By Lee H. Fenn |



By Jake O’Connell

Thank you Most Worshipful Grand Master, and friends and guests good evening!

I attend the University of Massachusetts in Lowell and am currently majoring in chemistry with hopes to go on to graduate school to study forensic science and later getting involved with helping the criminal justice system. I will be going into my junior year this upcoming September and I am still amazed at how quickly the time has passed. It feels like just yesterday I was moving into my freshman dorm and wondering how I was going to survive this first year, then in a blink of an eye, I took my finals this past May and my sophomore year was in the books. Although it does not feel like two years have come and gone, I have made many enjoyable memories from living in the city and adjusting to living on my own, to studying what I find to be interesting, and making new friends along the way. However, along with all of this good, there are some challenges of college life that have risen as well. Some of these challenges include maintaining schedules that change every semester, finding the balance between academics and extracurricular activities, and I know that most of us have had to make the difficult decision to either study the night before an exam or get 8 hours of sleep. But the biggest problem in my opinion that most college students have to face are the expenses that go along with attending college.

To give you an example, the cost of tuition for the University of Massachusetts Lowell is $13,427 and the cost for room and board is $11,670 coming to a total of $25,097 that must be paid for every year that I am at the university. For some, this cost is a little less, and for others, it is much more. Those were just the tuition and living costs, others that aren’t mentioned include the cost for transportation for those who commute or those living on campus who want to go back home for the weekend, the supplies needed to complete our assignments for the year, and the textbooks that we have to buy just so we can pass our classes every semester. Adding all of these together isn’t very friendly to your wallet, and the question that everyone thinks about next is how to pay this debt off?

For most college students, they take out loans and set up a plan to pay them all back in the future, but these can be difficult to pay because it is hard to stay on top of classes while trying to work 20 hours a week. So what is the next best thing that can be done? We apply for as many scholarships as possible to try to cut those costs down. The first time that I received the Grand Lodge scholarship last year, it helped me immensely by helping me pay for those unspoken college expenses such as supplies and textbooks, and also made paying back some of my college loans a lot less stressful.

I would like to thank you, Most Worshipful as well as the Grand Lodge Scholarship Committee for your generosity. If it wasn’t for your donations, none of us would be here today, and not only do you assist us in paying back those persistent college costs, but you also allow us to continue and further our education, allowing us to be one step closer to achieving our dreams.

And for that, we are very grateful.

Thank you!