Last Dollar Scholarship Provides Hope to Students
Orphaned at age 11, An’Jeanette Beverly struggled to find her place. When she discovered the support of her Hometown University, this first-generation college student excelled. Still, that dream almost came to a halt. Kent State University at Stark’s Last Dollar Scholarship is carrying her through to graduation day. In December, this 38-year-old will graduate, despite the challenges, with her bachelor’s degree in business management.
Nights were the worst. In the darkness, An’Jeanette Beverly questioned when the dawn would come. Alone. Left behind. Then, just 11 years old, the words repeated in her mind: unwanted, unworthy, unloved, unqualified.
But this survivor knows a thing or two about second chances and last dollars.
After all, the path that leads to addiction could have been an easy road for Beverly to follow, but she didn’t. She mustered the courage to leave an abusive household, the first she was placed into after her mother lost parental rights. Summit County Children’s Services then found her a loving home.
Barely a teenager, she also entered the agency’s Independent Living Program, where foster kids are prepared for life’s challenges and how to live as an adult at age 18. What Beverly didn’t realize is that storm after storm would come.
Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic left this single mom making tough choices: paying the bills or buying enough food to keep herself and her 17-year-old son fed. Graduation just within reach, she didn’t know if she would have enough money to pay for her final semester at Kent State University at Stark.
“I had no money,” Beverly said. “Like so many in the country during this pandemic, I felt at one of my lowest points. Had I come this far to not graduate? And then, I learned I was given the Last Dollar Scholarship, and it was meant for situations just like mine.”
The Last Dollar Scholarship provides aid to students whose college education is near completion but are at risk due to an unexpected crisis that has left them without other financial options.
“Without the Last Dollar Scholarship, it would have been very hard for me, especially working from home and caring for my son,” she said. “This scholarship has been a true blessing, and I’m so proud to be a student of Kent State Stark. When they say, ‘Flashes helping Flashes,’ they really mean that.”
‘Anointed for the hard stuff’
Born and raised in Detroit, Beverly was just a little girl when her mother left to battle the nightmare of addiction. Dreams were few for Beverly, but there were some she clung to tightly.
While in the children’s services’ Independent Living Program, she attended a seminar at Kent State University. There, she was inspired by the knowledge that an education could help drive your passion, landing you in a career that wasn’t just a job.
“I didn’t know how, but I knew then I needed to get a college education,” she said. “I knew it would take me to the places where I was meant to be.
“That is my hope really, and this is my testimony,” she continued. “I was anointed for the hard stuff. I know that now. But it has qualified me to reach out to other people by sharing my story.”
A difficult path
Beverly’s path to college wasn’t traditional. She dropped out of an Akron university when she became pregnant with her son. She found herself juggling work at an area factory and earning a license in cosmetology and her associate’s degree of applied business in legal assisting at a local community college. For years, she worked as a hair stylist after being laid off from her manufacturing job during the Great Recession.
She discovered the passion she could have for a career when she landed an internship at the City of Canton’s Human Resources Department. There, the profession spoke to her desire to serve the public and better the lives of those around her. “I knew then, I wanted to get my bachelor’s degree in business management,” she said. “And Kent State Stark made that easy when I found out that my associate’s degree credits would transfer.”
Due to previous college coursework, however, her financial aid options were exhausted.
“I remember sitting on my couch praying, ‘Lord, please bless me with a scholarship,’ ” she said.
Her son, Darryl, was praying, too. He asked that his mom’s internship would lead to a full-time job, and, one day, a home they could call their own. They eventually got both.
As Beverly crafted her application for the T. Raymond Gregory Family Foundation Business Management Scholarship at Kent State Stark, the words flowed effortlessly. When news of the full ride two-year scholarship award came, she broke down and cried in the office of coordinator for financial aid, Andrea Dale.
“We were all crying,” she said, after Dale was able to confirm the scholarship award when Beverly worried she may not be eligible. “I feel like there is something hard in every blessing for me. Without this scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to work toward my bachelor’s degree.”
In her footsteps
With one semester to go, the Gregory Scholarship award period ended.
“During the pandemic, again I found myself not knowing how I would pay for my coursework,” Beverly said. “But again, God has carried me through. I didn’t even know about the Last Dollar Scholarship, and here it is, saving the day.”
So much so, graduation means the pursuit of further education. Beverly has been accepted into Kent State’s master’s program in business administration, where she’ll focus on human resources.
“It was such a blessing to show my family and my son that I can do this. I can do this for me. I can do this for our family,” she said. “I am a first-generation college graduate, and I’m going to be the first in my generation to pursue a master’s degree.”
Darryl is next in line. He graduates in the spring from Copley High School and has plans to go to college, following the path set by his mother’s trailblazing footsteps.
‘Time to shine’
Beverly will turn 39 two days before she graduates on Dec. 19. Her son – and her mother, now more than a decade sober – will be cheering her on.
“It will be the best birthday ever,” Beverly said. “My heart is to give people hope. Sometimes, things happen and they lose that hope. But it can be better. Never give up. My heart is just to show people your hard times are not in vain. You can rise above this, even when things haven’t gone according to plan, it will all work out for your good.”
She knows it’s after the hard-fought battle, the blessing arrives. It may be the Last Dollar Scholarship that comes along, when it’s least expected.
After all, it’s the trudge through the valley, before the ascent to the mountaintop. It’s sitting on the sidelines, a face in the crowd, before taking the stage. It’s a new day for Beverly and the future is bright, as these words repeat in her mind:
And while graduation may look a little different for everyone this year, even young Darryl knows, “Mom, it’s your time to shine.”
Make a dream come true today.
Make a decision that has an impact for generations. The gift of an education changes lives, like An’Jeanette Beverly’s. It changes families; it changes communities. Give to the Last Dollar Scholarship and help students make better tomorrows for years to come.