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Corban University

June 29, 2020

Emely Shares how the Act Six Scholarship Paved the Way to Corban 

Emely Medina is one of 11 students in Corban’s first-ever cohort of Act Six scholars. Act Six is a scholarship program that seeks to develop leaders to be agents of transformation on campus and in their home communities. After a rigorous application and interview process, 11 students were selected to receive full-tuition, full-need scholarships to Corban University. Each of these students has demonstrated a high level of commitment, achievement, and leadership, and all come from high schools in Salem and surrounding areas.

Out of all the applicants for the Act Six scholarship, something about Emely Medina from McNary High School stood out.

Maybe it was her passion to see more trust and collaboration between the Salem-Keizer community and its law enforcement officers.

Maybe it was her dream of earning a forensic psychology degree, so she could better understand the motives and psychological factors behind crime.

Or maybe it was the awe and respect she held for her parents, who had persevered for years to earn their U.S. citizenship after immigrating to the U.S. from Mexico and El Salvador.

But regardless of which aspects of her scholarship application stood out, Emely will be carrying each of those qualities into her Corban education: passion for helping her community, curiosity in her field of study, and determination to succeed.

Emely knew she was interested in Corban as soon as she discovered that they offered a degree in forensic psychology—something she hadn’t found elsewhere. “I knew that I wanted a more specialized degree in psychology,” she says.

She admits that her interest in forensic psychology began by binge-watching Criminal MindsBut her interest in the field has deepened, and she’s excited to take her knowledge into a criminal justice career, possibly even in law enforcement.

Even in her free time, Emely enjoys reading books related to psychology and crime, and recently borrowed a book from one of her teachers called “The Gift of Fear: Survival Signs that Protect us from Violence.” “It explains how your fear can be used to your advantageit can give you signs or warnings of danger, she explains.

Although Emely was excited to come to Corban, she wasn’t sure how she was going to pay for school.

When she found the Act Six scholarship, which would provide a full-tuition scholarship to Corban, she decided to give it everything she had. “I don’t think I’ve ever put so much of myself into a piece of writing,” Emely says. “It was insane.”

Emely was asked to answer four essay questions, each in 500 words or less. She counted each word to make sure she was within the limit.

For one question, she was asked, “Describe any personal hardships, unusual circumstances you have had to overcome, or other aspects of your life story. . . How have these experiences shaped you as a person and how can they help you in the future?” In response, Emely chose to describe the challenges she had watched her parents endure as they worked toward their U.S. citizenship. In one paragraph, she wrote:

For weeks before their day in court, my parents prepared for the worst, making a plan for what they would do if they were deported back to their countries, and how they would try to get my siblings and I over to my aunts in California. Their court date finally came on October 6, 2010. By then I was old enough to understand what was happening and knew that whatever decision was made in court that day would determine whether or not our family would be divided by three countries. I’ve never been more terrified of anything in my life. After five hours of deliberation and years of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and determination, my parents were finally permanent residents, and this winter will mark three years since they became naturalized citizens of the United States.” 

“I was in awe watching them,” Emely says. “Now looking back, it was amazing what they did. I admire their resilience and how they’re so relentless with what they want to achieve in life. Those are two things that I’ve tried to mirror all my life growing up. I don’t ever want to give up, I don’t ever want to surrender to anything.”

After submitting her application, Emely could do nothing but wait and pray. “I’d never wanted something so much that I went home and broke down into tears praying for it,” she says.

For the next phase of the application process, Emely attended a group interview in Portland where she and her fellow applicants were asked to discuss various issues in society. “Two judges sat there with a clipboard,” she remembers, observing how each candidate problem-solved and interacted with one another.

I was nervous,” Emely says. “Honestly, I felt bad because I was kind of sizing people up and wondering, ‘Am I going to be able to compete with you?’”

After a final round of interviews and a tour of Corban’s campus, the final waiting period began.

When the email arrived announcing that Emely had been selected to receive the Act Six scholarship, she screamed so loudly that her mom thought something terrible had happened. Emely managed to explain, but was so happy she could hardly speak. “We were just laughing, crying, hugging.”

When asked how it feels to be an Act Six scholar, Emely says, “I’m so thankful for every person who has shaped and molded me into the person I am right now.” In addition to her parents, Emely is particularly grateful for four of her teachers from the Career and Technical Education Center in Salem. “My teachers challenged me to push myself like no other teacher has ever done. Without them I would not be here,” she says warmly.

A few years ago, I would never have taken the chance for fear of getting my hopes up and not getting the scholarship,” says EmelyIt’s a huge blessing to be given this opportunity to continue my education. A blessing to earn it, because this proved to myself that I’m much more capable than I thought I was.

Emely also sees God’s hand at work in her life—from learning about Corban’s forensic psychology program to being admitted to the Act Six program. She says, “It was in His plan for me to find this school.”