PWID 2016 Diversity Scholarship Winner Khannie Dastgah

khannieAs I sit here thinking about how I am going to explain what this opportunity means to me, I get flooded with emotions and I feel my heart start beating a little faster. I have always believed that I have to trust my instincts and intuition, and that things will work out the way they should in the end.

I am well versed on the seasons of life and do believe that there is a ying/yang-good periods/difficult periods that is a part of everyone’s story and journey. The past couple months of my life have been one of my most challenging periods. Extreme highs and lows, with major life-changing occurrences. It makes you wonder why is it that with the good there always seems to have to be the “payback” bad hard times? I always remind myself to focus back on the positives, and I know that I am blessed and lucky to have such a wonderful life.

A friend sent me the information about this conference and scholarship opportunity and I jumped on the chance to apply. I had never heard about this event but it immediately sparked my interest when I learned that illustrators, publishers, and even agents would be in attendance. I was leaving town for a week and the deadline for the scholarship was coming up, but I told myself that I had to find the time to apply. I kept thinking to myself that maybe this was the world’s way of telling me to take the chance and make the next step happen. I can’t afford to hire an agent to mentor me and shop my books around, so I’ve had to do everything on my own.

After 10 years and countless meetings with published authors, illustrators, potential publishers, and a failed “Kickstarter” Campaign, I came to the realization that I would have to do my books on my own. During the Campaign I was contacted by a few people and it was exciting to see that there was interest in my idea. But it’s been daunting to think of the amount of money people are telling me that I would need to pay for the illustrations alone.  That doesn’t even include the printing, marketing and distribution costs. As an employee in campus recreation and a swim coach for a wide range of ages and skill levels, I am blessed that I love my career.

However, it absolutely does suck that I have to work 4 jobs to make a salary that most people have the luxury of making with one position. I know I’m lucky because I love my job and feel like I am giving back to others every day. That being said, we still seem to live paycheck to paycheck and I look forward to the day where I don’t have to stress about how I am going to pay the bills each month, and raise more than $20,000 to finish my first 3 books.

This conference could be the day where everything changes. This is my chance to see if there is anyone in the industry interested in helping me make my book series a reality. I know it’s a long shot, but I believe so strongly that my books can make a tremendous impact on so many people’s lives that I have to try and that it IS a possibility.  And if it wasn’t for this scholarship, my friend would have never passed this information to me, and that possibility wouldn’t exist.  Things happen for a reason, and I’m excited to attend and learn as much as I can and then decide what my next step will be.

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