Alyssa's Story: Reaping the benefits of hard work

This story was first printed in the Winter 2012 issue of Sunshine Magazine.

Alyssa at her graduation ceremony in December 2011

In the summer of 2008, Alyssa came to Methodist Children’s Home. She had a rough start on campus due to the struggles that brought her to MCH.

Torn family relationships and other conflicts caused Alyssa’s lack of trust for adults and peers. As a result, Alyssa had conflicts with MCH staff and youth in the beginning of her stay. She moved to two home units before she found a home where she felt comfortable.

As Alyssa’s relationships with staff and peers in the home unit grew, her attitude toward her actions and future changed.

“I was on the verge of being released when I moved to my last home unit,” Alyssa said. “I connected with the girls and the staff there, and I feel like they’re my family.”

In Alyssa’s case, there was not an event or a moment that changed her behaviors. She describes it as a transition that happened over time.

“I realized that I couldn’t act the way I was acting and be successful in the real world,” Alyssa said. “There are consequences to my actions.”

Christina Gerhardt, Alyssa’s caseworker, played a key role in her success.

“Alyssa bumped heads with staff, but she has grown up a lot since coming here,” Gerhardt said.

Through encouragement from the staff in her home unit, Alyssa began to discover her strengths and move toward making changes in her life.

“Alyssa has really overcome a lot of adversity,” said Gerhardt. “She hasn’t had much stability in her life, yet she’s one of the most driven youth I know.”

Alyssa put forth a lot of effort during her time at MCH to set a foundation for her future. She worked part-time while she attended high school; she saved money, knowing that she would need the financial cushion when she graduated; and she bought her own car in preparation for her independence. Last December, Alyssa graduated as Valedictorian of her class from the University of Texas University Charter School on the Waco campus.

“Alyssa wants to prove she can be successful, regardless of her background, and she has,” Gerhardt said. “I’m really proud of her.”

Because of Alyssa’s accomplishments, she was awarded a full scholarship from MCH to attend college. However, she is responsible for her living expenses. Knowing that being on her own can be an expensive endeavor, Alyssa is working two jobs while she attends McLennan Community College to start her college career. After graduation, she moved into her first apartment.

“Hard work pays off,” Alyssa said. “I have to be responsible for my own life; no one will do it for me.”

Gerhardt said Alyssa has come a long way since she started her journey at MCH.

“Alyssa is very driven and persistent,” Gerhardt said. “I think she’ll be successful no matter what she does.”

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