“Dreams Made Real is my motto.”
Dreams Made Real may be Clayton State University’s “motto,” but it’s also an authentic part of the University’s many scholarship students and the donors of those scholarships, as was illustrated at the annual Scholarship Luncheon, wherein the University invites scholarship recipient and scholarship donors to mingle to celebrate their joint accomplishments.
The scholarship recipient who expressed that thought was Jessica Charman, one of the University’s Presidential Scholars, a sophomore majoring in Communication and Media Studies (CMS) and English, a goalie on the women’s soccer team, and a native of Harfield, England. If you know anything about England, you know that children there typically dream about becoming “football” stars. As a seven-year-old, Charman made that dream her own, after watching the film about English national team captain David Beckham, “Bend it Like Beckham.” (So-named after Beckham’s ability to curve a “football.”)
“I wanted to earn a soccer scholarship since I was seven years old and saw ‘Bend it Like Beckham,’” Charman told the audience at the Scholarship Luncheon. “My presidential scholarship has allowed me to do just that, in addition to confirming in my mind that hard work really does pay off.”
Indeed, hard work and the creativity one would expect from a CMS major has paid off for Charman. One of the requirements of Presidential Scholars at Clayton State is an in-person interview. Since flying to Atlanta from Harfield for the interview was a bit of a stretch, Charman in part earned her scholarship by getting permission to do a Skype interview instead. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“I’m motivated to prove that scholar-athletes can excel both athletically and academically,” she said in her address. “If the fire burns strongly enough, you can make dreams real.
“Clayton State has allowed me to dream big. Anything is possible. Thank you for installing that mentality in me. I will always be grateful.”
Charman was followed to the podium by Alexandra Destin, a Teacher Education major who will graduate from Clayton State on May 9, 2015. Destin’s story, though much different than Charman’s, was equally riveting and showed both the diversity of both Clayton State scholarship recipients and their dreams.
A native of Haiti, Destin came to the U.S. initially to, “get away from the negativity” towards education of her native land. However, he dream was to be able to return to Haiti to, “go back home to mentor young Haitian students.” However, those plans were disrupted by the 2010 earthquake… she couldn’t immediately return home.
As a result, she applied to Clayton State, and earned an out-state tuition waiver for one year. At the end of that year she faced another crisis, her father was imprisoned in Haiti for political reasons and her waiver expired. Fortunately, she was admitted to the Clayton State Honors Program, and her mother promised to help her as much as possible.
“I had hope again of continuing my education,” she said of that time.
That hope also came from Teacher Education Department Chair Dr. Ruth Caillouet and Middle Grades Education Program Coordinator Beverly Garner, who helped Destin find a grant, and Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management & Academic Success Dr. Mark Daddona, who helped her obtain a loan.
Finally, in her senior year, some of the financial pressure was alleviated when Destin was awarded the J.E. Edmonds Scholarship, established by Betty Edmonds Long and further funded through the Clayton County School Employees Foundation and the Clayton County Retired Educators Association, which provides scholarships for teacher education students.
What will Destin’s advice be to her future students in Haiti?
“There will always be angels in your path to shower you with their generosity.”
Among the angels at the Scholarship Luncheon was Doug Hickman of SunTrust Bank, a long-time supporter of education and Clayton State University, who Clayton State President Dr. Thomas Hynes introduced as, “an exemplar of those donors who made dreams real.”
“We’re here celebrating student success,” said Hickman. “Scholarships are critical to the success of the University.
“Why is this important to SunTrust? We have a long commitment to higher education, in many different ways. Scholarships marry very well with our corporate purpose; providing for financial well-being.”
In extolling donors like SunTrust, Hynes pointed out that they are the makers of dreams for students, “who, but for the support of scholarship donors would not be on this campus.”