Education

73rd time's a charm: Wake Tech student wins national scholarship after dozens of rejections

Posted April 25, 2018 6:01 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2018 11:26 a.m. EDT

Persistence paid off for a local college student who just wouldn’t take “No” for an answer.

Walking the Wake Technical Community Campus this spring, a grim reality hung over Sarah Allevato’s chance of continuing her education.

“My future was hanging on the slim chance that I won a big scholarship and that’s what motivated me so much, because I had no other choice,” she said.

A federal Pell Grant paid for Allevato’s semesters at Wake Tech, but did not provide the means to go beyond a two-year degree. She needed a scholarship, so she started applying with essays.

“I set a goal that it was going to be one a week,” she said.

Soon, she was writing three or four scholarship essays a week and before long dozens had been submitted, but all came back with the same response.

“After careful review of your application, you have not been selected. Better luck next time, keep trying,” Allevato said of the rejection letters she received.

Allevato submitted 72 essays and received 72 rejections, but she never gave up. Her 73rd submission changed her life.

“I just started crying. I was actually here at the writing center and I went up to one of my professors and was like ‘I just won the biggest scholarship in the nation,’” Allevato said. “A winner is only a loser who tried one more time.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship pays Allevato $40,000 per year to transfer to a four-year university, meaning her dream education can become a reality.

Allevato will graduate from Wake Tech in May and plans to study abroad in London as part of the scholarship before enrolling at her first choice school, North Carolina State University.

“The scholarship actually provides full funding, full tuition to any university,” Allevato said. “I went [to N.C. State] in eighth grade to tour the campus with my class, ever since I just loved the school.”

Allevato’s scholarship also includes $75,000 for graduate school, which Allevato wants to use to get her law degree at Harvard.