Bhavna Rawal's Finalist Essay

I teach dual-credit chemistry in a Title I school. It is an exciting program that allows motivated students to save college tuition by earning college credit at the same time as they earn high school credit. My students, for example, will earn 6 hours of college credit for taking [my class] their senior year. Students change their minds [about college] when they have…earned college credit...Students discover they can do college work, meet the challenge, do well and suddenly new horizons are at their fingertips!

But there's a catch. It isn't a watered down program. It's real college material, taught by highly-qualified teachers with master's degrees in their subject…with proven track records of success who know how to teach to high school students. Therefore, the program demands the use of quality college lab equipment and chemicals. Budget crunches have kept us from buying new lab equipment and chemicals…what we have is high school level. There are simply no funds available to buy college level lab equipment. The wonderful opportunity dies, strictly from a lack of lab equipment.

People often help elementary school kids. They're less likely to help high school students. And, too often, the gifted and hard working are slighted the most because those in charge say, "they'll learn anyway." Yes, they'll learn science- you can't stop their inquiring minds. But no, they won't stress themselves, challenge themselves, and realize their capabilities. Yet these are tomorrow's future, if given a chance to get ahead with this opportunity. Please, I [wish] to have good labs. I'll take it from there. I'm really good at what I do. My kids will succeed. And we, all of us, will be the winners when America's future is well educated. So, I don't need markers. I don't need desks. I don't need laptops, though I'd sell my soul to have them for my kids. What I need is college level labs [so] our kids who will be pharmacists, doctors [and] nurses continue to succeed in science.

Thank you for your consideration.