Congratulations to Holt’s 2022 Adoptee Scholarship winners — Kai Berkner, Grace Ingram and Bethany Werth!
In 2022, applicants to our scholarship contest submitted a creative work framed around the prompt, “Dear Past Me: What is something you would tell your younger self about being adopted?” Kai, Grace and Bethany each received a $500 scholarship funded by donors to put toward the cost of higher education. See their winning submissions below!
My name is Kai Berkner and I am so grateful to have won this scholarship! This news was such a surprise to me, and I am honored that I am receiving positive recognition for something I am passionate about. I submitted a film I created for my college film school application titled Dear Biological Parents. This fall I will be studying film and television at Drexel University. As I seek a future as a YouTube content creator, I plan to use my college film education to enhance my future social media videos.
My name is Grace. I’m a South African-American adoptee who had the privilege of spending my early childhood in South Africa with my adoptive family who served as missionaries for eight years in-country. An early childhood in South Africa’s outdoors has heavily influenced my educational and future career path. I completed my undergraduate studies in Zoology and I am currently finishing my Master’s degree abroad (U.K.) in Conservation Project Management. One day, I hope to work in the ecotourism industry with an emphasis on cultural and heritage tourism, helping African adoptees and other diaspora individuals explore the natural and cultural wonders of the continent.
My name is Bethany Werth and I am a Strategic Communications major with a concentration in Social Media Management. This scholarship program has not only helped relieve the financial burdens but also given me the chance to share my raw struggles as an adoptee with others. This money will go toward paying for my tuition! Thank you so much.
If I were able to tell anything to my past self, I’d tell her that adoption hurts and it’s okay to admit it. Adoption is truly a rollercoaster. It’s beautiful, as it brings families together and gives second chances for success. However, adoption is also the loss of parents I will never know, constantly feeling out of place in my town and being unable to answer a myriad of questions. The dark parts of adoption aren’t easy to address — for both adoptees and their loved ones. It’s hard to admit I was abandoned, unwanted or specifically in my case, a product of rape. However, I should not have to be ashamed that we struggle to come to terms with these things. True healing requires adoptees to face the things that hurt us and deal with them. Pretending a dark part of our history doesn’t exist only creates never-ending confusion and struggle.
My movie poster (inspired by the new Doctor Strange film) depicts the bumpy journey of adoption. A little girl, my past self, looks into a portal and sees the struggles she will face as she grows. However, down the path, in the left hand corner there is a faint rainbow. This represents the wonderful feeling of healing an adoptee feels when they come full circle with who they are, where they came from and who they can be. The path to healing is rough and seemingly lasts forever but the result is truly worth all of the struggle.
Congratulations 2022 Adoptee Scholarship winners! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish.
Learn more about the Holt Adoptee Scholarship Contest!
All domestic or international adoptees (adopted through any agency) may participate in the contest. Three adoptees will be awarded $500 towards an educational pursuit of their choice.