Each year, New Life Center Foundation receives over 100 scholarship applications. Any young man or woman from a hilltribe background may apply for a SLSF scholarship. Applications are reviewed thoroughly and prioritized according to need and student initiative. Three NLCF staff oversee the application and interview process for the SLSF scholarships. On average about 50% of applicants are interviewed.
Interviews last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. The contents of the application are reviewed, and case managers ask several questions to better understand the student’s financial situation, family background, academic qualifications, and goals for the future. Each interview is different from the next, not only in terms of an applicant’s background, but also in their manner. Some students are reserved and professional, keeping answers short. Others bound into the room with little if any trepidation, smiling all the way through the conversation. Some are visibly shaking because they are so nervous. A rare few come calm and collected.
The needs are great – greater than most of us can understand. Staff ask thorough questions about the challenges faced by each applicant’s family. Drug-use, absentee parents, and the expectation on each young person to provide for their family often require a box of tissues and a few moments of encouragement. “You have come this far! You have already shown incredible fortitude. Keep working hard. You can do this.”
After the interviews are completed, making final decisions about who will and will not receive a scholarship is grueling. The three interviewers review each file together once more, consulting with one another, and evaluating which of these deserving young people will most benefit from the support of SLSF. Out of 114 applications and 55 interviews this year, just 30 students (26%) were chosen to receive scholarships. These thirty students will have many opportunities in the future, and New Life Center is delighted to share the journey with them, one step at a time.