When Shayna Turk was considering her options for college, it didn’t take long for her to realize her top pick was the University of Southern California. Since she did not qualify for financial aid, Shayna knew the only way she would be able to afford her dream school was through scholarships. She applied for dozens of awards, always trying to focus on scholarship programs that spoke to her as a person and to her unique story.
That story begins with a love of the stage.
Drawing on her interest in acting and dance and her natural desire to be a leader, an 11 year old Shayna started Shayna Turk’s Academy of Rising Stars – a summer drama camp held at her grandparents’ house. Shayna handled all aspects of planning the performance – from the rehearsals and scripts to the choreography and set design – and charged parents an admittance fee to see their children perform. At its inception, Shayna says she had no idea the camp was going to bloom into a business.
However, the camp was a great success and Shayna’s business has flourished over the years, prompting her to hire counselors to help with the growing number of participants. Shayna already has 12 productions under her belt and plans to show three productions next summer.
“The camp is definitely my passion. I don’t plan on giving it up any time soon,” said Shayna.
Thanks to her business, Shayna is able to pursue another passion – helping to save the lives of children around the world. Each year, she donates all ticket proceeds from the drama camp to Gift of Life International, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the medical needs of children suffering from congenital heart defects and other heart conditions.
Shayna is proud to say she has participated in two medical missions and that her business has helped fund life-saving surgery for eight children.
“From doing these camps, I have learned who I am as a person,” said Shayna. “If you set your mind to something and have a great support system, you can always achieve it.”
This past June, Shayna was named 2010 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Federation of Independent Business. The NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards program is an annual scholarship program aimed at rewarding entrepreneurial efforts among high school students and encouraging their involvement in private business.
As the winner of the prestigious scholarship, the Agoura Hills, California native received $10,000 to help pay for her college education. She may only be a freshman at USC, but Shayna has a clear path in mind in mind for her future: to study business and attend graduate school.
Shayna was also one of 20 students this year to win a $4,000 scholarship from the National Association for the Self-Employed, which offers merit-based scholarships to dependents of NASE members.