VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE
1. Read each entry below.
2. Vote for your favorite by clicking on the link
at the end of the essay. Only one vote per email
address will be counted.
3. Voting ends July 21, 2011.
The 2011 Las Olas scholarship winner will be announced
on August 4, 2011 on Las
Olas Facebook fan page. Become a fan.
WILL INCLUDE DONATIONS FROM THE FOLLOWING:
Olas donates full tuition for a seven
day/six night surf safari, including daily
surf and yoga classes, spa treatment, daily
breakfast and ground transportation. See Las
Olas website for inclusions.
Bags for Women donates airfare to the Las
Olas safari location from any major airport
in the continental US. Sherpani also
includes a three piece set of eye-catching
luggage for your surf safari gear.
a $500 Gift Card so the scholarship recipient
can shop for a surf-worthy wardrobe from
their collection of hip, feminine designs
with a performance core.
PLEASED TO PRESENT ESSAYS FROM OUR TEN FINALISTS:
Tanya • Diana • Jessica • Nathalie • Carol • Lisa • Rachel • Molly • Andrea • Erika
believe that one of the biggest challenges facing
communities today is the quality of schools and education. As
the mother of two young girls, four and six, I hear
about it everyday on the news, from friends, and
from state and local leaders. I believe that if people
want to see a change in education they need to put
their TIME where their mouth is. I believe if everyone
in a community can dedicate some of their TIME helping
teachers in the classrooms, working with the Board
of Education, fundraising and other necessary tasks,
it can create a successful school system.
With classroom sizes upwards of 25 or more kids it can be daunting to make
sure that each child gets the materials and time needed to learn. We create
rotating volunteer schedules so parents can come in and take some of the burden
off the teachers. We take smaller groups of children and work with them
on crafts or reading while the teachers and their aides can do more focused
work with smaller groups of children.
People complain that they don’t have the time to help out but I suggest
they look at time they spend going out to dinner, seeing movies, grabbing drinks
with friends, or just surfing the Internet. A few hours a week or month
dedicated to helping out your local school can make a world of difference. Being
there shows teachers, your child and others that making time for school is
important. And it is.
To cast a vote for Tanya, click here »
The strength of the world has always been in the
hands of men but the heart of the world has always
been driven by women. This is not a sexist statement.
Society’s structure places men in positions
of strength the backlash are that women are placed
in situations to face fear. Fear is constant and
Role models are essential connections that a young
girl/woman needs to have to overcome their fears.
Mentoring is THE greatest way to give back to the
health of society. Growing up, I was taught the mundane
skills that Hispanic women are expected to posses,
I was never taught to have a sense of adventure or
shown the endless possibilities that exist for me. Fear
can paralyze you and hold you from potential positive
and new heights and possibilities.
I have had a fear of the ocean. To overcome this
fear and help others I must challenge myself daily. I
must give myself a voice. Allow myself the opportunity
that all women deserve; to also convey and model
to men that women can be viewed with both strength
Las Olas can help women/girls to overcome their
fears, by establishing satellite surf camps throughout
the US, a mentoring program will provide spiritual
guidance and self empowerment through the waves,
the sand and by the beauty that the ocean has to
offer. It will give others the opportunity to face
their fears and help meet their challenges head on
to move forward without ANY Fear!
To cast a vote for Diana, click here »
We live in a dynamic, interconnected society, with
information a mouse click away. How do we use this
information to support others?
The challenge: As Western women, we enjoy a wealth
of freedoms and opportunities. But internationally,
we have a long way to go. Unicef estimates that 1.8
million children enter the sex trade each year. In
places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and many
others, women and children are voiceless – forced
into silent submission.
The solution: A three-step process of awareness,
networking, and mobilization, has the potential to
make a huge difference.
Plan of action: 1) Awareness - through using technology
to promote and support change, we can educate Western
women about the realities of modern slavery and sex
trafficking in third world countries. 2) Networking
- through awareness, women will listen, engage in
the awareness process and work together as a network
to share the information with others. A Facebook
page spurred an Egyptian revolution – think
about what informed Western women can do! 3) Mobilization
into action: a core group of passionate listeners,
women who want to give a voice to the voiceless will
mobilize into action; going beyond sharing what they’ve
learned with others to write letters to policy makers,
volunteer, and join forces with others who are working
to end modern slavery and sex trafficking.
The amount of information available to us is overwhelming.
The solution is in our ability as women to listen.
Will we be a voice for the voiceless?
To cast a vote for Jessica, click here »
One of the challenges we face today is child abuse
and neglect. The number of cases of child and abuse
is growing year to year. Many cases end up in death.
Usually, the court system does not provide services
until there is an allegation of child abuse and neglect.
I strongly believe that nurturing parenting skills
needs to be taught. Not everyone has innate parenting
skills. Parenting skills should be provided during
pregnancy and afterwards. Nurturing parenting skills
will include mental health daily coping skills and
resources available for parents in distress. For
example, the parent will be able to speak to a 24-hour
switchboard operator during a crisis or go to a community
resource center. The preventive services will be
available without a cost. Community resource centers
will be available in every city near an urgent care.
The community which encompasses schools, churches,
hospitals, libraries, the courts, yoga community,
universities and mental health organizations will
form an alliance to built a network which provides
education and support. Due to the economy and lack
of funding, this community will rely mostly on volunteers
who will be available to mentor, and provide psycho-education.
The mission is to back to the concept of working
as a village.
This plan will be put into action by first writing
a proposal with simple goals and measurable objectives.
These goals must be long term and realistic for the
general population. After the proposal is written
different community resources will be contacted.
The juvenile court system, Guaridan Ad Litem programs and
non- profit agencies that deal directly with child abuse and neglect cases will
brainstorm ideas and collaborate with an university in order for the research
aspect to be used as a model. A pilot program will be implemented and thereafter
duplicated. It will take hard work to bring people together due to time and finances.
I believe that it can be accomplished as long as the 4 questions are asked:
Why are we doing it? Who will it benefit? How much
will it cost? Will it be sustainable for years to
I believe the majority of child abuse and neglect
cases are due to lack of learned parenting and daily
living coping skills. From that point, there is a
cycle that is passed from one generation to another
which does not discriminate.
To cast a vote for Nathalie, click here »
Fear is the number one challenge in today's society. We are all afraid...afraid
to travel alone, to fly, of our neighbors, letting our children play outdoors
(abduction, Lyme disease, molestation), of terrorists, of people who look or
believe in things that are different than us and of living fully.
Many of us are frozen with the fear...
of standing on our own two feet
of standing up for ourselves
of getting hurt
of hurting others
of the unknown – untried – unimagined
of riding the wave
of abandoning the wave
of changing or redefining our commitments
of making a fool of our self
of laughing at ourselves and having others laugh at us too – looking
The solution is simple yet difficult. We need to step out of our comfort zones,
to embrace compassion and empathy, to put ourselves in someone else's shoes,
to take risks, to stand up for ourselves and for those you can not stand up
for themselves, to ride the wave, to change our course, to do something different.
It is time for us to find out who we are, to let go of fear and face ourselves
fully. It is time to choose our own wave and ride it with wild abandonment!
To cast a vote for Carol, click here »
ONE WORLD- That is ALL we have! Taking care of our
world is the most critical challenge we face. The
vision of plastic floating around the great Pacific
garbage patch haunts me. I eliminated ALL plastic
from my house when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I truly believe that plastics and other toxins are
the cause of many medical problems. Keep schools
and communities pesticide free. Insist that our government
minimize or eliminate the use of cancer-causing toxins.
Show your choices with your wallet by purchasing
hybrid or electric cars. Insist on a safer, healthier
nation!Where to start? Allow only reusable shopping
bags. My beach community has banned plastic one-use
bags but the plastic bag manufacturers are fighting
us. It’s in court. How crazy is that!?! Don’t
buy bottled water. Filter your water and use reusable
containers! Encourage children and families that
make good choices. Invite children to walk or wheel
to school. Adults can do the same. Pack lunches that
utilize reusable packing- no more baggies! We must
make it second nature to take care of our Earth!
As a Girl Scout leader I teach “leave no trace.” I
believe we can build momentum if we launch educational
programs at the kindergarten level. Challenge
every incoming class to adopt these methods.In summary,
my solution is to start young and teach children
to take care of the environment. Many adults will
join in. There are many, like me, already advocating
To cast a vote for Lisa, click here »
While walking down any street, one would come across
at least one individual who has been guilty of either
super-sizing an order, or buying the same shirt in
multiple colors, or even upgrading an automobile
to include luxurious leather seats. This is the most
important challenge facing us today– the “more” mentality.
Children are raised in an atmosphere that fosters
the desire for bigger houses, brand-named attire,
and superior electronic devices. I am not criticizing
the dream to improve one’s conditions, but
there is a point where it becomes blatantly excessive.
To change this attitude, we must start at the beginning
when the mind is just developing. We must transform
materialism to values focused on friendship, charity,
and staying active. I am proposing a national pen
pal and gift exchange program between American students
and students from other countries. Then, they will
be exposed to new situations and realize there are
more critical challenges than deciding their next
purchase. Moreover, students can voluntarily give
something they no longer need to someone who might
appreciate it more. For example, a Chinese girl would
be grateful for a pair of shoes as much as an African
boy would be to lick a lollipop. The vision is to
have the children initiate a plan of action, but
realistically, the aim is just to get children involved
in humanitarian efforts so they will continue being
helpful throughout their lives. In a world of riches,
we must ask ourselves why there is poverty?
To cast a vote for Rachel, click here »
In the age of digital connections, we are more disconnected than ever. Our
children fear “friending” their parents, and our children’s
grandparents long for the days of receiving handwritten notes. My Grandma
doesn’t even have an answering machine, and by gosh, that’s the
way she likes it. Some may say she’s out of touch, but in my mind,
her life doesn’t lack anything with the absence of another electronic
This is all ironic of course, because my career is based on social media and
internet marketing. Disconnecting is not only hard to do, but doing so
would would leave me to find another way to provide for my family. Still,
I long for the days when friends told me face-to-face that they like my new
haircut, instead of simply pressing the “Like” button under my
It is our responsibility to rebuild the neighborhood and personal connections
that we used to know. They keep us more honest, more empathetic and are
the cornerstones of genuine relationships. No more anonymous venting on
online news comment sections. No more wishing people a “Happy Birthday” via
email. The process of connecting to the people around you, even the ones
you already think you know, fosters a sense of community that cannot be digitally
replicated. Let the world around you be your inspiration and push you to build
these community relationships. A pen to paper or walk around the neighborhood
may just be more revolutionary than you think.
To cast a vote for Molly, click here »
Men and women of all ages struggle to find happiness
in their lives. Money and successful careers often
top the list of things people hope to achieve. Studies
show, however, that it is in service to others that
happiness is most often found. Women, and mothers
in particular, have a unique role shaping the lives
of children so they too might lead happy and fulfilling
lives. So, how do we instill in our children compassion
and a desire to help others?
Start small. I often make meals for families with
new babies. My six year old helps cook and also makes
a card for the new arrival. My daughter has decided
that a big birthday party with her class at the bowling
alley would be great, but even she realized gifts
from family and 20 friends would be excessive. Instead,
her friends will bring new pajamas and books to donate.
My kids love picking up trash at the beach. For years,
I cringed when they would pick up a cigarette butt.
This year, I have invested child size gardening gloves.
My son is not yet two and he can say “in garbage
trash” as he adds it to our bucket. Our small
acts of service may not complement your schedule
or interests, but there are many opportunities available
starting with your friends and neighbors. Find something
that you are already doing like going to the beach
and turn it into an opportunity to serve others.
Happiness will follow.
To cast a vote for Andrea, click here »
Childhood, play, nature, outdoors. These four
words should connect seamlessly in a young
persons life, and years ago they did. This connection
seems to be falling apart at an alarming rate for
today's generation of children, with computers, televisions, & video
games held as the culprit cause for the disconnect. We
need to get our children back into nature, back into
the unstructured playground of the great outdoors. The
most obvious solution begins at home. Parents
need take an active role in introducing their children
to the natural world around us. Slowing down to enjoy
nature together, be it a camping trip, gardening,
or simple walk, will provide both parent and child
with a boost in both mental and physical health.
But the unfortunate truth is that we cannot rely
on all parents alone. Thus the community must also
get involved. I would like to see a program
in place that partners willing adults with children
in need. Adults could register with a non-profit
group to volunteer to mentor a child (or children)
on the natural environment. The events could
involve anything from a afternoon in a park studying
plants and wildlife, to a weekend camping trip. I
would reach out to State Parks and outdoor outfitting companies to
get involved as well, providing free admission, camping,
or gear to assist such programs. Simple exposure
to the outdoors results in a child learning to observe
and appreciate the natural world around us and the
infinite benefits it has to offer.
To cast a vote for Erika, click here »
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