While I was not born into a family with an abundance of money, I have always had an enormous amount of love and support from my parents and three brothers. I was born and raised on the Westside of Jacksonville. My family has faced many challenges but I know they have only made me stronger. The greatest lesson I’ve learned from my family is that an education is vital. My parents have sacrificed more than anyone can possibly comprehend to ensure that my brothers and I receive a quality education. They taught me that money does not buy happiness, so when I chose a career; I chose one that makes me feel good, something of which I can be proud – I decided to be a teacher.
During high school and my first year at UNF, I had it all going for me. My father was basically a stay-at-home dad after he underwent open-heart surgery when he was only 35. My mother was earning earn a six-figure salary at a Jacksonville mortgage company and my family was living a somewhat twisted version of the American dream.
That all changed in August 2007 when I received a phone call from one of my younger brothers that our mother was having a stroke and I needed to come home. Two days after her stroke, while still in the hospital, my mother received a phone call from her office. Due to the declining economy and the mortgage crisis, her office was closing, leaving her and her co-workers jobless.
That’s when the UNF scholarship became so important to me. Although I was working as a waitress on weekends, I still needed assistance. The Roy and Hazel Clarke Education Scholarship became my lifeline. It allowed me to take advantage of a Transformational Learning Opportunity by way of outstanding faculty and an internship at Ridgeview High School in Orange Park.
The internship teaching high school English has allowed me to make a difference in the field of education. I do all I can to ensure my students learn to live successful lives. I believe that God places each of us on this earth for a reason and for me, that reason is to educate other people so they can live a life just as wonderful as the life I’ve been given.
My parents are currently in good health. Both have jobs – my father has three. My mother is working again for a mortgage company and my older brother is currently a UNF student. My two other brothers intend to finish college and if they are fortunate to receive the help I’ve received, I’m confident they will succeed.
When I graduate, I know I may not be making a huge salary but I will be proud that UNF has given me the tools to help other people. If only one of my future students remembers me as “the teacher who changed my life,” I will be more than satisfied with the life I’ve lived.