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Scholarship Winner!

Posted: Oct 18, 2021 in Minecraft

mc head By Kevin Lott

Congratulations to Mia Shapoval!

Thank you all for participating and submitting for the chance of winning this scholarship. Creative writing is a wonderful way to express the emotions one feels telling a story or remembering an important moment, and we’re glad that we can provide an outlet to share those stories. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner, so we would like to acknowledge Mia for the wonderful essay they wrote. It was super interesting to read about your awesome virtual adventures. So please, enjoy their work!

The Winning Essay!

My world was first created in 2012. I was in 4th grade, and my friends had been discussing a new game called “Minecraft”. They told me I could build whatever I wanted, could explore different worlds, and I went home to beg my parents to let me buy it. Instantly, I was hooked. I spent countless hours building towns and castles, and fought off countless creepers to make sure my builds weren’t destroyed.

The next summer, I was given the opportunity to attend an IDTech Minecraft mod creation camp at MIT. I created my own cheese mod, which allowed you to put milk in a furnace to create cheese. This was also the summer I was introduced to the world of programming. Java isn’t the easiest language for beginners and I struggled with it, especially since I was only 10. However, my excitement about Minecraft and the idea of creating my own additions to the game made me work hard, and I picked it up quickly

I ended up falling in love with the world of programming. I loved being able to create my own games and my own Minecraft mods. I later learned JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, and created my own websites, one of which was a Minecraft mod tutorial website. I continued to develop my Java skills as well, continuing to expand my original cheese mod by allowing players to create armor, weapons, and blocks out of cheese.

In 8th grade, I was introduced to a family with two younger boys who asked me if I could teach them programming. More specifically, they wanted me to teach them Java, so they too could create their own Minecraft mods. I was nervous to teach them, as I had never taught anyone before, but I agreed. And again, because of Minecraft, I discovered my other passion: teaching. I loved being able to help them create their own mods, to experience the same excitement I did when they loaded up the game and could see what they created.

This brings us to now. I’m still teaching four years later, and I’ve volunteered at several organizations to teach programming to students, such as GbSTEM, Beyond The Five, and The Base. I’ve created my own curriculums for introductory Python, Minecraft mod creation, introductory Roblox game creation, and introductory web development. I’m also now proficient in six different languages: Java, Python, JavaScript with HTML and CSS, Lua, R, and C++.

This summer, I’m doing research at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public health. I’m working to identify sex-linked differences in lung adenocarcinoma to identify drugs that will better treat the disease in men vs in women.
And I would have never gotten that opportunity if it wasn’t for Minecraft.

You asked me to give my opinion on how Minecraft could be a “positive influence on education and career development.” I am the result of its influence. My programming journey started because of Minecraft, introduced me to teaching, and why I’m considering becoming a computer science professor someday. Minecraft’s influence on our lives is greater than Mojang could have ever considered. I and many others have a wonderful block-filled world to thank for discovering their passions. I know people who want to become engineers, architects, chemists, and biologists because of what Minecraft was able to introduce to them. If you asked me 10 years ago if I thought that the new game I had overheard about would change my life, I probably wouldn’t believe you. And yet here I am, a senior in high school, the world I created still growing and developing, and it’s all thanks to a few blocks and a pickaxe.


That’s the news! If you happened to miss this scholarship competition, do not fret! There will be more, and you can always find more information on our official scholarship submission page. We hope to read more of your awesome essays and we wish you all the best in your studies. Have a wonderful semester, and remember, 500 words or more!

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