Friday, January 08, 2010

Amazing Graduate Award of 2009

This is to celebrate the determination of an amazing graduate who uses education as a stepping stone in life.



Jessica Orogbu
I’ve now known Jessica for eight years or more. I met her when she was first in foster care and then was adopted by her foster mom. While in foster care and as an adopted daughter, I watched Jessica work hard! She became the overseer of her adopted brothers and sister, who were also in the same foster home as she was and were adopted at the same time as she was. As the oldest, she was expected to get up at 4:00 a.m. to ensure they were all dressed and taken care of before they all went to school. In the evenings, Jessica often cooked dinner and cleaned the kitchen before getting time to do her own homework and prepare for school the next morning. Yet, through all of that, I never once saw Jessica have a bad day or be in a bad mood. Her positive attitude was absolutely amazing and admirable.

As a senior in high school, Jessica began applying for college. She would call me to seek help in the process. She was the first in her family to go to college and wasn’t sure of how to make it happen. But, unlike other teenagers who would call me, Jessica would simply ask, “What do I do next?” and would proceed to make the phone calls, fill out the applications, and complete the entire process on her own.

It was through her phone calls that Jessica found out that being in foster care for so long actually had a benefit. The foster care system would pay for her schooling. Since her biological mother and her adopted mother were both unable to help financially, this became very crucial knowledge for her. In her research, she also found out that the foster care system would continue to pay for her schooling all the way through her doctorate if she went straight through. From that moment, Jessica determined that she would get her doctorate.

In college, Jessica worked a part-time job at the Boys and Girls Club, while also being a nanny for a family, while also taking 18 hours in school. The engine of the car she bought to get her to and from work burned out. She didn’t know what to do…but she managed to work things out. Her adopted mom died of cancer. During the same semester, she turned 22, which meant she was unable to access Medicaid anymore. It was then that her mouth started hurting with excrutiating pain. She could not find a reasonably priced dentist in Commerce and had to come to Dallas. She found out she needed all kinds of procedures, none of which she could afford. She managed to take care of one or two, but still needed a root canal. One of her professors told her she would have to drop the class if she missed one more day of class (because she had already missed for her mom’s funeral). Instead, she managed to get some antibiotics to clear up the infection and she persevered. I still don’t believe she’s been able to take care of the root canal to this day because of her hectic work schedule of two jobs and 18 hours of coursework.

This year, Jessica completed her bachelor’s degree in Education. Through her college career, she struggled over and over again with her math classes. But, she never once looked back. Jessica had set her goal to become a teacher and there was not a single obstacle that could stop her. She is now engaged to Reggie and will be married in July 2010. Here amazing qualities have secured her a job as a permanent sub in Greenville for the spring semester, a truly coveted position in this day and age where jobs are hard to come by. She will begin her master’s program at Texas A & M-Commerce’s branch in Mesquite as soon as the spring semester starts up. She will commute back and forth from Greenville now and is hoping to find a teaching job in Dallas in the fall.





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