Natalia Tiller ’18 Awarded MLK Scholars Scholarship!

We are honored to announce our very own, Natalia Tiller ‘18, has been awarded a scholarship as part of the Martin Luther King Scholars Program and a full ride to NYU!

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholars Program brings together students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds who have demonstrated a commitment to further the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through excellence in academic achievement and distinguished leadership and community service. The understanding of the legacy that informs the Scholars Program is the beloved community defined by the themes of excellence, social equality and economic justice. Dr. King’s beloved community is inclusive and just, where individuals can grow and thrive.

Natalia shares her experience at OLP and how it helped her achieve one of her goals, attending her dream school, NYU!

“My favorite OLP memories are my junior and senior year retreats at Whispering Winds. These brought me so much closer to my classmates and helped me understand who I am as a person (apparently my love language involves words of affirmation). Never have I felt so loved and appreciated than during those trips. I will miss the sisterhood! The pep rallies, being able to openly scream and cry with your friends, the support we all have for one another, and the sense of community each class slowly builds with each other.

I love how OLP encourages us to go beyond our limits of who we think we are. In social justice or peace studies, we are encouraged to talk about very tough topics that otherwise would have skipped or been sugar coated. Even within our own friend groups, we push each other to be the best person we can be. My friends have encouraged me to take challenging classes and apply for programs like the Junior Ambassador program! Since we are always pushing each other, it is not uncommon to see students start clubs or rally in support of something they are passionate about. Actually, just last year a group of friends and I founded OLP’s African American Alliance Club and Unity and Action Club.

What helped me the most was my extracurriculars, classes, and the environment I was in. I have been involved in our theater department since freshman year, which has helped with my public speaking skills. As a whole, the environment at OLP  has taught me how to be confident in myself and my capacities. The classes I took (Social Justice, Christian Morality, Speech and Debate) helped shape my moral views and further polish my ability to express my own opinions. The MLK Scholars program requires weekly seminars on pressing current events, and I know that because of these classes and my experiences OLP, I am confident enough to share my beliefs.

NYU has been my dream school since freshman year and I absolutely cannot wait to move to New York City. Since I am planning on majoring in Applied Psychology and French, I know that the city has infinite opportunities for me to take advantage of. New York City is such a vibrant place to go to college, and I know that I will flourish there.

If a current/incoming student wanted to join my specific program (MLK Scholars), then I would advise that they focus their energy on what they are passionate about and what really drives them. Colleges are looking for genuine people with a moldable wisdom that can grow and develop in their institution. I would say, don’t be afraid of doing something new to find your identity! My freshman year, I auditioned for the musical at Saints alone. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but it was the best decision of my life and now I’m president of OLP’s Thespian society. Always be true to yourself and if you want to do something that your friends are not doing, then do it. Be active in your community and have boundless amounts of empathy. In high school, I volunteered in hospitals in Barranquilla, Colombia and in the Pacific House of Relations as a Colombian folkloric dancer, which showed colleges that I cared about my community. I had no idea that this program even existed until a month ago, they handpick 20 people out of a pool of about 75,500, and only three people from California. I believe that I was chosen because I was able to hone in on my passions for activism and community service, and will now. So, if I could give freshman me some advice, it would be that things will work out in your favor and blessing are everywhere. You will encounter moments of uncertainty and you are still trying to figure out who you are, but always know that if you enjoy a certain class or extracurricular, keep doing it! Don’t be afraid to take the regular version and the AP version! Revel in your uniqueness and in what makes you you. If you like writing stories then take Writing in Literature, if you hate math, take more humanities classes. Don’t join clubs or take classes just because they “look good” on your resume, do it because you want to. If you follow your passions, colleges will see that and they will reward you for it. And last but not least, always be true to yourself no matter what.”