This article was written by Amber Bhutta, class of 2019.
Though many of us may associate Coca-Cola with an endless variety of sugary beverages, senior Daniela Velez received something arguably sweeter: scholarship money.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship awarded for outstanding leadership, community service and significant impact on the school and community. Given every year to 150 graduating high school seniors in the US, the scholarship consists of an award of $20,000, applicable to any four-year college, along with a lifelong alumni network and a Scholars Weekend consisting of a leadership and community service summit. After hearing about the program through her guidance counselor and reading about it online, Velez decided to apply.
“I thought it was a long shot to apply when I saw how large the scholarship was, but I applied anyways just in case since I knew I could really use the money to pay for college out-of-state,” Velez said.
Velez applied for initial consideration for the scholarship at the end of October by submitting a list of her extracurricular activities and basic personal and academic information. After a few weeks, she received notice that Coca-Cola had selected her as a semifinalist, prompting her to submit an additional application in mid-December that included a more thorough resume, essays, recommendation letters and her transcript. In January, Coca-Cola named Velez a regional finalist, indicating her place among the top 250 applicants, of which 150 would receive the scholarship. A few weeks after completing a final interview over Skype with the program director in mid-February, Velez received the news that Coca-Cola had named her one of its 150 Coca-Cola Scholars.
“I was ecstatic when I found out I received the scholarship,” Velez said. “I kept re-reading the email to make sure it was correct.”
Velez will attend the Coca-Cola Scholars Weekend in Atlanta April 4-7. Velez also plans to attend MIT in the fall, her college of choice where her scholarship money will go toward the tuition.
“I’m incredibly honored to be part of this network of Coca-Cola scholars, and I’m excited to continue on to make an even greater positive impact on my community through the doors this has opened for me,” Velez said.