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Gladys Sistrunk

My vision for my future is clear; I want to explore religious studies, which to some may be pointless. However, my faith is love, courage, and compassion for all people. Philadelphia is a religiously diverse city and I want to bring this thread together to heal our communities. Upon graduation from an accredited college, I plan to pursue a full-time position as a prison or hospital clergy women or in social services while pushing forth a global humanitarian movement.

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“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference…”

I am applying to the Richard C. Diggs scholarship out of my commitment to obtain a college degree and promote positive change in my life and in the lives of others. The quote above by Reinhold Niebuhr, has inspired me because it gives me the wisdom to know that although I cannot change my past, which included poverty and homelessness, I can courageously strive for self-improvement. Earning a college degree would open doors of opportunity and would be a great achievement because I would be the first graduate in my family.

I am one of 16 children and we were very poor growing up – I did not have the luxuries that my friends did – and attending college was not an option for any of us. I had to start working at 12 years old just to buy clothes and shoes. Over the years I faced many obstacles such as being diagnosed with Lupus, falling into a coma, losing my ability to walk and spending close to four years in a wheelchair. I had to stop working and eventually lost my apartment and became homeless – living from place to place – sleeping on couches and floors.

Even though I desired to return to college I had little hope of this happening. However, I received a miracle when I applied to Graduate Philadelphia in January 2016. Alfredo Reyes, the College Success Advisor at Graduate, contacted me and assisted me through the entire process. He explained the program, assisted me with the FAFSA application, and showed me how to write scholarship essays. I attended the programs “open house,” and spoke with college representatives. I was accepted at Cabrini College and started my classes in March 2016. Graduate Philadelphia is an excellent program and due to the continuous help and encouragement I received from Alfredo, I am proud to announce that I have a 4.0 GPA. I thank the committee for considering my application.

Sincerely

Gladys D. Sistrunk