My name is Gillian Hanton and I am an incoming senior multimedia journalism major at Grand Valley. I am originally from Sterling Heights, Michigan, a city on the east side of the state in the Metro Detroit area. However, I am currently working for the summer in St. Ignace, Michigan, a small town in the Upper Peninsula. This is a place my family frequented on vacations while I was growing up, so it genuinely feels like a second home to me.
It is very difficult to describe how thankful and honored I am to receive your scholarship, and how profoundly it will impact my future at Grand Valley State University. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, I had to become a part-time student because of some personal issues with my health and my family’s health as well. As a result, I have had to add on an additional semester to my educational career at Grand Valley. I was very concerned about how I was going to pay for this extra semester, and I have considered taking on an extra job for the next year to reduce some financial stress, as my other academic scholarships will expire after only four years. With this scholarship, you have given me the greatest gift an academically invested student can receive: the ability to spend my time in college doing what I love, without having to worry about financial difficulty.
Writing and journalism are my greatest passions, mainly because I love learning about my community and sharing their stories with the public. I was a staff writer for the Grand Valley Lanthorn, our school newspaper, last year, and it challenged me to become more involved in all aspects of life at Grand Valley, whether that be in sports, volunteer efforts, or the arts. In more ways than one, it made me a better, more well-rounded person.
This coming year, I am looking forward to participating in one of my other passions, theatre. Because performances were halted for well over a year due to the pandemic, I can’t wait to get back onstage and create important art with some of my best friends. I have deeply missed the endless rehearsals, opening night jitters, and countless mistakes made while creating a production. My senior year (plus one more semester) would not have been the same without these experiences, as well as your support.