We recently connected with Brittany Palmer, the recipient of the Youth Leadership Award in this year's Black Business and Professional Association’s (BBPA) Harry Jerome Awards.
Brittany used her own university scholarship experience and made it into a thriving consulting business. ByBlacks.com connected with the west coast resident and spoke to her about unlocking the keys to scholarships, and success.
Tell me a bit about what your company does.
We focus on making the scholarship acquisition easier for students, by providing seminars where we teach a step by step process. What we try to do is simplify the process so students don’t feel overwhelmed. This way we can get them excited about doing it, rather than thinking about the process as stressful.
How long have you been doing this?
We started in 2005 when I was 18. At first, I started the business as a community project and later converted it in 2008 into a for-profit business.
It’s now a full-time job. In addition to the seminars, we provide private consultations working one on one with students developing their scholarship profiles. I have also written a Scholarship Workbook that accompanies my program.
Let’s step back for a second, when did you determine that you wanted to do this?
From grade 12 I knew I wanted to get a tertiary education. I was in a single parent household, and my mother nagged me to get into researching scholarships because she could not afford to pay for all my tertiary expenses.
My mom and I navigated the process and we eventually figured it out. But during the whole experience, we realized there is an easier way to do this.
Is there a specific person you can help?
We assist anyone from Grade 8 to people looking to do their Ph.D. We mostly focus on high school and undergraduate students.
There is a myth that only high achievers can access the scholarships. Getting many of the scholarships is not about academic performance or sports prowess. Some of the scholarships are geared toward ethnic groups or specific communities. The thing is no two students have the same situation, and every student has a story and a need. What you do with your time is the main thing for scholarship applicants to focus on.
I also offer my own scholarships to students, giving out a total of $1,000 every year. My goal is to grow that amount annually.
Do you have plans to offer your services across Canada?
Yes. It’s my long-term goal to have the program set up across the country.
Who is your mentor?
My primary inspiration is my mother. Her belief in me, and just how she is community driven, she is truly my sounding board. She was the one that gave me the platform to do this business.
What advice would you give to a person starting the scholarship process?
The main thing is you really need to build a strong foundation, believe in yourself and be confident. You have to recognize that you have a story, that is of value and something to share. You have to be dedicated because it's a major time investment.
For example, my younger brother utilized our system and surpassed the amount I received. He raised over $69,000 having gone through the program.
How did you feel when you heard that you had received the HJA?
I was incredibly excited, humbled, honoured, and I can’t express how excited I am about it.
What's the best way for people to get in touch with you?
Through our website keytoscholarships.com