If you had to describe a “scholar,” what would you say? You would probably think immediately of a college professor, teaching intricate theories. Or a wise philosopher, in deep thought, posing questions about our own existence. However, since scholarship is one of those words we can’t easily define, I turned to the wonderful dictionary.com to look for some answers. It said: learning, acquiring knowledge. I wasn’t satisfied with the result, because honestly, who can write a 5-minute speech about learning? We’re students, we know the drill. So what is a scholar?
Attempting to connect the dots, I thought of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, both of whom are accredited scholars. But, through my research I found out that neither of them had finished school. So, if it wasn’t education that made them scholars, what did? I realized the one common factor that everyone whom I considered a scholar, has in common: Passion. So a better question to start off my speech is: what wakes you up every morning? Apart from your natural instinct of survival? There’s your answer.
We erroneously associate the word scholar with the mastering of high school subjects and grade point averages. I have to agree that most things around us are defined by numbers, but who you are cannot be quantified. Have you ever watched someone talk about something they understand and love? Their eyes twinkle, and it is as if there is no other worry surrounding them. I know this because I have a teacher with whom I share a deep love for space and the origin of life. He and I could talk for hours about the vast universe that lies above us and how irrelevant the human species is in the cosmic calendar. However, he’s not my astronomy teacher, but that has not been a barrier for him to pursue and exploit that passion of his and become very knowledgeable in that specific subject area.
Because, once you find your passion, no obstacle will be too strong to prevent you from pursuing what you love. You find yourself submerged in the topic of interest, so much that you subconsciously include it in your every day life.
Scholarship is about waking up every morning to do what you love and having the courage to pursue that which inspires you. Thinking back to the years when it was me sitting in the audience, I remember thinking that whoever was talking about scholarship had never failed. They were perfect academically and therefore the quintessence of the pillar.
But here I am today talking about scholarship. I am not perfect, I have experienced failure many times, and sometimes it’s a feeling like being stuck in a hopeless pit. But the difference is that every time I’ve slipped, I’ve stood up and simply began again, solving one problem after another until I find myself back on track. It is my love for learning that has pushed me to overcome these obstacles and that same love of learning that guides me to becoming a scholar one day.
I have to say that I was lucky. I found my passion within the walls of this school, and if it weren’t for science, I’d rely completely in my survival instinct to wake up every morning. Some students are unable to find their passion within the first years of their lives, and the thought of them being a failure becomes embedded into their minds. This psychological barrier constrains them from becoming who they could potentially be in the future. It’s ironic isn’t it? Here I am talking about scholarship, while also saying that it is okay to not like math or English class. What is not OK is to disrespect those that do, or to disrespect yourself by putting your distaste towards the subject as an excuse for not trying your best. Scholarship is also about keeping your doors open to what may inspire you in the future. It is about choosing to be passionate of whatever you set out to do. It is about choosing to abandon those predispositions of rejection that limit our horizon. So today I tell you this: find your passion, and do not be constrained by the walls of this school. And once you find it, have no shame of showing it off, letting everyone know that that makes you who you are.
Former C.I.C. student, NHS secretary 2016-2017