Aaliyah Lilly, a South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate, has earned a $500 scholarship for writing an outstanding essay about what she experienced in the YouthQuest Foundation’s 3D ThinkLink class.
“I often had troubles in school understanding key points, but since being a part of 3D printing, my way of thinking has gradually changed,” she wrote.
Cadet Aaliyah Lilly receives her award from YouthQuest Secretary Bill Hall at SCYCA graduation June 10.
Aaliyah, 17, is one of 25 Cadets at National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies who completed the 3D ThinkLink course during the latest class cycle. In the process of learning the basics of 3D design and printing, the students developed better critical thinking and problem solving skills.
3D ThinkLink training also provided a creative outlet, Aaliyah said, and introduced her to “the next generation’s technology.”
Aaliyah will receive her scholarship money when she enrolls in a higher education or trade school program. She’s interested in studying Media Communications and Hospitality Management and aspires to become a Public Affairs Specialist in the military.
But first, she wants to share what she’s learned with others at SCYCA.
SCYCA Cadets LaKrisopher McCoy, Aaliyah Lilly and Shiann O’Shea visit 3D Systems headquarters for Vocational Orientation.
“After graduating Youth ChalleNGe Academy I plan return as a peer mentor to encourage those who are in the position I was in,” she wrote.
The competition was judged by YouthQuest supporter John Gilstrap, the New York Times bestselling author whose new thriller Against All Enemies comes out in July. He declared Aaliyah’s essay to be the “clear winner.”
“While several were very well written, this one reached beyond the introspection of how the program changed their lives to embrace how the lessons learned can then be passed along to a new group of future students,” he said.
You can read Aaliyah’s essay at the bottom of this page. Here are excerpts from essays some of her fellow students entered in the contest.
“Back home, not too many people believed in me and I often heard what I could not or would not do, but this program has given me more power to prove them wrong. … Thanks to 3D it has made me a better artist and very creative, I would have never known I could be so passionate and it has been very empowering to develop such skills. I have put a lot of hard work into this program and I have really enjoyed being a part of 3D.” – Tyeshia Blackmond, 17, Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, Washington, DC
“Since I joined the 3D printing class I have learned that everything does not come out right the first time. I have learned that it takes patience, hard work and dedication to have a successful print. For example the first item we made in 3D was a key chain. I believed it would take no longer than 20 to 30 minutes but it took up to 3 to 4 classes to completely finish because of all the shapes and lines needed. I wanted my project to be perfect so after every print I looked closely at the key chain. When the outcome was not right or did not look presentable to me I would have to fix it. This class also gave me motivation to stay in Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy as a Cadet. Learning 3D was hard but it is worth it.” – Ronnell Dillard, 17, CGYCA
“I knew that I was going to learn something new, but I was not sure what it would be about or how challenging it would be. Once I was in the program, my perception and outlook changed, dramatically. I recently saw a quote that said, “Don’t let your fear of breaking things keep you from trying new experiments. That’s how you learn about the real world.” Now that I’ve gotten an opportunity to practice using the program and learning from it, I see that it is a fun and addictive program that can and is being used in daily society… And if I break something, it’s OK. I’ll print it again.” – TreVaughn McBride, 17, Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, Maryland
How 3D Printing Has Changed My Life
by Aaliyah M. Lilly, age 17
South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy
I believe that you must be willing to change your perspective to seek ultimate opportunities. Prior to coming into South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy I had no intentions of participating in any extracurricular activities, but I found interest in 3D Printing and Systems. 3D printing has been an outlet I’ve used to be creative while also gaining knowledge of the next generation’s technology. Since the start of the course I have learned not only the concept of 3D printing, but how to come with up an idea, design it, and turn it into reality. I often had troubles in school understanding key points, but since being a part of 3D printing, my way of thinking has gradually changed. I am very grateful to be able to express myself now through my work.
After graduating Youth ChalleNGe Academy I plan return as a peer mentor to encourage those who are in the position I was in. After that, I plan to attend AmeriCorps. However, my overall goal is to enlist into the military as a Public Affairs Specialist while majoring in Media Communications and Hospitality Management. I plan to take the skills I learned from 3D printing and utilize them in my personal life. I hope to design personalized 3D print items that will provide another stream of income as an entrepreneur.
One of my ultimate life goals is to be able to help my father financially by becoming self-sufficient. Growing up in a single parent household, my father has been the most influential person in life. I watched him struggle to raise me as a young female. I believe that everything I do is in honor of my father.
He instilled in me knowledge and gave me the guidance that I will need to be independent. I am excited for the future and thankful for what 3D printing has given me.