The Student of the Month for December is Samantha Roedel. While she isn’t the typical model for success, she has withstood some insurmountable obstacles this semester and has come out better for it.
Samantha came to me on a referral from Adult Basic Education in Powell. She should have been a junior in high school, but decided to take her HiSet rather than start over at a new high school after being moved to this area. She passed her HiSet and placement testing, and she was ready to begin the process of applying for college. She originally lived in Montana, but her mom was diagnosed with a terminal illness and moved to hospice. At 17, so she moved in with her Dad and step-mom, never really knowing them in the past. Having a learning disability her whole life, she wants to become a special education teacher to help students who struggle as she has.
When she met with me, she filled out the FAFSA and the Northwest College admissions application. I also encouraged her to apply for scholarships and Student Support Services. She did connect with Student Support Services, and we have been working collaboratively to help her. Sam and I talked about Hathaway, but later SSS discovered that she wouldn’t qualify for Hathaway because she would have been a senior this year and wouldn’t have access to that money until next year when her “class” would graduate.
Her situation changed drastically over the summer. She met with me in the Fall because she needed to make a payment for her schooling, so I helped her fill out papers for student loans. At that time, I learned that her mom had passed away. She had also moved in to the dorms because her dad kicked her out of their house, stopped returning her calls and cut her off completely. A little later in the semester, she was awarded the Point Architects scholarship which is a local scholarship arranged through Educational Opportunity Center in Powell. She had the deepest gratitude. As she went through the semester, she suffered with grief and anxiety. After she moved out, her dad ended up going to the hospital, almost dying. No one would give her any information on how he was doing, so she struggled to focus on school work. Her grades were suffering, so she cut her course load in half. While she only passed one class the Fall semester, she has shown incredible tenacity. She kept trying until the very last day of the semester. Up until a day before break, she didn’t know where she would go or who she would stay with over the Holidays. Any one of the stresses of homelessness, the loss of her mother, her father’s illness and her learning disability would have been enough to quit school, but she continued to persevere even through the darkest of times. She is an inspiration as someone who knows what she wants out of life and keeps working towards it regardless of heartbreaking circumstances.