Heath 3rd grader's essay earns $1,000 scholarship

By By JASON MORROW jmorrow@paducahsun.com

Aaron Munoz, a third grader at Heath Elementary School, wants to change the world through his art, and his passion earned him a $1,000 scholarship to the college of his choice when he graduates from high school.

"He couldn't believe he won," said Munoz's mother, Mariana Skaggs, at a school assembly Wednesday. "It's a head start for him."

The scholarship was part of a statewide essay contest called Dream Out Loud, sponsored by the Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust.

For the essay, students had to answer: How do you want to change the world after college? A self-described artist, Munoz wrote about wanting to inspire others.

"I want my work to make somebody have a good day, after they have a bad one," Munoz wrote in his essay. "I want to travel the world and paint it, and bring the world to people that might never get the chance to see it in real life."

Being a Mexican-American, Munoz also wants to be an inspiration to all races.

"I want to be a role model, not only to all the kids that want to be an artist and are told that it's not a career, but since I am Mexican-American, I want to encourage all races, and children from homes where their parents didn't graduate college, that you can do it," he wrote. "I want to show them that with hard work, and determination, you can make all of your dreams come true."

The contest received more than 1,100 entries from 109 counties across Kentucky. In his category, Munoz was chosen out of hundreds of entries, according to David Lawhorn, manager of the Kentucky Education Savings Plan Trust.

"We're basically trying to get students and families to start thinking about college early on," Lawhorn said. "That's primarily why we chose the age group of pre-K to sixth grade."

This is the eighth year the contest has run throughout Kentucky and the first year a winner was selected from Heath Elementary School.

Skaggs said the scholarship will be a big help to Munoz.

"We are not rich at all," Skaggs said. "He doesn't have a college fund, so we're just kind of hoping for him to get scholarships to be able to pursue his dreams."

In addition to Munoz's scholarship, Heath Elementary School received $500.