Kenneth Echevarria

Ken Echevarria finds his niche through scholarship program

Ken wasn’t sure where he wanted to attend college when he started applying to schools. But after receiving a letter in the mail and learning that Iowa State selected him as a George Washington Carver Scholar, Ken knew this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“My parents really stressed and pushed that I needed to apply for scholarships before I came to college, so getting that made them really happy,” he said. “It put a huge load off of their shoulders.”

The George Washington Carver Scholarship Program grants 100 full-tuition scholarships to undergraduate multicultural students every year. Even though Ken’s scholarship didn’t require an application, he relates to incoming freshman who feel pressured to find as many scholarships as they can, as quickly as they can.

“Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get any scholarships when you come in,” Ken said. “You have many chances to apply and reapply for them during the school year, where you have more of a chance of getting them than if you just apply once and quit.”

Iowa State awards thousands of scholarships every year, some of which have participatory programs attached to them. From completing community service hours, to attending classes tailored to the George Washington Carver Scholarship program, to going to social events, Ken found his niche at Iowa State through his scholarship program.

“It’s definitely a community,” he said. “You really do see the same faces. There are always sponsored events we need to go to, so sometimes we’ll go to different events together.”

While the scholarship program fosters a sense of community, it also encourages students to learn more about the world around them. Although Ken grew up in a diverse area, he says learning about different perspectives has opened his eyes and made him more aware.

During his first year at school, Ken’s community of George Washington Carver Scholars helped him find where he belonged. For students involved in scholarship programs, he encourages them to look outside their groups to learn and grow.

“Really branch out your freshman year,” he said. “Freshman year is really when you make your roots. You grow from them.”