College Plus: Story of Success and Grant News

Written on by Sheri Shifman

Want to go to college, or do you know someone who wants to go to college?  Are there people in your life who gave up hope about the possibility of going to college or making it through even one college class?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, College Plus may be the answer!!  “Sarah”, a student with College Plus for the Spring 2016 semester, hadn’t been to college for 10 years and was reluctant to go even after applying with College Plus a few years ago.  She attempted at one point, but had to take a medical withdrawal.  In 2016, with the help and support of Caren, the College Plus Leader, Sarah decided this time she was ready to go.  Her strong desire for a career change provided an incentive as well.

College Plus students identify career/education goals, and Sarah identified hers was to advance in the medical field.  She has been working as a Certified Nurses’ Assistant (CNA) for several years and was ready for a change.  Sarah enrolled in a Medical Terminology class, which she thought would be difficult – and it was!  Sarah said College Plus gave her the confidence she needed to continue and finish the class reporting she was “pretty overwhelmed at first”.  She made it through with the peer support from Caren and others who gave her encouragement, positive affirmations and overall confidence.

Sarah finished the Medical Terminology class at Bucks County Community College with an A.  Since the class and gaining the confidence, Sarah applied for two new jobs working in a hospital using her CNA experience and the skills she learned from the college class.  She is awaiting the outcome of those applications as this blog is being published.

College Plus was happy to help Sarah and remains inspired by her story and perseverance.  Sarah came to College Plus with a Bachelor’s Degree, yet she had many challenges to work through to finish that degree having been diagnosed with a mental illness when she was 20.  Throughout the years, she continued to be resilient through trials and tribulations, and she remains a strong example of recovery.

Sarah’s words of wisdom to someone who is thinking about going to college but is reluctant: “It might seem really challenging, and it can be, but you will definitely feel good about yourself when you are done.  College Plus gives you support and encouragement and somebody to talk to through the class.  They even give you suggestions for studying.  When you have a mental health diagnosis – everything can be harder, but you can do it!!!”  We thank Sarah for sharing her story.

Grant News

Voice and Vision is pleased to announce for our fifth year in a row, College Plus received a grant from the Joseph Jocelino Gaskill Education Fund through The Philadelphia Foundation.  The amount we received this year was $3,372.94.  The fund was established in 2010 by Joseph and Almerinda Gaskill in honor of their late son.

With this grant and money received through a contract with the Bucks County Department of Mental Health and Developmental Programs, Voice and Vision’s College Plus Initiative funds and supports people who have mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders to go to College and live out their college/career dreams.  College Plus will be supporting a total of 12-15 people at Bucks County Community College in the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause so we can help more people in 2017. Thank you.

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