Irl, 18 – FUNDED

Moving to the U.S. as a 14-year-old without her parents was a difficult challenge to overcome for Irl Paulalengan. But, if you ask her, it’s also one of the best things that could have happened to her. That’s because, it made Irl realize that she if she pushed a little harder, held on a little tighter, prayed a little longer — and worked a lot harder — she could reach above and beyond what she imagined. Now, this 1,000 Dreams Fund Scholarship recipient is on her way to Colorado State University to major in journalism and media communication — and continue striving towards her dreams.

What is your professional dream?

My professional dream is to be a documentary filmmaker and travel to tell stories of the often unheard or unseen.

How will you use the 1,000 Dreams Scholarship?

I will use the 1,000 Dreams Scholarship to help pay my textbooks in college and also to buy videography equipment so I can continue to explore filmmaking — even outside of class.

How is this scholarship helping you get closer to your dream?

This scholarship is tremendously helpful to enhance my filmmaking skill thus helping me to tell stories of people more effectively. By having my own videography equipment and software, I can easily and efficiently travel and tell people’s stories. And, the more experience I get, the closer I will be to my dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker.

What advice do you have for other young women who are wanting to pursue their dreams?

Go out from your comfort zone and never let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. Explore what you like, even when it seems like wasting time; experience cannot be bought with money or intelligence. Whether it’s music or medicine, literature or forestry, just keep following your dreams. Oftentimes as women, we have high expectations set before us — to be able to balance both of our work/school, our house chores, and our hobbies. People tell us what we are supposed to do or be. Don’t let that stop you from pursuing your own dream. Instead, use it as your fuel to strive even harder for your dream.

​Have you had any setbacks? How did you move past them?

As an immigrant, first-generation, and a person of color in the U.S., I’ve had many setbacks —especially during my first months here. From having to communicate with my body language because I kept hearing “I don’t understand what you are saying” to adjusting to a very different school system and environment (and the SATs for an English Language Learner like me!), Eventually, I adapted. I also learned to have the courage to reach out and seek help, even when it was uncomfortable to do so. I work hard because I know the price and the importance of education.

I also found College Track, an organization that supports students who are just like me to go to college. Through this, I made many new friends and met mentors who are like my family now.

What’s next for you? What is your next goal?

My next goal is to finish my education in college and to get the most out of my time there. I already applied to positions on campus to work in videography, such as in the CTV (CSU TV), which is a local broadcasting TV on campus and in Student Video Production. I am also a part of the Global Village Residential Community which has domestic and international students. Through that, I wish to understand other cultures better and, hopefully, tell more diverse and rich stories in my videos.