We are excited to announce that the CollegeDrive Scholarship Competition winner for 2022 is McKenzie Pilgrim!
McKenzie is from Georgia and has plans to attend University of North Georgia. Her goal is to major in Sociology so she can one day pursue a career in social services. She has always told herself that no matter what she did, she wanted to be able to give back to the people who have always helped her. This way, she finally can. We are confident that McKenzie has nothing but a bright future ahead of her where she will make an impactful difference in the lives of many individuals!
You can read McKenzie’s inspiring essay below:
It Is Not Your Job by McKenzie Pilgrim
My sister is eight years old the first time she wants to chop off all of her hair. I am sixteen years old the first time my sister asks me if she’s pretty enough.
There’s nothing you can do about the way your heart will stop when you hear it; the way your heart will shatter like porcelain across the kitchen floor. Half of you will want to crawl out of your skin, bones trembling, as you throttle the world by the throat for making such a remarkable young girl worry about something so superficial. The other half of you will want to cradle her delicate face between your hands, smooth away any doubts that such a kind person could ever be anything other than perfect, anything other than lovely. Neither happens though because those clear, vulnerable eyes are as gutting as any butcher, and the slaughterhouse has never felt so cold. It’s time to answer. And oh, how easy it would be to say, of course, you’re pretty, don’t ever question it. But, it’s in that moment the things you used to believe then change. It feels like pins and needles are walking down your spine, bleeding into your skin, making a home out of your marrow. Your throat is fighting not to close in on itself as bile tries to claw its way up and up and up and up and-
I am sixteen when the revelation hits me so hard my ears ring: you do not have to be pretty if you do not want to be. It is not your job.
She shouldn’t have to be pretty. Not all girls want to be.
Some just want to be enough for being who they are.
And oh, I think I get it now.
When you’re a girl, pretty is expected; pretty is the standard. But this child is eight years old with a mind as bright as the cosmos. The second she came into existence; she was already so much more than just pretty enough. She was everything. She could be anything. Pretty is nice. It’s pleasant. But it’s not a requirement to be worthy of existence.
It’s not a requirement to be a girl.
I am sixteen when I tell my sister she is pretty. I am also sixteen when I tell my sister that it is not her job to be if she does not want to be. Both feel right, but one feels better. I know she will only understand the first. But I can’t help but feel lighter when I take her to chop off her hair the next day. I can’t help but feel lighter when I see her finally smile at what she sees in the mirror.
Lighter still, when in the middle of the night she wakes me from my sleep and crawls into my bed. Her eyes are as crystalline as ever when she breathes a quiet thank you into the open air. I know it’s just for the haircut, but my eyes sting nonetheless.