BeBetter

#BeBetter Hero of the Month

This month’s #BeBetter hero is actually two individuals. So get ready to double up on some pretty inspiring motivation to never throw in the towel, even when it seems like all odds are against you.

David Carter, 67, had struggled for years with mental health issues, including schizophrenia and substance abuse, that force him to leave school nearly 49 years ago.

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“We admire his courage and persistence.”

- Doug Dempster, UT Austin College of Fine Arts Dean

Originally enrolled n the school’s studio art program, Mr. Carter was involved in an incident with alcohol which injured his hand that seriously impaired his ability to draw. This caused him to eventually drop out and left him without a permanent home for several years as he hitchhiked across the country.

6 years ago though, he landed back in Austin and was given access to subsidized housing through the non-profit, Caritas of Austin.

Enter our co-star Ryan Chandler. As a 20-year old government and journalism major, Chandler encountered Carter on what’s know as “The Drag” near the university’s campus. Often times, Chandler would see Carter panhandling on this thoroughfare to help cover the housing costs he had become reliant upon.

“I couldn’t believe his experience and his connection to UT,” Chandler confessed once he had peeled back the layers to Carter’s story and how he had attended UT Austin so many years ago.

This set off a fire in Chandler who ended up petitioning the school on Mr. Carter’s behalf to try and get him re-enrolled in classes. Working his way through the chain of administrative offices and procedures, even covering his application fee, Chandler was dedicated to rectifying the situation.

And 6 months later, that’s exactly what happened.

Carter will now be taking just two classes, starting this month, during the summer semester. This will help him ease back into the flow of college and hopefully will set him up for the rigors of a full-course load come this fall.

“I’ve got $90 and I’m going to invest it back into going to school.” Carter told the local NBC news when he found out he had been accepted back to school. And with aspirations to make this opportunity count, he’ll undoubtedly have a long road ahead of him.

In all honesty, Carter’s future is in his own hands. Being a full-time student, he’ll have access to myriad resources that schools across the country are finally starting to put into place to better help those who may be overwhelmed with the independence and responsibility of a college education.

But we’re certainly rooting for him and want to thank all the people who made this incredible story possible. Clearly, there are good people in this world who just want to do what’s right, which is the embodiment of our message here at I Do It For Her.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up to speed with each #BeBetter hero of the month and all the latest happenings inside of I Do It For Her. Summer break is upon us but that doesn’t mean we aren’t dedicated each and every day to helping low-income students get the chance at a life changing college education.

#BeBetter Hero of the Month

Because, it’s Mom’s day…

Stephan and Sharonda Wilson attending graduation (Photo Courtesy of Yahoo News)

Stephan and Sharonda Wilson attending graduation (Photo Courtesy of Yahoo News)

Sharonda Wilson, a mother of four, earned a bachelor's of science in business administration from Ferris State, was set to graduate on May 4th from the Flint, Michigan, campus of Ferris State University. But because of a conflicting schedule with her son, Stephan, set to also graduate that same day, Shardonda decided it was more important to be there for her son.

When she made a post to social media though lamenting having to miss her own graduation, a classmate of Stephan’s, who works in the president's office, made mention to Central Michigan President Bob Davies about the dilemma just a few hours before the ceremonies were to begin.

Acting quickly with the news, Davies called the president of Ferris State University and was able to get permission for his school to confer Sharonda Wilson's degree, according to Ari Harris, assistant director of communications at Central Michigan University.

"I can't imagine anything else that would top what happened to us a week before Mother's Day." Stephan Wilson

Having not told either Sharonda or Stephan of the plan, President Davies shocked both when he called Sharonda down to the stage were she was given an honorary red CMU graduation cap to wear for the special occasion.

“Please move your tassel from your right to your left,” Davies said to Sharonda Wilson in a video of the event in which the crowd of families and friends of other students can be heard roaring to life.

Stephan who earned a bachelor's of fine arts in music theater from Central Michigan said of his mom, “I wouldn't have been [at graduation] without her. That is the honest truth. He continued to talk about how her drive to earn her own college education impacted him, "She has definitely been my biggest support, biggest cheerleader and to see her be recognized along with myself was priceless," he said.

However serendipitous it all is, with Mother’s day just around the corner, I think we can all agree that there is nothing like the love of a mother for her child that motivates us to achieve things we never thought we could. For myself, undoubtedly my own mother is someone who would literally move heaven and earth if that’s what I needed and I can’t imagine being the person I am today without her influence and example.

So if this story is hitting you right in the feelz like it does to me, do yourself and your mom a favor and pick up the phone right now to tell her how much she means to you. And don’t just let that message be delivered once a year out of the guilt of seeing a Mother’s Day sale happening at some store.

One thing I know my mom always enjoys is when I shoot that “thinking of you” text first thing in the morning to let her know she’s on my mind and in my heart. Sometimes it’s those light-hearted acts of love that really make someone feel important.

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Always remember that someone — or several someones — made a difference in your life that empowered you to be here today.
— CMU President Bob Davies

Speed-bumps

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This past semester, one of our scholarship receipents, MaKayla, went through some major changes that brought with them some adversity.

First, she changed schools and enrolled in classes full-time at UMSL (University of Missouri - St. Louis) due to financial constraints. This was a significant move because she was just getting settled in at SLU (Saint Louis University) and having to start all over again somewhere new is always a challenge.

She subsequently failed her first college class during her initial semester at UMSL, something not even I can claim has never happened to me…

But college isn’t supposed to be the “perfect” experience, is it? It’s a time when we are given the freedom to fail and learn from those missteps while the consequences may not be as irreparable as they are once we enter the workforce. And that’s what I see as the most important aspect of this: that she understands what actions lead to the failure and makes the necessary adjustments to hopefully avoid any future bruises to her academic career.

On a lighter note, MaKayla has somehow found the time between classes and TWO full time jobs to build new relationships with those she’s meeting at UMSL.

“I was afraid that I wouldn’t be helpful, and I was even more afraid that she wouldn’t like me. I wanted to be the best I could possibly be for Mary.” - MaKayla S.

Read her full essay below about the impact MaKayla felt from this new individual and how it’s helping her along the I Do It For Her path to become someone better than you ever though possible , all thanks to your donations!

 This semester, I was given the opportunity to be a personal assistant to someone (let’s call her Mary) who has autism. When I was first asked to help Mary, I was a bit apprehensive, because I have always preferred to work with small children, but my excitement for a new opportunity overthrew my hesitation. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be helpful, and I was even more afraid that she wouldn’t like me. I wanted to be the best I could possibly be for Mary. Some of my responsibilities included reminding her to take her meds, helping/reminding her to keep her hygiene together, helping her wash clothes and clean her room, and making sure she was overall taking care of herself in the best way she knew how.

Throughout the semester I slipped up, sometimes I would forget to remind her of her meds. Other times I would be tired from working and push back the date we set to wash her clothes or clean her room. I even went a few days this semester without checking on her at all. During midterms, I was under so much stress, but not once did I have the idea to stop being Mary’s personal assistant. I wanted to continue to help and make sure she had all of the necessary resources she needed to be the best student possible while attending UMSL. I didn’t think about it at the time, but my willingness to stay with Mary is the only confirmation I needed to continue my college career as a social work major.

            Since I started college, I’ve been 70% about what I want to do with my future: I loved the course work related to social work and sociology, and I love volunteering. But I was never given the opportunity to put myself in an exact situation that models a social worker’s career. Being a personal assistant isn’t the best model, but it does give me a better idea of what it’s like to be needed and how demanding certain needs can be. I am able to say that I believe I can handle this demand very well and it only solidified my goals and aspirations for the future. Mary doesn’t know it but being my roommate and allowing me to be her personal assistant has helped me be more confident in my studies and step out of my comfort zone to learn more about the teenage demographic.

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