Every Change Starts With a Single Decision: Dream Award Scholar Levi Hancock
By Pam Carlson
“Every change starts with a single decision,” says Levi Hancock. “If I could go back to tell my younger self one piece of advice, it would be that all it takes to change from the person you are to the type of person you want to be is a single decision.”
For Levi, a junior at Brigham Young University and a 2023 Scholarship America Dream Award Scholar, the turning point was when he was in high school. He had always enjoyed and excelled in STEM-related subjects, but had difficulty deciding what field of study to pursue.
“While completing a research project on the benefits of financially supporting R&D projects during my junior year of high school (Beavercreek High School, Beavercreek, OH), I realized how much high-quality scientific research can really transform society. I became particularly interested in topics such as cell phone technology, nuclear energy and Einstein’s relativity. Since then, I have set goals and made plans to become a physics researcher with the hopes of one day pursuing a career in academia where I can teach and mentor students very similar to me.”
It is a lofty goal, especially since Levi is responsible for funding his education. He is the seventh of nine children in his family, and resources are tight.
“My parents try to give us all they can to help us be successful,” Levi says, “but it has been hard at times for my parents to support all nine of us.”
Levi’s older brother has had brain cancer three times, as well as kidney cancer and complications that arose as a result. “His cancer and medical issues will most likely continue to return in coming years,” Levi said. “His medical history has been a tough burden on my entire family that has caused lots of emotional stress and worry.”
Receiving the Scholarship America Dream Award relieved Levi of the stress of constantly working, giving him more time for studying and joining in campus life.
“I am able to spend more time actively participating in my church and community and participate in more activities like the experience I had in Europe this summer,” he said.
Levi toured Eastern Europe with the Brigham Young University International Folk Dance Ensemble. “I was able to represent American dance and culture at many different festivals and performance venues in Hungary, Austria and Czechia. I had amazing opportunities to learn cultural dances native to these countries from the many wonderful Europeans I met while I was there.”
Levi also worked as a research assistant for Los Alamos National Labs over the summer. “It was amazing to get to work on cutting edge research on fusion energy and small-scale tomography imaging to help promote our country’s national defense.”
His faith is very important as well. During the pandemic, he took a break from school and served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Antonio, TX and in Southern Argentina. “I was able to bless the lives of others through simple service projects and sharing the message of Jesus Christ during a difficult time that was very challenging for people all around the world,” Levi said.
“I hope to start raising a family of my own when the opportunity arises,” Levi added. “So many of my life decisions and objectives are influenced by the thought of how they will influence my ability to support a family. Personal decisions and promises can have great power if we stay true to them and really trust in ourselves.”