Stories of Success: Qualyne Fuller, Mississippi Job Corps Center

Coming into Job Corps during my twelfth-grade year was exciting. I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know what I wanted to do at Job Corps and I’m not the type to just make new friends or talk to anyone I didn’t know. I knew I didn’t want to do what my friends were doing. I wanted to choose something that would interest me and challenge me in a way that I could use the information given in the future. I chose retail sales because as a little kid, I always wondered what a retailer did and how they would go about selling different things. My counselor talked to me about going to college and I knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t know how. She then introduced me to Mr. Higgins and the opportunity to be a part of the College Pathways Program.

A few weeks before my high school graduation, I found out I was accepted into the College Pathways Program and it was the greatest feeling ever. This opportunity started me on my journey of becoming the person that I know I can be. My first year in college was an emotional roller coaster. I was struggling to balance my social, family and school life all at one time. I struggled with letting my family life interfere with my school life and to sum up my social life, I’ve learned that everyone isn’t your friend. I was so emotionally unstable because I had so much going that my grades started slipping and I was failing tests and getting distracted easily. I couldn’t cope with so many things and I just wanted to quit.

I thank God for placing people in my life who were there when I needed them. My College Pathways mentor, Brianna Watkins, was whatever I needed her to be, a friend, sister and a motivator. She would check on me whenever she would sense something was wrong. We would discuss different things and give each other opinions. We would joke around and talk about things I couldn’t talk to my friends about. She was the person who was there for everything. When I discovered I had a lump in my breast and was scared to death that it could possibly be something more than benign, my mom was the first person I called, but the next person I called was Brianna. She prayed with me and told me that everything will be alright. I thank God for her because she made things smoother for me.

Before school was over, I was applying for internships. I didn’t think I would get accepted, but when I received an email saying I was accepted for an internship at NASA, I was so shocked and excited. I called my mom and we were both on the phone screaming. After the shock wore off, we started looking for places for me to stay. So, when the day came for me to move in, I was so excited because first I was starting my very first internship and secondly, I was living on my own. My mom was kind of skeptical about me living on my own in another state, but it was a learning experience for me. It gave me the opportunity to learn how to budget and balance my money and prioritizing what I needed and what I wanted. I had to pay bills and get up for work every morning.

This internship wasn’t what I was expecting. What I was expecting was to work on the NASA site, but I was working with elementary to high school students coming to learn STEM-related information and hands-on experiences. I enjoyed my experience and working with ASTRO CAMP® and the people I worked alongside with. Now, I have experienced my first year of college and got a glimpse of being able to live as an adult without any help from my parents.

There are so many opportunities that I feel I would never have had, had it not been for the opportunity given from the College Pathways program. The College Pathways Program has placed so many great people in my life. From my mentor to the College Pathways Program staff, they have truly made this an experience to remember.

Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White is Director of Digital Strategy for the Tom Joyner Foundation, a writer and editor.

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