Ok what exactly is happening right now. It is exactly 2 pm on January 23rd, 2020 and today, approximately 2hrs ago, I got an email that said things. Like amazing things. I am still in disbelief. Like me? Are you seriously serious? Am I dreaming? Anyhow, I AM A JACK KENT COOKE SEMIFINALIST AND OMG WHY AM I YELLING. Well, welcome to today’s blog I guess lol


Last spring, a “friend” told me about this scholarship competition and they said they didn’t apply for the scholarship because they didn’t think they had a chance. They didn’t fail to also mention that it’s a tough competition and I probably don’t have a chance either. I believed them and just went about my day. Luckily for me, I was selected to attend the Phi Theta Kappa conference in the summer where they pumped me with all the motivation in the world and I left believing I could do anything. After the conference, I decided to dig deeper into the scholarship and contacted a 2019 semifinalist, who happens to be a former student mentor for guidance. Oh, I also met a semifinalist at the conference, and he made me feel like I had a chance. Things just lined up and I went for it. 


The application became live on August 1st, 2019 and I pretty much started working on it that day. The application process was a wild ride and there were times where I thought of giving up. I had to write and rewrite about nine different essays and I was always getting frustrated. There was a time I messed up the character count and wrote a long essay, about 700 words, when in reality I had only enough for 600 characters, so about 200 words. It was also my strong essay so I broke down in tears. I was in the honors lounge and I just could not keep it in any longer. That happened in September and my friend Hillary advised me to just take a step back from the application because it looked like it was consuming me, which for a fact it was. I took a well-needed break from it and started working on my application to Emory University. That was fun to work on because the more I got involved with the application the happier I got at the thought of attending such a prestigious school. I submitted my application to Emory on October 11th and I felt a sense of relief… until I remembered my JKC application. I was rejuvenated from the break and was ready to work on it full force because it was due in about one month. I started stressing a little because, if you know me, you know I hate procrastinating and having only one month left to work on this app felt like the worst procrastination ever. I stayed in school every day till 10 pm to work on that and many other applications while also trying to get an A in all my classes. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure all my essays were perfect and I still don’t even know if they were. I sent them to a lot of people to read, revise, critic, and I am pretty sure half the school knows my childhood baggage from reading those essays. I appreciate everyone’s help and would not want it any other way. 


November came and I was ready to submit this application. I don’t want to say I was necessarily done with it because how can one ever be truly done with such an important part of their life. I had to let it go and have faith. On Friday, November 15 a lot of things happened. It was one month since I submitted my application to Emory and early decision status was announced that day. It was also the day my friend, Estefani and I planned to submit our JKC application. We were done with the emotional torture that we put ourselves through and just had to let go and let our apps speak for us. We submitted it and I guess we hoped to feel a sense of relief, or at least I did. The waiting game began and honestly, that was worse. The app was due on November 20th, extended to December 2nd but there was nothing we could do about that now. We emailed them to make sure they received our transcripts and of course, they did. So now, we wait and wait and wait…


I hated it. Waiting and not having an idea of what the next steps would be was a nightmare. I mean it could only go two ways. I would either make it to the semifinalist stage or not. I hated thinking otherwise but I couldn’t help it. I could not sleep for two months but when people asked if I was thinking about it, I would smile and say “of course not, that would drive me crazy” but in reality, I was past crazy.


Today, January 23rd, I was at work when I got a tweet notification from the foundation. YES, I have their notification turned on for emergencies like this one. The tweet said- I may be paraphrasing- but it went something like; meet the 456 semifinalists for the 2020 scholarship competition. Now I pretty much lost it because I didn’t get an email, so I assumed I didn’t make it. My heart dropped and I started hyperventilating. I went on their website to at least confirm. I scrolled through a lot of names down to Maryland and I saw it. The first student was a CCBC student but it wasn’t me. The fourth student was also a CCBC student but it was not me either. CONGRATULATIONS ESTEFANI! I had tears in my eyes at this point but I couldn’t cry. I looked again and I saw it. The eighth name on the list was mine, Grace Martins, and I lost it at this point. To be completely honest, I didn’t believe it. I think it has to do with the fact that I have faced so many rejections and this one was just too good to be true. I eventually got the email and it’s indeed true. I AM A SEMIFINALIST.  


Now the wait continues. I can only hope and pray that I make it to the finish line but this competition has already changed my life so much as is. I am forever grateful for this incredible honor and will never take it for granted. Also, coming from someone that has faced so many rejections, especially in this past year, I want you to know that a rejection doesn’t have to define you. I know that is probably the last thing you want to hear right now but just know the best is yet to come. I mean who knows? This might have blocked a bigger blessing for you so don’t feel sad. If anything, be proud to have been eligible to apply in the first place because that in itself is a huge accomplishment. 

I hope to make this a series where I break down the application process and thank people that have helped me survive it. I know I painted this as a terrible process but it really isn’t all bad. I found the essays to be very useful in helping me analyze things that happened to me in my childhood that has led me to where I am right now. This has been hands down the best experience of my entire life and it has barely started lol.


Here’s a link to the press release: Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Semifinalists.