50+ Scholarship Efforts Pay Off for Chynna Sharp

Chynna Sharp '22, '25G completed more than 50 scholarship applications during senior year of high school — two a week, at her mother's urging — while also earning a 4.0 grade point average, working two part-time jobs, playing violin in the Greece Athena High School orchestra, doing volunteer work, and applying to eight colleges in five states.

Chynna Sharp

Chynna Sharp '22, '25G, is a physical therapy major with a minor in psychology.

Chynna Sharp with family

Mom Treva Warren (far right) and proud family members joined Chynna (holding certificate) at scholarship award ceremonies, including at ESL Federal Credit Union.

Success

Her scholarship efforts paid off.

Chynna received nine scholarships — mostly from local organizations such as the Urban League and Rochester Area Community Foundation. She also was supported by Wegmans, where Chynna works, and the Monroe County Federation of Social Workers; her mom, Treva Warren, is a county social worker with foster kids. Chynna even was chosen by Burger King.

"I'm grateful that I've gotten all these scholarships, even though it was stressful," she says.

Her mom calls the scholarships a blessing: "It's been awesome and it's just been a great burden lifted off me."

High grades are favored for scholarships, but there were no guarantees. "I didn't think I was going to get this money," says Chynna. "Especially Burger King. Kids of employees could apply, or just students with good grades."

Why Nazareth

Chynna was accepted at all eight colleges. At first, she wanted to go to a large school out of state. But she ultimately chose small Nazareth College because she can complete her doctorate in physical therapy in just six years, rather than eight years elsewhere, and because the College accepted her as a Young Scholar. The Young Scholars program for high-achieving diverse students promotes academic excellence, collaboration, and leadership — and significantly supports tuition. Meanwhile, her private scholarships are paying most of her housing and food costs. "Honestly, Naz was the best option for me," she says.

Chynna learned about physical therapy on an eighth-grade field trip about careers, when physical therapist salaries caught her attention. Also, physical therapy care helped her deal with a hip joint issue.

Chynna Sharp with high school diploma

Chynna graduated on the high honor roll with distinction from Greece Athena High School.

Chynna Sharp in dorm

Chynna gets settled in on move-in day at Nazareth College.

Ceremonies

Some of the money arrived by check in the mail. Some scholarships were presented at a formal event. ESL Federal Credit Union awarded seven students from 500 applicants at an event that the credit union chief executive attended, with food and with posters featuring the students' photos. "It was really nice," says Chynna.

One scholarship ceremony was on the last day of school, so she had to leave her senior trip to Darien Lake early.

Meeting College Challenges

She needs to keep high grades to stay in the Young Scholars program — and to satisfy herself. Her college courses are rigorous, so Chynna has a student tutor for chemistry and biology.

Her mom believes Chynna has been so successful for multiple reasons. "When you meet her, she's like a glow of sunshine. She's smart. She's willing to help others."

In Chynna's first semester of college, her mom started talking about scholarships for next year: "You need to continue to apply."

Chynna was ready. "Since I already know the process and know what to expect, I think I won't be as stressed." She also has considered a different approach: She could apply to work as a resident assistant in a dorm, which would cover a significant amount of housing and food costs.

Finding Scholarships

  • Timing: Her mom wanted her to start seeking scholarships the summer after junior year, but Chynna found most didn't open to applicants until October.
  • Sources: Her high school's college and career center provided packets of scholarships to apply for. Chynna also searched online to see which scholarships' eligibility she matched, such as those for high school students, for volunteering a lot, for teens who wear glasses, or other characteristics. She found one for people with polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary condition she has. The Urban League supports black scholars. Also, "There's some for certain careers, like physical therapy. Some you have to have a certain ancestry. There's one for Italian people, I remember."

Financial Aid Tips

Tips from Chynna

  • "Stay focused on grades" to qualify for scholarships.
  • Be involved. "They like to see you're well rounded." Chynna volunteered through her school, at a local hospital, and for her town, organizing events for kids and families. She was in Girl Scouts, in Sisters Together Achieving Results (STAR), and in Delta Gems.
  • "Have good relationships with your teachers and your guidance counselor and the college and career center person." Chynna frequently turned to her English teacher and her orchestra teacher to provide the required scholarship recommendation letters.
  • Most scholarships require an essay, either short or long. "You could submit the same essay if they require the same things." Some require a photo of you.
  • You may be asked about yourself, your family, career goals, school activities, grades, what motivates you, and/or who is your biggest inspiration. When asked how she overcame a challenge, Chynna wrote about the disappointment of not having her father in her life, but that she also has other supportive people, such as her maternal grandfather.
  • Some are one-time funds. Others are renewable.
  • Expect the scholarship search to be time consuming, including applications, essays, and potentially interviews and ceremonies. Her mom says: "I could tell at times she wanted to give up. I just tried to encourage her to keep going. You've got to continue to plug away." Chynna had scholarship interviews on the days of her prom and her senior bash.
  • Once selected, expect more requirements, such as a picture of your school ID, college enrollment verification, or a tuition bill.