March 5th, 2018

2018 Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship Winner: Cohen Collins

“Life in college will be so much better. I will still have to work hard, but I’m up for the challenge.”
A young entrepreneur at heart, Cohen Collins launched his own lawn care company when he was in the 8th grade and has grown the business throughout the course of his high school career, serving almost two dozen satisfied customers! While focusing on getting good grades at Okaw Valley High School and running his business, he works a second job at a local woodworking shop and has become skilled in making custom cabinets and countertops. All this while  earning membership to  the National Honors Society.

Cohen’s dyscalculia and dysgraphia have  never stopped him from succeeding. As many of his teachers have remarked, “Cohen understands his challenges and rises to them, by hard work and perseverance.”
Cohen lives with his mother, sister and three brothers in Bethany, Illinois. He plans to attend Lake Land College in Illinois, and study Agricultural Business and Supply. Cohen hopes to continue to expand his business while in college and is committed to helping others and giving back to his community.   

Cohen Collins – Personal Statement

Not many students have had their own company for three years, but I have. Now I am ready to learn more about management and business by earning my associate degree in Agriculture Business and Supply at Lake Land Community College, near my hometown. I’ve had my own lawn care company since I was in the 8th grade and have grown it to twenty-two clients. In addition, I work part-time at a local woodworking shop, making, sanding, and installing cabinets.
I manage my time between school and working on my own and have to figure out which clients to help first. In the meantime, lots of things have happened to me. My parent’s marriage ended in divorce, my Dad and my Dad’s side of the family (except for my great-grandparents) chose not to have anything to do with my Mom or my four siblings. My family’s home burned down. I have had to put up with peer pressure and some other kids have made fun of me, teased me, or shunned me. Through it all, I have tried to do the right thing, which is to try to help myself and help others.
I like to do things right, so I have always tried to ask for help when I need it. There are still some things I need help on, like writing, spelling, and reading, but I have learned and remembered how to do a lot of it on my own. I have always gotten along well with the teachers at school and realize that you can get a lot further by being nice and trying. I try to get along with everyone at school. Sometimes some of the kids I know make bad decisions or go a different way, so I try to find new people to hang out with. I don’t have a lot of time to do that because I am very busy with my business and working.
I like to talk to people and get to know people, at school and in the small town where I live. I can talk to neighbors, clients, and people in town to learn from them, too. I really like to talk to the owner of the woodworking shop and older people in town. They show me how to do things and have me practice things to get better at them. I like talking to the people who come into the shop to get help. I have a hard time saying no so I always like to try to help people out. I don’t want to be a burden to my Mom. I help my Mom with my siblings and am a good influence on them. I don’t believe in getting everything handed to you. I think people should have to work for what they have, and they will appreciate it more. Hard work never hurt anyone.
I am proud of how things have worked out for me with my business, but I want to learn more about how to run a business so that I can be successful. I would like to go to the local community college to major in agriculture business and supply. I live in a very agricultural area and want to run my own business as well as possibly work for a fertilizer or agri-business company. If I were to win this scholarship, my tuition would be completely paid for. I have saved some of the money I have earned, but I have to use it to buy new equipment, tires, a used truck, bigger mower, and better blower as I have gotten busier with more clients to take care of.
I would be honored and relieved to receive this scholarship. Honored because I have tried to better myself, my community, and my family. Honored because I have tried to earn good grades–good enough to be a member of the National Honor Society–and asked for help when I needed it. I have learned to do things on my own when I can and seek out positive mentors to help me when I needed it.
I believe in hard work to earn things–no one should just be given things–they should earn it. That being said, this scholarship would be a great relief in that I will have to devote time and energy to completing college–and will have to juggle my work schedule around it–as well as not being able to work as much at certain times due to class schedules and homework. Therefore, this scholarship would alleviate my financial burden of college altogether. I have chosen a college close to home that is affordable, and one I can attend and live at home and keep my business.
I know that my IEP will follow me to college and that there will be supports put in place, so I can succeed. I plan to take full advantage of the counseling, tutoring, small environment, and contacts there I have already made. I know I have my family, community, my employer at the woodworking shop and clients to support me, all I need is the financial security in place, so I can keep my business and not have the burden of having to choose between going to college and working full-time. With this scholarship, I can keep my business intact, and go to college full-time.
It has been hard at times to grow up so fast. I have people tell me that I am way ahead of adults much older than me. I’ve always enjoyed working and earning my way. By receiving this scholarship, I could keep up my working, grow my business, and still get a degree which will help me expand and diversify. Thank you sincerely for your consideration.

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