Melodie Shantz is one of three recipients who received a $3,000 Scholarship in 2021 from Ayr Farmers Mutual Insurance Company. When many people her age were bingeing on Netflix, learning new Tik Tok dances or baking banana bread, Melodie was dedicating her efforts to listening.
“When the pandemic hit and everyone was ordered to stay home, giving back to my community seemed to become much more challenging. I had no money to give, I had no time to give, I had no skills to give. While this was all going on, the world as we know it was crumbling, not just from the pandemic but from hurting communities speaking up and finally being given a voice. I couldn’t believe that amount of hurt existed in the world, that I had just been too naïve to even notice,” she shared with us. With limited resources to contribute, Melodie challenged herself to listen, learn, and understand.
Melodie has been using her time over the pandemic to take courses, read and learn more about the struggles and systemic injustices faced by many marginalized groups. As an active member in her community and frequent volunteer, she began to look inward and understand the critical role she could play -- being a voice to advocate for others. “What does it matter if I volunteer at a homeless shelter if I don’t understand the policies that are put in place to make people need homeless shelters? What does my time matter if I’m not using my voice to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves?”
The realization of her privilege and ability to help shed light on many worthy causes has inspired Melodie to use her social media platform to be an ally and ‘walk the talk’ at peaceful protests. Melodie is in her final year of a six-year program and in just a few months will be a teacher. She intends on ensuring the students in her future classrooms feel loved and accepted in every way. She hopes to educate and inspire her students to also care and advocate for marginalized, isolated, oppressed, and alienated communities. “I hope to teach my students to use their voice for the betterment of society. To speak their truth no matter the backlash they may get. And to always treat people with kindness.”