A little over a month ago, I received the incredible news that I moved on to the semi-final round of the Coca-Cola Scholarship! In its 27th year, the Coca-Cola Scholarship generously awards $20,000 scholarships to 150 deserving high school seniors across the United States. Beyond the enormous amount of scholarship, Coca-Cola scholars are indoctrinated into a community of prestigious individuals, forming life-long relationships with young entrepreneurs, performers, researchers, visionaries and dreamers, all with the power to change the world.
The reason I am so excited about moving forward in the scholarship is not just because I have been distinguished among over 87,000 applicants, but because of the potential a brand as renowned as Coca-Cola has seen in me. My efforts to reform public education, to bring student voice to global attention, and to promote digital citizenship have not gone unnoticed; rather, they are receiving an investment from the moguls of entrepreneurship, marketing, branding, and customer satisfaction.
For my birthday last year, one of my best friends bought me a book on the history of Coca-Cola’s marketing. Opening up this treasure was like uncovering hidden secrets, long forgotten but forever set in stone. In the book, an idea was presented that forever changed my outlook on Coke’s brand:
“Coca-Cola is not about the drink; it has never been about the drink. It is about making people happy.”
I began to notice just how happy Coca-Cola makes people- it is everywhere! During my exchange trip to Spain, my host family would ornament our dinner table with glasses of Coca-Cola. While in Granada, I stumbled across several Coca-Cola bars, serving refreshing drinks to tourists. Even yesterday, during a conversation about the scholarship with DigCitSummit co-founder Dr. Marialice Curran, she started singing “¡Una Coca-Cola y un sonrisa!”
To be recognized for my contribution to social change and educational reform by a world-renowned brand synonymous with happiness is an honor.
As I edit my application in preparation for the upcoming deadline, I decided to enjoy a classic bottle of Coca-Cola, allowing my mind to wander back to the origins of Coke. Once upon a time, this brand was just an idea by someone with enough passion to pursue it endlessly. After unrelenting dedication, unparalleled branding and marketing, and a community strong enough to bring Coca-Cola to every corner of the world, the team behind Coke is inspiring and empowering a new generation of young entrepreneurs with the same passion. I sit back, honored, and read over my application with “a Coca-Cola and a smile.”