Scholarship essay contest proved to be healing experience for VC student

Riley Jones was recently named a winner of the Victoria College Foundation’s $1,000 “What’s Your Story?” scholarship.

Riley Jones’ goal when entering the Victoria College Foundation’s “What’s Your Story?” scholarship essay contest was much bigger than winning the $1,000 prize.

Jones, 19, struggles with generalized anxiety disorder, and he felt writing about it would be an opportunity for him to confront the condition.

“The scholarship is nice, but that wasn’t the really big reason,” Jones said. “Because of my social anxiety, I have trouble talking to people. So the essay was part of my therapy. I thought I would just tell my story, and maybe it would help me.”

Jones wrote in his essay about confronting his anxiety disorder as he began taking dual-credit classes as a student at Louise High School.

“I know it’s common for people who just joined college to say that they have a lot of anxiety, and I was absolutely no exception,” Jones wrote. “I was lucky that my small high school of just under 200 students had dual-credit classes, and wanting to be as studious as possible, I immediately applied.”

While Jones was grateful for the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school, the extra demand for his time and attention added to his anxiety, eventually leading him to seek therapy.

“It took over a year for me to learn how to manage it,” Jones wrote. “It was during that time that I rekindled my love for knowledge and, eventually, I adopted a belief that has kept me strong to this day.”

Jones first visited Victoria College’s Main Campus during a high school trip.

“I really liked the campus,” said Jones, who took online courses at Victoria College last semester and plans on taking face-to-face classes in the fall. “It just seemed like a friendly place.”

Jones felt like Victoria College was the ideal environment for him after taking just one class.

“The most impactful class at VC was my first, my algebra class,” Jones said. “My instructor, Bradley Johnson, was not only a great teacher, he also encouraged positive thinking. During the first week, he quickly discussed growth versus fixed mindsets. Although it was only a brief summary, it greatly helped me with some of the anxieties I was facing. I personally felt that class helped me feel prepared and accepted.”

Having now dealt with his anxiety disorder, Jones said he hopes his essay will also help others who struggle with similar conditions.

“I spent a long time trying to summarize it,” Jones said. “I’ve always tried to think of ways I can help or bring awareness to people so they can understand.”