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Daniel’s Fund Finalists Include Several EHS Students

Hawa Dansoko, Reporter

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The Daniels Fund is a prestigious full ride scholarship program and they have recently  announced their finalists moving to the next round. Five of the finalist were Eaglecrest students. The Daniels Fund caters to students who demonstrate financial need and are graduating seniors in high school.

According to the Daniels Fund website their  mission is to honor the founder Bill Daniels whose ethics and core values were: compassion for others, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to excellence.

The Daniels Funds embraces a large range students who are dedicated to embettering their community and leading a fruitful future.

Eaglecrest has a rich past with the Scholarship, as it has pulled in many finalists and winners before. Last year two students from Eaglecrest received the scholarships, and this year five students finalized into the next steps toward the scholarship. Josh Mekonnen, Natnael Getu Kassa , Djelika Dansoko, Paris Grisby, and Mikayla Trissel will all be representing Eaglecrest as finalists for this year’s Daniels Fund Scholarship.

When reflecting on what the goal of the Daniels Fund is Mekonnen replied, “The Daniels is really about giving back to the community around you. Daniels was a giver himself; and the burden of giving back was fueled in him because he was born during the Great Depression. He knew what it was like to have little so when he had plenty, he felt that it was his duty to help others.”

The finalists found out about the Daniels fund through family and friends.

“I heard about Daniels from my long time friend who won it last year. I applied to secure the bag, but in media terms to set myself to receive a college education and have a chance at joining a community of Daniels scholars bound for success.” Kassa said.

“I heard about the scholarship last year, I did my research and I thought it was  a great idea for me to be apart of the Daniels Scholars”  Dansoko commented.

Trissel said, “My counselor told me about Daniel’s and said he thought I would be a good fit. I applied because I know college will be hard to pay for and I’m trying to help my mom by lessing the cost”.

Grisby mentioned, “I heard about Daniel’s through my AVID program. Daniel’s is all about opportunity to change the community around me, which is why I applied. I am a low income student, but I’ve proven to be successful in school despite all odds, and I love giving back to my community and others around me.”

With charisma, ambition and the drive to succeed, the students highlighted what being a finalist meant to them, what motivates them, and advice for future applicants.

Mekonnen has managed to balance school and his involvement in his community “I believe my community services and dedication to God and church helped me stand out. I’ve accumulated 1,500+ hours from my church and other organizations.”

Kassa has played on Varsity soccer “I made Varsity junior year, worked hard to be a captain my senior year.”

On what made him stand out Nate Kassa said“ I think what made me stand out was how I incorporated the values of Bill Daniels in my essays and the time I took on them. I had great minds look over my essays and offer me amazing input.”


Djelika Dansoko is involved in various Honor societies. She also is the president of French National Honor Society. She has dedicated her time by volunteer as a camp counselor, tutoring, volunteering at Project C.U.R.E etc.. “ I think my passion for helping others made me stand out. I really gave an insight into my life and my unique experiences.”


Paris Grisby: Paris is involved in Speech and Debate and hold leadership positions in various activities. When reflecting on why she stood out, Paris Grigsby recalled on all the things and struggles  that make her who she is“Part of why I stood out in my application is I gave in depth details of different parts of my life, from helping my mom with her MS, coping with the sudden loss of my boyfriend my junior year, and my struggles as an African American woman.”

Mikayla Trissel:  She is in AVID Leadership, Science National Honors Society, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Honors Diploma. “I am not like others because I maintain at mimun a 4.0 GPA while being in five AP classes and also working a full time job after school everyday” Mikayla Trissal said.

Three out of the Five finalists come from Immigrant families who originated from The motherland.

“Coming from Mali, integrity and  a sense of community has really been ingrained in me from a young age; which I think is what made me stand out among my peers.” Djelika Dansoko said .

“Coming from a background of Ethiopian parents and an Ethiopian community has shaped my values and influenced me to be involved in the community. The strict enforcement of rules and value of education and hard work  in my family has made me the student, athlete, and person I am overall today.” Nate Kassa commented

Josh Mekonnen’s ambition came from his family  “My brother and sister were both really smart growing up so my parents demanded a lot from me to be like them. I had to work for a lot of things that I have today because it didn’t come naturally to me”

The process of applying has been tedious for many of the applicants but worth it.

“The process was LENGTHY… I had to think a lot; there were 10 essay and I had to really think about what I wanted to write with few words (250 each essay)” Josh Mekonnen said.

Nate Kassa said “The process isn’t too difficult besides responding to 10 thought provoking short essay questions that take lots of effort and energy to write, but I had the support of my friends and a couple teachers in the school to help me along the way.”

With  joy and relief of being a finalist, the finalists shared on how they celebrated when they got the news.

Nate Kassa said“Being a finalist is an amazing opportunity, when I found out I was overwhelmed with relief and motivated to continue on to the next stage. I didn’t celebrate because I feel it would be unwise, as I have not won anything, but if I win Lord willing, I will  change that.”

Paris Grisby found out when she was having dinner “Admittedly, I almost cried when I found out I was a finalist(I was at dinner when I found out my scrolling through my email). I celebrated the rest of the night with dinner and a movie with my boyfriend. I feel extremely proud of being a finalist, especially cause I had so much familial support and support by my AVID family.”

The finalist shared their words of wisdom for future applicants.

Paris Grigsby’s advice is “I’d recommend to future applicants that they take careful time when writing their essays, including short anecdotes so the readers are reeled in. I’d also advise applicants chunk through the application, so careful attention is given to each section.”

Josh Mekonnen advice to future applicants is  “Be knowledgeable about Bill Daniels life/values before hand.”

“ Do your research and don’t be afraid to apply just because it’s prestigious. Also it’s a lengthy process start early” Djelika Dansoko voiced.

Makayla Trissel said “ I would advise future applicants to start early and take it seriously because it is a tremendous opportunity.”

“I would advise future applicants to not procrastinate their essays, take time to figure out who Bill Daniels is and what he stood for, and give your recommender plenty of time to write you a great letter of rec. You aren’t able to see the letters they write for you but I am grateful that Mr. Watts wrote me a great letter when I should have given him more time.” Nate Kassa said.

The applicants are looking forward to finding out the results of the Daniels within the next few weeks.

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Daniel’s Fund Finalists Include Several EHS Students