Elon’s new freshman, Aaron Chan, has been awarded $1,500 in the annual Negative Population Growth Scholarship competition. Chan, of Garner, North Carolina, wrote his essay on how population growth affects the ecological footprint and biocapacity of the United States.
“I looked at what I thought was true and what I observed around me,” Chan said. “When I did the research, these were the things that, to me, seemed most important.”
Chan competed against other high school students and currently enrolled undergraduates. They were tasked with writing an original essay of 450 to 600 words answering a fast.
Chan said he found out about the competition through fastweb.com, a scholarship aggregation site. In addition to the NPG Essay Contest, Chan has applied for 13 other scholarship contests and has won two so far – one essay on bankruptcy and the student debt crisis and one distracted driving video. Chan said that during his writing and application process, he did not show his work to anyone else and only relied on his own edits.
“Early this year, I decided I wanted to use my summer to apply for scholarships,” Chan said. “I like to write, so it was a good use of my time.”
Marlene Molewyk, one of Chan’s mentors who helped improve his writing skills, said that even before working with Chan, he was good at articulation.
“He came to me when he was trying to take his writing to a new level…he’s one of the best writers I’ve ever worked with,” Molewyk said. “He’s really good at intuitively knowing how to best present his audience.”
Chan’s mother and homeschooler, Phyllis Chan, said she mentioned to her son that he should look for scholarships, but his motivation to apply was completely self-contained.
“He was chatting with us about which ones he was writing or certain ideas…but I really had no idea how many he had written,” Phyllis said. “I’m really proud of him, he was determined to raise funds, one way or another.”
Chan said he is very grateful to have won these scholarships to help pay for his college education and feels proud that the time he spent writing and working has paid off.
“It meant a lot to me and my family to help pay for my education,” Chan said. “I was truly honored to win and have my writing recognized.”
While in Elon, Chan plans to study film and television arts and hopes to be involved with the Kernodle Writing Center. Chan said his advice to students applying for scholarships starts with finding topics that a student finds interesting.
“Find your niche and develop a strategy,” Chan said. “So go ahead.”