After months of sorting applications and reading through essays, it’s time to announce the winner of the Creative Safety Supply scholarship competition! Year after year we receive hundreds of submissions and this year it has been our pleasure to read about the experiences and goals of scholars all across the country, from all different backgrounds.
This summer, we read through inspiring submissions from students hoping to make the world a better place with a bit of creative thinking. While it was difficult to narrow our selection down to one finalist, we are happy to announce the winner of our Fall 2019 Creative Safety Supply scholarship competition is Julia Maddock of Manhattan, Kansas.
Julia will be graduating next year from Kansas State University and plans to pursue a career in agricultural finance. After becoming closely involved with her mother’s small business, Julia learned that creativity is not always synonymous with artistry. She worked to create a programming model to increase profits, finding out that creative thinking is just as much about coming up with effective, sometimes outside-of-the-box solutions, and going through trial-and-error until you get it right. She hopes to take her passion of economics and science to support the agricultural industry and ensure the future of the global food supply.
We’re pleased to share Julia’s impressive winning essay here:
After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in the area of agricultural finance. As the foundation that supports all life, agriculture provides us with the essentials we need for fuel, clothing, and household products. Most importantly, the agricultural industry feeds our country and the world, a task that is so vitally important that its almost incomprehensible. The sheer volume of individuals and intricate systems that must work in tandem to seamlessly create a value chain of agricultural products fascinates me. It is this fascination and a further curiosity for supply, demand, and the global economy that initially drove me to pursue a major in agricultural economics. I have had a strong interest in math and science from a young age, but also an uncompromising desire to work with and understand people. I love economics because it is the perfect combination of both the analytical and the personal, a unique way to look at the world in terms of resources and how individuals perceive them. Economics can truly explain every interaction among society, which drives my passion and keeps me striving for greater and deeper knowledge. In this way, agricultural economics is genuinely everything I could’ve asked for and more in a future career path. I feel a deep and personal calling to work with the producers and farmers who supply the needs of the world and support them in growing their businesses. Economics allows me to do this by giving me the analytical and technical skills needed to recognize and drive innovation in an ever-changing world. While the agricultural industry enables a large part of the U.S economy, generating over a trillion dollars of GDP annually and providing 21.6 million jobs, farm income is on the decline. In fact, farm income has declined nearly 50% since 2013, which is cause for alarm and a call to action. Focusing on agricultural finance, I plan to use my passion for agriculture and technical knowledge together to help producers by working to identify areas of financial opportunity and maximize them, by working to increase revenues as well as minimize costs. Simultaneously, I hope to use my knowledge of financial markets and products to manage risk created by volatile commodity markets and prices. I know that I have the attention to detail and drive to make this path a reality, and I can think of no career more gratifying than ensuring the future of the global food supply.
I believe that a common perception of creativity is that of an artistic creativity, and I can certainly remember a time that I believed this myself. I can recall times when I told my peers or coworkers I wasn’t creative, when what I really meant was that I wasn’t artistically talented. This narrow-minded view of creativity pervades society, and it wasn’t until later in my academic journey that I realized there are numerous forms of creativity and ways that it can manifest in our lives. To me, creativity is highly analytical. I look forward to, and enjoy, a good challenge. I love opportunities to work through a situation, identify what is causing the problem, and then develop effective solutions. I am both a perfectionist and a realist, and I won’t rest until I have concrete answers that I know will work. I consider myself both tenacious and detailed, and push myself to expand my horizons in terms of my own creativity and how I can apply it.While I have used creative thinking for many situations in both my personal and academic life, one example stands out in my mind. Several years ago, my mother made the decision to start her own business out of our home. Like many small businesses, it quickly became not only my mother’s business but a family venture, with myself and my brothers helping to create, package, and ship orders. I became very involved in the sales side of the company, attending events to help process customer purchases and pitch the product to potential customers. As the business grew, I began to recognize the need for more data to drive our business decisions. A classic rule in economics is the idea of producing where benefits exceed costs, and I determined the company had no way to determine if we were doing this in a way that maximized our profit or not. As a startup, we had little information available on what customers liked, what systems worked, and what our total costs would be. However, as the business had grown, I realized we needed ways to gather more information on our costs and sales and determine if we were profitably meeting customer needs in the most efficient way. As most in business know, there are several ways to grow profits: either increase revenues or lower costs. I sought a way to do both by creating a linear programming model that incorporated our five main product offerings. Linear programming is both a science and an art, using mathematical relationships to derive an optimal solution for production that results in the best possible revenue. In this case, I built a model that considered our costs of production, profit margins, and labor constraints (we can’t work 24 hours a day!) for each of our products. The idea was to determine how to maximize each day, by producing the blend of products that would result in the most revenue when sold. After much trial and error in programming, I finally came up with accurate estimates and finished solving the model. The final solution produced results that were somewhat surprising and determined some of our lower priced products would be more profitable if they were sold in higher volumes. Eager to test this theory, we integrated this information into our production schedule, and it has resulted in higher profits this year as a result! I plan to continue to build on these discoveries and expand our model as we add new products and the business continues to grow.While this experience was helpful to my own family’s business, I hope it can be even more helpful in my future career. This experience has prompted me to learn more about computer programming, and I am now taking additional classes on data visualization as well as teaching myself the programming language Python. I hope to build on this interest and experience in programming and incorporate it into my future career by helping others identify how to maximize their revenues. Based on my experience in my family’s business, I am confident this ability will enhance others’ bottom line and enable me to have a meaningful and fulfilling career helping others.
As the winner of Creative Safety Supply’s 2019 Fall Scholarship, Julia will receive $1,000 toward her continuing education. We couldn’t possibly be happier to assist her efforts to improve 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 December 15, 2018. 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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