We're celebrating our 25th Anniversary by sharing 25 stories with you; stories and testimonials by the people who are influenced by our programming, including the graduates of our program (alumni), our amazing mentors and tutors, AmeriCorps members, and donors. Throughout the year we'll feature a story, and keep an archive of others for you to check out. Enjoy! And let us know how you've been influenced by "I Have a Dream."
Janice Cochran is a Colorado native and has been a volunteer for the “I Have a Dream” Foundation for 20+ years. “I believe all students/children should have the opportunity to achieve their dreams and giving the skills to pursue these dreams is critical,” says Janice.
Janice first began driving school busses in 1992. She has worked for both Boulder Valley and Thompson school districts, currently serving as a Transportation Trainer in Loveland.
Janice and her husband, Bob, live on a 5-acre hobby farm. While they do not yet own any livestock, Janice and Bob keep busy managing chickens, both barn and house cats, and two dogs.
Janice became involved with the “I Have a Dream” Foundation helping train AmeriCorps volunteers in safe driving practices. Recently the organization purchased a bus that requires a Commercial Driver’s License and Janice has been working to help license drivers. “I am grateful there are so many other volunteers out there willing to sacrifice for and guide these students. If I can help keep them safe in the vehicles they travel to and from programs in, I guess I get to contribute to their success in a modest way,” reflects Janice.
Janice’s hope for the Dreamers is that they “find something they are passionate about and work to achieve that passion.” Janice holds a certificate in Hospitality Supervision and having worked several odd jobs, Janice says that she is “a bit of a Dreamer” herself. “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I think it might have something to do with agriculture. The school bus industry is a means to get where I want to be,” says Janice.
Our volunteer Sheila Malcolm was honored last month as the 7News Everyday Hero. In February, the station visited the Iris Dreamer Class to surprise Sheila with the award, and a video of the presentation aired on the news station a few times throughout March.
Sheila, who was a teacher for more than three decades before starting as a volunteer with "I Have a Dream," has been volunteering with the Iris Dreamer class for more than six years. As Dreamer Leslie said in the video, "she became like a second mother to us."
Sheila serves as a mentor and tutor to the students, helping with homework and personal issues. "She's not only trying to educate us school-wise, but she's trying to educate us as a person, and how to be a better person," said Leslie.
We're so proud to have one of our volunteers noticed and honored in this way!
Jerry Shapin has volunteered as a photographer for “I Have a Dream” for over a year. Jerry states his favorite part of volunteering with “I Have a Dream” is interacting with the volunteers and staff, but especially with the Dreamers. “…all of the great hopes, dreams, and desires we have for the future will be implemented by the young people today who become inspired and want to do something good for society,” says Jerry. “The chances young people get in the future will be enhanced if they can become motivated to get an education, meet other people and become curious about the world.”
“The ‘I Have a Dream’ Foundation’s work is critical,” reflects Jerry, “because it inspires young students, volunteers and support networks from Boulder County, and by doing so strengthens the families, neighborhoods, and cultural foundations for the future of Boulder and the world at large as a thriving, complex and diverse community.”
Thank you Jerry for all you have given to “I Have a Dream!”
Jason Giguere was born and raised in Massachusetts and moved to Boulder in 2004 to be a Notre Dame AmeriCorps volunteer with the "I Have a Dream" Foundation. Prior to moving to Colorado, Jason graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts and hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.
After working many years in the bicycle and outdoor industries, Jason decided to change careers and pursue one of his other passions; helping students thrive and define their own success in school. Jason received his master's degree in counseling from the University of Colorado and is working towards his licensure to become a licensed professional counselor. He has been a counselor at high school and middle school levels and is currently working at Centennial Middle School in Boulder, Colorado. When not working Jason enjoys spending time with his family, skiing endless powder, biking, and fly fishing.
"I was drawn to IHAD because of the deep history of helping underprivileged students find opportunity and success in school. The unique approach to the program, which follows students throughout most of their school lives, has been successful in building positive relationships and engaging students and their families into the school communities."
"Going into my AmeriCorps service, I hoped to eventually complete a Masters in Social Work program. While I was derailed for a few years working in the bike and outdoor industries, I eventually found my way back to school and completed a master's degree in counseling with a focus in school counseling. I am now a licensed school counselor and working towards my licensure as a licensed professional counselor. Volunteering with IHAD helped me realize how much I enjoy working with students and helping them overcome challenges to reach their full potential."
"I have always loved that IHAD provides financial resources to students who might not be able to fund college on their own. This is often the missing piece of the puzzle. IHAD provides students with the resources, support, and encouragement to get through high school, then financially assists with a college scholarship."
"My Hope for the Dreamers is that everyone is able to enter adulthood with multiple choices for college and career and that they have learned the skills needed to be successful in life."
Molly Griffith lived in Venezuela for a year to learn Spanish with Rotary International after graduating from high school in Vermont. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in Bilingual Education and Teaching English as a Second Language. After two years of Notre Dame AmeriCorps with Francisco and the Broadway Class of Dreamers, she worked for four years as the Project Coordinator for the Columbine Class at Trail Ridge Middle School and Skyline High School, before moving on to build a Pre-Collegiate Development Program for Summit School District in Breckenridge, Colorado. Molly is still working as the Director for Summit Pre-Collegiate, and trying to learn the ropes as the Career and Technical Education Director for the district. This year she is earning her Masters of Education in CTE, and hopes to bring some of these best practices into the program, and the school district as a whole. When Molly is not working, she loves getting outside to play in the Colorado Mountains - skiing, biking, hiking, and running are a few favorites. Playing hockey and cheering for the Red Sox are two New England traditions that she love, and traveling to see her family or explore new places keeps life interesting.
"IHAD gave me the chance to work in education and get involved in the Boulder community, and helping students set goals and gain access to opportunities in higher ed. Three hundred days of sunshine, the Flatirons, and the Rocky Mountains helped, too.”
“Working with students always changes your perspective of the world. The Dreamers inspired me to make the most of my own opportunities, and to keep learning, growing, and improving. My experience as an Notre Dame AmeriCorps member gave me the opportunity to work as a program coordinator, and to continue working with post-secondary access programs in Colorado. It opened many doors, and brought a lot of amazing people into my life. These people have been my friends, mentors, and inspiration in my life after AmeriCorps, and I am grateful for each and every one of them. Also... driving the short bus while listening to KS 107.5 is a skill that I still use today.”
“Every student deserves a cheerleader - someone who believes in their capabilities and a bright future. “I Have a Dream” helps students build these relationships and challenges them to become the best student and citizen that they can be. “I Have a Dream” works to level the playing field for all students and provides them with life-changing opportunities that they would not have otherwise, and this is important to help each student build confidence and create a positive self-image.”
“My hope for the Dreamers is that they will dream big, work hard to make their dreams come true, take advantage of every opportunity, and have a lot of fun along the way!”
Carrie Hodge graduated with a BS in Education from East Carolina University and came to Colorado after school for a vacation. She fell in love with Colorado and decided to stay. Carrie worked for an ambulance company before becoming an AmeriCorps Member in 2000. After her year of service, I became a tutor for the Pioneer class and would become a mentor in 2003 for a Pioneer Dreamer. She obtained my Masters in Special Education – Gifted and Talented in 2008 while working in the education system. Carrie now works from home as a site coordinator that allows her to continue to volunteer with the Griffin Dreamers. She recently moved to Lafayette and love hiking, exploring, and chasing dreams.
“I was looking at possible volunteer opportunities and working with I Have a Dream gave me a chance to stay locally and work with students”
"Serving as an AmeriCorps Member changed her career path because, “it was a catalyst to go back to the classroom to teach for several years. Serving as an AmeriCorps Member helped me create a dream of my own of one day helping to sponsor a Dreamer class. It became reality with the current Eagle class that started at Pioneer Elementary in Lafayette. Being an AmeriCorps Member was an amazing experience which helped me realize that no matter where you are in life, it is important to give back to make your community a great place.”
“Education is something you can always have with you no matter where life takes you. Education opens up the door of possible.”
“My hope for the Dreamers is they will always chase their dreams, inspire others to follow their dreams, and create new dreams when one is achieved.”
Kalmia Dreamer Class Alumni Armando Avila graduated from Holy Family High School in 2002. In 2012, he graduated from Western State Colorado University, where he majored in Psychology and Spanish. After nearly a decade of public work (child protection, police officer, investigator) Armando now works in IT for Western State Colorado University.
“I Have a Dream” was instrumental in my success. The guidance I received from mentors, program coordinators, sponsors, and all involved was key to my pursuit of higher education. I had a mentor, Tom from Roche, who took me on my first college visit at CSU. This was the first time I visited a University with higher education in mind.”
“ IHAD also provided exposure to activities that I would have otherwise not done. For example, they planned a multiday backpacking expedition through the base of Mt. of the Holy Cross which tested my physical and mental strength. This and other activities gave me exposure to a world outside the borders of our neighborhood (Kalmia). These activities gave me the thirst to expand my horizon, to travel, and now my love for the outdoors. Most important to my time as a Dreamer was Midge and Hal Korczak, the Sponsors of our Dreamer class (Kalmia). One of my greatest joys in life is helping others, and this is something I am grateful to have learned from the lifestyle of Midge and Hal. While Midge and Hal’s financial contribution was greatly appreciated, it was their emotional contribution that meant the most to us. They opened up their homes and hearts to the Kalmia Class. When we failed they hurt, when we succeeded they rejoiced. Only a foundation like “I Have a Dream” would gain the interest of such compassionate people, who were such an integral component to the success of us in the Kalmia class."
“One of my struggles as a student was growing up in a bicultural environment. The exposure to higher education was limited; I was the first of my family to graduate from high school, and the first to pursue higher education. The environment that surrounded me was that of an old school Latino culture, that higher education was not important. What “I Have a Dream” did was bridge the gap between that mindset and higher education. They were a resource. When I lost motivation they were there pushing me. When I needed help they were there again with a helping hand. “I Have a Dream” was someone I could always reach out to and feel secure. “I Have a Dream” was someone who understood my struggle.”
Colin Barreno, Dreamer Alumnae, graduated in 2000 from Centaurus High School and then attended Northwestern University, where he graduated with degrees in Mathematics and Philosophy. In 2009, Colin received his J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Concurrently with his law degree, Colin received his Master of Public Policy from UC Berkeley also in 2009. He is now an Attorney in the Environmental practice of Paul Hastings in San Francisco.
“Having the opportunity to participate in “I Have a Dream” as a young student was a special experience and something I am very grateful for. The promise of a scholarship to make college more affordable was very generous, but it was the daily academic programming that really set me and my fellow Dreamers up for success."
Kelsey Cline (Lafayette Dreamer Class Alumni) graduated from Centaurus High School in 2000. In 2005, she graduated from Fort Lewis College majoring in Business Administration. She is now a Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors in Durango, CO.
“I Have a Dream” was an amazing support system. The opportunities afforded to us laid the foundation for my work ethic and started re-enforcing the idea of continued education.
I wasn’t motivated to attend college after high school, but knowing the resources and financial assistance that was available to us Dreamers made me reconsider, which ultimately changed my life for the better. “I Have a Dream” even helped me get my first job with the University of Colorado-Boulder, which gave me a glimpse into the business world and campus life as a high school student.
“I Have a Dream” did not stop at simply supplying the funds that allowed me to attend Fort Lewis College, they were there checking in on me and sending me care packages. They truly cared that I was happy in my endeavor and succeeding,” says Kelsey.
Elisabeth Forrest (Lafayette Dreamer Class Alumna) graduated from Longmont High School in 2000. In 2004, she graduated with honors and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Santa Cruz having majored in Literature with a focus on Spanish Literature. She is now the Global Trade Compliance Analyst at Plantronics, in Santa Cruz.
"'I Have a Dream' helped me at a critical point in my life. As a young student, college seemed like a lofty goal. 'I Have a Dream' made it clear to us that college was not only a possibility, it was an attainable goal. They took me and other children I knew to college campuses, and presented the idea of college as more than a dream.
"'I Have a Dream' believed in us when not everyone else did and that was crucial to making me believe in myself. As Dreamers, we saw other students from our background who had gone on the same journey, and seeing that made a personal and important difference to me.
"Coming from a family without a lot of financial resources, even talking about college was stressful. I didn't know how I would manage to pay for things like tuition and books, and 'I Have a Dream' helped ease that stress. The financial assistance was absolutely critical for me.
"I'm extremely grateful for 'I Have a Dream' and often wonder what my path would have been without their support," says Elisabeth.
Broadway Dreamer Class Alumni Gabriel Granillo graduated from Boulder High School in 2008. In December of 2011, he graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder where he majored in Sociology. Gabriel now works for Boulder County Community Justice Services as a Juvenile Services Professional.
“The overall opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself while in ‘I Have a Dream’ was paramount for all of us in the program. To feel a part of something within the community that gave kids like me the chance to be somebody in life was great. The opportunity to receive college tuition assistance, receive academic support, attend field trips, and the opportunity to grow as an individual and become a self-sufficient, successful adult are all things I am very grateful for during my time in the program.”
“These opportunities wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for everyone involved in the program. One of these people was our project coordinator, Francisco Mejias. Whether I was having struggles at home, in the classroom or in sports, Francisco went above and beyond his duties as project coordinator. We still remain in contact to this day and he occasionally attends summer events that my family has. Without having someone like Francisco around, I don’t know how my educational course would have gone. Although my parents stressed education and instilled many qualities in me, Francisco never let us get down about how things were going. Another supportive force in our lives was the AmeriCorps volunteers. Day in and day out these individuals were there to lend a helping hand and were always considerate and willing to work with us in our academic pursuits.”
“At different stages during my time in ‘I Have a Dream’, I was faced with several different struggles that ‘IHAD’ helped me overcome. Because I was a student athlete, I often had a difficult time managing my academic as well as sports. I also spent time with many of my peers who engaged in socially harmful activities like drugs, getting into trouble and stealing, and I got caught up with them on a few occasions. I also struggled during my freshman year of college when I got in to trouble with the law and was placed on academic probation my first semester. ‘I Have a Dream’ helped me overcome all of these obstacles by supporting me and allowing me to continue my participation within the program. If I was spending time around negative influences in my life, then Francisco would direct us to the after school programming and put us in check.”
Casa Dreamer Class Alumni Dulce Jimenez graduated from the Alexander Dawson School in 2013. Later that same year, she began her post-secondary education at Beloit College in Wisconsin. She is majoring in Sociology with a double minor in Health & Society and Political Science. Dulce also studies Asian Languages and plans to study abroad in South Korea during the fall of 2016.
“I Have a Dream” was always there for me as I was going through school. Whenever I needed them, whether for academic of personal reasons, I could always contact them, which really helped me grow and develop as a student. If I needed academic support they would be sure to provide me with a tutor, and they always checked up on me since I attended a different school from the rest of those in my Dreamer class. I also felt very involved as a student in the “I Have a Dream” program. Since I went to a different school and had a different schedule, they always made sure to invite me to activities, as well as supporting me at my games (Basketball) or events that I was involved in at my school.”
“The biggest struggle I had as a student was being at a private school without the people I had grown up with. This was a big challenge for me and I don’t think I would have been able to go through it without “I Have a Dream”. I had many difficulties at my school and it was hard for me to handle it by myself, so it was nice having someone to call and let everything out. Not only that, but another big struggle as a student was believing in myself. I had bottled up so many negative emotions that they finally overflowed and I was ready to give up. I am an undocumented student, but I now have the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Before I was granted DACA status, I was struggling a lot with college applications because it was the first time my school had to help someone with my status.”
“There were so many hardships in my life that I didn’t think I would be able to persevere. I was more than ready to throw in the towel; I was tired and emotionally bruised from the many falls I had taken. Thanks to “I Have a Dream” and the Program Director of my class, though, I realized that I couldn’t throw everything away that I had worked so hard to achieve.”
“I am really thankful for the “I Have a Dream” Foundation because they helped me regain the confidence that I had lost, as well as teaching me to keep striving for what I want, and not caring about the amount of obstacles in my way. Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity and guiding me towards my dreams!”
Broadway Dreamer Class Alumni Carlos Lerma graduated from Boulder High School in 2009. In 2013, he graduated from Northern Arizona University, where he majored in Biology. Carlos is currently the Community Outreach Coordinator at Environment for the Americas here in Boulder.
“I Have a Dream” and the supporting AmeriCorps staff truly encouraged my fellow Dreamers and I to thrive in school and our daily lives. If it were not for the guidance from our Project Coordinator in academics and life, as well as encouragement and belief from everyone else at IHAD, we would not have had the tools to become great. My experience grounded me and gave me the necessary perspective to face the challenges that awaited me. I am thankful for all those who helped me succeed.
“I Have a Dream” helped me decide on a career path by providing me with opportunities to explore different fields during high school through workshops, speakers, field trips, and internships. All of these unique experiences were very beneficial as I embarked on my collegiate career,” says Carlos.
Scott Lippincott, Dreamer Alumnae, graduated in 2000 from Centaurus High School and then attended the University of San Diego, where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration. Scott is married with a child and is now a Helicopter Pilot in the United States Navy.
“What is truly special about ‘I Have a Dream’ is that they do not stop at helping kids get through high school. All of us Dreamers were encouraged to strive for greater goals and attend some form of higher education after high school. This constant support may have prevented many of us from selling ourselves short of our true potential. In addition to this, the college tuition assistance was a great asset that helped alleviate the financial burden from our families. ‘I Have a Dream’ is a great resource in the community, and I am very grateful for my time in the program.”
David Meza (Broadway Dreamer Class Alumni) graduated from Boulder High School in 2008. In 2012, he graduated from the University of Denver (majoring in Finance with a minor in Real Estate and Construction Management). He is now an Operations Specialist in data management at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co in Denver. David also served on the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Boulder County Board of Directors as the alumni representative for a year.
“Looking back I think that when I was first sponsored into the “I Have a Dream” program both my parents and I were a bit skeptical as to how it could benefit me at such a young age. With time, however, both my parents and I were better informed on the importance of education and how it could make a positive impact in my future. Knowing that I always had access to tutors and mentors that could help me understand concepts that I had trouble with in school was very important.
As I got older I was given the opportunity to take part in internships that helped me further understand that I could succeed in a corporate environment. This is something that at a young age felt unattainable because I was never really exposed to that kind of environment.
Getting help applying to college and getting exposure to different universities at a young age is what I'm most thankful to “I Have a Dream” for. I knew I wanted to go to college but did not really know how to actually get there. Having guidance in the process and being able to ask questions along the way was immensely helpful.
In the end, “I Have a Dream” taught me to constantly surround myself with successful people. Hearing stories of peoples’ accomplishments and jobs led me to believe that I should set high goals for myself and surround myself with friends that will push me to me to succeed,” says David.
Maria Moya (Broadway Dreamer Class Alumnus) graduated from James Bowie High School in 2007. Four years later, she graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neurobiology. She is now a graduate student studying Neuroscience at The Rockefeller University in New York.
"I Have a Dream" has done so much outreach to the community, and it is exactly this outreach that motivated my parents to enroll me as a Dreamer. ... "I Have a Dream" will, without doubt, encourage more students to stay in school and even excel, and will provide alumni Dreamers, such as myself, an avenue by which to motivate children in the community to stay curious and excited about school, The University in New York.
As a young child, my family had an income that would not have been able to provide for any higher education. "I Have a Dream" provided a level of support, both personal and financial, that kept me motivated and kept the possibility of higher education open in my mind. Without this support, I may never have attempted to continue on in school, particularly in college.
"I Have a Dream" continually demonstrated that we as Dreamers were being supported in all aspects of our lives. Even after my family moved from Boulder County, "I Have a Dream" continued to show their support and offer any help they could from afar. This was always very comforting.
It's always important to remember that people can do very little to succeed without personal and emotional support from others. This is especially true when you are talking about academic pursuits. So for me, the most important aspect of my time as a Dreamer was the people-the mentors, the administrators, and the staff. This support and motivation has been invaluable to my academic career," says Maria.
Mariela Ruiz Mondragon (Kalmia Dreamer Class Alumni) graduated from Boulder High School in 2004. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder with dual degrees in Ethnic Studies & Women and Gender Studies. She is now a Family Self-Sufficiency Bilingual Case Manager for the Department of Housing & Human Services of Boulder County.
“As a student who learned English as a second language, I sometimes struggled to understand school material and homework. “I Have a Dream” helped me overcome this struggle by providing individual tutors who took the time to meet with me and explain things.
I also struggled with understanding what I had to do as a student to make sure I took the steps necessary to attend college. I did not know that I could visit schools to get an idea of what they were like, the application process, how to write my statements, or even how financial aid worked. My Program Coordinator helped me understand the steps I needed to take to successfully start college, and because of her and “I Have a Dream”, now I will be able to pass along the same information to my own children one day,” says Mariela.
Esma Saiti (Broadway Dreamer Class Alumni) graduated from Arapahoe Ridge High School in 2008. In 2011, she graduated from Everest College with a degree in Criminal Justice. Esma is currently working towards a career in the United States Navy.
I had many struggles growing up in a "poor" neighborhood that might have shaped my life differently had it not been for “I Have a Dream”. “I Have a Dream” helped pull me out of the negative by consuming my time in projects like art, field trips, and sports. Through the Adopt-A-Family program, “I Have a Dream” made sure our family had gifts during the holidays, which definitely helped brighten the season.
During part of my time in the program, I was on probation and involved in some not so great things in my life. Because of this, “I Have a Dream” assigned me to an AmeriCorps volunteer named Megan, who became my mentor. Megan never gave up on me and would always stop by my school or home to make sure I was on the right track. She was a friend – someone I could go to and just let everything out and talk. “I Have a Dream” provided me with the necessary resources to make sure I did not fall through the cracks.
I am so grateful and thankful “I Have a Dream”. They were so beneficial in my life, and they still continue to be there for me. There are no words to describe how thankful I am for the program,” says Esma.
Lafayette Dreamer Class Alumni Rory Vaden graduated from Centaurus High School in 2000. In 2006, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in Management and an MBA concurrently.
As an award-winning entrepreneur and business leader, Rory Vaden co-founded Southwestern Consulting™, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice that helps clients in more than 14 countries drive educated decisions with relevant data. He’s also the Founder of The Center for the Study of Self-Discipline (CSSD).
Author of two New York Times bestseller books, Procrastinate on Purpose and Take the Stairs, Rory speaks and consults on how to say no to the things that don’t matter, and yes to the things that do. His client list includes companies and groups such as: Cargill, The Million Dollar Roundtable, P&G, True Value, YPO, Wells Fargo Advisors, Land O’Lakes, Novartis, and hundreds more. His insights have recently been featured on/in: Fox News, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Inc, Fortune, and the New York Times.
He is a regular contributor for American Express Open Forum, Huffington Post, and The Tennessean and his articles and insights average more than 4 million views every month. Additionally, he hosts The Rory Vaden Show which is the only nationally syndicated weekly radio show for “movers and shakers in the world of business.”
Kalmia Dreamer Class Alumni Samantha Wallace graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts in 2005. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Las Vegas – Nevada with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration on education and sexuality. She is now a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Sociology Department at the University of Oklahoma, working towards her M.A. in Sociology. In the fall of 2015, she will continue her studies at the University of Oklahoma as a PhD student in Sociology.
“There were so many important resources I was provided that all seem equal in magnitude of their effects upon my educational trajectory, and success in life. I must clarify though, even if I am not considered currently “in the program,” I consider myself a lifelong member as a Dreamer graduate, a lifelong advocate for its missions and program’s successes, and a person who continues to practice the IHAD ethos in my daily life and academic interactions. Mentorship is the most defining aspect that IHAD provided in my life. My mentors Midge Korczak and Caroline Haines were pivotal in uplifting my fragile child spirit, and reinforced the idea that I had value, could set and accomplish goals, and succeed with education to change my life. Midge has known me since I was a little girl, and stays in contact with me to this day, always ever present and supportive. The IHAD community homework center/apartment that was in my neighborhood was pivotal in many ways. Dreamers were provided with free resources, including tutors, time, physical space, and a community where we could study in peace, receive help, eat snacks, and feel that learning was maybe…kind of cool! For socioeconomically disadvantaged students like myself, these simple resources that we were provided with were much appreciated coming from busy and chaotic families who may have also relied on welfare for food, clothing, shelter, and personal space. Furthermore, IHAD was the continual provision of social and tactile resources for which to advance our educational and personal growth. I remember receiving a computer, food on the holidays, attending holiday parties where we were gifted presents, and receiving many hugs and much support. What may seem like trivial benefits to children with more advantages, these important life necessities benefitted not only me, but helped my family in times of need, and allowed me to feel human and cared for, especially during the holidays.”
“Although the IHAD scholarship was crucial to me completing my degree, I feel that the most important way that IHAD aided me was shaping my character into one capable of success. The scholarship would have been irrelevant if I did not have the character and confidence to believe in success, and seek to attain it. I have overcome many struggles as a student, including financial, familial, emotional, and deviant. It was difficult to pay for school, working full-time as a student paying my way through my Bachelor’s degree, and the IHAD scholarship helped me immensely. I had family issues in navigating financial aid applications for college, and IHAD provided me resources and support to complete these and my FAFSA. Emotionally, I felt unable to complete my goals and focus, and had a rough time in college. IHAD provided me additional financial support for books, helped contact my school to figure out the bureaucracy of finances and graduation, and provided documents to give to my undergraduate institution to help me to fix my GPA. As a semi-wild teen growing up, I sometimes lacked commitment to academics and could not see “the bigger picture.” But my IHAD mentors and contacts internalized in me a drive for success and provided me continued encouragement to proceed with my goals, achieve, and to be successful. IHAD’s greatest strength was being there every step of the way to college, and now, providing the appropriate resources at different stages in my academic career.”
“To this day, I have the attitude that “I CAN do this!” and it is only reinforced by my participation with IHAD. By providing me with both role models and a model for success, the IHAD Foundation is responsible for a majority of where I am now. Being in the program has also driven me to further my education, and to become a future professor myself. In the way IHAD has molded me, I seek to give back to my community the same way that IHAD helped me. Instilling me with this spirit is by far the greatest way IHAD has helped me to overcome my struggles – to know that caring helps, and it changes lives. I’m proof!”