Category Archives: Building A Better World Scholarship

Homegrown. Grassroots. Funded by teachers and the Oakridge community, since 2003 it is the largest “Oakridge only” scholarship available to graduating seniors. The OEA Building A Better World Scholarship consists of three $1000 scholarship – Global Awareness, Community Involvement, and Independent Travel, and is open to all graduating Oakridge High School seniors.

Savana Cooper – 2016 BBW Scholarship Winner

Below are excerpts from Savana Cooper’s winning essay for the Global Awareness portion of the 2016 Building A Better World Scholarship.  You can fine 2016 BBW Winners.  

We tend to Isolate Ourselves – “We tend to isolate ourselves in our lives and in our responsibilities, but we forget that there is more. There are more beliefs, more people, and more experiences. These are all things that if we had the interest to seek to understand, it would make co-existing with other races and cultures more experiential and peaceful. Given this, it is indeed our responsibility to become educated on not only foreign cultures, but foreign issues. This is why it is so great that we have an exchange student program at our school, because we get to hear stories as well as personal experiences from students all around the world.”

American Model United Nations at MCC – “On a more personal level, I am currently in the Early College program and attending Muskegon Community College. I have to say that the most informational thing I have done regarding Global Awareness is  taking part in the American Model United Nations.  For those not familiar with the AMUN, colleges from around the United States choose a country to study all aspects of their economy and politics. Last year I studied food security and nutrition in Rwanda, and I learned so much about Sub-Saharan Africa along the way. During our conferences in Chicago, listening to other college students talk about the issues in their country they represent was very informative. It takes passion, and it takes an open mind to learn about other countries. This coming fall semester at Muskegon Community College, I plan on taking the course again to study a different country.”

American Sign Language –  “I have also been taking classes in American Sign Language. This is an interest that I picked up when I traveled to Washington DC last May with Oakridge Close Up. I have recently found a passion in sign language and the Deaf community. An interpreter for sign language tends to travel around the United States quite often. This career field would be quite different than what my original plans are of becoming a veterinarian, so I have not quite decided which one is the best option for me.”

Travel Abroad with WMU –  “In the spring of 2017 after I graduate from Muskegon Community College with my Associates in Art and Science, I plan to transfer to Western Michigan University. WMU has a great study abroad program, and has connections with a college in Berlin, Germany. I plan to apply for this program and I await the opportunities this will bring me.”



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2016 Building A Better World Winners

McKenna Whipple and Savana Cooper   

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Congratulations Ladies!  You each have won a $3000 award from Building A Better World Scholarship.  Please go here to learn more about the history of our Scholarship. 

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2017 Building A Better World Scholarship is open for business

Please go here to access the 2017 OEA / OPC Building A Better World Scholarship.

Three awards – $2000 each – two for scholarships for post high school education and one to travel the world.  Please go here to read about the history of our scholarship and to meet our past award winners.  The deadline for submission to the Building A Better World Scholarship is Monday May 15, 2017.

Submit your scholarship entry(s) to by the noted due date.  

Good luck and thank you for inspiring us to help you to Build a Better World.



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Victoria Mueller – 2015 BBW Independent Travel Scholarship

Excerpts from Victoria Mueller’s winning essay for the Independent Travel portion of the 2015 Building A Better World Scholarship. 2015 BBW Winners.

I Don’t Want to be Scared – “When you travel, you become more and more culturally aware of places outside of your hometown.  Instead of hearing about events from other states or countries on the news or in the paper, you can go there yourself and experience it. It becomes more real; more tangible. When you stay in the same place for years, you get used to how things are done and settle into a routine, but when you travel you want to do anything but sit still.  Many people are naturally curious, but some are too scared to get out of their comfort zone and explore the world around them. I don’t want to be the person that doesn’t go to beautiful, new places because I’m scared to go away.

Toon and Bam – “Last year I met two of my best friends, Toon and Bam. At first I didn’t think that I would talk to any of the exchange students, but I’m so glad I did. Toon and Bam are both from Thailand and became very close friends with me while staying here. I have learned so much from them,  like that they don’t actually eat cat, they’ve never seen snow before coming here, and now I even know a few words in Thai.   At first when Toon and Bam were here, they were nervous and stuck together a lot of the time because they had something in common, something familiar with each other. Once they started breaking out of their shells and talking to other people, they learned a lot about our culture and grew from it.”

Travel Plans – “I want to go travel somewhere where I can see cultural differences everywhere thatI look. I would love to travel to Thailand.  I will stay for about a week and a half. I plan on staying with either Toon or Bam or both of them through the week and a half that I will be staying. I have researched places to visit around the capital of Thailand, Bangkok, and Toon and Bam can show me other places that they may be  fond of.  Because they live there, I will be able to see all of the city and get to experience the  entire culture, instead of places that normal tourists would visit.  I want to see everything; the local markets, the places of worship, the parks, the museums. I know that I will come back with so many memories and will have my own view points broadened because of this  journey.”

Toon, Bam, Victoria 2

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Paula Shay – 2015 BBW Community Involvement Scholarship

Excerpts from Paula Shay’s winning essay for the Community Involvement portion of the 2015 Building A Better World Scholarship. 2015 BBW Winners.  Please go here to learn of Paula’s successful challenge of the OHS graduation dress code.

National Honors’ Society – “Personally, my eyes were closed for my first two years because of the adjustments happening in my personal life but being accepted into the National Honors Society in my  Junior year opened me up to the idea and the importance of volunteering and community involvement. Through my outreach into the community through tutoring and helping and just being there I have grown as a person and seen so many things that have just humbled me in the deepest sense.”

The effects of poverty – “While helping tutor students on the elementary and middle school level I have seen the poverty that is one of the underlying characteristic of our community first hand.  Students that don’t have shoes that fit right anymore and have no money to purchase new ones.  Students that don’t have anyone to talk to about their dreams or fears because mom and dad have to work all the time.  I have seen it all and worked with these students in the hopes of  bettering their lives, even just a little by having someone to talk to.”

My Plan – “After graduation I plan on attending Western Michigan University and pursuing volunteer opportunities such as knitting hats and scarves for the homeless with my colleague Dominique Jessen and volunteering my time in local animal shelters to help animals find the perfect forever home. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot but it will mean a lot to the homeless and for the animals and for the new owners of the animals. Once I become financially stable and can do more, I will. Maybe I might work with Dominique on creating a non­profit organization or something else along those lines. No matter what it is I plan on majoring in or where I go in this wide world I plan on volunteering to make my community, my world, a better place to live in.”

Paula Shay



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