Cyndy White - 2017 Blessons Scholarship Award Recipient

Growing up, I did well in school. I always wanted to go to college, but coming from a family of blue-collar workers for the most part, my parents didn’t encourage college in a realistic way. There was very little discussion about my plans for the future, more than likely because neither of my parents had gone to college and therefore had very little knowledge on how to provide guidance to me about seeking higher education.

I began college in 1993, at the age of 23, as wife and mother to two young children. During this time, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. In September of 1994 during my 3rd semester of college, I became ill and was hospitalized. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I knew very little about the disease. I had a lot of fear and knew that my future was uncertain because of the unpredictability of MS. I allowed those factors to scare me enough that I dropped out of college, and five months later my dad passed away. It was a very dark time for me.

I divorced in 2000 and remarried in 2004. My second marriage was to a man that was emotionally and mentally abusive. I endured a lot of hardship during the years that I spent with my second husband. It has taken years of therapy to overcome a lot of the emotional trauma that I went through. Still today, I deal with PTSD from years of abuse.

In the spring of 2014 I found myself unemployed with little hope about my future. I made the decision to return to college. In May of 2014 I began this journey, which has turned my life around. I endeavored to finally be successful where I had felt for many years that I failed.  I wasn’t willing to accept mediocrity when it came to assignments and grades. Once I realized that I still had the ability to do well in school, it became a driving force propelling me toward a brighter future.

Getting my Bachelor’s degree is important to me because I felt like a failure for so many years.  In December of 2015 I received my Associate’s degree from Parkland College. Getting my Associate’s degree has already provided me with a lot of opportunity. Because I was a student at Parkland, I was offered a position as a student worker at the college. Six months later I became a part-time employee. Fourteen months later, I became a full-time employee. I didn’t think that things could get much better for me. But 6 weeks ago I became the Administrative Assistant for the Division of Learning Support, working for a Dean at the college.

All of those hard lessons, those struggles, and yes, those tears led me to not only where I am today, but more importantly, WHO I am today. I learned humility through my own trials in life. That humility has provided me with compassion for others and a real need to help others achieve their own educational goals. The one thing that has helped me to maintain a positive attitude is my faith. My spiritual faith as well as my faith that life is ever-changing and that my circumstances would indeed turn around has kept me going.

My goal now is to get my Bachelor’s Degree. With this level of education I can begin working one-on-one with students to help advise them throughout their college career.

Receiving the Blessons Scholarship Award has been a great help, providing the financial assistance needed for me to continue my higher education and even take summer courses.  However, the Blessons Scholarship has been much more than financial assistance to me. It has helped me to finally let go of the “shame” that had weighed me down for so long when reflecting on past choices.  It has been a chance to tell my story and to tell others that you CAN turn it around. It’s never too late to turn all of those life lessons into blessings and to end up with “Blessons.”