In July 2017, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana awarded nearly $60,000 in scholarships to 22 employees, graduates and program participants to help them overcome barriers to pursuing higher education. One recipient, Nina Sharp, had enrolled at The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, after dropping out 17 years earlier.
“I was tired of begging for minimum wage jobs that barely covered more than the gas to get there,” Nina said. “When I was turned away from a job folding sheets for being unqualified, I decided it was time to earn my diploma.”
The Excel Center prepared Nina for a postsecondary education by helping her apply for financial assistance. After graduating with a 3.56 GPA, she enrolled at Ivy Tech with her math and English requirements already completed from the college credits she had earned at The Excel Center.
“I hadn’t planned to go to college, but the staff at The Excel Center made it easy,” Nina said.
While pursuing her postsecondary degree, Nina unexpectedly faced a new challenge. In 2016, a tornado destroyed the apartment complex in Kokomo where she and her family were living.
“We huddled in the bathroom and watched everything we own get ripped out of the apartment,” Nina said. “The whole ceiling was gone.”
The only thing undamaged was a bookshelf and a box on top containing her diploma and certifications from The Excel Center. Nina’s family continues to rebuild.
Earlier this year, Nina was nominated for a McClelland Scholarship, which Goodwill offers to students with significant financial need and a barrier to education. Nina plans to use the funds to pay for tuition costs and books.
“Now I can buy my own books instead of borrowing or photocopying them,” Nina said. “I can also graduate without debt hanging over my head.”
Nina is almost finished with her two-year degree in applied science with a focus on industrial electrical maintenance and welding.
“I chose a career that’s always going to be there, and everyone uses electricity,” Nina said. “My long-term goal is to be self-sufficient and independent.”