COLUMBIA - An awards ceremony will recognize students who have "achieved through adversity" in hopes of closing Columbia's minority achievement gap. The Achievement Through Adversity Awards Dinner is scheduled for June 7th. Marquette Wallace and Patrika Brown are two young women who graduated from high school despite a deck stacked against them.
Patrika Brown, a student teacher at Stephens College Children's School, always knew she wanted to be a teacher but struggled to graduate due to two missing pieces. "He was my boyfriend at the time and passed away from cancer and that completely shut me down. I went through major depression and then my uncle died and it was like, I'm not good enough. "
Marquette Wallace also struggled to graduate from Douglass High School. She said she prayed a lot to get her through. "When I was 16, I was pregnant...and that was a big obstacle for me and after I had him, my brother passed away." Despite her loss, Marquette Wallace graduated from Douglass and Patrika from Hickman. Marquette is raising a healthy, happy child and Patrika is working on her education degree at Stephens College.
Mary Rodriguez of Fun City Academy is organizing the scholarship dinner to recognize individuals like Patrika and Marquette who have achieved through adversity. "In the projects, in these different areas, everyone is not killing and robbing. There are people who are trying to do something better with their lives. "
Rodriguez said recognition of success is a crucial step to close Columbia's minority achievement gap.
"You know there are other people out there going through the same types of things. It is an inspiration to me"
Boone Electric Cooperative is donating $3,000 in scholarship money for the event. For ticket information or to donate scholarship money to the Achievement Through Adversity Awards Dinner, contact Mary Rodriguez at (573) 639-0938 or firstname.lastname@example.org . The dinner is June 7th. Tickets are $10.