What’s a winning scholarship essay look like? Actually, it’s a winning scholarship video.

More and more scholarships (like this Motorola Milestone one) allow you to submit short videos instead of personal essays. Check out the winning scholarship essay video entry from Violetta Spinazzola, about her best friend Jess:

We asked Violetta about how she made the heartwarming video, converting the $8 she spent on royalty-free music, to a $1000 scholarship award for her friend Jess!


How did you choose this scholarship?
Jess asked me to. It’s not selfish to ask your friend to try and help you get financial aid you truly deserve.


How did you make the video? What equipment did you use?
To draw, I used an old notebook I had lying around, and some markers. To film, I used an iPhone duct taped complexly to a stool – two shoeboxes and a pencil were also involved, and much time spent balancing the phone so it wouldn’t fall. The video was accidentally filmed upside down! I edited it with moviemaker on Mac, and bought about $8 worth of royalty-free music. Very low-budget.


Violetta (left) and Jess (right), in front of the Eiffel Tower in France!

What does Jess think of the video?
Jess told me she cried when she watched it, which made me feel so loved and flattered and happy. Even if we hadn’t won the scholarship, I still would have wanted to make her something she could watch when she was having a bad mental health day and needed a reminder that she is important and loved.


How is Jess going to use the $1000 award?
She is using the money to pay her college tuition. 


Any tips for other students applying for scholarships?
My tip for future students applying to the scholarship is to do something creative. My original idea was to write a story by hand and turn the pages as I filmed.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money! Use your brain! Even if you aren’t artistic, or great with words, you can always show rather than tell. 


Why would you recommend Going Merry?
They have some really interesting scholarship opportunities, and not all of them require a sit-down personal essay. 



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Charlotte Lau

Charlotte remembers the anxiety of college application time, trying to get into a good university and then finding enough funds to pay for it. She joined Going Merry as Head of Growth, to help make that college process a little less stressful. Charlotte holds a BA from Stanford and a MPP from Oxford—degrees both funded by scholarships. For several years, she also tutored academic writing and edited college/fellowship applications, as a side hustle.

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