Just like Nathaniel, I want to help communities grow in unity. I was given the opportunity to travel across seas to help a developing country. In the summer of 2017, I traveled to the Dominican Republic for a two week community service trip where I helped a community called Colonia Kennedy. Visiting the Dominican Republic was life changing for me. I was able to attain knowledge about the Dominican culture and values, their lack of proper aid, failing economy and their struggles with immigration and discrimination. I know that Nathaniel had a strong passion for serving communities, hence his trip to Guatemala. After my trip to the Dominican Republic, I realized that my contribution had a lot more meaning than I expected.

Just like the people in Colonia Kennedy, my family also had its hardships and struggles. Every single person in my household relied on my father’s income. Since my father got incarcerated last year, my family has struggled to keep a steady income. My mother got a job and now works long hours just to make half the amount my father did.  

​My mother works hard, but the financial support is a struggle for my family. Attending college is a dream that is soon going to become a reality for me, because I was admitted to Bryn Mawr College through early decision, but the fight to financially pay for it is difficult to manage. Regardless of my financial aid situation, I know the capacity I have to excel in a rigorous college environment because I have been tested so much over the past two years. As a member of Summer Search and the Philadelphia Education Fund’s College Access Program, I have been receiving college assistance and mentorship since my sophomore year in high school.

​I know that attending college is a life-changing experience that teenagers in developing countries like the Dominican Republic or Guatemala may not have. Like Nathaniel, I’m determined to make a difference in my life, my family’s life, and my community’s. After my service trip, I'm more aware of what I can control--most importantly my future. 

​- Nijah Morris (Excerpts from personal statement)

Nathaniel M. Kirkland Scholar: Nijah Morris