From the BSAP Awards, Whittney Carter

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As a child, I dreamt of what my future would look like. Graduating high school, going to college, and moving to California to pursue my career in medicine. For years, this was my goal. To give back by saving lives. I spent most of my time volunteering at church and around the community. I was surrounded by people who did not have goals. I came from a family where the only person I knew went to college was my father, and he did not even graduate. I just knew I wanted to be different. As I got closer to coming out of high school, I could taste my success. I was in all honors classes. I took my SAT and got a 1360! I knew I could go anywhere I wanted. My future was looking extremely bright. Then, when I was 16 years old my father went to prison. All my dreams shattered.  I did not see my father again until I was 27 years old.

In between that time, I ended up getting pregnant at 19. I was attending community college and working 2 jobs. One month after my son was born, his father was murdered. Now, I once again am on my own. I struggled to cope and survive with little to no help. I lost one of my jobs and was unable to afford daycare and it forced to drop out of school. During this time my father was calling sparingly and I never had anything good to tell him because my life was falling apart. My father would continuously apologize and say, “I never thought about how my actions and bad decisions would affect the people around me”. My father promised me he would not make the same mistake twice and when he came home, all he wanted was to redeem himself. He said he was going to give me a platform to stand on and tell my story. The next time I would talk to my father, he would be presenting an idea to me. C.O.I.N.S. Children of Inmates Needing Support. My struggles from his actions inspired him to begin a non-profit.

My father was released from prison in May 2014. In 2016, after working so many odd jobs to stay away from drugs and save money to put into the organization, my father landed a job with The Montgomery County Coalition for The Homeless. I watched my father spend days at a time in the middle of winter riding around looking for people to take off the street and give them shelter. He mentored those struggling with drugs and alcohol to keep them from going where he did.  During this time he obtained sponsorship for C.O.I.N.S from sports agents to allow the youth he worked with to experience sporting events and games. Thru C.O.I.N.S he hosted summer events to keep kids busy. Gave a safe haven for those who felt like they had nothing. Tutoring, mentoring, and educational coaching. Everything I was without while he was gone, he could provide for many others. In January 2017, my father was diagnosed

with pancreatic cancer. He passed away in August 2018.

My father’s death has been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with, but in my pain, I have found the greatest strength. My father was my true inspiration. He was my Hero. I am here today because of the platform he created for me. I recently acquired Presidency of C.O.I.N.S. This gave me so much more motivation to find a way to make go back and complete school. In my heart, all I wanted was this degree. I allowed so much hardship to stand in my way and this time I said I am going to fight! I will not give up and I will continue to push myself until I reach success. I deserve this. I have 2 young children of my own to support and many other children waiting to receive my support. I am going to be the “no matter what happens” success story for them all. I am now attending UMUC and am completing the Business Administration program. I intend to use this degree to help me make C.O.I.N.S bigger than my father ever imagined. I have a legacy to continue. I am grateful to receive this scholarship today. This scholarship is now a part of my story and aids in me carrying out my goals. I am humbled and I am ever so ready to pay it forward.  

Always Remember, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’.

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