Meet Solen Aref, a junior at Murrow College studying broadcast news and minoring in political science. Solen was awarded the Evelyn Lund Deck Scholarship from Murrow College for the 2020-2021 school year. Hear Solen’s story and why receiving a scholarship was so meaningful and important to her.

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Why did you choose to pursue your major(s) in communication?

“I chose communication because I knew exactly what I was passionate enough about to make a career from, and that was the world of news and communication. I’ve had a love for the news since I can remember, and it sparked enough ambition in me to consider the crazy idea of becoming a news reporter. I knew that no other college would set me up for a potential career in the industry I wanted to work in.

Growing up, I never was excellent at math or science but I always loved anything that allowed me to express creativity and storytelling. I’ve found that I’m able to continue using my creativity for good at the Murrow College of Communication where I get to learn what I love every day. Studying communication helps me grow as an individual because it challenges me on a daily basis to expand my horizons and dream bigger than I ever have before. There is so much to learn about how communication has a role in all aspects of modern life, and the more I learn about it, the more I want to never stop.

People often take the art of communication for granted, but I’ve learned communication is not something everyone is just naturally good at. It requires learning and relearning new ways to be effective at all conversations we carry in life, whether they be big ones or small ones. Good communication skills are key to a forming healthy relationships, understanding others, and so much more. I don’t take it for granted that I get to study such an important skill in college, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to use what I learn inside the classroom to help myself and others become the best versions of ourselves.”

What do you hope to achieve after graduation?

“After graduation, I mainly want to be successful and happy with wherever life takes me. When I started college, I quickly realized how competitive the news industry is, and that’s made me only work even harder to achieve my dream of becoming a news reporter. My biggest hope for post-graduation is that my hard work pays off in helping me land a job in a local broadcast market. No matter how far away from home it takes me, or how un-glamorous the hours are, I will be over-the-moon-excited with any job that allows me to practice journalism daily. I feel so thrilled just thinking about being able to tell stories and talk to people for a living, and I can’t wait to move to a new area where I will have the opportunity to make a difference in the stories I tell for the communities I serve.

Additionally, I want to give back to others and volunteer my time to help the next ones in line, because mentors are some of the most important connections young adults need for career readiness. Mentorship has been something I’ve wanted to participate in when I realized the need for mentors as a college student myself. I hope to become one by joining the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program in each city I move to for work. Additionally, I want to spend my free time investing in organizations that foster community growth for children, like the local Kiwanis clubs that were there for me when I was growing up. Along with that, I hope to publish a memoir after college because becoming an author has been one of my biggest dreams since I was a child.”

How does receiving a scholarship support you in your college experience?

“Scholarships mean so much to me, because it allows me the peace of mind to focus more on my career, and less on non-communication jobs. I decided when I was in high school that I would pay for all the expenses of my college education and I’ve been doing that for the past three years. As rewarding as it’s been to fund my own education, it’s also been difficult at times to balance a social life with school and work. Often times when I was working a lot of hours, I’d feel burnt out from constantly juggling so many responsibilities day in and day out. Scholarships are currently my saving grace, because it allows me do what I love instead of doing work I don’t enjoy as much to fund my college career.

Currently I work in retail, and as much as I enjoy working around fashion, I love journalism and communication more. Thanks to these scholarships, it means that I have the choice of working less hours than I normally would, had I not been given a scholarship. The time I save from not having to work has allowed me to focus more on building a portfolio and starting a blog this year.

Having extra time on my hands is such a luxury because I know how fortunate I am to have that opportunity to do more than just go to classes and work. It’s allowed me time to really think about where I want my career to go, and what I can do to get me closer to my dreams. In my free time I write for my blog, watch and read the news, network with news nerds like myself, and seek out journalism opportunities. I owe doing all of this to the scholarships which have awarded me time to focus on my dreams instead of focusing on work to fund my dreams.”