Alyssa Bagley is our 2018 Smile Scholarship Winner!
We want to thank absolutely everyone who spent time and energy sending us some truly amazing entries. Our team read through each entry and we were blown away by the thoughtfulness of each and every entry. Picking a winner was by no means an easy task!
Alyssa graduated from Olathe North High School with honors and will be attending Pittsburg State University this fall to study Psychology. Go, Pitt State Gorillas!! And best of luck to you Alyssa!
We wanted to share with you Alyssa’s winning entry:
Picture this; you’re walking down the street on a sunny Sunday afternoon when you see a random person trudging down the sidewalk towards you. They walk past as you give them a simple yet bright smile and their face visibly lights up. Doesn’t seem like much does it? What you didn’t know is that you may have just made that stranger’s day. You see, everyone is going through some sort of battle in their life whether you are aware of it or not. By smiling at this random person on the street, you just showed them that no matter how unsavory life may be at the moment, hope and positivity continue to exist in the world around them.
Speaking from personal experience, it is easy to say that you cannot judge a person by their outer appearance. Someone could be all smiles and one of the sweetest and most caring people you have ever met, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dealing with their own personal issues. In today’s society, mental illness and bullying awareness has sky-rocketed. People are slowly realizing that these are real illnesses that affect a lot of people. As someone who has dealt with this on a personal level, I can honestly say that a simple smile can have a huge impact. Because nobody really showcases their misfortunes, it is easy to feel like you are alone in the world. You could be having the worst day ever and a simple smile from a stranger can give you hope that there is still something to smile about. It allows you to appreciate the positive things, no matter how small.
Not only did you show a simple act of compassion by smiling at that stranger, but hopefully you got them to smile back. Looking at the science of a smile, it’s truly contagious. Whether it is a meaningful smile or a fake smile, just making the facial expression releases endorphins, happy chemicals, in your brain. The contraction in your face physically fires a signal to your brain that stimulates your reward system. As for being contagious, yes, it’s true! Seeing another person smile stimulates mirror neurons in the brain to supress our facial muscle control, thus triggering a smile. Fake it till you make it, people! Not only does your brain react in a positive way, but so does your body. Smiles are proven to physically reduce anxiety by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. What a deal!
Our world today is just so full of hatred and negativity and I personally believe that we can change this with mindfulness and smiles. I plan to go out into the world and act on this. I want to go to college to major in psychology to hopefully give me a leg up in my journey to spread hapiness one smile at a time. I challenge YOU to flash a toothy grin at a stranger today. You never know the impact it may have on the world.
We LOVED this essay and we hope you did as well. Congrats to Alyssa!