Suzanne Hugus was happy in her job as an administrative support specialist in N.C. State Universitys Department of Agriculture, but she yearned for a career that would add something to others lives.
Why? I asked.
Because of all the help Ive received, she said. I want to help others as Ive been helped in the past. I could be an administrative support person for the rest of my life, but I dont feel that is contributing directly to the improvement of anyone elses life.
Thanks to a GlaxoSmithKline Opportunity Scholarship she received in May, Hugus, 51, is going back to school at NCSU to do that. She plans to become a counselor. Ive been helped much over the years through counseling because of the issues Ive had with depression. ... Counselors have helped me to really feel like a valued person, which I doubted at times in the past.
The Opportunity Scholarship, which Hugus and three others received this year, was established in 1988, said Mary Anne Rhyne, a GSK representative. It can be for as much as $20,000 and is for people whod overcome adversity in their lives and who were looking to use education as a way to pursue success, Rhyne said.
She added that the scholarship program also looks for people who want to help others once theyve made it.
Hugus does. And so does Tanazja Leonard.
Leonard was rushing, as usual, when Rhyne called to let her know shed been selected. The just-turned 18-year-old graduate of Durhams Riverside High School said she was headed to her afterschool job at McDonalds when she got the news.
Rhyne said Hugus and Leonard, as have all of the scholarship winners, have really risen above some extreme hardships and incredible odds, something that in many cases was thrust upon them. They found that education was a ticket to a better life. They were facing great poverty, abuse and family neglect, having to find their own way in life and having no one to show them.
Leonard said it was hard trying to keep up with my studies. After school I had to go straight to work almost every day. Most of the time I was on my own, but my older sister helped. She would take me to work.
Cooking, Leonard said, is her passion a pot of passion stirred when she started cooking with her mother at age 7 and soon found herself cooking for the entire family. Shed planned to attend culinary school, she said, but after visiting one I decided it wasnt for me, but I still wanted to do something in the food industry. She hopes to help people eat nutritiously.
What I needed to do
Leonard attended Durhams Emily K. Center, which she said helped me learn to manage my time, make sure I got with my classes and teachers. For all four years of high school... we had meetings about going to college, how I was going to get there, what I needed to do.
One of the things she and all scholarship winners had to do to apply was write an essay. Leonard asked her teachers at Riverside and with Emily K. to critique hers.
When Leonard arrived at N.C. Central University this summer, she became the first person in her family to attend college. She doesnt think shell be the last. Because of her example, her younger sister is now talking about college, she said. Shes going, but shes taking a different route than I am. She doesnt have Emily K. behind her.
She does, however, have a big sister behind her and if she can write, she may one day have a pharmaceutical company behind her, too.
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