What do Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, and Lena Dunham have in common? All have participated in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition, the nation’s most prestigious and longest-running recognition program for students in grades 7-12. This past year, over 330,000 students took part in the competition globally. Students have the opportunity to be recognized at local, regional, and national levels for their works in the fine arts. In addition to the program, sponsored awards for grade levels and certain subjects give students the opportunities for grants, scholarships, and exclusive summer programs. The Scholastic Art & Writing Program allows students to submit artwork and writing pieces in a variety of categories, with 17 different art categories and 12 different writing categories. Many of these categories encompass school-related topics and assignments as well as any work you may have done outside of class.


Below is the piece I wrote and submitted to this program, for which I was awarded 1st place at the regional level and a silver medal in the national competition. The 2018 Scholastic program opens September 13th, 2017, and I hope you all take advantage of this opportunity to be recognized for your work! Check out their website http://www.artandwriting.org/ for more information.


Idylla Liri: Daring to Dream


The people that change the world do not set out to do so. They blend in with the background, indistinguishable from the millions of others who stand beside them. This is the story of a girl who never set out to change the world, yet change the world she did.


Idylla Liri was a reserved twelve-year-old girl with a timid disposition. She was not the type of person one would imagine sparking a cultural revolution, nor did she seem privy to speak out against the accepted archetype of her generation. Girls were engaged at thirteen, married at sixteen, and raising children by eighteen. They were not the equal of men, they lacked an education, and they did not aspire for greatness. And with only one year left before her betrothal, she seemed destined to follow the same path her mother, and her mother before her had followed. But Idylla’s life altered minutely from the women before her, a change so slight that had one not been intently focused on her, would have been missed. Her father ran the most successful hotel within the capital, and because of this, she was constantly exposed to a flow of foreign dignitaries and emissaries. On one such occasion, as Idylla went to clean the rooms after a conference involving countries she had only heard of in stories, she discovered a book, left behind inconsequentially by a diplomat off to bigger and better meetings. The finding of this book, and the hiding of its discovery, was her first act of rebellion and the turning point in her fight for freedom.


As she delved into the depths of the novel, trying to conjure up a world she could barely comprehend, one thought stood out from the rest. The author of this novel, the creator of a world beyond reality, was a woman. This realization was the foundation of Idylla’s life, from now on the status quo no longer applied to her. She made it her life’s mission to become like this author, but in order to do so, she needed an education and a chance. All her life Idylla had followed the rules, she lived in the lines society had set for her, and she never once dared to question them. But for the first time in her twelve years, she fought back. It was never easy, starting down a path no one had gone before, and she sacrificed dearly for her decision. She was nearly disowned from her family, considered an embarrassment to those around her, and subject to the torment and abuse of those who wished to see her fail. But she never lost sight of her hope, and her persistence never weakened, as she turned to those who were not accustomed to the ways of her country. Her pursual was a spark to tinder, as the occupants of the hotel flooded her with knowledge, of countries where girls not only stood as equals amid men, but as leaders among them. She listened, she learned, and she grew around the message they brought. Her chance came in the form of a letter, providing full tuition to a university who did not consider being born a woman a disability and a defect. She later immigrated to that country, and wrote her own stories, constructing her own worlds of promise and defiance. She conjured up heroines who conquered worlds, girls who battled villainous adversaries, and women who became saviors to humanity. She authored dozens of novels in the hopes that one day her novels would be left in a room, waiting for an unsuspecting child to discover the message written amongst the lines.

A life’s accomplishments are not known until the end. But for Idylla, it was returning to her home country, seeing the girls reading the novels she herself wrote, hearing them aspire to be lawyers, doctors, and authors, that provided her with the validation that her sacrifices were well worth the result. She had done the inconceivable, and in doing so laid a path for those after her to follow. It was Idylla, a face among millions, that changed the world, simply by daring to dream.


Photo credit: ytimg


Would you be interested in applying for this program? Are there other scholarships and opportunities that you know of that you would like to share? Comment below and let us know!

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  1. Samantha Hreschak on November 8, 2017

    Thanks for this information! I was actually thinking of applying for this scholarship, and It has been inspiring to hear about someone’s own experience.