2021 Creative Safety Supply Scholarship Winner

Since we began our scholarship competition nearly five years ago, no one could have imagined what the world would look like today—but we are honored to continue to support scholars even in an uncertain world.

As we read through the hundreds of submissions we received this year, we were inspired by the ways in which students are embracing the challenges of today and encouraged by their drive to make a meaningful impact in their career.  We are excited to announce we have selected Marcus Lo as the recipient of Creative Safety Supply’s 2021 Scholarship!

Marcus’ compelling essay described how his international volunteer experience influenced his entrepreneurial spirit to help people. Marcus survived a difficult childhood, but is passionate about helping others–recently he helped start a nonprofit to help bring internet to the schoolchildren of Haiti. His passion for leadership set him apart and we are excited to help support his journey.

We’re happy to share Marcus’ essay here:

Winston Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without
loss of enthusiasm.” And while I never define my obstacles as ‘failures,’ I mark my success by my repeated perseverance through adversity. I have faced several challenges over the years, from abused to orphaned; yet I continued to earn exemplary grades and graduate at the top of my class. I deserve this scholarship because I have the strength and determination to achieve my goals, no matter what hurdles I have to overcome.I was not born a fortunate student. My mother passed away from cancer when I was four and my father’s girlfriends would physically abuse me. My potential to exceed in academics was challenging due to my learning disabilities that consisted of auditory processing disorder and dyslexia. My struggles didn’t end there, my father struggled to fight cancer during my high school and as a result, committed suicide.Shortly after I witnessed my father’s death, my stepmother abandoned me with little to nothing to supply my independent needs. I soon began to live independently working long shifts to supply my needs, which added more weight to my academic and financial struggles.However, my life changed when I received an opportunity from my church to mentor orphans in China. In the summer of 2018, I was stationed in Zhengzhou, where I educated young orphans in physical education. Throughout this experience, I counseled them and listened to their stories. Being surrounded by so many afflicted children touched my heart. A girl named Jenny told me how she had been orphaned as an infant in the back of an alley. The soft-hearted girl said that she always wondered where her parents were and why they abandoned her. This experience caused her despair until she realized what it meant to have a real family. Jenny cleaved to her
friends in her orphanage and considered them her real family. She showed me how much people could support each other, how there was light beyond the dark.To practice my renewed values, I was driven to work harder in my high school academics despite my financial situation. I took on various leadership roles in my community by starting fundraisers related to child care and cancer. I also guest spoke at several high schools in my county to talk about overcoming adversities. Having a refreshed sense of responsibilities and goals has provided me an admission to University of Southern California. I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s in business administration and a progressive master’s in computer science at USC. My focus is to bring online education to orphans, specifically for children with learning disabilities. Never forgetting my roots of social entrepreneurship, I always told myself that I would come back to China to bring back my will and merits to provide for the orphans’ needs and expectations. I spent years struggling in school because of my sudden circumstances. I want to ensure that other children do not face the same struggles in their future.

2.
After an inspiring experience volunteering in orphanages in China, I reached out to my
local church to pitch an idea: I wanted to host a fundraiser for neglected children. The church connected me with a local philanthropist, who helped me organize a dinner that would feature speakers and musicians. I would be one of the speakers, and I would talk about my personal experiences with parental neglect. The event was held at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
The event challenged me in multiple ways. First, from a logistics perspective, I had to find a venue with enough seating, contact speakers and musicians, and help arrange for the mealst o be cooked. But beyond that, I also had to gather my courage to speak publicly for the first time about the trials I’d endured with child abuse and the loss of my parents.

I was terrified that nobody would show up, but plenty of people came, and the speakers, musicians, and food were all on the mark. When it came time for me to speak, though, I was struck with severe stage fright. I managed to get out what I wanted to say despite it, and to my relief, the audience was very supportive.

The result of the experience was that we raised $10,000 for the CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) Association of Monterey County. I got the satisfaction of knowing that I’d done something to help children who were suffering like I did. Additionally, I took a huge personal step by sharing with others the difficulties I’d gone through. It was worth it, knowing that speaking out would help others and inspire them to persevere. As a Christian and a survivor of a difficult childhood, creating a just world is important to me.

My social entrepreneurial journey didn’t stop there, I saw the impact I could produce with a team of like minded people, so I reached out to my friend James, a computer science graduate from Haiti, to start a non-profit orgainzation utilizng our connections for a common goal. We started a non-profit organization called Krik Krak Computer Project which spreads digital literacy to elementary schools in Haiti. We chose Haiti because technology in the country was not freely available to the citizens nor the children. This also meant that educational software and online education were foreign to the school systems. I was able to receive a large amount of funding and assistance from the Carmel Rotary Club and Cisco. After receiving appropriate funding, I developed a team of software engineers and educators to help me create the program necessary to teach Haitian children how to use computers and the internet. We also implemented a way to help children with special needs by adding various tools to accommodate

their needs. After several months of developing our program, we contracted with one elementary school in Haiti to set up a camp and we successfully impacted one school. Having this success has encouraged a lot of Haitian elementary schools to contract with us so that we can provide the online education they see to be valuable. Developing a non-profit organization has allowed me to scale up my interests and goals to further accomplish them.

Taking on these projects has been great for my person goal of trying to be a global leader through social entrepreneurship. By offering my will and experience, developing a team of like minded individuals will certainly make my goal to change the world into reality. Valuing global and public education is extremely important in our growing society as opportunities are waiting to be created. Thanks to my experience and education, I will keep pursuing and never giving up on my pathway to be a social entrepreneur.

As the winner of Creative Safety Supply’s 2021 Spring Scholarship, Marcus will receive $1,000 toward his continuing education. We couldn’t possibly be happier to assist his efforts in improving the world.

We’d like to offer our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who applied for this scholarship, and we invite everyone who did not win to apply for our future scholarships. We host two scholarship contests each year, and the deadline for our next scholarship award ends on July 15. If you or someone you know is attending an institute of higher learning, have a look at our scholarship page which includes all of the information necessary to apply.

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