All of the lawyers and staff members at Bey & Associates, LLC are dedicated to helping our local and nationwide communities build strong foundations that can enable us to take part in a brighter future. We decided to start a scholarship in 2017 that would give us the ability to help college students forge that strong foundation. The scholarship’s last submission period, Fall 2019, recently came to a close. We were truly humbled by the amount of applications we received as well as the exceptional high quality of every essay. All of the essays were outstanding. Choosing just one winner was difficult!
We’re pleased to announce we’ve chosen a winner.
Congratulations to Michael Lancaster of Dorchester, MA!
Michael will be attending University of Massachusetts, Boston as a graduate student in the Master of Education in School Counseling program.
This submission period’s essay topic was as follows:
“What did you want to be when you were five? How have those career aspirations evolved over the years and gotten you where you are now?”
Here’s his winning essay:
My Very Own Career Path, All About Me
My father was recently cleaning out the attic in my childhood home and showed me a poster I made when I was 5 ½ years old titled “My Very Own Poster All About Me.” The poster includes collages of my favorite things – Mickey Mouse, Christmas, and pizza – and things I did not like – knives, cigarettes, pirate ships and, perplexingly, Hershey Kisses. While my likes and dislikes were evident, the poster sheds little light on what I wanted to be when I grew up; in the bottom corner, in response to this prompt, I drew a picture of myself holding an oblong object while floating through a sunny sky. My best guess is that given my life-long love of sports, I was imagining myself soaring past my opponents in a rousing game of baseball or basketball. Where I am now is far from a career in professional sports, but my future is no less bright than the sun shining on that little boy in the drawing.
Throughout my life I’ve taken a measured approach to achieving my goals. In high school, practice and dedication earned me the title of Captain and M.V.P. of the basketball team. I studied hard and got into a good college. After receiving my undergraduate degree in 2006, I entered the workforce and spent the next decade in a successful career as a sales and marketing professional, managing people and high-profile accounts such as Major League Baseball and American Airlines. I continued to live by the philosophy that careful planning and hard work are the recipe for opportunity and success.
Then, on January 9, 2018, I lost my job. I had been working at a digital marketing firm for eight years and had formed lifelong relationships and had many moments of personal growth and professional advancement. Then, in a flash, it was all over. It was a disorienting experience to go through, but all endings present both challenges and opportunities.
After my lay-off, for the first time in twelve years I had the opportunity to take stock of where I had been, where I was now and, most importantly, where I wanted to go in my career. I didn’t want to jump at the first job opportunity for the sake of a paycheck. I also knew that my prior profession had lacked a sense of purpose and joy. I wanted my next job to be the right one. I spent the next six months meeting with a career coach and speaking with trusted friends and family who have dedicated their lives to education, coaching, and public service. Over the course of these exercises and discussions my mission crystallized, and at age thirty-five I decided to return to school full-time and pursue a career change to become a guidance counselor. I realized that helping guide and support young people, especially in times of adversity, is where I see myself in the future.
To achieve this goal, in the past year I have taken the GREs, applied for and been accepted to my school of choice, and begun taking classes with the aim to graduate with a Master’s Degree in School Counseling in 2021. To gain experience, I have been working as an individual aide to a student with special needs while juggling part-time jobs to pay the bills. Meanwhile, also during this time my partner and I moved, got married, and are now expecting our first child this January! Navigating all these considerable life changes in a short period of time isn’t the way I usually like to do things; I like to get my ducks in a row and focus on one big project at a time. However, through this experience, I’ve learned that sometimes you must gather up everything you’ve got and make a run for it to make your dreams come true.
Embracing this new outlook on life is an achievement that will inform and enrich my new career. In becoming a counselor, my goal is to help students capitalize on their potential by being their sounding board and a stable, supportive presence. I envision my skills best used with high schoolers, as I know firsthand how daunting it is to manage stress and chart a course for your life. Drawing upon my experience, I can help students navigate times of transition and decipher their options. In helping them to identify their source of resilience, hopefully these students will realize they are greater than the obstacles they face.
If you asked five-year-old Michael Lancaster whether he could ever picture himself in graduate school, working with teenagers, and about to become a father himself, I’m sure the answer would have been “no.” The trajectory of my life continues to surprise me to this day. But what I have learned is that it is possible to overcome adversity if you confront it with an open mind and are willing to seek creative pathways to success, while not compromising on the best things in life: love, happiness, and family. To be able to share this lesson with children in the future, including my own, will be my greatest achievement of all.
(And for the record, I still don’t like smoking or knives, but I’ve come around on Hershey Kisses and pirates.)
For more information on the next scholarship period which will be for Fall 2020, please see our law firm’s scholarship page for updates within the next week. Congratulations again, Michael! May all your dreams come true.