JULIE GRAY, TEXAS A&M COMMERCE, B.A. EDUCATION, 2012

Julie traveled a very steep path, overcoming many obstacles in order to graduate in Dec. 2012 with her Bachelor’s degree and is looking forward to achieving her dream of being a teacher. She is a testament to the power of perseverance and determination.

In her words…

“I am so happy to have graduated this December with a Bachelor’s degree and a 3.06 GPA. Each year in college seemed to be a little more exhausting than the next as the classes grew more difficult and the pace seemed to increase, but my drive and persistence paid off in the end. Through all of the adversity I have faced on my quest for an education, I have been blessed to be able to say that I have a gang of cheerleaders-the Hendrick Foundation- on my side rooting me on.

In my quest for a degree in teaching, I have strived against odds such as a car accident, poverty, and homelessness to gain the “piece of paper” that my hard work and dedication would prove that I deserved. But I have learned that the paper isn’t the proof: it’s the drive and dedication that prove everything.

I have learned what it’s like to be overwhelmed with gratitude for such a wonderful group of Christians that showed me how to walk by faith and not by sight, and how to make it through the college experience that would forever open doors in my life to be able to accomplish anything. The accomplishment itself will always serve as a reminder that my potential is as strong as my desire to be different than my circumstances.

More than just the degree: the mentoring opportunity blessed me with the ability to be able to connect with a wonderful woman/mentor that walked a career path that I want to walk in education. I was so proud to be her apprentice in a sense; she taught me many things about life and teaching. She welcomed me with open arms like a family member, and taught me that the potential that I felt that I had was completely valid and valuable to society.

I was impressed with her persistent character: she had been for decades an advocate for education that argued for equality, marched for opportunity, and took me by the hands and showed me with love and support the path to Jesus when I asked her how I could walk the way that she did with such conviction, love, and courage.

They turned me into a college graduate who knows what it is like to be faced with the adversity that many of my future students will be faced with, and will be even more so ready to help them overcome obstacles. But most importantly, they helped me become the best Christian leader and example that I can possibly be for myself, my community, and my family.

I want to thank all of you on behalf of the students here and for the future students that will stand in my place for all of the love and support you have shown us.”