Scholar Story: Katie
Wakefield, MA

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When Katie was only ten years old, she and her brother, Joe, who was just six at the time, were removed from their parents and placed in the custody of the state due to a tough home life.

After a few months, Katie and Joe’s maternal grandparents became their legal guardians; she and Joe moved in to their grandparents’ home in Wakefield, Mass., where her grandparents had raised their own six children. Katie’s parents eventually divorced, and though she sees her mother on occasion, her grandparents and her aunt became her defacto parents. Between her aunt and grandparents, and other nearby aunts and uncles, Katie and Joe were surrounded by a loving and supportive family.

Katie“My grandparents had finished raising their family when my brother and I came to live with them, but they didn’t hesitate to welcome us and provide for us ever since. My grandfather is now 79 and my grandmother has since died, but without their willing intervention, I really can’t imagine what would have happened with us,” Katie said.

When Katie started middle school, the guidance staff matched her up with an adult mentor through a new mentoring program at the local Dollars for Scholars Chapter, Wakefield Dollars for Scholars. Katie was assigned to Lynne Zervas, a volunteer for the chapter and the current Interim Regional Director of Northeast Dollars for Scholars.

“Lynne and I have been friends ever since,” Katie said, “meeting once a week for an hour—sometimes more—since then. As I grew older, we would go for ice cream or hot chocolate or for dinner or shopping at the local Barnes & Noble.”

For as long as she can remember, Katie has wanted to go to college. Her grandparents, aunt, and Lynne always encouraged her to do well in school so she could achieve her dream. Katie was also active in extracurriculars, like the Social Awareness Club at school, Little League Softball, a referee for soccer and softball, was active at church, and she volunteered for Dollars for Scholars fundraising events.

“I’ve never assumed college was a given,” Katie said. “But I wanted to pursue a college degree to change my immediate family history and build more options for myself.”

Katie did not have the means to pay for her education at Plymouth State University. But thanks to a a scholarship from the Dollars for Scholars chapter in Wakefield, need-based grants from the university, money she’s saved up from her part-time job, as well as some student loans, Katie is on the way to achieving her dream of earning her college degree.

“I honestly don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t received additional money from the local Dollars for Scholars chapter. Because I have high financial need, the financial aid package I received from Plymouth State University may have been close enough to make starting college a reality, but purchasing a computer and all of the extras that are required for college might not have been possible. But attending Plymouth State has been my dream since I was a little kid,” Katie said.

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