In college, I’ve learned so much about taking advantage of opportunities while staying focused on the ultimate goal. I know the importance of getting good advice and following through. I know I can depend on The Scholarship Foundation.
When Monte Chambers graduated from high school with his EMT certification in hand, he embarked on an ambitious plan to work full-time, attend school full-time, and complete a double major. At the time, he described himself as “determined, focused, and motivated.” That has not changed, but he’s learned some important skills in the meantime. Accustomed to being at the top of his class, he learned to seek help when he needed it during his first semesters in college. He realized the importance of putting his education first and accepting only those additional responsibilities that advance him toward the goal of succeeding academically in a supportive community.
Monte receives grant and loan aid from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and an interest-free loan from The Scholarship Foundation. He works part-time with College Summit-St. Louis, providing him with an income while he shares what he has learned with younger students. Although his work schedule and financial situation required several semesters of part-time enrollment, he is now a full-time student who knows how to navigate the financial aid and academic support systems at his university. Monte is on an undeniable path to success.
My most recent academic success happened this summer. I worked three jobs to pay bills and my tuition, did college summit and did school at night and online and managed to pull off A’s in my hardest classes. This is a success for me because it has been 2 yrs since I’ve gotten an A and I didn’t think I would’ve been able to pull it off with the odds that were against me.
From Francois’s personal essay…
While on my journey from a toddler to a preschooler my father became severely ill. He was snatched out of my life by the reins of death. I was only three years old. After this, mother and I were alone on life’s journey. When I was four my brother Joel was born. Now we had another partner. Two years later, my brother Rayan came along, and then at seven my brother Michiah was added to the picture. My mother lived as a “married-single” parent. I say this because my stepfather was never a supporter of the house; he just lived there. My mother was raising four kids on a beautician’s salary. She worked all day while I babysat. My mother always raised us to have strong faith in God because she did, and by her faith in God, we made it. My mother and I became best friends.
I am originally from West Palm Beach, Florida. My mother moved the family to Orlando, Florida when I was ten years old. The environment was perfect for any family. I was excited. We had been in Orlando for five months when my mother became very sick. She went to the hospital, and my great-grandmother looked after us for the several days my mother was there. She came home on a Sunday and I was glad. (By then, my other grandmother had arrived from Maryland). On the following Monday I had to go to school. I wanted to stay home and be with my mother to make sure she would be all right but she told me to go ahead to school. When I got home from school and asked my grandmother, “Where’s mommy?” There was no answer. I then said, “Is she gone to the hospital?” My grandmother held me close to her and looked toward Heaven and said, “Baby, Momma’s gone to be with the Lord, son.” The reins of death had tugged yet another time. From that day on my life changed.
My grandmother, an Angel of Mercy, moved my three brothers and me to her home in Maryland. The death of my mother had caused me to retreat into a shell. I came home from school often times telling my granny how the people made me feel in school. She would always tell me, “People will only do what you let them.” Grandma always told me the truth no matter what; she took up where my mother left off. I took the words she told me to heart. This caused me to become the out-spoken, blunt, but considerate person I am today. My grandmother, like my mother kept the family in church and that created a strong spiritual foundation for me. I currently am a Youth Minister, Praise Leader, and Musician at my church and on any given Sunday, you can find me there. I also work nearly thirty hours a week at the local McDonald’s. I use the money from work to help my grandparents with the household finances. People often think that I don’t want for anything because I wear nice clothes and carry a cell-phone, but they just see my glory, they; don’t know the story.
All of my experiences, good and bad, have made me the person I am today. My peers all look to me for counseling and advice, and I’m always there to listen and impart. Because I know that I’m making it, and going to continue to make it, I can encourage others to make it with me along the way. This is why psychology and law interest me so much. I want to help people. That’s just me and who I am.
From Clifton Reid’s personal essay…
For me, life is a card game. Sometimes I’m dealt a good hand; sometimes I’m dealt a bad hand. But through everything that happens, good and bad, I stay and play to the very end. Life for me isn’t as rough as some people but everyone has hard times. Killings, robberies, and other violence are just some of the things I encounter everyday but I refuse to throw in my hand. In the past, when the game would get complicated, I would throw in my hand and watch everyone else continue to play while I watched someone else succeed. It’s hard to watch someone else succeed when you don’t think you can.
My school is closing. The downfall was that the environment was bad. Fighting was a major problem. The fights were not within the school but with teenagers from the area outside. Neither the police nor the security did their jobs by protecting my fellow classmates and me. I see it as having been dealt a bad hand, but if I wait a little longer maybe I’ll get some better cards to stay in the game. I’ve been through a lot in my life. In my earlier years I use to give up easily. But now I realize that if I wait a little longer, I still have a chance to win the game. Though being scared is a part of life, I try to embrace it and use it to get to my next destination and figure out my problem. When I was young, I was afraid of the dark like every other child is. Over the years, I realized that I shouldn’t be afraid of the dark but what’s in it. I learned to confront the fear head on and be on my way.
One day I’ll finally overcome the obstacles I need to be the best. When that day comes, I’ll be the master of what I do. Unbeatable. At the top of my game. I’ll be able to be dealt any card and win. And then, I’ll be the master of the deck. I’ll be the dealer.
From Antonio’s personal essay…
Bang, Boom, Screech, red-blue, red-blue. This is my alarm clock. Every morning I wake to these sounds of the city. As I get up and get dressed, all I can think about is surviving another day. When I leave, I kiss my mother on the forehead goodbye while she prepares for work. Playing in the background is my mother’s favorite gospel CD, Yolanda Adams. All that ends when I close that clean white door to my home. All of a sudden, I hear sounds of an ambulance, car horns, police sirens, and sweltering rubber screeching on the hard cement. So I put my black Sony digital CD Walkman on my head and put my favorite CD in, Beanie Sigel’s “The Truth.”
He understands my pain, living in a single parent home with a father who just sends money to make up for his lack of concern. I never take my headphones off for anything. The song changes dramatically, it gets faster and faster, the drums beat harder and harder until I can not keep up. As I pass the old abandoned buildings and the man trying to sell bootleg DVD’s of The Matrix2. I’m trying to get to school across town, I remind myself. Then the music STOPS! I’ve finally made it to school. This is my safe zone. In the halls I hear songs by Duke Ellington such as “ come aboard the A-train” coming from the speakers. Laughter of my friends echoes throughout the classrooms. Teachers helping out the students. Violence is what you seldom hear or see inside these walls.
After spending ten hours or more in my safe zone, I have to head back home, back to my neighborhood, back to my street. I put my headphones on to prepare for the long journey home. I tie my shoelaces on my favorite black Nike’s and put my Cd in “Hard Knock Life” by Jay Z. As I get off the bus down the street from my house, all I can think about are all the things that can possibly go wrong while walking these two blocks. The drums beat harder, the beat increases. I walk, and then run, past the drug dealers, past the old man, past the old dilapidated buildings. Finally I’m here, home, back to my mother cooking dinner, still listening to that same song. Back to bed where I can dream. Dreams of success. Dreams of the good life. Dreams of one day going to another safe zone…college. This is the soundtrack of my life.
Lisa M. Williams
From Lisa’s personal essay…
Mr. Nauhaus, my 4th and 5th grade teacher gave me the impression that I was going to be somebody. Other teachers didn’t really care, but he did, and he always showed it. He always had time for me, before and after school. He showed me different ways of learning to help me better to understand. He took time to know me as a student and as a person, which is what was so great about him. He was always there when I needed him for support. He was my coaching, my teacher, and my friend. He believed in me even when no one else did. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of college. He helped me to see that there was no reason to stop after high school. He was the first teacher who actually cared if I really knew the work or just enough to pass. He gave me the courage and determination I needed to proceed. He was the first real male in my life. I have not really had a father in my life. He was in and out of jails and constantly hooked on drugs. He helped bring me into this world. That is what makes him my father. Never did he have time for me. Never did he pick me up when I fell. Never did he hold me when I cried. Never has he once been to any of my graduations. He is not my dad.
My “dad”, Curtis, was my mother’s boyfriend of seven years. He was always there when I needed him, even though he did not have to be. My brother in-law, Ricardo, was married to my sister for four years, but had been a part of the family for six years. He was the type of person who just liked to see you smile, laugh, and be happy. Curtis and “Ricardo were killed a little less then three months apart. I was mad at Ricardo and Curtis for not being home at night. I felt as though it was my fault. I started hurting my friends and family, stopped doing to class and doing homework. I wanted the old me back. I knew I had to let some of the anger out, so I started by talking to people about what I was going through, remembering the things that Curtis, Ricardo, and Mr. Nauhaus had said and done for me. How they helped me realize my dreams, and overcome my fears. College was still my goal, and I could not let anything or anyone stop me from wanting to accomplish that. When I stopped showing fear and strived to be as I had been, things calmed down on their own. I became a successful, intelligent, knowing, bright, courageous, brave, outspoken, determined, well rounded person who knows where she will be in life and knows that no one and nothing can stop her.
From Latikia’s personal essay…
Caring for others besides yourself can be very important because, at times, someone is going to need a helping hand to make it through the day. That’s why I try my best to care for others, as well as I do for myself, because I want that same affection shown towards me. I became an assistant at a migrant program for four years taking care of migrant families’ children as a job. The babies were from ages three months to two years old. For four years, I have helped these babies grow. I have seen them crawl when they start and walk when they finish. Because of my work, these families can work without worrying about their children being fed, changed and making sure they are safe. Now that I am in high school, I have made up my mind to attend college because I think that it will change me as a person by helping me to get further in life by learning, and studying new things that I don’t know but want to know. I know that going to college will help me to get a good job when I am finished. I can accomplish more goals in life and share my knowledge and new people. I feel as though going to college will make a big difference in my life being a successful and caring person.
“Before College Summit, I was an average student and didn’t have any plans on what I wanted to do about furthering my education. College Summit entirely changed those ideas and I have strived since to help anyone I can with college and their grades. I have shown [my schoolmates] that education doesn’t have to be a financial burden.”
“College Summit has helped set a new standard that sends a message that students from our rural area can prepare for their future endeavors whether it is a world of work or college. As a College Summit mentor, I have helped… [raise] awareness regarding the importance of having a post-secondary plan. It takes an entire community to sustain a college-going culture and at Westside we are more than a community, we are family.”
Tug Valley High School has become more aware and ready for college. I have tried to do my part to help the students be ‘college and career-ready.’ I want nothing more than for all of my classmates and friends to succeed.
Israelle Brown is defying the odds. “Statistics say she is someone that probably would not graduate from high school, never mind go to college,” says her high school counselor. But the Israelle feels that College Summit changed her life.
She says, “College Summit gave me hope. At one point in my life I wanted to give up everything and forget about my education because I was tired of starting over and sacrificing my life for my parents. This amazing experience helped me grow as a person, understand that giving up wasn’t the answer, and determine that I was the only person who can dictate my future and help others along the way.”
After she attended a College Summit summer workshop she returned to school determined to go to college and to help lead her classmates there as well. She put up college-related posters and flyers, led ice-breakers and rap sessions in College Summit classes and made in-class presentations on topics relevant to applying to college. “I felt that others who did not have this experience should at least have the opportunity to benefit from the information I learned,” Israelle says.
Asha was a student who was curious about the world of college outside of her community. Not knowing where to start, she attended a College Summit workshop. “College Summit had a tremendous impact on my life and future secondary plans,” Asha said. “College Summit confirmed the interest I had in attending a four year university after graduating from high school.”
She explained how the seed of her own college selection was planted at the summer workshop. “One of the Peer Leaders at my workshop was going to attend Clemson University and answered every question I had… she became an inspirational leader for me.” Asha now studies general engineering at Clemson.
College Summit was also responsible for igniting a passion within Asha: volunteering. Asha plans to continue to be a role model for youth in her community. “I want to be able to give back and become a presenter at a college and career fairs,” she said. “I believe it is these types of activities that help students better understand what they want to do in the future.”