Ella Morris is 63 years old, a mother of four and a grandmother of five. Throughout her life, she has valued education and dreamed of becoming a college graduate. Being a 2017 McClelland Scholar will bring her that much closer to achieving her goal.
After graduating from Arsenal Tech High School at 18 years old, Ella realized she wanted to continue her education. She graduated from both a data entry program and the Indianapolis Skills Center after high school. While these were valuable programs, Ella still wanted something more -- a college degree -- but fear of math kept her from enrolling.
To make ends meet, she worked a variety of different jobs and gained a great deal of experience in the workforce.
“You name it, I’ve probably done it,” Ella said.
Later in life, Ella was forced to slow down when she developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) caused by years of smoking cigarettes. This disease made it hard for Ella to accomplish regular day-to-day tasks. She gets winded walking two blocks and has to stop frequently to catch her breath. On bad days, she has to call a cab. Her educational goals seemed more unattainable than ever.
However, Ella would soon develop a new reason to return to school. After helping her daughter leave an abusive relationship, Ella realized that empowering domestic violence victims was her true calling. She took a janitorial position at The Julian Center, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, going beyond the call of duty to offer wisdom and kindness to many victims of abuse. Many women sought her out for advice.
“Once you learn to love yourself, you will have the capacity to love others,” Ella said.
Since joining Goodwill’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), Ella has received guidance applying for scholarships and finding employment.
“SCSEP has helped me stay focused on my goals and encourages me to keep going despite my age,” Ella said.
Through SCSEP, Ella landed an internship at The Julian Center working in The Circle Program, which helps empower individuals to rise out of poverty. After excelling in this role, Ella accepted a job at a faith-based food pantry called Faith, Hope, and Love.
“I enjoy my coworkers, and I am learning to be more confident with technology,” Ella said.
Now Ella is finally able to pursue her dream of a college education. She is currently enrolled at Ivy Tech earning her associate's degree in human services, and will soon earn her degree.
In 2017, Ella received a McClelland Scholarship, designed to help Goodwill employees, students and program participants overcome barriers to completing their education. Ella will use the scholarship to purchase a new laptop and books for her classwork.
One of Ella’s keys to success is surrounding herself with positive people. Her friends and family don’t let her give up and constantly motivate her. She won’t let anything stop her from getting her degree.
“If you keep swimming, one day you will reach the shore,” Ella said.