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NEDP Scholarship Recipient Spotlight - One Year Later!

Read a reflection from Carissa, one of our 2020-2021 NEDP Scholarship recipients, about her first year in college at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Connecticut. Carissa was inspired through the NEDP to continue her education and enroll in college to explore in their extensive Fine Arts associates degree offerings to expand her creative potential. She was just invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which recognizes the academic achievement of college students for being in the top ten percent of their school. She has shared with us a photo of one of her favorite drawings, a black and white charcoal still life on paper depicting a daisy's reflection from a vintage napkin dispenser.

“It has been an amazing experience to be enrolled at college; something I never thought I could do!

I have enjoyed every class I have taken because I appreciate and understand the impact of learning at this point in my life. I know I am growing from the unique experiences I have every day. I come from having anxiety about a lot of things, and school was always one of them until I found EdAdvance and got my high school diploma, but like many people, I still thought college would be scary. The truth is that everyone is immensely supportive and only wants you to succeed! Every one of my professors has been so friendly and helpful. Even classes that I didn’t think I would get much out of, have turned out to be FUN. There are many support services to help navigate whatever paperwork that is needed, and counselors and advisors who take pride in being there for the students, to help guide them through picking classes or combatting doubts. On my campus, there is a child-care center for students who are parents, and a relaxation room for anyone to come and find peace. Free tutoring is available too!

At Tunxis, I have been working on an Associate Degree in Fine Arts with a focus on photography. This program has me practicing design, drawing, and real-life skills as well as technical skills for taking photos. I cannot say what I will be doing two or even five years from now, but I know I will have continued to grow, meet new people, and find new opportunities. I can say that I will take classes for as long as I possibly can because the feeling that I am enriching myself and my life is something I always want to experience. I have a few favorite places on campus. There is a large courtyard with trees and benches and statues where it is beautiful to be outside and read or just hang out. If I’m feeling social, there is a rec room run by the student government for anyone to come and enjoy. There are always a handful of people playing pool or even a video game. My favorite place is the hallway where the art rooms are all located; it is lined with students' art and updated very often. I love walking down this hallway and seeing my peers’ work before I head into the lighting studio.

Being in classes that interest me, like photography, has introduced me to a lot of like-minded people. I don’t feel like an odd one out at all. It turns out we have similar fears and goals and are all in it together. No one is born with all the answers, but the thing we have in common is the courage to just show up and do our best. When we develop interpersonal relationships, it’s easy to realize how much we can accomplish, much more than just by ourselves. Meeting people in my classes has taught me this and, also, that it’s really okay not to be sure of what we are doing, or even to know what we want to do. The most important thing is that we begin.

I’m learning that success is tied to many things, but mostly in having the audacity to want something for yourself, whether the goal is to make more money or learn a new skill, or simply grow and broaden your knowledge. Learning that it’s not only okay but encouraged to reach out for guidance and help has made a huge difference for me. We are all entitled to grow and should not feel like a burden in doing so. I have had experiences of doubting myself, but that never got me anywhere. Trying out things that interest me is a form of self-love and self-care that I think each of us needs to practice. My advice to anyone thinking about getting that diploma or enrolling in more classes would be: Don’t hesitate. You will never regret trying your best, being your best you, and creating your best life."

People, (myself included) had me believing that I could never be more, but with just a bit of courage and determination, I went from being a high school dropout to a college student with honors. If I can do this, I know anyone can!”

Carissa, we are excited to see the beautiful things you create as you grow in your artistic endeavors. Thank you for sharing your beautiful artwork with us! We wish you the best of luck as you continue on your journey of life.


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