NOTE: Due to the sensitive nature of some of the students' stories, to protect their privacy, we have left out identifying information.
Here are just a few examples :
"My life outside of school an imprisonment..."
Lymphoma can be highly deadly since it is a cancer that spreads throughout the whole body. In February 2012, my step dad who is in my heart a dad to me, was hospitalized with an unknown liquid surrounding his heart. One week later, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Only a few days later, we would know that the cancer had developed to stage 4, making his cancer incurable.
In March 2012, he was released from the hospital to go home and to receive intensive care from hospice. He would only have a nurse visit him every 2-3 days, making a close relative his primary nurse, day and night, in this case, making me his care taker, turning my life outside of school an imprisonment.
My life inside of school wasn't much different. I had fallen behind in my school work and with little time to do my work, I soon started to stop eating so I could use that time to work.Soon after, I started to develop a lack of sleep, only having 4-5 hours of sleep per night, making me more fatigued than I already was.
Only after his death would I realize the reason I kept going was because he taught me the basics of life, to never quit. He pushed me to be my best, no matter how difficult the situation got to be. And I finally learned that no matter how life hits you or how hard, you always have to stand back up on both feet and keep walking tall.
A.G., Hendrick student
"I fought through it."
My mom had become a single mom "overnight" and was working 2 jobs to support my little brother and me. I was only 14 so you could imagine how hard it was for me to take care of my brother while my mom was working nights. I fought through it because I knew that's what I had to do... but school became more and more difficult. Before I knew it, I found myself in a mental hospital for trying to commit suicide but I regret it.
Lying in that bed that didn't belong to me, being separated from the ones I loved, feeling all along truly made me realize that all my family ever wanted was the best for me. That summer a light bulb turned on for me and I made a promise to myself that I would be in charge of my destiny.
The next school year, I reached out to counselors, teachers, and family for help through school. One of my counselors was of great help to me and my family. She helped me express who I am today by recommending me for the AVID program. In the AVID program, I learned how to challenge myself by taking Honors and AP classes. Although balancing school and work sometimes gets hard, I still managed to make an average of 3.2 GPA in my senior year in high school.
My career choice is pretty ambitious but I hope to be an orthodontist someday. It is my dream to make people feel the way I felt when I first got my braces off. It would feel awesome to know that I contributed to someone's perfect smile.
I know that everything is earned through hard work and effort but I have no problem with pushing through that hard work to get where I want to be in life. I believe education is a gift and something no one can take away from you. Knowing that neither of my parents graduated from college encourages me to graduate college and set an example for the generations that will come after me.
K.D., Hendrick student
"...heard gun shots every night..."
My earliest memory was when I was 5 years old. I was living with my aunt because my mom and I had nowhere else to go. While we lived there, she regularly did drugs. Not too long after we moved in with my aunt, she put us out on the streets. This made me go stay with my other aunt. My mom stayed with her new boyfriend. Things got worse for me.
The money my mom sent me I never saw because my aunt spent it on beer and drugs.
My life at my aunt's house involved whippings for no reason, my uncle hitting me on top of my head, making my nose bleed, and being jacked up against the wall by my neck. I never liked my aunt's son because he raped me.
I never started to like my life until I moved with my mom to Plano when I was in the 5-6th grade. We lived in a motel. During this time, my mother had my little brother. I sued to have to take days off from school a lot to watch him. At 11 years old, I was playing the part of a father to my little brother.
I knew all along that I would need an education to get me out of the life my mom kept giving me.. My mom's employer stopped giving her hours so we moved back to Dallas. This was the point that my mom started back on drugs. The apartments we could afford to stay in were not in a good part of town. Within the first week of moving there, I got jumped by 3 grown men, heard gun shots every night, was threatened with a gun by a girl over a basketball, and was constantly nervous that a bullet would fly through my window.
A family friend took my in so that I could attend Plano schools again. This is when I finally saw my life taking a turn for the better.
I feel that education is the only way out for me and the only way that I can turn my life around for good. After I graduate with my degree, the most important goal I see is to have a stable home and to take good care of my little brother so that I can provide him with the necessities that I was given growing up. My little brother is my heart and drive to stay focused.
I sit and cry sometimes because of all the things that have happened but it makes me more determined to reach the opportunities that are in front of me now.
J. H., Hendrick student
"School became my only outlet."
When I was born, my family was living in motels. We moved around multiple times a month, from one ratty motel to the next while my mother and father went on one drug induced binge after another. Not long after the birth of my younger sister, they divorced. Living with my mother was a life that held a lot of bad memories.
My mother never had enough money to support four children and her drug habit. She put herself first. If she had a bad day, she would take it out on me. She would beat me down emotionally until I hated every aspect of myself because of the things she would say.
School became my outlet; I poured my heart, my soul, and my life into my artwork. As great as school was, I always dreaded getting back on the bus to go back home.
Out of everything I've been through, and everything that has happened, I wouldn't change any of it even if I got the chance. What I've lived through has ultimately made me a better person. I've chosen to learn from my past. No matter how emotionally drained I was, I never lost faith in my education.
I fully intend to continue my education regardless of what it takes. I want to be able to help kids like me learn from their struggles instead of succumbing to them. I plan to become an art teacher or art therapist. I truly believe that with art can come great healing. I want to be able to impact people's lives for the better.
M.C., Hendrick student
"I never knew what my purpose was in life."
Growing up wasn't the easiest thing for me. My mother was on drugs and my dad staying in and out of prison. I went from one foster home to another. I would get confused; I never knew what my purpose was in life. Some foster parents wanted us to think that black people weren't the best people to be around. Some would always want to hit us when we went into the refrigerator to get something to eat.
There was one thing I had to learn, and it was staying together (with my sisters) and knowing that life could only get better. At night I would say to my sisters, "Why did God give us the parents that we had? Why did our mother have to be hooked on drugs? Why couldn't she just love me like a mother should? Why did life have to be so hard?"
I know that I need to attend college, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. No matter how much it takes, I know that I have to work hard for the things I want to achieve.
K.H., Hendrick student
JULIE GRAY, TEXAS A&M COMMERCE, B.A. EDUCATION, 2012
Julie traveled a very steep path, overcoming many obstacles in order to graduate in Dec. 2012 with her Bachelor's degree and is looking forward to achieving her dream of being a teacher. She is a testament to the power of perseverance and determination.
In her words...
"I am so happy to have graduated this December with a Bachelor’s degree and a 3.06 GPA. Each year in college seemed to be a little more exhausting than the next as the classes grew more difficult and the pace seemed to increase, but my drive and persistence paid off in the end. Through all of the adversity I have faced on my quest for an education, I have been blessed to be able to say that I have a gang of cheerleaders-the Hendrick Foundation- on my side rooting me on.
In my quest for a degree in teaching, I have strived against odds such as a car accident, poverty, and homelessness to gain the “piece of paper” that my hard work and dedication would prove that I deserved. But I have learned that the paper isn’t the proof: it’s the drive and dedication that prove everything.
I have learned what it’s like to be overwhelmed with gratitude for such a wonderful group of Christians that showed me how to walk by faith and not by sight, and how to make it through the college experience that would forever open doors in my life to be able to accomplish anything. The accomplishment itself will always serve as a reminder that my potential is as strong as my desire to be different than my circumstances.
More than just the degree: the mentoring opportunity blessed me with the ability to be able to connect with a wonderful woman/mentor that walked a career path that I want to walk in education. I was so proud to be her apprentice in a sense; she taught me many things about life and teaching. She welcomed me with open arms like a family member, and taught me that the potential that I felt that I had was completely valid and valuable to society.
I was impressed with her persistent character: she had been for decades an advocate for education that argued for equality, marched for opportunity, and took me by the hands and showed me with love and support the path to Jesus when I asked her how I could walk the way that she did with such conviction, love, and courage.
They turned me into a college graduate who knows what it is like to be faced with the adversity that many of my future students will be faced with, and will be even more so ready to help them overcome obstacles. But most importantly, they helped me become the best Christian leader and example that I can possibly be for myself, my community, and my family.
I want to thank all of you on behalf of the students here and for the future students that will stand in my place for all of the love and support you have shown us."