Gymnast Logan Tridel of Rutherford, NJ, Winner of 2022 Plum Cares Academic Scholarship (PCAS)

Logan Tridel of Rutherford, NJ, has been selected as one of the winners of the Plum Cares Academic Scholarship (PCAS). The one-time scholarship of $5,000 was evenly distributed and awarded to Tridel and her co-winner and will be devoted to their respective studies in college. Tridel will be attending the University of Miami in the fall, where she plans to study Business. 

This year is the 5th annual PCAS, where each year, Plum, a leading online retailer of gymnastics apparel and accessories, opens its application process to gymnasts across the country. This year’s scholarship was different than previous years as Plum permitted themselves to select two winners of equal standing in which they will distribute the scholarship winnings evenly. The scholarship was made available to graduating high school seniors who identify as competitive gymnasts within one of the following disciplines: artistic, rhythmic, acrobatic, tumbling, or trampoline.

Tridel is a recent graduate of Rutherford High School, where she was the valedictorian of the 2022 graduating class. She is involved in several clubs, groups, and academic organizations, including but not limited to the National Honor Society, the Girls Who Code Club, the Rutherford High School newspaper, and is the founder of the Rutherford Volunteers. In addition to her extracurricular success, Tridel is a USA Gymnastics Xcel Diamond Level competitive gymnast and the 2021 Platinum Beam State Champion. 

When asked about winning the PCAS, Tridel stated, “Knowing that my hard work in both academics and athletics is being recognized is such a rewarding feeling, and it means even more coming from an incredible company that I have adored throughout my entire gymnastics career.”

Tridel was selected out of 26 applicants who were required to provide a recent copy of their transcripts, a letter of recommendation, a 500-word essay, and a completed application detailing their participation in extracurricular activities and volunteer work. The applications were scored on a 100-point rubric that were based upon the following criteria: the essay = 50 points, academics (grades) = 20 points, extra-curricular/volunteerism = 20 points, and the letter of recommendation = 10 points.

To learn more about the Plum Cares Academic Scholarship, visit Applications for the 2023 scholarship program will be announced in April 2023.

Read Logan’s essay reflecting on the biggest challenges that teens today face and how she recommends solving them below:

While many adults reflect on their high school years with joyous memories and a youthful spirit, many teenagers today do not resonate with the carefree high school experience of previous generations. In an age where social media has completely seized control over society and the demands placed on the ordinary teenager are steadily increasing, teen stress levels are dangerously high. It is due to the unhealthy expectations placed on teenagers in terms of academics, athletics, extracurricular, and appearance that the mental health of high school students is so poor. These inflated expectations are the biggest challenge teenagers are dealing with today. 

With college acceptance rates declining and the pressure to be a flawlessly well-rounded individual remains strong, today's students frequently push themselves to a breaking point. As a high school student myself, I can truly say that the low morale of teenagers is a crisis that needs to be addressed. It is so disheartening to watch my peers attributing their self-worth to things such as how many likes their Instagram post gets or which colleges accept them. The only way to effectively alleviate the problem of stress caused by excessive expectations placed on teens is to build a culture in which adolescents grow up knowing that they are enough.

In order to establish a society where teenagers are aware of their worth, the most fundamental step is implementing this message within schools and on social media. Rather than stressing students out with the need for a flawless résumé to get into college, high schools should encourage students to focus on their own interests and what makes them happy. This will facilitate a stress-free environment and more overall success. When students are encouraged to focus their efforts on something that they are passionate about, they will gain confidence in their talents while also developing advanced skills in something they believe is crucial for their future.

Another way to help diminish the stress levels of teens caused by   expectations is by promoting realistic standards on social media. Companies can stop photoshopping the images they are posting and the representation of all types of people should be made commonplace. It's no surprise that kids are stressed when all they see on social media are hundreds of instances of unrealistic standards that they feel compelled to meet. 

Nobody ever said a teenager's life was easy. However, it may be significantly improved if society focuses on ensuring that these children understand their importance. Teenagers' biggest challenge of unnecessary stress will fade away once unreasonable expectations are eliminated.