Friday, February 01, 2013

Money and dreams

[What follows is the text of part of a letter that Dr. Janet Morrison sent to the Sowell Scholarship Selection Committee as the group decided on this semester's award recipients.  I found it moving and so indicative of what chldren from low-income families face as they attempt to better their lives. We need to work harder to protect funding for students who are ready and willing to work hard on their education.  LJ]

Hello everyone~

I'm a little behind on getting scholarship info out to you this semester. As most of you know, I am now working with the Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation. I am the director of their Eagle Scholars college readiness program where 150 students are enrolled in the program. E

Each year teachers at Tasby middle school choose 30 out-going 6th graders to be in the Eagle Scholars. We stick with those 30 kids year after year until they graduate. This is our first year of high school seniors.

I have been meeting with individual families and have met with about 15 so far. It amazes me that anyone could ever claim that poor people don't value education. I wish everyone could see the emotion as parents and their children tear up when they talk about their biggest fear is that they will not be able to fulfill their dreams.

When I ask why they wouldn't be able to, it is always because of money.

Last night I watched a 7th grader tear up over this same concern. I don't think she had ever expressed that concern and stress to her mom. I could tell it shocked and greatly concerned the mom that her daughter was already so concerned about their money situation. Her mom immediately tried to console her and tell her that they would ask friends and family for favors and would find a way to make sure she could go to college and fulfill her dream.

I can almost guarantee you that the applicants for the fall will be much greater in number since I now have contact with many more seniors who will be looking for assistance. Since the Eagle Scholars stick with the program over 5 years, they are absolutely amazing and dedicated students with their only fault being that they are poor and can't afford college. I'm glad we have this scholarship that I will be able to tell them about.

Another important piece of information...Nazareth [the scholarship applicant] is asking for $3,000 this time. She is doing great at UT and has now declared Biology and pre-med as her major. She has switched a couple of times from Education to Engineering to (now) Biology. Her dad has requested that this be her last declaration.

Knowing Nazareth, I know she is determined and responsible. She has looked into the program to make sure she can still graduate on time (which she will). She said the students received a letter from UT stating that due to government cuts the amount of financial aid they are able to receive has been cut. She was very concerned about this. She has the maximum amount of Stafford loans but does not want to take out Parent Plus loans because she does not want to burden her parents with the potential debt if she cannot get a job in this economy. Instead, she has been working relentlessly with the UT Financial Aid department to find as many other grants as possible. Because of her hard work and persistence...I would recommend that she receives the complete $3,000...but I am open to any suggestions from the committee.

Thanks so much for being a part of this important act of helping kids fulfill their dreams.



Anonymous said...

8 1/2 million jobs lost since Obama took office.

Anonymous said...

That fact, if it is one, is meaningless. The economy adds and loses jobs every day, week, month and year. All that matters is whether ther is a net gain or loss.

According to PolitiFact: In 2011, the number of private-sector jobs rose by about 1.83 million (if you count from the January amount to the December amount) or 1.92 million (if you count from December to December). Either way, the increase in 2011 represented the highest one-year total since 2005, when the number of private-sector jobs increased by either 2.22 million or 2.31 million, depending on the time period used.

2011 was our best jobs growth year since 2005.

Anonymous said...

Janet's letter is indeed a reminder of how difficult the climb up out of poverty can be, even when a child has the educational resources Janet's program offers and supportive parents. And many do not have either of these. But those are stepping stones, and any next step can falter for lack of money.

Anonymous said...

Arbitrarily reducing the number of unemployed, because some of the unemployed have been without work for an extended period is disingenuous. Figures lie and liars figure!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... that would mean your figures lie, too. So, I guess we'll just never know nothing if it involves numbers.