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The winner of Stop-painting.com’s fall scholarship cycle is Dylan Thorp, a junior at Clemson University and a student in the Honors College program.

Thorp is a resident assistant (RA) in a residence hall, as well as a Community Development Assistant (CDA). As CDA, Thorp supervises a team of about 20 RAs and serves as a liaison between students, other resident assistants and school administrators for her residence hall. The job entails long hours and juggling the needs of several groups of people ­­– other resident assistants, students, administrators, faculty and athletic staff.

In Thorp’s winning essay, she wrote of how her online calendar she creates for her staff of 20, assists in offering visual organization to her team. Thorp, with a course load of 20 hours this semester, says it’s imperative for her to have a visual aid to help her stay organized. The online calendar Thorp creates has also served her co-workers well in keeping them organized. Her calendar is a masterpiece of contributed information (classes, time needed off, known work conflicts) from all of her staff and co-workers that ends up as a carefully developed work calendar for the semester. Thorp’s visual calendar meets the needs of her coworkers and allows them to be productive and get the job done.

“As far back as I can remember, I just do better when I can see it all written out in front of me,” Thorp said. “Not only do my calendars/organizers give me the information I need, but the calendars calm me and assure me I CAN get it all done.”

Thorp said she realized her penchant for visual organization after she read Howard Gardner’s “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is a theory of intelligence that differentiates it into specific (primarily sensory) ‘modalities’, rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. “I most strongly identify with Gardner’s linguistic intelligence,” said Thorp. “I am heavily verbal and visual. When I’m taking a test and I see a word, I will remember the color I wrote that word in in my notes.”

Thorp plans to finish her undergraduate work and receive a BA in psychology with a minor in communications in December 2017. She is planning to attend graduate school, studying communications and speech language pathology. She hopes to become a speech pathologist in a school setting, helping children learn to thrive in society via improved communication skills.

Thorp said she was grateful for the stop-painting.com scholarship, especially since she’s determined to graduate debt-free.

“I have taken every step I possibly can, i.e. attending an in-state institution, academically qualifying for an in-state merit scholarship (LIFE), holding a full-time job in addition to being a full-time student, and, of course, loading up on hours in order to graduate a year early and save two semesters’ worth of tuition,” said Thorp. ”I am so grateful that you all think I am a worthy cause. Scholarships like yours are what enable me to keep paying for college without succumbing to student debt. Thank you so much for the opportunity to continue earning my education without having to worry about where the money is going to come from.”

Details for our next application/scholarship cycle will be released soon, so stay tuned. Stop-painting.com is pleased to offer this award to students looking to further their education. Our business is all about keeping facilities and workspaces organized, safe and productive. Our hope is that this scholarship will aid in offering cutting-edge education to future business leaders and make students aware of the importance of organization and visual cues in work settings – as well as in everyday life.

Congratulations to Dylan Thorp and thank you to all the applicants. It was a very competitive cycle and we’ll be sharing runner-up essays on the blog in the coming weeks.

Here is Thorp’s winning essay:


While I’m studying at Clemson University, I work as a Resident Assistant. A Resident Assistant, or RA, is a live-in mentor and safety net for younger students living on campus. We are experienced, responsible upperclassmen who live in freshman residence halls to make sure nothing goes awry when they get their first taste of freedom (You know what I mean). RAs work together on a variety of issues – everything from the chaos of move-in day to medical emergencies in the middle of the night. Sometimes we run into delicate, volatile, or even dangerous situations. When we do, it’s the most reassuring feeling to know that a team of highly qualified, intelligent, competent people have your back. We have a responsibility to our residents, our supervisors, and each other to stay on the ball.

That said, a lot of organization and planning has to happen in order to maintain our effectiveness as a team. As it so happens, I have a Type-A personality, I’m driven, and I’m very good with people (or, at least, it hasn’t been proven otherwise). So I applied for the position of Community Development Assistant, which is like the “head RA” for a residential community. During my time in this role, I have been able to unleash my organization skills in the most productive way I know how, by managing a team of very busy, very involved, high-achieving student workers.

As RAs, we have desk hour requirements, weekly nights on-call, supervisor one-on-ones, recruitment responsibilities, and regular team meetings where everyone’s schedules must align perfectly so we can all be present. So it’s absolutely critical that we have a good system. I’ve been doing this for two years and I think I have it figured out. The bulk of the work is done before the academic year starts, when everyone is finalizing their schedules. First, I call a meeting, where every team member brings their class itinerary, laptop, and planner. We use a big whiteboard and an impressive array of Expo colors to sort through the nitty-gritty: the academic commitments, extracurricular involvements, bizarre lab times, volunteer hours, piano lessons, you name it.

I take everyone’s schedules and Frankenstein it into one spreadsheet. Each individual on the team double-verifies that they do not have any conflicts with the blocks of time I have them down as “free”. I then create the mother of all Google calendars. This is where the real magic happens! The personal and professional lives of all thirty-two RAs in my community align in one giant, color-coded, multilayered calendar. I share it digitally with everyone, they copy it down into whatever system they use to manage their lives, and we’re on our way to a productive semester.

This may sound like a behemoth task. It is. But it truly makes me happy to be able to put my proclivity (compulsion?) for precise organization to use. My coworkers count on me to get it right, to stay on the ball, and to be considerate of their needs. In turn, I count on them to show up when they’re needed, to uphold a good example for their residents, and to give the job one hundred percent. The Google calendar harmonizes all of our crazy lives into one well-oiled, precisely scheduled machine.

This system enables us to do our best work because it integrates the job into our lives. It makes our jobs work for us, not against us. The difference between an organized and a disorganized workplace is the attitude that the environment promotes. My team really looks forward to fulfilling their responsibilities, spending time together, and solving problems. Organization is not just numbers and spreadsheets. It’s people. It’s logistics at the most intimate level. And, ironically, it’s messy. But that’s what makes it fun.


Learn more about the InSite Solutions Scholarship Program