The Bigger the Obstacle, the Bigger the Future

Nacole C. with members of Simon Youth Academy at Chester I. Lewis and Simon Youth Foundation.

Nacole’s story tells of her consistency, perseverance and determination, which has inspired all of us at SYF.

Nacole received one of four Simon Youth Foundation Best of the Best scholarships awarded this year. She was awarded a total of $40,000, over four years, to continue her studies at Wichita State University (Wichita, KS).

Nacole plans to study Psychology.

Nacole’s graduation address:

The beginning can be summed up by being in state’s custody, repeatedly running away and several attempts to graduate. At 16, I found myself at Job Corps, but was asked to leave after my decision to not follow the rules, so back to the Children’s home I went. I ran away, again, and was arrested two weeks before my 18th birthday. The judge ruling on my case gave me a writing assignment. My task was to convince the court that I should be released from custody. One of my strengths is writing and I was able to convince the judge to release me. I finally had independence.

But, the fear of not being good enough and my math anathema crippled my determination. Eight years later, at 26, I was having my second son and I knew I needed to do two things: make money and go to school. It only took a short time for me to realize that I was not going to get anywhere without my diploma. I would lie in interviews and say that I had my diploma so that I could get jobs in customer service. As a result of this, I was unable to be happy when offered promotions, due to my fear of being found out. Anxiety kicked in, followed by depression; it was a vicious cycle.

I felt like I had wasted so much valuable time. I started really thinking about my future, my children and the importance of education.

My grandmother was the only consistency in my life, but I realized that she would not be around to support me forever; it was time for me to take care of her. She always believed in me. My pastor, mom and Dr. Cindy always believed in me, but I did not believe in myself.

Three years ago, I decided not to let fear be my driving force. I decided that no matter what people said or long it took, I was going to be consistent and graduate.

My intention was to repay my grandma for the sacrifices that she made for my children, my education and me. Unfortunately, she passed away last year, and her death catapulted my determination to finish school; that was all she ever wanted for me.

A year later, I was in my last two high school classes. I was on a roll: honoring my grandma and about to graduate. Then, my 11-year-old son, Hayden, was hit by a car, which left me having to focus on him and school at the same time. I was able to multi-task and finish my classes, whist caring for my temporarily disabled son. I am grateful for all of the lessons that I have learned along the way. I know that my children are proud of me, and encouraged. My counselor, family, teachers and friends are proud of me. I know that my grandma is smiling down on me and probably, playing her tambourine,

I plan on starting an organization to help under privileged youth called, “Actions Speak Louder.” I want people to understand that it takes more than book smarts and words. Sometimes it takes action. I am not discrediting book smarts, though, I just know from experience that you also have to have the ability to relate to another person’s pain.

My son is recovering, my consistency paid off and so did yours. We are all, in a way, recovered from whatever kept us from graduating.

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