Meet Our OppU Achiever: Alyssa Hill
We’re thrilled to announce the latest recipient of the $2,500 OppU Achievers Scholarship, Alyssa Hill — a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University who is challenging the status quo by disrupting conventional standards of education.
Alyssa is a first-generation student dedicated to challenging the boundaries of education. She grew up in an environment where education was viewed with apathy. But Alyssa was captivated by stories of strong women who achieved great success despite the odds. Now Alyssa is an achiever in her own right, graduating from the University of Utah with dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and communications — at only 19 years old.
“Pursuing higher education has been one of the most incredible challenges and most fulfilling experiences of my life,” she said.
Alyssa’s achievements started in high school. She focused on her education, completing an IB program, AP courses, and concurrent enrollment college courses — enabling her to bypass general education requirements once in college. Her dedication to her studies led her to take on several internships, advocacy work, and writing opportunities with The Borgen Project and Democratism. For her undergraduate research project, Alyssa analyzed the participation of Mormon women in Utah during the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The project focused on why Utah was the second territory to grant women the right to vote, despite its geographic location and conservative influence.
But high achievements require perseverance and a strong support system. Alyssa found mentorship in another inspiring woman, her professor Dr. Helene Shugart. Alyssa credits Dr. Shugart as her greatest influence, saying her mentor’s achievements and personable demeanor encouraged Alyssa to reach even higher during her academic career.
When asked what advice she had for her peers, Alyssa said, “Take it one week at a time. No matter where you are in your educational or professional career, long-term goals can be daunting. Cherish your time and don’t overwhelm yourself.”
Alyssa is now working toward her master’s in political communication at Johns Hopkins University. After graduation, she intends to work on a political campaign or pursue a Ph.D. Either way, she will be an inspiring woman for the next generation.
You can read more about Alyssa’s achievements in her essay below.
Certainly, in education, we have all faced adversity. Though, perhaps the greatest inhibitor of education is mediocrity. I grew up not in a household where education was paramount, but one in which apathy was the default setting toward learning. Captivated by the stories of women whose success seemed impossible, I became a first-generation student and achiever dedicated to undermining mediocrity and challenging the boundaries of higher education.
Beginning in high school, I dismissed the workload recommendations of school counselors and sought out every opportunity, academic and extracurricular. Though, with nearly a third of the student body classified as economically disadvantaged, and only a third attaining proficiency in standardized testing, Clearfield High was far from the poster child of high school education. Enrolling in the International Baccalaureate program, I completed rigorous coursework and research, later being awarded an International Baccalaureate Diploma. In conjunction with Advanced Placement and Concurrent Enrollment courses, the achievement I demonstrated in high school allowed me to enroll at the University of Utah with 66 credits, eliminating my general education requirements and having accrued two years of higher education.
Committed to the same tenacity and rigor I put forth throughout high school, I began college with an eye toward opportunity. Funding my education wholly through scholarships, I completed six internships and received selective funding for undergraduate research investigating Women’s Suffrage in the Utah Territory. As an intern for The Borgen Project, I took a grassroots approach to poverty reduction, lobbying for increased international aid funding and developing content to raise awareness about global poverty. Interning with the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy, I commit my time to fostering citizen diplomacy and expanding cultural awareness between Utah and foreign nations. In an effort to strengthen foreign relations and enhance cultural understanding, I developed an interactive virtual map project, Citizen Diplomacy Map, to share the diverse stories of individuals from around the world. As a political content writer for Democratism, I advance grassroots political activism to ensure that the votes of all U.S. citizens are counted equally.
At 19 years old, I will receive two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Utah — in political science and communications — before beginning a master’s in political communications at Johns Hopkins University. Yet, the most critical lesson I’ve learned from my education is that achievement does not mean never looking back. My education empowered me to become a voice for the voiceless and to aid those who are underserved in our communities.
In the future, I hope to inspire young women and first-generation students to challenge the status quo, disrupt the conventional standards of education, and to use their voices to advocate for those who are unable.
Could you or someone you know use $2,500 for tuition? To apply, submit a short essay through our web portal.
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