VICTORIA, Texas – When entering the Victoria College Foundation’s “What’s You Story?” scholarship essay contest, Riley Jones’ goal was much bigger than winning the $1,000 prize.
Jones, a 19-year-old who struggles with generalized anxiety disorder, felt writing about his condition would give him a chance to confront it.
“The scholarship is nice, but that wasn’t the really big reason,” Jones said. “Because of my social anxiety, I have trouble talking to people. So the essay was part of my therapy. I thought I would just tell my story, and maybe it would help me.”
Jones included in his essay about confronting his anxiety disorder as he started taking dual-credit courses as a student at Louise High School.
“I know it’s common for people who just joined college to say that they have a lot of anxiety, and I was absolutely no exception,” Jones wrote. “I was lucky that my small high school of just under 200 students had dual-credit classes, and wanting to be as studious as possible, I immediately applied.”
Although Jones was appreciative for the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school, the extra demand for his time and attention contributed to his anxiety, eventually causing him to seek therapy.
“It took over a year for me to learn how to manage it,” Jones wrote. “It was during that time that I rekindled my love for knowledge and, eventually, I adopted a belief that has kept me strong to this day.”
Jones’ first visit to Victoria College’s Main Campus was during a high school trip.
“I really liked the campus,” said Jones, who took online courses at Victoria College last semester and plans on taking face-to-face classes in the fall. “It just seemed like a friendly place.”
After taking just one class, Jones felt Victoria College was the ideal environment for him.
“The most impactful class at VC was my first, my algebra class,” Jones said. “My instructor, Bradley Johnson, was not only a great teacher, he also encouraged positive thinking. During the first week, he quickly discussed growth versus fixed mindsets. Although it was only a brief summary, it greatly helped me with some of the anxieties I was facing. I personally felt that class helped me feel prepared and accepted.”
After dealing with his anxiety disorder, Jones said he hopes his essay will also help others who struggle with similar conditions.
“I spent a long time trying to summarize it,” Jones said. “I’ve always tried to think of ways I can help or bring awareness to people so they can understand.”
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