Monday, November 28, 2016

A Mother's Difficult Choice

Just a few short years ago, I found myself in the position of having to choose between feeding my family and paying the electric bill.

No parent should ever have to make that choice.

I was working two dead-end jobs and still living in poverty when I realized that work experience wasn’t all employers were looking for and that I needed at least a 2-year degree. I knew I had to make a change, but I didn’t think I had any options.

Then I saw a television commercial about Trident TechnicalCollege and I knew it was where I needed to be. I learned that tuition at TTC is less than half of most other colleges and that with financial aid and lottery assistance, I would have to pay very little out of pocket. I would be graduating from college debt-free!

Attending Trident Tech was the smartest decision I ever made. It changed my life in ways that I never thought were possible. I met people who genuinely cared about my success, and the encouragement and motivation from my instructors and classmates helped me gain confidence.

For the first time in my life I believed in myself.

It only got better from there. I applied for scholarships through the TTC Foundation and was thrilled to find out I would be awarded two scholarships, allowing me to work on fulfilling my dream without having to worry about money or sacrificing my family’s well-being. I was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa, the college’s honor society, and was chosen for Who’s Who in American Colleges. These experiences have helped me to grow as a student and become a successful, contributing member of our community. 

I will never forget attending the annual scholarship luncheon last Spring when I had the opportunity to meet Carolyn Hunter, who created one of the scholarships I received.  I was inspired by her generosity and found it remarkable that someone I didn’t even know would want to invest in my future. When I told her this, she explained that she, too, attended community college and there were people who invested in her future. Now here she is, the owner of 3 McDonald’s franchises and the first person to make a $1 million commitment to TTC. I was honored to meet her and hope that I too, can give back to the college someday!

I received my Associate in Arts in May 2015 and now I am taking classes to get my Associate in Science. I want to fulfill as many of my requirements as possible at TTC because I love it so much here and I will save money.

A few weeks ago, my 15-year old daughter and I were doing our homework together at the kitchen table, and out of nowhere, she looked up at me and said, Mom, I am so proud of you.”

I could not hold back my tears of joy because, in that moment, I realized that I have become someone my children can look up to, and I have TTC to thank for that!

Gina Corley, TTC student

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