Each year, Spark the Journey high school seniors have an opportunity to apply for the Henry D. Owen scholarship. This scholarship was named by Spark in honor of Henry D. Owen, a creative, compassionate, talented and diligent public servant who played a pivotal role in creating Spark the Journey. Mr. Owen was a distinguished diplomat and leader who served his country. The Henry D. Owen Scholarship was established in 2012 and is designed to assist Spark students who demonstrate a dedication to the program values. First place for the 2022 scholarship was awarded to Saniyah. She shares a moment that changed her relationship with her mother and influenced her career path.
Essay Submission: A moment in my life where I have changed somebody’s life for the better and they have changed mine would be when my mother returned one of my hugs – I mean, really returned one of my hugs. My mother didn’t graduate from high school and worked many jobs to provide for our family. Throughout my life, my mother has always been amazing but she wasn’t always the most physically affectionate. She wasn’t brought up on a strong nurturing foundation, but she did her best to raise us.
From that day on, my mother always hugged me and kissed my cheeks. Still, at the age of 17, my mom will leave a big red kiss mark of her MAC lipstick on my face. Those are her “lollipops” to me and the love I have given her are my “lollipops” to her. I began to realize that she wanted that type of love all along. I realized that the reason she was so hesitant to give me physical love was because the people who were supposed to give it to her walked out on her without an explanation. She knew that this wouldn’t be the case for me, but she still had that guard up towards physical love. It took one hug every day for her to realize that I was here to stay forever to give her as much love as she wanted or needed.
I look back on those times and I can understand how hard it was for her to come out of her shell, but as my parent she felt that she needed to give me the love I deserved. Having this healthy relationship has helped us both grow as people for the better. My mother said, “I’m a part of her testimony” and vice versa. These words will forever stick with me because I love my mom more than anything in the world.
This moment of my mother returning my hug, and the relationship it helped us build, has helped me so much as a person. It is part of why I want to pursue a psychology degree because I want to help others, especially children, understand that they deserve love and are loved. I don’t want children growing up not feeling like they don’t deserve a hug back, or for it to take all of those years for them to be healed.