A Worldly Outlook Pays Off

April 16, 2014

Sandra KushnirOne student used her diverse life experiences to snag a scholarship.

Sandra Kushnir, a CSUN master’s student in counseling (marriage and family therapy), has always been an adventurer and a philanthropist.

Over the past few years, she has traveled extensively. First she participated in a fellowship program in Israel to learn more about the impact of the Middle East conflict. Then she taught English in Italy for three months.

She has volunteered in both Los Angeles and her native state of Utah, mostly working with children with developmental disabilities and people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Currently, she works at the Malibu-based Promises addiction treatment center and is training to become a marriage and family therapist at the Maple Counseling Center in Beverly Hills.

"Because of all the work I’ve done over the last two years, I wanted to see if I could get a scholarship out of it," Sandra says. "I figured it was worth a try."

Since Sandra has out-of-state residency, her tuition and fees are higher than they are for a student who is a California resident. But since neither she nor her parents have low incomes, merit scholarships were the best way for her to go.

A high grade point average and extracurricular activities are a must but merit scholarships also tend to go to applicants who have different experiences that allow them to stand out from their peers.

Sandra took her amazing life experiences and highlighted them while applying for scholarships. Her efforts paid off in January 2014 when she was awarded the James R. Simpson Merit Scholarship.

"It’s better to take the time to apply than not apply at all," she says.

Even Sandra had to try for six or seven different scholarships before she was finally accepted by one. She did her research via the Internet and consulted her program director for scholarships relevant for master’s students in her program.

Sandra’s advice: Take advantage of every opportunity. Be organized and responsible. Keep track of deadlines and maintain good relationships with your professors (merit scholarships tend to require at least two letters of recommendation). Sandra encourages her fellow students to utilize any chance to get a scholarship. For that reason, she says, don’t be modest! Show that you are a self-motivated and a risk taker, and that you are flexible and responsible.

 Melaney Christy, English major, graduating spring 2014