Congratulations to Our Latest 3D ThinkLink Scholarship Winners
The YouthQuest Foundation has awarded scholarships to two students who recently completed our 3D ThinkLink training.
Asia Baker-Stevenson from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy and LaMarcus Corley from Washington DC’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy earned $500 each for the essays they wrote about the personal impact of their 3D ThinkLink experience.
YouthQuest provides instruction in 3D design and printing at the ChalleNGe academies to help Cadets develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, explore their creativity and gain self-confidence.
LaMarcus and Asia finished the 22-week residential phase of the ChalleNGe program in June and are now in the year-long post-residential phase, during which they work with an adult mentor to continue on the path to reach their potential as successful adults. The scholarship money is to be used for continued education or vocational training.
“Before I started 3D printing I was very insecure about myself. I thought I would never be good at anything,” Asia said in her essay, adding that she struggled with using the computer and design software at first. But she learned from her mistakes and persevered, making step-by-step improvements with each new project.
“I’ve learned that starting something new is for a purpose and that purpose is to never give up or quit on yourself,” she wrote. “I may not be able to complete things on my own, but I shouldn’t be afraid of failure.”
Like Asia, LaMarcus discovered that 3D ThinkLink changed his way of thinking. He said it helped him control his anger and improve his concentration.
“When I come to class, my whole mood changes,” LaMarcus explained. “I become happy because I know that I’m in a good place.”
LaMarcus also said in his essay that if he had a 3D printer of his own, he would start a business to make things like toys and parts for bikes and cars.
“The reason I would create these objects is because I know people are less fortune than others and it would let me give back to the community,” he wrote.
Now LaMarcus has the opportunity to give back by being a Youth Mentor. In June, he and three other top Cadets from Freestate and Capital Guardian trained for a week in our 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab. They received 3D printers, design software and laptops to use in sharing their skills with others in their community, serving as positive role models.
New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap, best known for his Jonathan Grave thriller series, reads all the essays submitted and picks the winners in our semi-annual scholarship competition.
CLICK HERE the read the complete essays
3D ThinkLink Essay Contest Winners Earn Scholarships
“3D printing has helped guide me into making better decisions and gave me a new life skill along the way. It has really helped me understand my self-worth because now I know I can design my own future,” Aunya, 17, wrote in her award-winning essay. “I now see the bigger picture to my life’s problems and I’m not afraid to face them.”
“I can make anything if I put my mind to it,” wrote Brock, 17, who described his 3D ThinkLink experience as “awe-inspiring.”
Both Cadets were awarded $500 scholarships for their essays during a ceremony at Freestate on December 9.
Our program “transformed my way of thinking,” said Aunya’, who plans to join the Navy and become a nurse.
“Before 3D printing I did not believe in myself, and I had accepted the opinion that I was not good enough,” she explained.
Like most of at-risk youth we serve, Aunya doubted herself when she started our class this fall.
“Everything seemed so foreign to me. I could barely work the program on the computer,” she recalled.
When she printed her first 3D design and it came out nothing like she had intended, she admitted feeling frustrated and wanting to give up. Instead, she made up her mind to work harder so she could “make things that I could be proud to show off.”
Aunya’ started paying close attention to every instruction, asking questions and testing every new design skill she learned.
“One day my instructor Mrs. Metzger said that my design was the only successful one to print. It brought me so much joy because that meant that I was finally getting it,” she wrote. “Joining 3D printing has taught me to never give up.”
Brock’s essay highlighted the effect his class’s community service project had on his self-esteem.
The Freestate Cadets went to a library to demonstrate designing and 3d printing small, personalized objects such as ornaments and keychain tags.
“It was an amazing experience to see how interested and impressed the kids and adults were at the library when we showed them how to make 3D prints,” wrote Brock.
“3D printing is important to me because now I can express myself in a form of art that I’m talented in. Also, I am more able to educate my community through my new learned skill in 3D printing,” added Brock, who wants to become a Marine.
Brock and Aunya’s essays were chosen from among 13 submitted by students from Freestate, DC’s Capital Guardian and South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academies. The semi-annual scholarship competition is judged by bestselling author John Gilstrap, whose novels include the Jonathan Grave thriller series.
CLICK HERE to read the complete essays
Scholarship Winners Want to Use 3D Printing to Help Others
Trevon Ahl and Alycia Freeman, both 17, are among the 16 students who completed the latest cycle of the 3D design and printing course YouthQuest provides at the school for at-risk teens in Eastover, South Carolina.
YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presented the $500 awards to the essay competition winners during SCYCA’s graduation ceremony on June 8.
Bestselling author John Gilstrap, whose latest novel in the Jonathan Grave thriller series is Friendly Fire, has judged the semi-annual contest since 2014.
“This year’s batch of essays featured two standouts for me, both because they focused not on what the writer got from their introduction to 3D printing, but rather on how they will put their knowledge to work for others,” he said.
In his essay, Trevon described the excitement he felt the first time he used Moment of Inspiration design software to transform a flat shape into a 3D digital model that he could print.
He also recalled the Vocational Orientation trip his class took to 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he saw high-end printers that go far beyond the simple plastic-extrusion machines he learned to use in class. These professional 3D printers make objects from a variety of materials, including rubber, ceramics and metals.
“When I saw that, I was overall enthusiastic about this new wave of how to use machinery in everyday life that will help others in different ways,” Trevon wrote.
“If I had a 3D titanium printer for my personal use I would make bikes for all the children in my neighborhood,” he added “I’ve seen many kids in my community that walk everywhere and they would be grateful for a bike. I would even have them customize their own bicycle frame and then I`d print it out for them.”
Because he loves to fish, Trevon also said he wanted to 3D print a titanium fishing rod and “catch so many fish I would be able to share with the people in my community so we would all be able to enjoy a good fish fry.”
The $500 scholarship will help Trevon achieve his post-ChalleNGe goal of attending a technical college to earn a welding certificate. His fellow winner Alycia plans to study surgical technology at Savannah Technical College.
“Alycia’s story was quite touching,” John Gilstrap said.
Her dad was doing drugs and her parents divorced when she was 13. She moved five times and skipped school often, spending most days caring for ailing grandmother instead of going to class.
“I then started to follow in my father’s footsteps,” Alycia wrote. “About a year later, I knew I had to be successful. I didn’t want to be a product of my environment.”
That’s when she decided to enroll in SCYCA. Being in the 3D ThinkLink class helped Alycia get re-engaged in education.
Like Trevon, Alycia said the visit to 3D Systems showed her how she can use the technology she learned about in class for the benefit of others. She was inspired to see the many ways 3D printing is used in health care.
“Being that I took care of my grandmother, I want to help others live a better life in every way possible,” she explained. “3D printing encouraged me to become a surgical nurse. … I’m now motivated and determined to go to school and get into the medical field and actually complete it!”
CLICK HERE to read the complete essays
YouthQuest Scholarship Winners Pursue Their Dreams
(Feb. 4, 2016) — Three young women who earned scholarships in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink essay competition are taking the next steps toward their career goals.
Emilee Bray, Kimora Felton and Kathaleen Polanco each won $500 for writing about their experiences in our 3D design and printing classes at South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy.
After graduating from SCYCA in December, Kathaleen started the new year by enrolling in South Carolina’s Aiken Technical College while Emilee and Kimora traveled to Chantilly, Virginia for a week of advanced training in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Creativity Lab.
“Before South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy, I was a mess,” Kathaleen confessed.
Her young life took a dramatic turn last April when she was shot while partying with friends. By year’s end, she had completed the 22-week residential program at SCYCA, which included our 3D ThinkLink training.
“I can proudly say I’m clean and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” Kathaleen said. “I honestly finally feel at peace with life.”
In her essay, she described 3D class as “an escape … where I can be in my own little place, a place where I can design any and everything.”
Kathaleen gave credit to our Director of Instruction, Tom Meeks, for encouraging her to continue her education.
“Tom inspired me to be a better me and never give up no matter how hard life gets,” wrote Kathaleen, who is studying computer networking.
Emilee joined Kathaleen at Aiken Tech immediately after the week of immersion training in our lab. She plans to graduate in May with CNA (certified nursing assistant), electrocardiogram and phlebotomy certificates. Her long-term goal is to become a nurse anesthetist.
“3D printing is starting to get popular now, especially in the nursing field,” Emilee explained. “If I were to tell them that I went through this kind of program, there’s no doubt that I would get that job!”
Besides strengthening her resume, the 3D ThinkLink experience taught her how to think through problems and overcome obstacles.
“It’s not just in 3D printing that you learn from your mistakes. It’s in life that you learn from your mistakes,” said Emilee.
Kimora agreed that our classes helped her learn to think in new ways.
“Before getting involved with 3D printing, my mind was scattered,” she recalled in her essay. “Trying to relieve anger and finding ways to express myself, I’d do things that made me act out of character, which led me to think I wasn’t worth anything at all.”
Kimora said 3D ThinkLink gave her a new way to express herself and boosted her self-esteem.
Like Emilee, she hopes to use her 3D skills on the job. Kimora, who wants to be a veterinarian, is enrolled in the Veterinary Assistant program at Horry Georgetown Technical College in Conway, South Carolina.
She was inspired by the video she watched in class about Derby, a dog born with deformed front legs who is able to walk thanks to 3D-printed prosthetic legs.
“Involving 3D printing into this field will give deformed, damaged or diseased animals that are on the verge of being euthanized a second chance,” Kimora wrote in her scholarship-winning essay.
CLICK HERE to read the complete essays
3D ThinkLink Essay Is ‘Clear Winner’ in Scholarship Competition
(June 24, 2015) — South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Aaliyah Lilly has earned a $500 scholarship for her essay about what she experienced in YouthQuest’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.
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.
“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.
3D ThinkLink Students Earn Scholarships in Essay Competition
(Dec. 23, 2014) — The YouthQuest Foundation awarded $500 scholarships to four at-risk teens who wrote outstanding essays about what being in our 3D ThinkLink classes meant to them.
Sherquana Adams and Michael Foster were honored during the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy’s awards ceremony in Eastover, S.C., on Dec. 3. Caleb Dujmovic and Kamie Moody received their awards Dec. 9 at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy in Edgewood, Maryland.
“3D printing has given me a completely new confidence about the way I think when creating,” Kamie, 19, wrote in her essay. “I’ve learned that I don’t have to be the best artist, I just have to have the capacity to think outside of the box.”
She recalled the 3D ThinkLink Initiative’s most important lesson: Failure is not final.
Kamie and her classmates learned that the 3D objects they designed rarely turned out as expected the first time. The software and hardware we provided made it easy for them to analyze their mistakes, improve their designs and quickly print new versions.
“It takes us a few tries before we get our desired outcome,” Kamie explained. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve bitten off more than we could chew, it just means that we have to put in more work to get to our goal. The key is to keep trying.”
This is a radically different way of thinking for young people who once responded to failure by giving up on school.
Our project does more than introduce students to the basics of 3D design and printing. It teaches them about critical thinking and problem solving – skills that are sorely lacking in high school dropouts.
‘I Have Found My Gift’
Our students in Maryland and South Carolina, as well as those at the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy, enrolled in the programs run by the National Guard to resume their education and develop the fundamental life skills they need to become successful adults. Their teachers chose them for our 3D ThinkLink classes to supplement their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.
The rigorous 22-week residential program “can get extremely challenging at times,” Kamie wrote. “I was desperate to find an outlet. 3D printing became that outlet.”
Our training gave her the tools to bring out her “inner creativity.”
“I’ve been a tactile learner for as long as I can remember.” Kamie continued. “I loved to put things together to challenge my mind to build things from scraps and make them into something complete.”
“The feeling I get when I’ve brought to life something that started off as a mere thought in my head is indescribable.”
Kamie’s success in class has inspired her to continue pursuing a career in architecture and design.
“I truly believe that I have found my gift and with it, I plan to leave my mark,” she declared.
Our 3D ThinkLink training led Kamie’s Freestate classmate Caleb Dujmovic to discover his passion for the field of bio-engineering during a Vocational Orientation tour of the Maryland NanoCenter at the University of Maryland in College Park.
“My group and I were given the opportunity to visit a laboratory there, and witness first-hand the uses of 3D printing outside of the classroom,” Caleb wrote in his essay. “We were given a crash course in how the laboratory creates small bones and blood vessels for the human body.”
Caleb, 18, described his visit to the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Lab as an “amazing experience” that sparked a “profound interest that I never knew I would have.”
‘This Class Really Opened My Mind’
Michael Foster’s essay made it clear he has taken to heart the message he heard from some of 3D Systems, Inc.’s top executives during his Vocational Orientation tour of the company’s headquarters in Rock Hill, S.C.
“I am the future of 3D printing,” wrote Michael, 17. “I know it sounds a little dramatic but it’s true; it’s up to me and people like me to pick up the torch and carry this passion to the next creative minds.”
“I believe that this is the place where I put my foot in the door to the future.”
Michael, who aspires to join the military and study photography, said his 3D ThinkLink experience made him realize “we really have no limitations.”
His SCYCA classmate Sherquana Adams also described the training as enlightening.
“This class really opened my mind and eyes to a lot more than I thought I would know. I never knew you could do so many things by just using a computer,” Sherquana, 18, said in her essay.
Sherquana, who has a 2-year-old son and wants to become a surgical technician, was intrigued to learn how 3D printing is helping children whose hands are deformed by Amniotic Band Syndrome. Instead of relying on standard artificial limbs that they quickly outgrow, these children can now use simple, plastic “robohands.” The parts are made with a 3D printer and can be scaled up easily as a child grows. Best of all, each hand costs less than $100, compared to tens of thousands for a traditional prosthetic device.
All of our scholarship winners will have the opportunity to create customized robohands and work on other projects to expand their skills during a week of immersion training in our in 3D ThinkLink Lab next month.
This was our second essay competition of 2014. Freestate’s Requan Da Sant won the first contest in June. This time, 13 students from Maryland, South Carolina and DC submitted essays. They were reviewed by our Board of Directors and John Gilstrap, a bestselling author and YouthQuest supporter.
The winners will receive their scholarship money when they become enrolled in a higher education or trade school program.
CLICK HERE to read all four winning essays.
Essay ‘From the Heart’ Earns Scholarship for 3D Printing Student
(June 26, 2014) — Recent Freestate ChalleNGe Academy graduate Requan Da Sant is the winner of the first essay competition for students in the YouthQuest Foundation’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative classes.
He earned a $500 scholarship for writing about how the STEM education project for at-risk youth has affected his life.
“Being able to use computers for graphic arts and be recognized for it is a dream come true,” Requan said in his essay, The Impact of Creativity.
YouthQuest provides instruction in 3D design and printing at Freestate in Aberdeen, Md., as well as the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian and South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academies, where high school dropouts get the opportunity to turn their lives around in residential programs run by the National Guard Youth Foundation. The 3D ThinkLink classes promote critical thinking and creativity while introducing students to the booming technology of additive manufacturing.
Requan’s essay focused on a visit in April to Morgan State University in Baltimore, where he and his classmates showed college students how to create 3D objects. He described it as a “life-altering event” that made him feel “empowered” and helped improve his leadership skills.
Requan, 16, said the opportunity to teach college students also reassured him that he should continue his education.
Students in all three 3D ThinkLink classes were invited to write about their experiences. Members of the YouthQuest Foundation Board of Directors judged the entries.
“The reason he was selected by the Board was because he wrote from the heart,” YouthQuest President and Co-Founder Lynda Mann said at the Freestate awards ceremony June 10.
Requan plans to return to high school and earn his diploma, then join the Air Force Reserve and study graphic engineering in college. He will receive the scholarship money after he completes high school.
“I am a very creative individual with the readiness to work and achieve great possibilities,” he wrote.
We have no doubt Requan will do exactly that.
Here is his winning essay:
My 3D ThinkLink Experience: The Impact of Creativity
I truly appreciate being chosen for this potential scholarship. My name is Requan Da Sant and I attend Freestate Challenge Academy. I am 16 years old and I live in Edgewood, Maryland. I believe I should be chosen for this scholarship because I have demonstrated hard-work ethics, responsibility, and the willingness to learn and further my knowledge. I am a very creative individual with the readiness to work and achieve great possibilities. Albert Einstein once said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. While attending Freestate Challenge Academy I was given the opportunity to experience a training which involved a 3D ThinkLink course. This course consists of a program called Moment of Inspiration. While using this program we are able to build objects and produce them on our 3D Printing Machine.
I had the honor to teach college students at Morgan State University on April 23, 2014. This was their first encounter with the program. The program was taught to the students in a step by step process. At the end of this process each student was able to build their own 3D key chain. As each student completed their key chain I felt empowered. They were very intrigued by the 3D software and what it detailed. The wise words of Audrey Hepburn, “Nothing is impossible, for the word itself say I’m possible” inspired me to continue on with 3D ThinkLink training and the outstanding growth it brought to my leadership goals.
Being given an opportunity to teach college students at such a prestigious school such as Morgan State University is a life-altering event. It gave me the reassurance that going to college is the best option for me. My fellow cadets and I were greeted with such gratitude and enthusiasm, it made my peers and I feel as though we were on top of the world.
To be offered a scholarship of this magnitude at this point in my life is a blessing. Being able to use computers for graphic arts and be recognized for it is a dream come true. Graphic arts is something that has always fascinated me. I plan to stay focused and further my career in the graphic engineering field.
I remember my mother always telling me, “You are so intelligent and if you use your mind for good, you can really go far in life”. I always think about her saying this in my mind and use it for motivation. If not for my mother I probably, never mind the probably, I would not be where I am right now. She has inspired me to obtain and achieve the unachievable. If I receive this scholarship, it would make my mother proud and it would also make me proud. It would be an honor and a blessing to receive this scholarship. Thank you very much for an opportunity such as you have given me.