the first time, there will be no doubt in my voice or my mind."

2017 - Nicholas Sargeant

"Graendal was once known as Nindar, a psychologist during the Age of Legends. She could heal mental afflictions without the use of the One Power. Her firm beliefs that no one could live up to her high standards ultimately lead to her downfall. Joining the Shadow, she turned to a life of excess and lust, taking servants of those she deemed worthy to become her pets.

I currently follow the path Nindar once followed, the path of the psychologist. Why do we do the things we do? What leads us to certain conclusions? What makes each of us different? I study the field of psychology in the search for these answers. I do not know which way this path will take me. Perhaps the path of the forensic psychology and try to understand why people would commit evil acts. What would cause a woman, who could heal what the One Power could not, and turn to the Shadow? Or perhapes I will study the different mental disorders that affect people and figure out how to fix them or deal with the disorder. Whatever I do, it will be to serve all people.

One of my passion includes writing. I hope to one day to publish a book. Perhaps the Wheel will send me down this path. It would still be to serve people. Books draw us together. They unite us around a plot and characters. Books allow us to break the ice with one and another. Books have had a strong pull on my life and what better way is there than to give back?

I have always been helping others. As an Eagle Scout, we were taught to help others and to try out new things. I have played in band for most of my life. In high school, the band would perform at various community events, including Veterans Day, where we honor those who served. In college, I joined Tau Beta Sigma, a national coed honorary sorority dedicated to serving college and university bands. We help by lining the field that the marching band use to practice and hand out snacks and water to the band during football games, in addition to other service events. I always do my best to help others.

I am still searching for my path to walk. I have always been able to try out different things. I describe myself as a jack of trades. Good at a little bit of everything. Yet that also means I do not know what I want to do with my life. Androl has been a favorite character of mine. Searching for the meaning in his life, while trying whatever comes his way. Androl found his spot in the Black Tower, but I still search for my spot. But no matter where the Wheel sends me, I know it will be to serve others."

2016 - Kristin Gardiner

"Were I an Aes Sedai, I know I would choose the Blue Ajah. I have always been furious in the face of injustice, as far back as I can remember. In the second grade, my teacher selected only my male classmates to participate in the school spelling bee, even though I was the best speller in my class. I remember asking my teacher why she did not pick any girls. “Girls can be smart, too!” I shouted at her. Even as a seven-year-old, I knew I would rather be vocal about unjust situations than sit in silence and take it.

High school rolled around and I found myself in a school more diverse than my previous one. When an old classmate of mine came out as transgender, I found myself correcting people who misgendered him, even when he was not around to hear. My best friend at the time came out as lesbian, and I gave her all the support she never got from her homophobic family. When my friend’s mother sent her across the country, I cut off all ties with her family. I was livid. My religious aunt told me not to be mad and said I should “pray for her”. I do not know if she meant pray for my friend, or for her mother, but regardless, I did not pray. I knew that speaking up would be more effective than prayer.

When my white father makes racial jokes, I know he means no harm in it. I try to explain how insensitive those jokes are, yet he never listens. I could follow my mother’s advice, and stay quiet and be content with knowing I am better than him, but I do not. I do not see how letting someone remain ignorant makes me better than them. Why remain silent when I can be vocal - when I can use the opportunity to educate?

I have always been vocal about the injustices I have come across, no matter how small - no matter if I was directly affected or not. I believe that my degree in journalism will give me a medium to speak up against the injustices in the world. Whether I work in online journalism, the newspaper, or television, my goal as an aspiring journalist has always been to give a voice to “the little guys”.

When unarmed black children in the United States are shot, many news outlets portray the victim as a thug and suggest they had it coming. They twist the story using irrelevant facts and biased opinion. They get the reader to believe what they want them to believe, rather than let the reader form their own opinions. That is not reporting. When the black child’s murderer does not get indicted, but gets suspended with pay, it is easy to believe that biased reporting shares some of the blame. Where is the justice in that? Journalists who report with bias are not servants of all. Those journalists are servants of the rich and powerful, and they leave the small behind. I will never let myself become that sort of journalist, because I know that the “all” in “servants of all” includes the silenced and oppressed.

Being Blue Ajah through and through, I always fight for what I believe is morally right. I always seek to bring justice to unjust situations. When I begin to report as a professional journalist, I will never be biased with my stories. I will interview those who are silenced by society and give them a chance to be heard. In my journalism class, I was taught that when reporting a common story, I should find a unique angle to report from. What could be more unique than hearing from the silenced people of the world? A servant of all would give those people a voice.

When a park is destroyed to make way for an apartment or mall, news stories only ever report on how much it will cost. They only ever interview the people who are building it, or people who support the project. What about the homeless people in the city who rely on the park benches and water fountains? Their stories are never heard. As a journalist, I should strive to be a servant of all. As such, it is my duty to hear their side of the story, too.

I may be small, young, and from the middle of nowhere, but if Egwene Al’Vere taught me anything, it is that small, young girls from the middle of nowhere can rise up and become someone important. As an aspiring journalist, I know I can become someone important, someone with a voice. I know there is justice in using my voice to let others speak. Journalists are meant to be servants of all. Although not all journalists today are, I know that a servant of all is what I want to be."

2016 - Jennifer Gentzel

Kassina Tendar

" I have spent over four years living, studying, and teaching abroad. These years working in education and with people from around the world have inspired me to pursue a career working for others in the field of education. This fall I will be pursuing a Master’s Degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Slippery Rock University. While there are many forms of student affairs, my dream is to work in international student services, helping university students who come to the US to study. I believe in the value of education and the importance of cross-cultural understanding and my goal is to use this degree to become a Servant of All, helping others learn more about the world.

While studying and working in both Japan and France, I have had many opportunities to see first-hand the good that can result from exposing people to other cultures. In Japan, I taught English in a small town where, for two of the three years I spent there, I was the only person who wasn’t Japanese. Most people in the area where I lived had never traveled outside of Japan and most of the students in my schools had never spoken to a foreigner outside of me and the ALTs (assistant language teachers) who came before me. I taught them English, but also tried to use my presence to teach the students about diversity. Meeting someone from another country made worldwide news feel more real for them and students would ask me about events in the US. I bonded with students over similar interests, discussing the latest Disney movies and Japanese pop songs with them. By letting them put a face to the concept of a ‘foreigner’ or an ‘American’, it made the world feel a little smaller for them. I noticed the same change in myself. When I think of Japan now, I no longer think of Tokyo and Hello Kitty, or Kyoto and its beautiful shrines. I think of a small town in the Japanese Alps and the friends I made there.

Earlier this year, when I worked as the Interim Study Abroad Adviser at Slippery Rock University, I had the opportunity to not only help Slippery Rock’s students prepare to study abroad, but to work with the international students who came to study at Slippery Rock. Our office was in charge of helping the students adjust to life in the US and get as much out of their experience as possible. However, the large international student population at Slippery Rock also allowed the American students more opportunities to meet people from other countries and develop a more global outlook on life, even if they were unable to study abroad themselves. The more college students are exposed to a cross-cultural education, the more cross-cultural understanding will impact their decisions once they move on to the outside world. Many problems in today’s world are caused by a failure to understand others’ points of view and international experience can help change that.

Talking with people who have lived or studied abroad and going abroad myself have shown me the importance of meeting people from different cultures and the different perspectives that people can share with each other. When someone studies abroad, even if only for a semester, their perspective on the world changes. The world becomes both larger and smaller to them. This international perspective is very important in today’s increasingly global world. While there is no instant cure-all for the myriad problems caused by xenophobia, racism, and prejudice that plague the world, I believe that increased cross-cultural understanding can begin to fix these problems. In the Wheel of Time, cultures clash and people from Andor, for example, have biased views of Aiel savages and mythical Aes Sedai. As our main characters travel and meet individual Aiel, Aes Sedai, Sea Folk, and Borderlanders, their views of the world become more nuanced and they are able to unite groups as disparate as the Aiel and the Seanchan toward a common cause. None of that would have been possible without understanding the cultural history of each of these groups and meeting them personally.

I chose this program at Slippery Rock because of its focus on helping students. The Student Affairs program is a part of the Counseling and Development Department and its focus is on counseling, diversity, human development, and practical experience. From the start of the first semester, students in the program work at an assistantship where we get first-hand experience working with students in a campus department and, during the second year, we must complete over 700 hours in an internship at a different school, working closely with students. The program teaches its students to run student groups and to counsel students in groups and as individuals. This focus on counseling skills and working directly with students is what drew me to the program. I look forward to starting my assistantship, helping students expand their knowledge of the world and develop the skills they need to succeed. The field of student affairs is, by definition, student-centered. By helping students learn about themselves and the world, and how to apply their new skills outside of college, I hope to become a true Servant of All in the field of student affairs.

I am passionate about education and helping others, especially when it comes to helping people learn more about the world. For many people, especially those who have never met someone from a different culture, people outside their city, state, or country can be seen as a caricature or an abstraction, which makes them easy to dismiss. This lack of understanding makes people see the world in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’. While it may sound cliché, if you travel and work with people from other countries, you quickly understand that we’re all just human. I want to help young adults learn this first-hand, so that they can carry this understanding with them into their future lives and can be Servants of All themselves."


2015 - Judi Hoisington

Miridyth Al'Landerin

They usually come at around 8pm on a Friday night. A phone call is sent from the intake office asking if we could please take in a child that has been neglected, abused or an infant testing positive for drugs. I never ask race and I never ask gender. I only ask “where do we pick them up?” We tend to meet the social workers in the dark of night and exchange children that only have the clothes on their backs and a long history of abuse or neglect. These children are scared, worried about getting their next meal and if the new parents will love them. I give them security, love, food and a place that is safe from abuse and neglect.

I began getting my AS at Barton Jr. College. I was blessed to be on scholarship for the first two years. I studied hard and currently have a 3.94 GPA and am a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. As an honor society member we do social projects and services around the community to help those less fortunate. This has included several food drives for the local food banks. Upon graduation this fall, I am planning on attending Iowa State University and getting my BS in Sociology to further my ability to help children that are placed into the foster care system.

As a “Servant of All”, I have helped many children reunite with their families. It didn’t matter what race, gender, or group that they belonged too. All were served in the state foster system. A child deserves a safe place to be while their parents get the help that they need. If their parents cannot take their children back and the child comes up for adoption, we have been there to adopt them. I have fostered from infants with drugs in their system to teens with mental health issues. All have been either reunited or adopted by myself or others.

I plan on receiving my BS in Social Work with the hopes of becoming a Social Worker. As a foster parent, I can only do so much, but as a Social worker, I can be on the front lines of helping these fragile children and their parents find the resources that they need to better their lives. There is a huge need currently due to the rise of illegal drugs in my country. This crosses economic and racial lines. Children from all backgrounds are affected by abuse, neglect and drug use of their parents. Social workers help these parents get to the resources they need and help the foster parents, who keep the children safe, while their parents take classes and get off of substance abuse.

Iowa State University is a premiere institution to receive a degree in social work. Upon completion of a Bachelor’s I will be able to work with the local social services. If I wish, upon completion of a Bachelor’s degree, KVC will pay for a Master’s in Social work as long as I work for their company. Since I have been a volunteer for KVC, Kansas, for over a year, this is not a hardship for me.

I have helped, in my year of volunteering with KVC, two children reunited back with their mother, an infant reunited with the grandmother, and two young girls placed with an adoptive home. I currently have a 9 month old and a sibling pair of a 15th month old boy and a three year old sister in my care. I know this is my calling and know that with a degree in social work that I can reach and help even more children and families.

Over the years I have been a substitute teacher, a Girl Scout leader, a family support leader, and various other volunteer jobs. I have always been a foster parent and one who believes in the foster program. This scholarship would enable me to pay for one month of classes and would help greatly toward my goal of being a “Servant of All.” All would include parents and their children. It would include children of all races, religion and gender. It would also include parents of all races, religion and gender without prejudice. I think this is important when deciding on a career field. None should be left out. With social work, none are excluded. I hope in the future to help those who cannot help themselves and see children either reunited back with their families of origin or else adopted into good and caring homes.

2015 - Aamir Hussein

As a practicing Muslim, I am called by my faith to build bridges of inter-religious cooperation across chasms of intolerance. I strive to be a Servant of All by learning how to harness the common values in all spiritual and philosophical traditions towards improving the practice of medicine. If I lived in the universe of the Wheel of Time, I would dream of a world in which people of all backgrounds—Aiel, Seanchan, Ogier, Tuatha’an, Aes Sedai, and numerous others—would pool their collective talents towards Healing.

Having completed my first year of medical school, I have come to realize that faith plays a major role in many aspects of medicine, especially public health. Religion is an important part of life for many; indeed, nearly 9 in 10 Americans report a belief in some divine or spiritual power, and several studies have shown that organized faith communities can play important roles in promoting healthy behaviors. For example, organized religious communities can serve as focal points for culturally-tailored patient education programs that improve outcomes in chronic conditions such as diabetes and depression. This is especially true where I live, on the South Side of Chicago, where faith communities can be the only source of support for people facing major health challenges while living in extreme poverty.

This year, I founded a new student organization for the Pritzker School of Medicine: the Spirituality and Medicine Interest Group (SAM). The mission of this group was to create a safe space for discussion of how spirituality and religion affect healthcare. Over the past year, I have sought to draw attention to various intersections between religion and medicine through lectures and facilitated discussions. All were welcome, and I especially invited students who did not affiliate to share their perspectives. Recent events have focused on the role of hospital chaplains, church-based diabetes interventions in Latino populations, and the role of religious communities in reproductive health debates. My classmates and professors thoroughly enjoyed these events, and have expressed interest in expanding the program next year to include community service projects.

Therefore, to build upon that experience, I am interested in further studying the intersections between interfaith cooperation and medicine, and developing new models of healthcare delivery that can help address healthcare disparities. If awarded the Robert Jordan Memorial Scholarship, I will use the funds to implement an interfaith public health program based on input from community leaders, healthcare providers, religious leaders, and medical students.

I also plan to pursue service to all through a career in emergency medicine. In many ways, the emergency room is the most equitable part of the American healthcare system. Emergency physicians treat all patients, regardless of their ability to pay, and thus function as the main health providers for the most underserved in our society.

In my career, I seek to emulate Nynaeve. She was an excellent Yellow Ajah healer in her own right, as well as a brave and selfless warrior of the Light. She was also vocal about her personal opinions, and was never afraid to challenge major leaders such as Rand, Lan, and Egwene, if she disagreed with them. Thus, I intend to be a doctor who not only treats the marginalized, but also works to reform national policy so that all people have access to quality, affordable healthcare.

My passion for medicine stems from a declaration in Islam and various other religious traditions that saving one person’s life is equivalent to saving all of mankind. Given the widespread intolerance in our world, I feel called to break down barriers of bigotry and find common ground across differences. By working for a society in which all people—regardless of their identity—receive the best healthcare possible, I strive to always be a Servant of All.


2014 - Teresa Anderson-Sharma

Tree al'Rotture

I am a student, a researcher, and a Servant of All. Allow me to tell you a bit about my studies and I am certain that it will be clear how I am truly a Servant of All. I am a graduate student at a mid-sized University. My research is an examination of how local communities address issues that are generally thought of on a global scale. What that means is, I study neighbors, friends, community organizations, and non-profits to see that they are doing to address the big issues facing our society. We’re not talking neighborhood watch, or that group from main street seeking to get more stop signs put in. Those are worthy efforts- but more self-serving that the scope of my research.

Currently I’m studying community gardens and their relationship with the globalized food system. Food has been such a popular topic that for my master’s thesis I rather wanted to avoid it, in the end of the day though, what could be more Servant of All than something like food? Put simply: everyone has to eat. To provide a brief overview of the topic for those not versed in this hot button issue, giant corporations are running the global food system and the results are very much a mixed bag.

Although there is the promise that Genetically Modified (GMO) foods can solve issues of hunger globally, the social and economic implications are great. Firstly, there is a discussion of culturally-appropriate food that for example results in a bulk of wheat being sent to the hungry in places in the world who are unfamiliar with rice and do not know how to prepare it. Secondly, these GMO crops come with proprietary seeds owned by large agribusiness corporations. For centuries farmers have been saving seeds after their harvest to replant in the flowing season, these GMO seeds are almost always altered to be sterile- meaning every year farmers have to make expensive initial investments. This has encouraged an ever-increasing income gap and supported excessive inequality. Finally, another large argument surrounding agribusiness is the environmental destruction that goes along with it. We’ve all heard about the destruction of the amazon rainforest, but did we all know that the major reason for its destruction is to clear land for agribusiness, primarily the growth of GMO sugarcane by large multinational corporations (MNCs) and for grazing cattle also owned by MNCs? Land is being ripped of nutrients and chemical fertilizers are being used in their place, resulting in a globally weaker food system poised for collapse.

My current research involves interviewing for qualitative data as well as extensive survey-based data collection to give a broader and more quantitative analysis, this research remains largely underfunded but has numerous policy implications. I am learning about why individuals in fully developed first-world cities are putting their labor to work in the garden growing food, and I am learning about how these actions inform their greater interest in political engagement. A popular existing claim is that community gardens are a hotbed for political change, and my research is measuring how true that is.

The implications of my work exemplify what it means to be a Servant of All, as neighbors work together to delink themselves from the globalized food system that is not sustainable. I am seeking to uncover what it takes to delink ones’ self from this destructive system and how purposeful these actions are. The policy implications of my thesis research exemplify how I fit the definition of a Servant of All as I am better able to inform municipal and city governments on how their planning offices should work with community gardening organizations. After completing this research I intend to continue to examine how neighborhood-level organizations are responding to global issues with my PhD work. One area that I am very interested at looking at is public health and looking at city-level and neighborhood-level HIV prevention programs including mobile testing centers and needle exchanges. My belief is that a Servant of All does not discriminate and though many would avoid the fringe of society using the needle exchange, I am interested in learning more about their needs and how the spread of disease can be halted.


I would also like to conduct a more in-depth and long-term study into homelessness in North America by conducting ethnographic research in tent cities across the continent. This is a large issue that is typically addressed on the federal level by organizations like HUD, but that is not the same story from location to location. To be homeless in a relatively warm and major urban environment like Los Angeles is certainly a different experience than to be similarly unhoused in a place such as Iowa, which is more rural and has much greater temperature fluctuations. As a Servant of All developing an in-depth understanding of homelessness will allow me to better identify the tools necessary to prevent chronic homelessness and find permanent shelter for the unhoused.


Overall, as a graduate student I am seeking to complete a PhD and be able to make a lifelong career of conducting research that exemplifies what it means to be a Servant of All. The research skills that I have gained thus far and that I am continuing to collect allow me to gather quantitative as well as qualitative data. I am able to analyze it and locate patterns and answers from this data. My degrees, and why I am seeking your aid at this time, is that I want to use these skills to actually conduct research that is seeking to aid every aspect of society. A Servant of All is someone seeking to serve and offer aid to all others in need of that aid and this is exactly how I intend to use my degrees. In service of all by developing a better understanding of the numerous challenges we face globally."

2013 - Rachel Little

Yelenia Hylraren

Medical humanities is a difficult subject to explain – it can cover everything from how the Hippocratic oath or preventive medicine evolved to how public policy is shaped and effects society. In earning a BA in Humanities – Pre Law, I will take my first step towards a joint graduate and law degree in Bioethics and Medical Humanities – with an end goal in being able to consult and help shape public policy in a way that is able to bridge the gap between the myriad of people and opinions on public health care, insurance requirements, and accessibility in rural and underserved areas of the US. I realize, especially in the shadow of the Affordable Care Act, this sounds like a lofty goal, but there is a real need for people to understand the history of medicine, the legal implications of current and proposed laws, and the ability to balance these with what we can achieve going forward with future legislation. It is possible that my path may lead me to working with policy makers as much as it could lead to working with a hospital system in finding in ways to work within the law to provide care to those who need it. In either path – I want to be one of the voices of reason that helps both sides of the aisle. As I begin to fully understand the costs, needs and implications in making sure that everyone is able to get affordable healthcare, I feel that this is my calling, my way to serve.

There are a lot of twisting ins and outs to the health care problems in the US. With a degree in humanities, I have been able to start to explore the cultural implications to different laws and reforms, and hope that with this understanding, I can help policy makers craft law that is sensitive to the needs of minorities *and* business owners. We should be able to find a middle ground that minimizes the burden on the government and businesses while increasing care, especially for the underserved. Again, a lofty goal, but one I feel that we can reach – and I hope to assist with. There is so much blindness to the people in this equation – those without and those shouldering the burden - that my degree will help me bring to light to those who have forgotten, in a way that will hopefully be beneficial.

Truly, I could have sought a degree in Health Policy or Law and perhaps reached the same goals. But it is this background in humanities that is a key in bridging the gaps. Humanities is an important subject in helping to understand how to serve all – those whose cultures you understand, and those cultures you must learn about. Serving all is acceptance and understanding – and the lessons I've learned in obtaining my bachelors will stick with me. I don’t understand everything and everyone, but I have the resources and desire to learn: learn how to help, heal, and move policy in a positive direction.

It has taken several years for me to realize how I can help serve, and I have several years yet before I’ll be able to achieve my goals. Professionally, I've been able to assist medical students find their passion in serving the underserved. As I enter the last semester for my bachelors’ degree, I will be making the next step in pursuing my own passion to serve. I do this while paying for everything out of pocket - attending 3 classes and working full time. This award would go towards helping me pay for my books, which would be welcome relief as I face the next step in my journey.

2012 - Jessica Mudge

Personally, one of my biggest career goals is finding a job that will allow me to benefit my community on a day to day basis. To further this goal, I am entering Michigan State University as a freshman this fall, double majoring in criminal justice and psychology in order to obtain the eventual goal of working in a dream job of criminal rehabilitation. As an accepted member of the Honors College, I will have numerous opportunities at Michigan State to supplement my majors. Most importantly, I have been offered a professorial assistantship because of my high school GPA, which is a two year research position under an assigned professor. With this, I will be able to gain practical experience in a professional setting that relates to one of my two majors, as well as being exposed to professors on a more personal level than can be found in the classroom, giving me the opportunity for a mentor and, perhaps, further research opportunities after the two year position ends. I also hope to be able to intern in major-related fields throughout my undergraduate education. These work experiences will supplement my studies and been equip me to be of greater service to the people I will be helping through my career.

Upon graduation from Michigan State, I will return home temporarily and begin my job search. Although I will likely take any relevant position temporarily due to the current economic situation of America, I plan to eventually obtain work in criminal rehabilitation, preferably in an urban environment. I want to combine my psychology and criminal justice majors and experiences to help lawbreakers – especially juvenile delinquents – learn from their mistakes to become stable, contributing members of society. Success in such a position will not only offer protection to society by lowering the amount of criminals on the street – though by a very small margin – but will also help young people turn from a life of drugs, poverty, and jail to a healthy and educated lifestyle.

Ever since I was a small child, I have been fascinated by stories of young people who turn to crime or delinquent behavior due to environmental circumstances. I used to devour stories of angry orphans who were rehabilitated by their foster parents, teens who joined gangs or committed crimes only to be reformed in juvenile detention centers, and children who escaped ghettos to find a better life. As I grew older, my reading interests expanded greatly but I never lost that childlike fascination for the relationship between crime and environment. In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, for example, I have always been engrossed by characters like Rolan, who commit atrocities under Sevanna but is a good person at heart. Like a Healer of the Yellow Ajah, I want to someday help such people escape their environments and conditioning, albeit through psychological, not physical means.


2011 - Eric LaRose

I spent the majority of my teenage years immersed in the rich and engrossing world which Robert Jordan has created through his Wheel of Time series. I have modeled my person after a combination of several of his characters, all of who were, in my own personal opinion, “servants of all.” I have always admired especially though, Nyneave’s insistence that “anything short of death should be able to be [h]ealed,” which is why I have chosen to go down the path of medicine.

I am currently going to school to apply to the Nursing program at Utah Valley University so that I might be able to serve my fellow man. I am also a Corpsman in the United States Navy Reserves. I am no stranger to service. I honestly take great joy in helping those around me and in giving to my community. I recently performed my clinicals for a certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) class that I’m taking at a long term care center, and I cannot express how much I loved being able to help those elderly citizens and to watch their expressions as someone showed them a simple kindness. It was such a gratifying experience.

It amazes me that so many people take the job of a nurse simply for the money. I am not one of those people. I want to be a nurse not for the paycheck, but rather for the opportunity I will have to lessen the pain of the patients I will be working with. It is for this reason that I plan on getting a specialization as a nurse anesthetist, meaning I will assist in procedures where the patient will be needing anesthesia or intravenous pain killers, like during labor or for different surgeries. If I were truly in it for the money, without a care for the people, I would become a doctor because, as most people in the medical field know, it really is the nurses that get the most hands on time with a patient. It is the nurses that administer the medicines and the emotional aspect of healing.

I may not have been able to grow up and be an Aes Sedai or an Ash’a’man since I am unable to wield the One Power, but I can become a modern day healer. I cannot think of a better or more noble a vocation than that of a nurse. It is a greatly underappreciated profession, the people in it performing duties that not only heal the body, but also serve the soul. Like Nyneave, I too want to help those around me, and by going into this field of work, I will fulfill both my desire and the need at hand. A nurse is truly a Servant of All.

2010 - Christopher Lipnickas

I met a heroin addict who told me about the first time she slid the needle into her arm. She remembers the date, the circumstances, and even the song that played on the radio as that intoxicating rush pulsed through her for the first time. She believes it was at that moment she became an addict. For my father, crossing the line into addiction was not so clear.

Prescription pain medication abuse/addiction is an insidious process. My father fractured several vertebrae and his doctor made it very clear to him that he would not be able to function without narcotic pain relievers. This statement was actually prophetic as prolonged use of the opiates “re-wired” his brain and made it nearly impossible to live without the pills. The only warning he received regarding this danger was a small label stuck to the side of the prescription bottle. Looking back, he has no idea when he crossed the line from needing the pain medication to NEEDING the pain medication.

Our family was plunged into a nightmare. During a time we now refer to as “the dark ages”, we endured a cycle of lying, enabling, anger, desperation, overdoses, and hopelessness. Only through what I now recognize as our amazing inner strength and the support of a talented and compassionate substance abuse counseling center did our family survive and we begin to get our lives back. My father wakes each morning determined that this will not be the day he relapses. I go to bed each night proud of what he has accomplished that day.

I am a psychology major at Wichita State University and I plan to become a substance abuse counselor. Having experienced first hand the destructive power of prescription drug abuse on both the user and the family, I need to help others who are in that same place and do what I can to prevent this cycle from claiming another family, another father, another life.

Prescription opiates are prescribed often, with minimal counseling and/or monitoring of the patients’ use and virtually no education as to the dangers. According to a Columbia University research study, 84 percent of online pharmacies do not require prescriptions to order medication and over 50 million people in the U.S. alone have abused prescription drugs at least once.

My primary focus will be to prevent the abuse from beginning. I want to create an educational program that teaches doctors and patients the realities of long term pain medication use. No doctor would consider handing an insulin prescription to a newly diagnosed diabetic and wishing them well. Diabetics are educated in their disease and the treatments. I want to develop a similar training program for patients requiring pain medication for longer than 5 days. Providing information, support, and guidance, I want to inform the patients and families of the warning signs of growing dependence before families are shattered and lives are lost.

I did not have the knowledge or the tools to help my father and my family when the darkness descended. I will dedicate myself to preventing this from happening to others. I want to bring light to those struggling in the shadows of addiction.

2009 - Troy Valthaven

Troy Valthaven

The ideals of being a true Servant of All are ones that I have learned to appreciate and embrace throughout my life. For twelve years I collected canned goods for the local food bank with my family, friends and neighbors. I have tutored and babysat children while their parents worked in the next room to study for their GED. I have done yard work for my elderly neighbors. Even now, as I am working to complete my degree, I am helping the local, underfunded band programs to get more instruments for their students. Community service is something that has shaped who I am over the course of my life and I don’t plan on letting that spirit die once I have left university.

When I graduate I will become a high school science teacher in 12th most impoverished state in the USA. While I was still in high school, I instinctively knew that education was my future; it combined so much of who I am and what is important to me. I can’t think of a greater service to the community on all levels than to help the young people of the time to greater understand the world and their place in it. Yes, I could have chosen to become a doctor treat the sick or I could have chosen to become a writer and touched the minds and hearts of my readers. But instead I chose the life of a teacher, being able to help influence and nurture the next generation to go out and help their fellow man. My students will travel down all walks of life into my classroom and leave through just as many separate paths. But if even one of my students each year goes on to do bigger and better things for the world, those are thirty five individuals that will learn to serve their community, their country and the global community.

But I don’t intend to limit myself simply to the strict confines of the academic classroom. One of the most enjoyable times of my personal high school career was participating in the Interact program. Interact is a Rotary Club sponsored service group through which I gained leadership experience while serving my community. I hope to either institute such a program or else work to support a similar program in any school I end up teaching in. It is through a program such as this that I hope to help students in my school gain opportunities to help improve their community.

Being a Servant of All is something that has been a part of my life even before I picked up the Eye of the World for the first time. My service has shaped me in the past, continues to play a role in my present and will continue as a part of my life for years to come. I feel that my education will help me to become a greater Servant of All through the lives of the students who pass through my classroom and move on out into the world. Thank you all for your consideration and for volunteering to make this most difficult decision.

2008 - Elbereth Gailbridhil

Elbereth Gailbridhil

The world relies on so many people every day without ever realising it. These are the people I consider to be servants of all, the type of person I aim to be. We extol our doctors and nurses for saving our lives, yet the chemists who developed the drugs the nurses administered upon us are not similarly praised. Neither are the physicists responsible for the medical equipment used to diagnose us. And both the chemist and the physicist could not do their work without mathematics; nor could the doctor or the nurse. Mathematics sits at the foundation of all we see and use in our daily lives, from the calculus used to determine how to build your house, to the discrete mathematics upon which your computer runs.

As a mathematics and computer science student intending to become a professor, my research underpins the basis of our future. The role of mathematics and computer science in society is something that I felt best about during a workshop on the use of computer science in humanitarian work. This database research is being directly used to determine when and where to deploy aid in crises, and volunteers in places of need. This software was written with the same tools I am currently learning about.

Another important application of the subjects I study is in medicine: with so many drugs and ailments to know, doctors are increasingly reliant on computerised databases to find information in time to save lives. To find this information quickly in a giant array of data, fast search algorithms are necessary. My research has been in this area. In order to speed up searches, these arrays must first be sorted; thus, having fast sorting algorithms is imperative. I have been spending my free time studying a fast sorting algorithm and trying to optimise its speed. The more I learn about mathematics and computer science, the more tools I gain to work on projects like these.

The algorithms I study are not only important to doctors; everybody can benefit from computer science research, like in searches of Google or Wikipedia. Inventions like these have become ubiquitous in our lives, like mass-produced literature and general literacy. And for us as a culture to accept and responsibly use these new tools, we must be able to understand them. From voting machines to online banking, the public is increasingly faced with issues where knowledge of computer science is crucial to making informed decisions. This is part of why I wish to become a computer science educator.

Teaching is a role I find highly rewarding. I am passionate about what I learn and it matters a lot to me to be able to impart this onto others. Educators are an important group of servants of all: behind every great inventor or doctor are the instructors who contributed to their greatness. With the education I am pursuing, I look forward to playing a part in this cycle.

2006 - Valena Dalmere

Valena Dalmere

We grow up under our parents’ wing being pampered by those who wish to serve. We may not think of it in that context at the time, for we think in terms of these services as those who want to generate a business for profit. Perhaps this perception is influenced by our education, especially Social Studies which name these people as entrepreneurs; those who wish to risk their existing money to generate a larger income by establishing a successful business. We may think that the profit motive is the key desire that fuels them, and that in many cases may very well be so.

However if the time is taken to look at these businesses, we may see a connection that is shared between them. Whether it is the waiter that brings you your midday meal, or the scientist who thrives to find a cure for a disease, we can see a root function that exists. They wish to serve. There are many who may not have this pure intention, but there is also a counterbalance of a workforce who truly wishes it, and work to help others as it is their only intention. Doctors, nurses, and dentists are a few of these examples as they are professions in which the individual must enter knowing they are to serve others.

Graduation marks a great shifting point in our life time. Not only do we get introduced into the reality of the real world, but we come to a point in our life where it becomes our time to further our education and bring our own services into the world. It is a cycle, the human race functions on services given and received as we are all educated on different levels and are not capable of doing absolutely everything for ourselves.

I have chosen to enter into the field of general sciences, an option that has a major impact in our health related society. It’s an area with a broad view in different aspects, and it is also accompanied by gray areas, allowing us to dive in head first, experimenting, learning, and improving. This one aspect is what has attracted me the most. You hear everyday about diseases, the incurable ones which may have claimed a life and also miracles that have happened with advances in technology. What a great service this would provide to the community if a cure for cancer was found, if an organ could be re-grown (now like the tooth which can be re-grown with ultrasound vibrations), or even if the cure for the common cold or other viruses could be found. If I could have any impact on those parts, any influence in creating advancements for the world, that would be my greatest achievement of all, which is improving lives and bringing hope. Serving others as so many professions do. Although that is a desire of my own, in which I hope to exceed in my undergraduate year, I do have plans on entering into the dental field, which has been an ultimate goal of mine since grade four. My inspiration came from the work done on my own teeth, which has been quite a few years involving a retainer, getting a tooth extracted and pulled to its desired position, followed by almost four years of braces. It has been a long process, but in the end I think it will turn out to look great. That is what I want to do, it’s an image factor that also carries out a function, to give people confidence if they do not like the way their teeth may be or for personal health. It also holds a field of experimentation, all human beings are different and therefore dental situations that may come forth are not all going to be completed by the textbook. It holds an element of challenge which allows me to problem solve in order to figure out different situations and complete them to my satisfaction. It is a profession that is based on serving the public, to be a servant to those who need the required attention and also to help repay the services to those who have done so for us in the past. This is what I want, it has been a dream, and now I have the opportunity to go for it.

To serve is something we can’t ignore. I hope that I can be of service to others in any way possible. I love working with people, I have done so ever since I began working at my local swimming pool as a lifeguard. I love to work hard, enjoy challenges, and especially like to try to fill in the blanks where there are gray areas in science. I hope to improve the world in any way I can, although it may seem impossible, it could still happen with my whole heart dedicated to it. To add in new ideas, to add a different way of thinking. If that is all I can do then so be it, however if I could be of some service then I know I have done my part.