1st Annual Galorath Scholarship Essay Winner – Carmen Pettersen

Carmen Pettersen was winner of the Galorath $600 Annual College Student Scholarship Essay Contest. We wish her every success as she pursues her education to become a high school special education teacher. Here is her winning essay entry.


Carmen Pettersen - Galorath Scholarship Winner

To change the entire world by one man’s hands is impossible. Realistically, such a spectacular feat could only occur if that one person happened to be a superhero of sorts. There are so many important issues in the world; however, the fact that this lake of worldly problems is so vast makes it unfeasible for one man to rid the world of all of them in one lifetime.

Despite the inabilities we have to change everything, every person has the capability to attempt to make a difference in this world. The drive to do so, however, can be created in a group of people by a single person if they so choose. For me, the drive to make a difference came from my sister.

My younger sister was diagnosed with autism under the label of “high-functioning” when she was very young, and when it happened I didn’t understand what it meant. As I have grown older I have come to understand the trials which come with her disability, both socially and scholastically. My little sister is currently in middle school, and it’s sad to see her be pushed out of friend groups and ignored. Not only does she struggle in that way, but the teachers do not seem to be helping her learn as other students do. While she needs to have some extra help, the choice to put her in a school for children with disabilities seems anything but helpful as it merely suggests, in her words, that she “is not good enough for normal school.”

Personally, I believe that people with any disability should have the freedom to go to a “normal school” and still be able to receive the help they need. Florida is supposedly encountering a need for teachers in the field of special education, and I believe that the place I can make a difference the most is in that field.

With a college degree I will become a high school special education teacher, as the high school years are truly a time of educational development and preparation for life after graduation. I will make sure the students know they can achieve and be successful in life, no matter what disability they possess. As my years go by in my position, I will find a way to bring about changes in the school I am employed at and eventually in the school board in order to make sure these children have equal treatment and fair opportunities in school. I will also do all in my power to make it so that teachers know how to work with such students and are educated on conditions students may have.

I feel education is the most important thing in life- I will not say I have reached my goal until I know that children like my sister can go to school feeling welcomed by their peers and can have the same quality of education as the students around them.


If you are interested in becoming our next essay scholarship winner, please visit our scholarship page and see the details for submission.