A new scholarship program gives young artists the chance to follow their passions.
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"While I’m dancing it’s just different. I feel like I want to use a word that I don’t know yet. It’s the most myself I ever feel."

A new scholarship program gives young people the chance to follow their passions.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, October 6, 2016

For Khorii Tinson, an opportunity to go to university for what she loves is the natural extension of her lifelong passion for dance.

Her dad, Karl, said Khorii knew she wanted to be a dancer before anyone else did. Even when she was very young, she was finding ways to make dance a part of everything they did.


Despite an early dance teacher kicking her out of class for doing cartwheels — and then warning her parents that dance probably wasn’t Khorii’s thing — her love of movement never faded.

Khorii performing as a kid. Image via Live Mas Scholarship/YouTube.

Dance was a constant in Khorii's life when her father had to leave the family for Army deployments overseas. Three times he left for Iraq, with one final tour in Afghanistan. When everything else was uncertain or changing, dance was always a part of Khorii's life. Through the years, she continued to pour her heart into dancing and performing.

For some dancers, the dream of going further in their studies ends after high school — and not for lack of passion. Of the more than 7,000 universities and colleges across America, only about 80 offer accredited dance programs​. Private unaccredited programs exist, but they’re often even more expensive and students who attend them might not be eligible for financial aid.

This is the reality for so many creative youth looking to follow their dreams. There aren’t enough schools with programs for what they want to do. Even if they do find a school they love and get accepted to it, there often aren’t enough scholarships to help them afford to go.

It's a big problem, and one this new scholarship program is trying to fix.

The Live Mas Scholarship is offered exclusively to talented, creative students who want to pursue higher education, but don’t fit the criteria for standard "academic" or "athletic" scholarships.

These students are artists, writers, musicians. They're filmmakers, designers, and activists. They’re powerfully talented dancers like Khorii.

GIF via Live Mas Scholarship/YouTube.

In 2016, the Live Mas scholarship fund awarded 220 scholarships to deserving recipients, ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 each. They promise a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the next generation: one that’s not based on grades or sports. There are no essays, no test scores, no right or wrong answers. There's just talent and a desire to do more with it.

Khorii received a scholarship to attend the prestigious dance program at the University of Texas in Austin.

Image via Live Mas Scholarship/YouTube.

For her, it’s the culmination of a dream and a reminder of who she is.

"When I’m dancing, I know that’s where I want to be and that’s who I am. Whole. I know that things will work out in the end, and I think being optimistic has always helped me. I will find the positive in any situation."

Khorii’s mom, Mina, agrees. "I’ve always had two words for Khorii, whenever she goes to school or she’s on stage: Be brave," she said. "Fight for your dreams fight through your failures, and you’ll survive, and through that, you’ll find your happiness. You’ll find your joy."

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.