Announcing the Winner of the 2017 Alert1 Scholarship

Amanda Collyer Alert1 2017 Scholarship Winner

For our second year in a row, the Alert1 team ran our Student for Seniors Scholarship. Our goal with this scholarship is to reward students who have played a positive role in the lives of seniors.

It is our hope that entering our scholarship helped applicants reflect on their relationships with older adults in their lives. To that end, we asked each applicant three questions:

  1.  What is your experience with seniors?
  2. What is the most important lesson you've learned from seniors?
  3. How will you help seniors in your chosen career?

We were very excited to read everyone's submissions. We received over 700 entries! We are thankful for the generosity with which our applicants shared their stories. The touching reflections made it difficult to narrow down our winner, but after much deliberation we have a decision:

We are excited to announce Amanda Collyer as the winner of the 2017 Alert1 Students for Seniors Scholarship!

Meet Amanda

Amanda is a Linguistics major at Brigham Young University - Provo. We asked Amanda to tell us a little about herself:

"I am currently a junior studying linguistics at Brigham Young University in Utah, although I grew up in the verdant Pacific Northwest region. I have always been the academic type, with a fondness for books and beautiful words. Perhaps this is why I love learning about languages so much! I spent a year and a half as a volunteer missionary for my church in Japan, and I have continued studying Japanese ever since.

My favorite thing in the world is spending time with my wonderful family. I owe everything to them. I hope that I can use what I learn at college in my career to improve communication between people of every age, gender, and background."

All of us here at Alert1 want to thank Amanda for sharing her stories with us. We loved reading about the importance of family in her life. We are very glad that we can help Amanda pursue her studies.

Read on to learn more about Amanda through her answers to our scholarship questions.

What is your experience with seniors?

"I am so grateful that my grandparents moved up to live near us in Washington when I was in high school. They could no longer manage their large ranch down in Colorado, and the family decided that we would all work together to take care of them and try to spend as much time with them as possible. As a busy, slightly selfish teenager who did not know her grandparents very well at the time, I was a little reluctant about this change. However, as I spent more time with my grandparents—curling grandma’s hair, playing dominoes with grandpa, hearing stories about my ancestors, cooking them dinner, and sitting by their sides in the hospital—I became much closer to them. I even began to see a little of myself in my grandparents. Now my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point where sometimes he no longer recognizes us. I am so glad that I was able to spend these last couple of years getting to know him and who he really is.

"This experience with my grandparents has inspired me to reach out to the seniors in my community more. I enjoy doing service with my local church group and visiting the elderly in rest homes, especially around the holidays. A few years ago, I went on a church mission to Japan, and as part of our regular activities we often went to local rest homes to put on activities. Japan has a rapidly aging population, and many rest homes find themselves understaffed. Those visits were some of my favorite memories from my time in Japan. I never realized before how simply spending time with seniors can do so much to bring them cheer."

What is the most important lesson you've learned from seniors?

"My grandparents have shown me that family is the greatest treasure that you can have. Some of my happiest memories are of the times when my extended family gathered together to eat, play games, and sing songs. I have noticed that when my grandparents tell stories, their stories are usually about the important people in their lives rather than some special event or possession. In their old age, my grandparents’ priority is always to spend as much time as possible with their children’s families, creating memories that we will all cherish.

"Through my grandparents’ example, I have learned to make time for the relationships in my own life and to prioritize them. Even though I am often busy with school and work, I try to make time for my friends and family. I have learned that each moment that I enjoy with loved ones is a moment well-spent. More than money, accomplishments, or accolades, it is my relationships with others that will truly bring me happiness."

How will you help seniors in your chosen career?

"I am currently studying computational linguistics, which is a field that uses technology to study human language. Something that I saw over the course of my grandfather’s experience with Alzheimer’s was how his grasp of language changed over time. It became more and more difficult for him to find the words to express what he wanted to say, and eventually we could barely grasp even the gist of what he was trying to communicate. There is still so much research to be done about how disease affects the language centers of the brain. I hope that through my study of linguistics I will be able to contribute to this research effort and work towards new solutions. I would love to help people like my grandfather better communicate their loved ones and regain a part of their independence."

Thank you, Amanda! We look forward to seeing where your career takes you, and we wish you all the best.

The 2018 Students for Seniors Scholarship is now open!

Are you a current student who enjoys spending time with older adults and who plans to continue your relationships with seniors moving forward? You could apply for our 2018 scholarship! We love playing a small part in helping these students take the next step in their studies and towards their careers. 

We are looking forward to reading all of your entries!

Learn about the Alert1 Scholarship