Senior Julia Xia receives $40,000 Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship

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As senior year comes to a close at Townsend Harris, seniors have committed to the schools they will attend for the next four years. Choosing which college to study at was stressful enough, but even more, seniors also have to worry about the financial part of this process, and whether or not they can carry the burden of student loans. 

Each year, Amazon awards $40,000 scholarships to a number of seniors across the United States through their Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship. Senior Julia Xia had the honor of receiving this scholarship, which is intended to aid students who wish to pursue a degree in computer science, or a related field, in college. Each year, the scholarship aims to provide over 100,000 students in over 2,000 high schools access to Intro or AP Computer Science classes, and over 100 students with $10,000 for four years. To participate, students must have also taken an AP Computer Science exam in high school. 

Julia heard about this opportunity from her computer science teacher, Timothy Connor. “I wanted to apply in order to make college more affordable,” she explained. The scholarship is “processed through Scholarship America, which is essentially a hub of scholarships you can qualify for. It’s kind of like a separate college application in that it asks about your general information, test scores, [or] community service/work experience,” Julia explained. 

Mr. Connor had become a part of the Amazon Future Engineer program last year. He shared, “This included teacher training, which Mr. Claesgens and I went through. The Amazon Future Engineer program gives students from underrepresented and underserved communities across the country access to computer science camps and classes in addition to scholarships and internships at Amazon.” He said that the school being in the program gave THHS students the opportunity to apply for this scholarship. 

“Once I heard about the scholarship I informed all of my students to apply. I was very happy to see that Julia had applied,” he added.

Julia explained that the scholarship required students to write about a time they overcame adversity to achieve something they were proud of, as well as a problem in their community that could be solved with technology. “I wrote about gaining confidence in order to step up to a leadership role,” Julia said. For the second requirement, she continued, “I wrote about enhancing financial literacy through virtual reality to overcome behavioral triggers— a topic that my group… had worked on for our Project Citizen in our government class.” She added that the other information necessary to qualify was an official transcript, recommendation letter, and financial documents.

When Julia received her results in the mail, she was shocked. “I didn’t think I would actually be a recipient. My parents were super happy for me and proceeded to call up the entire family.” 

Mr. Connor had said that he wasn’t surprised at the fact that Julia had won. “I know she is a wonderful student and individual.  She hasn’t even scratched the surface of her potential,” he explained. “Julia has taken both AP computer classes we offer and has been a member of the track team for four years.  This year she was a captain of the team and her leadership ability and self-confidence have blossomed.”

Julia shared her advice for students applying for colleges and scholarships in the coming future. “I think my biggest advice is to start early and give yourself plenty of time to work on your personal essays and supplements. Also, keep up to date with scholarships because a lot of them have early deadlines,” she said. 

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