October 5, 2022

Paying It Forward Story By Valarie Meyer

This is an inspiring story by a college student who experienced how tying shoes makes a huge difference. She wrote about the experience as part of her scholarship essay. She received the $3000 scholarship to help her continue with her pilot schooling.

Valarie’s essay that got her a $3,000.00 scholarship…

Change, One Sole At Time Valarie Meyer

Grabbing two laces, wrapping them around each other, and tying two shoes together into a perfect bow, can make a difference. One afternoon, I was asked if I would like to help with a project. My mentor brought me to a photography studio in a small town in Wisconsin. As I walked into the studio I was bombarded by bags upon bags of mismatched shoes. I had no idea what we were doing, but I was given directions to tie pairs of shoes together. My mentor said to the business owner, Kathy Kohl, “Oh, would you tell Valarie the reason we are tying all of these shoes together.” Kathy proceeded to tell me the story behind all of the shoes and her nonprofit, Changing A Destiny.
It all began with a trip to one of the poorest counties in Kenya. There, Kathy met a boy from an orphanage who was found in a trash bag in a dumpster. Seeing this adversity inspired her to start a nonprofit that would build a school. Providing children with education will allow them to support their families so no children are left abandoned. For every bag of shoes, she receives $10 to fund the project. In her basement, she had over a hundred bags of shoes. Even though I only tied together 50 pairs of shoes that day, this small action helped create impactful change that will improve a community.
Tying shoes together is just one of the many ways someone can make a difference. Most of the time, creating change begins with an awareness of who needs help. I met my mentor through an aviation program at my high school. After starting the program, I was given the opportunity to learn to fly. I was interested in becoming a pilot, but I was reluctant to pursue it because of the expense. Her husband saw my passion and my financial struggle. He was aware of my situation and allowed me to get my pilot’s license at a reduced fee. The average cost of training for a private pilot certificate is $10,000. My total cost of training was only $3,000
because of their generosity. This training led me to my passion for aviation and gave me the ability to attend Southern Illinois University for Aviation Flight & Management. Not only did it lead me to university, but it led me to my purpose.
I aspire to help people just as my mentors do. I want to, metaphorically, tie shoes together for the rest of my life and help people the way others have helped me. We all have the opportunity to make a difference every day. I aim to become a flight instructor and offer reduced-cost flight instruction, as my mentor did. I would be so grateful to receive the Senator Penny Severns Making A Difference Scholarship. It would enable me to continue my flight training and make a lasting positive impact on the aviation community.