I’m at a loss for words. What a vibrant, colorful, and at times, a dizzying array of performances Shakira displayed at the 2020 Superbowl Half-Time Show.

Jamming on the guitar, banging it out on the drums, immersed in the Arab-flavored rope dance, shaking it out with some passionate belly dancing, and finishing it off with a playful Champeta dance which has roots in Colombia and Africa.

And just when I thought I couldn’t be more star-struck by Shakira, I learned more about her life behind the scenes.

Named the 58th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes, Shakira was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and at 18 years old, she founded the Barefoot Foundation to provide education and nutrition to impoverished children in Colombia, Haiti, and other parts of the world.

So in short, not only does Shakira’s hips not lie, this “she-wolf” does not mess around when it comes to making a positive impact in the world.

With such an impressive story, I can’t possibly walk away from an opportunity to learn more about her and to find out how Shakira’s story would look like in the form of a scholarship essay.

So for those of you that love Shakira and need to find a way to pay for college, read on to learn some tips on how you can also write a killer scholarship essay, especially if you also have an inspiring dream that you want to share.

DISCLAIMER: I based the majority of this hypothetical scholarship on research I conducted on Shakira’s life. But since I wasn’t able to directly interview Shakira (maybe one day I will though!), I don’t know how accurate everything is.

So take everything for a grain of salt! I am only writing this for educational purposes.

Scholarship Prompt

What are your career goals?

Suggested Essay Outline

Before I dive in to share my tips on how to write this scholarship essay, I would advise Shakira (and anyone else with an inspiring story to share) to use this outline to structure your essay.

I don’t have enough time to go through each section individually to explain how you should write them, but this outline should help guide you through the writing process.

Paragraph 1: Introduction
-Start your essay with a grabber that pulls the reader in
-Share a story that illustrates the societal problems that you want to tackle
Paragraph 2: Background information about the societal problem(s)
-Provide a more thorough explanation/context to the societal problem
-Explain why the societal problem is severe, important, and urgent
-Include statistics, data, quotes, or other information that shows the whole picture
-Provide a clear statement of your career goals (crucial!)
Paragraph 3: Why are these career goals important to you?
-There are countless other societal challenges out there, why is it this challenge that has gotten your full attention?
-Why is it this challenge that you’re willing to devote so much time, effort, and your career to fulfilling?
Paragraph 4: Progress you’ve made toward your career goals already
-Start with a concise sentence about what this paragraph is about
-Show off your track record in how you have been pursuing your career goals
-Have you participated in any projects, field research, or student clubs that can help you develop the skills to do well in your career?
Paragraph 5: Conclusion/Concrete Plans for the future
-Wrap up your essay by reiterating your career goals
-Share some concrete and specific plans for the change you want to make in the future
-End essay with a strong finishing sentence

Now the first tip I would give to Shakira if she were to write an essay for this scholarship is to write about a personal mission instead of just a career goal.

Anyone can have a career goal, but few people have a career goal that is driven by a personal mission. And if you can share your mission, it will undoubtedly help you stand out in the application process.

So what do I mean by a personal mission? It’s a career goal that is bigger than just earning money, it’s a career goal with the ambitions to create change and impact the world.

More often than not, a personal mission is a career goal with the intention of helping tackle a serious societal problem like climate change, poverty, or modern-day slavery.

In Shakira’s case, she has always lived with so much purpose in her life that her aspirations are really clear. Even in her early career, Shakira has always been a strong voice for the Latin American community in the United States and has used her stardom to bring her culture to the world and vice versa.

She has also invested in numerous philanthropic projects in her Latin American and African countries.

Shakira Career Path: Singer, Song-writer, Record-Producer, Dancer, UN Goodwill Ambassador
Societal Problem that She Wants to Help Tackle: Even though the first 6 years of a child’s life are the most vital and formative, millions of children around the world are deprived of basic early childhood education.
Career Goals/Personal Mission: To use her stardom and resources to build a Foundation that provides early childhood education to all impoverished children around the world.

Once Shakira’s figured out the career goals she would like to write about, she can start working on her essay. And there is no better way to start this essay than with a personal story that introduces the societal problem(s) that she wants to tackle.

To do this, I would encourage Shakira to write this story in the form of an “origin story” that is common among Superhero characters. An origin story is a backstory that essentially explains why someone became the superhero that they are.

And no, it’s not just a story about how a character suddenly develops their superpowers. It’s a story about what pushed them to become the superheroes that they are and why they are willing to accept the sacrifices and responsibilities that come with it.

For instance, Spiderman initially became a superhero because it was the only way he was able to cope with the guilt and grief of losing his uncle – which he felt responsible for.

Ironman started changing his ways because he experienced first hand the destruction that his own weapons were causing in the world.

Black Panther, on the other hand, was motivated to be the Black Panther because he felt responsible for the future of his own country and wanted to right the wrongs of his father.

Whatever the origin story may be, every superhero has one. And so do you. So imagine that you are the superhero in your own story and write about what inspired your career goals. In terms of Shakira’s story, I think she can start her scholarship essay with a personal anecdote like this:

We lost all of our furniture. We lost our car. We lost everything. When my father’s jewelry business went bankrupt, we had to sell everything we owned to pay off his debts.

The sudden shock to my life filled me with deep resentment and anger for my parents. How could they have failed so miserably in business? How could they have failed me?

Watching me seethe with anger as time went on, my parents suddenly decided to take me to a park one day. And to my horror, when I arrived at the park, I watched young starving children live in the dirt.

Their clothes were torn, their feet were bare, and they scavenged everything they could to put food in their bellies just to survive another day.
It was only after I witnessed how these children live did I finally realized how fortunate I was. Even in my most unfortunate state, I still lived a much more privileged life than them.

It was at that moment when I made a vow to myself that I will work hard to become successful and one day when I have the money and resources, I will come back and help those children.

Now we know that origin stories can be really powerful (seriously, I cry every time I watch Spiderman), but it’s not nearly enough to show that you have a compelling personal mission.

So my final advice for Shakira is two things that she can do to make her career goals really gripping for her reader.

Step 1: Show Off Your Track Record

Anyone can come up with a lofty-sounding career goal to write about in a scholarship essay. But only the people that are serious about their goals will be able to back it up with real evidence and a track record of things they’ve done to further their career.

Maybe you’ve participated in research projects or you interned at a large corporation or you volunteered at a local NGO. Whatever it is, you should flaunt it like it’s the biggest achievement you have ever made in your life.

Step 2: Share Your Goals for the Future

There’s no point investing in someone that has a good origin story and a track record if they have no idea where they want to go. So make sure you share concrete goals for your own future.

What are the next things you want to achieve? What is your ultimate goal in your life? How many people do you want to impact?

This is an example of how Shakira can answer these questions:

I have never stopped fighting for children’s rights since that fateful day. I strongly believe that we all come to this world with a talent, a gift, and a dream to be fulfilled.

And every child is entitled to proper education, love, and support throughout the vital first 6 years of their lives, and a fair chance to live a dignified life.

Because of this, I have jointly-sponsored a $6 million school in my hometown in Barranquilla, Colombia. And in 2012 I helped launch a $37 million project named Primero lo Primero (First Things First) in partnership with public foundations in Columbia.

Our goal was simple: to build, train, and operate 13 new early childhood development centers all across Columbia. An estimated 6500 children will benefit from our program within our first year of opening.

I am proud of the progress that I have made, but it is still far from enough. My personal goals extend far beyond the borders of Colombia; they extend to wherever in the world where there continue to be children that are deprived of their most basic right.

And I will not stop until this injustice is rectified and all children are given an opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential.


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