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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Schilaty

Really Good News

Holy moly, I got some fantastic news yesterday!  Let me paint you a picture of what went down. 

When I got to Arizona in August things were a little financially disastrous.  I was confident that I would get a job working as a Spanish TA.  That would have paid my tuition plus a salary that would have been plenty for a single man like myself.  I was banking on working as a TA, but budget cuts and tuition hikes meant that the Spanish department couldn't hire as many TA's as usual and I was left unemployed and in a bad mood.  My mood got worse when I had to pay tuition. 

I was lucky this semester and got a job as a research assistant which paid half my tuition.  Better than last semester, but I still lost a digit in my bank account and I started to get a little financially stressed.  I was really worried about how I was going to pay for school next year when I came across a scholarship that would pay for me to study Portuguese at the University of Arizona.  My program requires that I complete a minor and minoring in Portuguese sounded great so I decided to apply.  I talked to the guy who runs the scholarship in January to get information about it.  He didn't have any specific information, but said that he would know more later and would email me about it.

I checked the scholarship website frequently for information about this specific scholarship, but there was never any information.  On Thursday, February 28th I decided to email the guy to find out how to apply and when the application materials were due.  The next day I checked my email at 3:30 pm and he had replied with the following message: "The due date for nominations is actually today at 4pm.  Let me know if you have any other questions."  I was more than a little annoyed that I had been told when everything needed to be turned in 30 minutes before the deadline.  I spent about an hour that night crafting a well worded email explaining that I had by trying to get information for weeks, but just hadn't received it and that I would like permission to apply late.  I was very careful to make sure that the email didn't sound angry or whiny even though I was angry and felt very much like whining.  I didn't have much hope that they would make an exception, but I had to try.

On Saturday after going on a morning hike I checked my email and the guy had written back apologizing for any miscommunication.  He said that they were all reasonable people and that they would let me turn in the application materials by Monday at 4 pm.  That was great news, but led to an extremely stressful Saturday afternoon as I tried to assemble all the application materials.  I don't have a printer so I had to go to the Kevin's parents' house to print stuff off.  I felt bad about doing that, but they were so gracious and helpful and really saved me.  As part of the application my program director needed to write me a letter of recommendation so I drove to his house, handed him all the stuff I'd printed out so he could look it over and write me an awesome letter.  I felt really, really bad giving him such short notice to write a letter of recommendation, but he was happy to help out. 

On Monday I got the letter of recommendation from my professor and with a sigh of relief turned in my application packet.  When I submitted it I ran into the guy who was kind enough to let me turn everything in late.  He sincerely apologized for any misunderstandings and said that they were happy that I was able to apply.  I thanked him for the opportunity to apply and left.  The scholarship is fairly competitive so I wasn't expecting to get it, especially since I had applied late, but I really was happy to just be able to try.

Three days later (yesterday) I got an email congratulating me on being awarded the scholarship!  I was stunned, absolutely stunned.  I really thought I didn't have a chance and I was floored.  I sat in front of my computer dumbfounded for a few moments and then I called my parents and did a little dance.  My program director and the department secretary were CCed on the email and they almost immediately emailed me to congratulate me.  The subject of the secretary's email was just a bunch of exclamation marks and said, "I'm dancing down the halls right now.  Congratulations!!!!"  I replied, "I'm not gonna lie, I just danced a little bit, too!"  Happy moments. 

The scholarship requires that I take two Portuguese classes each semester next year.  It covers all my tuition and comes with a very generous living stipend.  Not only am I no longer stressed about money, but I get to improve my Portuguese which I am thrilled about.  It's so unexpected and awesome and I'm pumped for next year.  I'm so grateful for the people who helped me out on that stressful Saturday afternoon who made it possible for me to apply.  I couldn't have done it by myself.  At the risk of sounding sappy, as great as scholarships are, the real prize is having a life filled with people who will bend over backwards to help me, even on a Saturday night.  I'm super-lucky.

Since I'll be studying Portuguese next year, here are my two favorite pictures from my trip to Portugal in 2011.  

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