Before I stepped a single foot inside my dorm room in Manhattan, it was all a dream. It was written on the walls of my bedroom in Chicago. I conceived of this story while cleaning the carpets of Merit School of Music in Greek Town. In my Sophomore year, I took a leave of absence from Parsons School of Design in New York. Fast forward a year later I decided to go back to school. I sat in a cafe in Rogers Park thinking about my strategy. I got really clear on what I wanted and I simply followed the plan I laid out like a map.

Writing this letter is not something you’d bet on yet I’m here writing this. Perhaps impossible doesn’t exist but in the mind. I want to give thanks to the HEAR Scholarship for believing. Being lost is frightening but it’s a lot closer to being found. It was a relief that at the end of my journey through the mist of indecision, HEAR had my back and supported me, regardless of my failures and uncertain moments. Money is an interesting concept. Yes, it is paper, oftentimes it is font on a digital screen in our bank accounts but however simple it carries the weight that people put into it consciously or unconsciously. At the end of the day, the contribution the HEAR Foundation has offered has made a difference in my life.

I am a strong believer that we are not just standing on a speck of dust flying through the Milky Way. I believe every person is at the center of a web connected to others. Every decision I make matters to myself and everyone around me. If I do well, others will do well. I take responsibility for my opportunity.

While walking through Washington Square Park with an old high school friend, he asked me how my classes were going. I said with a smile, “Amazing!” Shocked, my friend said I was the first person to say that about their experience with school currently. I come from a people that don’t run when things get hard. We stay and adapt to our new situations. I go to all my classes, I take as many notes as I can and I ask as many questions as my heart desires. Studying at NYU, I feel like Charlie with his golden ticket at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I’m just happy to be here but more than that I am grateful and serious about my work. I am making student films with my classmates. Short black and white films with no sound, shot on iPhones. Limitations make me creative. It doesn’t matter if I am in front of my professor or on Zoom, nothing has changed. I’m not in my bed in pajamas. I am at my desk ready to download information from my classes.

Thank you again to the HEAR Scholarship Foundation and all its contributors. It means more than you may ever know.”

Eden DeJ. HEAR Class of 2023
New York University Undergraduate
Film & TV