Sixth Annual Scholarship Competition
The Sonlight Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce the winners of the 2005 Sonlight Curriculum College Scholarship Competition. All eight winners will be awarded four-year college scholarships to fund their attendance at the colleges of their choice.
All eight of the winners excel academically. But probably more impressive is their collective spiritual maturity and the many interesting stories they have to tell. We've included a number of direct quotes from the winners' scholarship application packages that we hope will give you greater insight into the hearts and minds of these promising individuals.
$5000, 4-Year Scholarship ($20,000 total)
Josh is a natural leader, a skilled debater, and a political activist. Some of his greater achievements include creating, hosting, and producing the Ignite TV program and working as a U.S. Senate Page.
Josh was also part of the first homeschool team ever to win the National Mock Trial Championship. What's even more amazing is that Josh's team won two back-to-back championships, which was the first time any team had ever won twice in the competition's 20-year history.
Richard Nagel, a high school teacher with 36 years of experience, wrote the following about Josh:
Joshua Downer has never been a student of mine, and I offered to write a recommendation for him rather than his requesting that I do so. The reasons for my doing so are simple: despite having taught some extraordinary young people, Josh possesses qualities of character and intellect that, in combination, are unprecedented in my experience as an educator.
Josh was recently accepted to Harvard University and plans to attend there in the fall. He is "excited about continuing to pursue my faith, wherever I go, at Harvard or beyond."
$2500, 4-Year Scholarship ($10,000 total)
Karith A. Magnuson of Blaine, Minnesota won one of this year's $2500 scholarships. While she doesn't yet know what she'll do after college, she has a deep desire to serve God. And having spent much of her life in the Middle East (Tunisia, Egypt, and Lebanon), Karith believes that God may eventually call her to serve the peoples there.
Karith is strongly committed to expressing God's love to those in need. Rebekah Hastings, a lady who worked alongside Karith in Egypt, writes:
There is a section of Cairo, Egypt called the Garbage Village, where all the garbage for over 16 million people is taken, sorted, and recycled. Who carries out this massive job? It is the nominal Christians of Egypt. Their living conditions are less than desirable, since most families live among the trash, their animals, and filth.
Inside of this village, there exists an orphanage called Sisters of Charity Orphanage. It is operated by Catholic sisters who are dedicated to saving the lives of forgotten and abandoned children. The Christian Orphanage is vital because within a Muslim society orphans are cared for either by extended family members or an Islamic institution, leaving little if any room for the deserted Christian children. Thus, it was a special honor once a week to trek into the village, amid all the unfamiliar sounds and smells, in order to help hold, love, and work with these orphaned children.
Karith was not quite a teenager when she began this work, yet I never saw her shrink back from lovingly reaching out of her comfort zone and caring for these little ones. Many of the children were dirty or had lice crawling on them, even within the orphanage. I have to be honest, the first time I went, it was difficult to gather one of the children up in my arms. Yet Karith would walk right into the middle of them, sit down and start playing or singing to them. The children loved her!
Karith's testimony inspires. She writes, "It is my desire to invest my life in kissing the faces that won't smile and showing love to the precious lives for whom Christ died."
Karith has applied to Bethel University, George Fox University, and Westmont College.
Anna E. Downer (Josh Downer's sister) of Signal Mountain, Tennessee also won a $2500 scholarship. Despite her youth, she is already an accomplished young woman.
Anna played a significant role on the team that won two back-to-back National Mock Trial Championships. Her experience in the Mock Trials has given her excellent communication skills. In fact, during her first competition as an attorney, she received the Most Outstanding Attorney Award.
In addition to debate, Anna is fluent in Spanish and piano. Dr. Maria Carlone, Anna's Spanish teacher, writes, "Anna is a very bright young woman, really mature for her age. She is constantly looking for ways to help out people in our class by tutoring them, being in study groups, or by simply encouraging them during class."
Probably closest to Anna's heart is Christ's model of discipleship. She has been very active in her family's DNA ministry (Discipleship Network of America), speaking at numerous family conferences on the value of discipleship.
Anna now feels called to minister to the sick. "My life purpose is to serve, help and encourage the physically ill, those with a need for hope and purpose in their lives, and those who desire to grow and mature spiritually." Toward that end, Anna plans to attend Bryan College and, eventually, Vanderbilt University to pursue a Master's degree in nursing.
$1000, 4-Year Scholarship ($4,000 total)
Mark J. Panaggio of Muskegon, Michigan has a heart for worshipping God. He has studied guitar for more than three years and started a music team for his church's youth group.
Because of the five years he spent living in Peru, Mark is fluent in Spanish. The songs he played at El Buen Pastor Church in Lima were all sung in Spanish. He even conducted a four-week guitar seminar for the youth at his church who were interested in learning how to play. This, too, he presented in Spanish.
Mark would like to attend Cedarville College to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. He hopes to pursue a career in sound and audio technology.
Mark writes, "No matter where I go, my ultimate goal of serving God will stay the same. I hope that apart from being an electrical engineer, I will also have the opportunity to serve in my church as a sound technician and musician. My goal is to be able to finish what I started at El Buen Pastor Church by participating with musicians that not only praise God with all their heart, but also praise God with excellence."
Alisa C. Engsberg of Mansfield Center, Connecticut has been very active throughout her high school career: in addition to her upper level classes and college courses, she officiates soccer games, leads small groups in her youth group, and tutors her peers in chemistry and Latin.
Although Alisa has attended a public high school, she's still been able to use Sonlight. She writes:
When I first entered my public high school in ninth grade, I took their standard ninth grade English class, but Sonlight is a tough act to follow, and I was sadly disappointed by their standards. We only read five books in English that year, and I missed Sonlight's much more rigorous schedule.
When tenth grade English didn't improve as much as I'd hoped, I went to the head of the English department at the end of the fall semester and asked if I could use Sonlight to fill my eleventh and twelfth grade English requirements. I showed him the British Literature course that would replace my eleventh grade English. (I already had it on hand because I had hoped to do it in my spare time.)
He kept the Instructor's Guide to look over for a week, and then agreed that I could do it as an independent study. He also recommended that I spread it out over a year and a half since it was so intense, and agreed to let it count for two and a half credits, replacing both my eleventh and twelfth grade English courses and an elective.
This arrangement allowed me to earn all of my required credits in three years, and to graduate as a junior in 2005. My schedule has been intense, but I've enjoyed it, and I've enjoyed the opportunities that I've had to share my faith with my independent study teacher because of the Christian world view of the curriculum.
With her high school studies coming to a close, Alisa is looking forward to attending Wheaton College: "I want to go to college so that God can stretch my abilities farther than they've ever been stretched before, so that He can fine-tune my talents, and challenge me to an ever-greater dependence on Him."
John B. Coles of Potsdam, New York is a "third culture kid" who has lived much of his life in Indonesia. He enjoys soccer and loves math (he's taking AP Calculus and tutoring two students), but his real passion is to help prosper the people in developing countries. He writes:
After seeing the pain and poor conditions in developing countries, I could never go back to the United States and just live a "normal" comfortable life. God has captivated a part of me that wants to touch those whom few will go near. The rejects and outcasts, as well as the people in places declared dangerous. God has called me to them so that they might be able to enjoy what God has to offer them. I want to be a light in dark places, so that those who don't see the beauty of God can find it.
John is currently planning to attend SUNY Buffalo in New York to pursue a Bachelors degree in industrial engineering and a Masters in business administration. He would like to eventually help start businesses in developing countries: "Many people in developing countries desire to start businesses but are not educated enough to run one. With my knowledge of industrial engineering, I could assist in making factories and businesses more efficient using the resources available."
Jason K. A. Okerman of Kita-Ku, Kobe, Japan has a passion for physics. His passion paired with his intellect have already given him great success in the field. In fact, after studying just two physics programs, he aced the AP Physics test, scoring a perfect 5.
When Jason was inspired by Dr. Jay Wile's Exploring Creation with Physics, he formed a hypothesis, wrote a two-page proof, and sent it to Dr. Wile for review. Dr. Wile wrote back to congratulate Jason on "discovering" geosynchronous orbit. "You have a very perceptive mind when it comes to physics. What you have derived is called 'geosynchronous orbit.' Your calculations were accurate for a spherical earth."
Jason also has interests in film and computers. He assisted his brother Josh (a 2003 scholarship winner) in creating the film Takayama Ukon, A Warrior of Faith, and also created a short film for a Lego® contest. In computers, Jason has learned how to program and has written a number of games, applications, and web sites.
Jason plans to attend college to pursue a degree in engineering and physics. But he is fast to admit he's not alone in determining his future.
"What do I plan to do with my life? I have a partner in that decision — my partner is Jesus, and He has called me to be part of and to build His Kingdom. What is neat is that His Kingdom is also my kingdom. As I follow Christ, He puts His desires in my heart, and I trust Him to fulfill my own needs and desires. I feel specifically that God will open for me opportunities to teach and heal: I have felt God say that I would one day be involved in the spiritual healing of broken hearts and minds and spirits."
Colleges Jason has applied to include Grove City College, Cedarville University, LeTourneau University, and Oral Roberts University.
Sally E. Forsythe of Homewood, Illinois is a talented pianist and swimmer. She plays piano regularly for a congregation of octogenarians, coaches young swimmers part-time, and has received five swimming awards.
Erik Enslen, the head swim coach for the Homewood Flossmoor Swim Club, writes, "In my twenty years of coaching, I have never had an athlete that was so valuable to my program as Sally Forsythe."
Because of her interest in constitutional law and political history, Sally plans to go to college to prepare for law school. But her plans go far beyond education. She writes:
I have a passionate desire to allow God to use my life for a greater purpose: to impact our culture in a powerful way that will redirect this lost generation. I know that a future in law is not the end but the means through which I can fulfill this vision and accomplish the following goals: 1) to challenge and eliminate the cultural stereotypes that characterize our modern society's view of Christians, young women, and feminists and 2) to confront our culture's postmodernist trends.
Sally has applied to Wheaton College, Princeton University, Valparaiso University, Hillsdale College, and Washington University (in St. Louis).