Saturday, October 11th is the third International Day of the Girl. It’s a global initiative to promote girls’ rights, highlight gender inequality between girls and boys and shine a light on the different forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world. To recognize International Day of the Girl locally, we wanted to share Chrystell’s story. Chrystell received an Inspiring Futures Scholarship from United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) this year and is looking forward to the future. But it wasn’t always this way. Nineteen-year-old Chrystell suffered from depression and dropped out of high school before getting pregnant with her daughter. She shares her story with us.
What were some challenges around completing high school?
I was suffering from depression so I dropped out of high school and was just working and wasn’t planning to go back to school. When I got pregnant I made a plan to go back and finish because it is really important to have an education. One of my foster mom’s kids went to Louise Dean School so I started going when I was pregnant too. Then I had my baby and I continued going to school and it was hard, but this time I had motivation and I knew it was the right thing to do. Having my baby was really good motivation and I also realized there is so much support, so much help out there.
How have you found the last year getting ready to graduate?
It was fast, it’s been crazy! I’ve been getting involved in all of the programs in school, we have so many family things, baby and parenting classes, prenatal classes. I enrolled myself in all of those things. I will kind of miss it. I’m happy I’m going to move forward, but it was a really good experience.
How did you hear about the Inspiring Futures scholarship?
I didn’t really know much about Burns Memorial Fund or United Way until Louise Dean started giving the heads-up for the scholarship [Offered by United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, in collaboration with the Burns Memorial Fund]. I applied with the help of my social worker and the school.
How will this scholarship help you?
I had applied for a few scholarships before and this is the first one I got. It is always hard for me to ask for help, I’m really bad for that, but I had my baby and it was just this push, seeing how great things come from asking for help. The scholarship will help cover school and fees and things that I won’t have to worry about. I can worry about getting into schools and my marks and being a mom and it takes a lot of pressure off, financially.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I love computers and I’d like to work in an office. Having an education opens a lot of fields like working in oil and gas or for the government. I’m not sure where I want to go, but just having the opportunity is great.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Just a big thank you, a really big thank you. I know the struggles, and the support that is being offered helps so much. It’s good of the WLC and Burns to go out of their way, to know that people are in need. For us to be able to seek this help and have them open their arms to us and do this for us, and give this scholarship, it’s really big, it’s not just…a financial thing. It rounds us out more and helps so much. So just a big thank you!