More often than not, the tougher something is to achieve, the more rewarding it feels when you finally get it. In Brandi Beard's case, she used all of her challenges as motivation.
The path to success often comes with many obstacles; some of them sidetrack you, and some of them give you a great sense of accomplishment. Some of them can motivate you to try your hardest and do your best. For Brandi Beard, a Tampa native who graduated from Hillsborough Community College in 2009, the way, though tough, was most definitely paved with motivation.
"I had my first child when I was 16, so I was still in high school. But actually, I was able to graduate on time. I did all my classes and then I decided I wanted to go to college." Brandi got her degree in Early Childhood Education in 2009. How did she do it? By working really hard and having the right tools by her side.
"I definitely needed a lot of help, and the Bright Futures Scholarship was right on time with it. It definitely helped out a lot as far as trying to maintain income."
Brandi was working hard at school to keep her grades up, working hard at her part time job to bring money in and working hard at home taking care of her child.
"I was still living at home and trying to juggle work and school. I knew I needed more money in order to move out and take care of her."
So, when she got the Bright Futures Scholarship, things started to work out, though her hard work never stopped.
"There was one point where I was actually working two jobs and still going to school, trying to make sure that I saved up enough because I definitely wanted to be out on my own."
Having the scholarship not only provided Brandi with financial support, but it was also a boost to her confidence.
"It's a great motivation, it almost feels like you're being recognized, honestly, because you're doing what you're supposed to be doing."
While Brandi was at HCC, she had her second child. "That made things a bit more difficult. So, I definitely wanted to try to keep those grades up. In the end, you're going to achieve something that a lot of young ladies who have kids young don't get a chance to do. So, it actually felt good to be rewarded and acknowledged."
Teaching at heart
After working in childcare for over 15 years, Brandi changed careers a couple of years ago. In her heart, teaching has always been her passion, even at a very young age.
"When I was a kid, around the second grade, I kind of knew I wanted to teach kids. I have siblings that are old enough to be my parents, so I learned from their mistakes and I learned from their achievements."
She not only taught herself, but also others around her.
"I was always watching them. My mom was older and my dad was older, so I just learned how to teach myself and teach other kids when they were having a difficult time in school. So, when I got into high school and they offered [an Early Childhood Education program, I thought, 'Oh, I could do this,' because I love kids anyway."
Her degree has made a huge difference in her life, and she is always trying to teach, share and motivate whoever needs her. "I've been involved in a lot of youth programs with teen parents. I'm definitely able to associate and communicate with those parents because I was one. So, anytime that I see anybody needing anything like conversation or motivation, anything of that nature, I'm there."
For anyone having a tough time figuring things out, questioning whether or not they should even try to go to college, Brandi has some words of encouragement: "Just start it and everything else will follow through. Once you put your mind to it, you can do it. I thought I couldn't do it either, there were a lot of times when I was like 'just this semester' but, you know, I still went ahead and I was determined to definitely get it done."
"I'm happy that Bright Futures was there because I didn't know anything about it until I got to college. That's why it means a lot to me, it means that there is money allocated just for people like me who want to go to school, who want to obtain a degree in whatever they want to obtain a degree in. You can afford to go to college, the resources are there. If you keep your grades up and you do things the right way and work hard, it rewards you for it, and that was surprising. That should be an extra push for you to keep going."
For more information, visit http://www.flalottery.com/brightfutures
The Florida Lottery is responsible for contributing more than $38 billion to education and sending more than 880,000 students to college through the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The Florida Lottery reinvests 99 percent of its revenue back into Florida's economy through prize payouts, commissions to more than 13,000 Lottery retailers, and transfers to education. Since 1988, Florida Lottery games have paid more than $72.5 billion in prizes and made nearly 3,000 people millionaires.
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