We are excited to announce the winner of the Wolterman Law Office Hope for the Future Scholarship: Zach Banks!
Zach’s love for Ohio was evident in his essay and we were moved by his passion for making his community a better place. His essay creatively and thoughtfully explained Zach’s undeniable enthusiasm for service and community growth.
Join us in congratulating Zach! We are proud to help a young member of the Middletown community to continue his dreams of pursuing an education in Political Sciences at New York University.
Here are a few words Zach had to say about receiving this scholarship:
“I am extremely grateful that Wolterman Law Office is making this investment in me. The value this scholarship has placed on service to our communities is inspiring, and I am thankful that you all have recognized my years of service… Wolterman Law Office’s contribution will make my college experience more affordable and I hope it opens doors for me to embark on engaging educational experiences such as studying abroad at one of NYU’s 14 global academic centers… Again, I would like to thank you for your recognition and tuition assistance, it truly means the world to me.”
Finally, thank you to all of our applicants.
Read Zach’s Winning Essay Below:
The role that community leaders play in maintaining the strength of the American Dream is more profound than that of any Congressmen, Senator, or even President of the United States. Unlike any national measure, the sense of identity seen in communities across the nation truly and undeniably composes the profound American Spirit. The inclusive environment enjoyed in American Communities is the very glue that holds our 50 states united, and the very model for human liberty and the success of the American Republic. Of all the things an inclusive community can be, one thing that inclusivity undeniably provides is the boundless opportunity to become stronger with the strengths of others. My hometown, a Cincinnati suburb, is not well known for its flourishing economy and safe neighborhoods. In fact, in 2008, Middletown Ohio was named one of Forbes Magazine’s top 25 dying towns in the United States. A staggering seventy-eight percent of students in the Middletown City School district qualify for federal free and reduced lunch programs, at one point even including myself. The fact is, most people would not describe Middletown’s standing as a strong one. I, on the other hand, disagree with those people.
What makes my hometown a strong one isn’t the traditional measures of municipal wellness, but rather a strong yearning among the community to create the most diverse and inclusive environment as possible. With community members from a variety of races, nationalities, sexual orientations and socioeconomic standings, Middletown is strong because its citizens have the unique ability to grow stronger through their neighbors strengths. As an activist for social equity, a leader of my peers, and a member of an ongoing community effort to restore the city’s economic standing, I have noted that people do their best work when they demonstrate a willingness to work alongside their neighbors, regardless of any traditional social barriers.
Communities are made stronger not by fortifying the strengths they already have, but by tapping into the strengths and abilities of each individual in an effort to make a stronger collective. My understanding of the profound need for social inclusion and a healthy marketplace of ideas makes me eager to be the community leadership that Middletown and the surrounding areas so intensely need. In order to be effective in bridging social barriers and creating a more inclusive environment, the powerless must be empowered, and the voiceless must be given a voice. In my time as a leader of my peers, I have taken every opportunity to empower and speak up for young community which I currently lead.
To ensure that my classmates had an equal and fair opportunity to pursue their education, I used a year appointment to represent the Middletown City Schools student body as a non-voting board member to address a variety of policy issues. I succeeded in persuading district administration to expand AP and PSAT testing financial assistance for the seventy-eight percent of students who qualify for Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Programs. I also championed the student’s voice on the Board’s Inclusive Excellence Committee to ensure racially and socially just hiring practices within the district, ensuring that the near 40% of students at Middletown City Schools who come from minority backgrounds can be inspired by educational role models of the same skin color, economic background, or native tongue.
To ensure that the voiceless were given a voice, I worked as President of the Social Justice Club to elevate awareness of social injustices on a local, national, and global level. During my tenure, I organized and moderated a town hall between Middletown High School students and Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw to talk about racial injustice in policing. This event allowed young people of all races, who typically are not taken seriously by professional adults, to ask their Police Department what it was doing to ensure the fair and just treatment of all of our city’s citizens.
To promote community wellbeing, I have enabled and encouraged my peers to create a stronger community, together. In the wake of the suicide death of three of my fellow classmates, I partnered with local young entrepreneurs to confound The Powderpuff League for Suicide Awareness, in which students from all backgrounds competed to raise money for the families of the deceased. At events, players worked in exercises of team building and community strengthening, as well as becoming familiar with peers they had not yet met. I also worked with other young leaders as a delegate to the Middletown Community Foundation’s Youth Council. There, I have been fortunate to meet in seminars with community partners, foundation members, and other youth to find local programs in need. I then worked with other delegates to fund these programs through the Middletown Community Foundation’s Fondersmith Grant and the Summertime for Kids Fund, which allocates approximately 60,000 dollars each year to community organizations struggling to fund their programs and make ends meet.
Furthermore, I continue to bring power and a platform to marginalized students in my role as Class President, where I work to redefine the roll by working with building principals, the superintendent, district administrators, countless community members, and students of all racial and economic backgrounds to create a better, more inclusive learning environment for all students. Each morning when I wake up, I motivate myself with the initiative to empower those who can’t empower themselves. By maintaining my leadership roles in groups that have allowed me to make an impact in my community and by putting a strong focus on my education, I look forward to a career in empowering my community and the young people who are a part of it.
Without reservations, one of the most important functions of a community is its ability to work effectively and coherently with other communities so that they may work in cooperation to achieve larger, global goals. I have, during my time young community leadership, worked with other communities to foster mutual cooperation and the completion of more expansive goals. In my time as a leader of the young community, I worked in collusion with several national and international organizations to not only spread good will, but more importantly, good policy.
To spread good will, I worked with the Rotary International in a project named “Shoes for Orphans.” This project helped to bring thousands of dollars in new shoes to orphans, predominantly in the developing world, who had no shoes to protect their feet from the natural conditions of their country of origin. In this effort, students at Middletown High School donated several boxes of brand new shoes to the organization, which sent their shoes to the poorest and most remote areas of the world.
To spread good policy, I worked with a multitude of national organizations to ensure that the progressive values and ideals held to high esteem in my community, could be promoted in the impoverished communities across the nation. On behalf of Our Revolution, Hillary for America, and the Ohio Democrats, made phone calls on behalf of Secretary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign, helped to set up fundraisers on behalf of former Congressional Candidate Michelle Young, and assisted in registering unregistered millennial voters.
To me, that is the value of community leadership – to do as much as possible to empower our neighbors, our countrymen and women, and our fellow humanity. In a tower of service and goodwill that is the human spirit, strong communities and their leaders rest at the base. If I were to earn the Wolterman Law Office Scholarship, the tuition assistance the Wolterman Law Office would provide would help me continue in my community service, as well as finally answer to the calling for community leadership that the Middletown Community so profoundly needs.