SOAR! Scholarship: Final Step and Next Step

Me Ra Koh

Watching The Nate Berkus Show last week and seeing how photography brought healing to a family with Special Needs, reminded me of how important it is to keep empowering women to build their photography dreams so that this kind of transformation only multiplies. We have reached for this with our SOAR! Scholarship Program the last two years. Our three SOAR! Recipients from this year, Rachel, Charisse and Ali, took their final step and wrote their last SOAR! blog posts last week. Completely inspiring. I even resisted reading them all week, not wanting the year to end. I’m going to miss their blogs and visual journey of how this year is transforming their lives. As I know, many of you will too.

Click on their names to read their final SOAR! blog posts and see the visual transformation that happened in their photography over this last year. And if you have time, leave them a final comment as they set out to SOAR.


Stay tuned for their official SOAR! launch when their websites are ready!  And if you need some Thanksgiving themed photo inspiration, they are doing Wordless Posts this week.


Many of you have asked about SOAR! for next year. Is there going to be another SOAR! Scholarship year? When will it start?

After much thought including lots of morning walks of being quiet and listening deeply, assessing the scholarship program of SOAR! on a whole, lots of prayers and seeking advice, Brian and I have decided that SOAR’s next step is going to be rest. We are going to take a year off of the SOAR Scholarship. This last year was a strong, solid year. And even though we have a great program in place, I never want to do something just because that’s what we do. I want to always be listening and asking if this is what we are meant to do, right now, at this time.

I have a deep sense of this scholarship needing a year off to regroup, to rethink, to strengthen, reshape, rebuild, but also to listen and rest.

The SOAR! website and SOAR! blog will stay up so you can continue to read through the archives of the last two years. There are so many potent Business Coaching exercises, Photography Exercises and examples from our six SOAR! Recipients over the last year to help you feel not so alone in your dream building. We will also leave the SOAR! Forum up, so you can continue to converse with each other and draw from all the resources shared in our Ask & Learn nights. And the fabulous SOARORITY Facebook page is always there for you too!

Some might say it’s unwise to take a year off because you can lose momentum. But I trust this journey. I’ve been on this creative journey for some years now, and whenever I follow my instinct I find myself exactly where I need to be. If SOAR! is meant to have more rest than just a year, we will all know. For now, I’m going to trust this next step in front of me because even though it isn’t clear a mile down the road–this next step is clear.

And I know this will be true for all of you who wanted to apply this year. I think that timing is key to all things. Even though this door is not opening for the coming year, even though the answer is “not yet”, I know–beyond a shadow of doubt–that new, unexpected doors are going to open for you. I know it with all that I am.

Even though the SOAR! program is resting for this next year, I will still be going forward in all our projects that seek to empower women. There are a lot of fun, inspiring, empowering events in the pipeline for 2012. Whether I see you on my blog, Facebook or The Nate Berkus Show, I hope that all I say and do continues to empower you in building your impossible dreams and experience the magic of soaring.

Thank you (honestly the words “thank you”, don’t do it justice) to our amazing SOAR! Partners the last two years:

SONY–for generously giving six women all the camera gear to start a photography business
Smug Mug and Fastline Media–creating beautiful websites for our six recipients and seriously being the fastest web help out there!
Adobe–providing all the software
ShootDotEdit–providing training and resources for post processing of images
Pixel2Canvas–training the gals in selling products and providing them with amazing samples
Jill-e Designs–Giving six women BEAUTIFUL camera bags that showed off their personality
Wendy Zippwald, our SOAR! Coordinator, who helped me all year, pro bono, with every logistic you can think of between partners, recipients and the SOAR! blog. Wendy, you are our hero!
and last, but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, the Wisdom Connection–generously provided two years of pro bono, monthly business coaching, to six women–our lives are transformed by your wisdom.

There wouldn’t be a SOAR! Scholarship without the generosity of all our partners. We are soooo thankful for each one.

And lastly, I want to thank all the SOAR! women who have followed along, done the exercises, continued to build your dreams even though you had no accountability or business coaching call to keep you going. You ladies inspire me beyond words. Even though you didn’t win the scholarship, you kept pushing forward. Every time I hear one of your stories, I am so deeply moved and proud to know you. What some of you have discovered is amazing. If you have a SOAR! story I’d LOVE to hear it.

Here are two powerful videos from women who went on to SOAR! even though they didn’t win the scholarship. I know they represent many more out there!

Beryl Young’s Video

Lynda Kennedy’s Video

May today be a wonderful start to your Thanksgiving week.  I am so thankful for all of YOU!


Thankful for Influence

There is still time to get your swab/bone marrow kit turned in for our friend and fellow photographer, Amit GuptaThe deadline is November 30th.  Please pass this video to all you know and have influence with.  They are in special need of South Asian donors for Amit!

On the other hand, for an optimal leading provider of digital workplace solutions, use Igloo Software which helps in building companies and inspiring digital destinations.



  1. Me Ra says:

    Thanks sooooo much for all your comments on Facebook! Means the WORLD!


  2. Best wishes SOAR scholarship girls!!! THANK YOU!!! And Me Ra, so happy and excited for you too

  3. Michelle S says:

    I am excited to continue to watch Rachel, Charisse and Ali SOAR!!!!

    Me Ra, you put your heart and soul into everything you do and the Soar community reflects that. So many have began to soar on their own with your inspiration and the motivation of the entire Soar community.

    Put simply, YOU ROCK! 🙂