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Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Felicia Molzon, a student at Suffolk County Community College in New York and a recipient of the 2017 Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education. It originally appeared on the Pearson Students blog and is reprinted here with their permission.
“Who are you meant to be?”
This question riddled my mind for the longest time. It wouldn’t be fair to call myself a person who always knew what she wanted to do. However, this isn’t something that is reflected in my day-to-day interactions on campus. Each day I go to our small, tight-knit campus, all the interactions and experiences shared are beyond fulfilling. Yet, no one can see the years of perpetual acrimony that shadowed much of my life and caused me to ponder this existential question.
Defining my character
Mental illness became my handicap for several years, manifested in years of isolation and desolation. Having to grow up with minimal family support and direct myself through my educational endeavors has challenged me. The tribulations I’ve overcome have been definitive of my character.
I can come to terms with my history today. I’m no longer afraid of it. It is my reservoir of experience that I look to when approaching challenges. To know that I overcame those challenges and that I now step on grounds I once felt were beyond my grasp motivates me. It also drives me to excite this inner realization in others.
Finishing a dream
My mom was in a three-week coma following an accident 26 years ago, forcing a practical cognitive restart on her brain with a loss of fully functioning memory. She wasn’t supposed to survive — but she did. I was her 31st birthday present! Before her accident, she was a high-achieving honors student who had gone to the same community college that I’m currently attending. I think of myself as a vestige of who she was, as someone who is finishing a dream she once started.
Emerging from the shadows
In my struggle with mental illness, I was absent for the greater part of middle school and high school. My true educational journey began with my community college career. “Find Your Start at Suffolk” is my college’s slogan and is fitting to my situation. It’s something in which I genuinely believe.
The appeal of community college was the idea that I could begin my academic pursuits without being haunted by a hanging apparition of my past. I knew there was a capable high achiever who existed in the shadow of the young student who was burdened by mental illness and left in solitude for several years.
In my two years a Suffolk Community College, I’ve been able to become that capable high achiever. I am a peer mentor, an officer for various clubs, and a newspaper contributing author. I am a leader on campus who is a representative of the institution and its constituents: our student body. My friends and faculty in college have played a pivotal role in helping me grasp these achievements. I don’t think I would have nearly as stable a foundation without their guidance.
Last year I was selected as a recipient of the Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education. In addition to the financial award, I have been paired with a Pearson employee as a mentor as I progress from community college to a four-year school. Mentors are quintessential to the growth of all individuals. I know that without the support of a mentor, I would make a multitude of aimless mistakes.
The service of mentorship is so selfless in the essence of what the mentor does — they’re looking to share their wisdom with you. My Pearson mentor is incredibly sweet and friendly, and she has such a thorough foundation under her. I am indebted to the knowledge she bestows upon me.
The financial assistance of the Pearson scholarship is the security of pursuing my ambitious education. Now that I have another source to cover my tuition and fees, I can devote other financial resources to investing in my future studies. I can now take on more study abroad opportunities to study cultural communication. These things that were once unfeasible are now within my reach, and this is a notion that motivates me every day.
The human experience
I will be graduating in the spring as a communications major. Through each shift in my uncertain educational journey, one thing that remains consistent is my desire to learn about others. My education is how I reconcile with experiences that I never had. That’s why the humanities gratify me so much.
Through my studies, I learn about the human experience through objective, measurable means. I learn the practices and behaviors of humans to understand why we do what we do and how we do it. It helps me live my life at this moment.
I am a student leader; someone I once could not foresee myself as. I have full intentions on continuing to work at the core of my college’s activities to open opportunities for my peers through programming, workshops, peer-mentoring, and unconditional support.
Apply now for the Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education on Phi Theta Kappa’s Spring Scholarship Application. The deadline is May 1.