Your average college student might be working, going to parties, catching up on sleep, maybe even a little homework. Amber Whitehead, takes a slightly different path -she spends her weekends paying it forward.
Amber, a State Farm Scholar, attends Georgia State University - Perimeter College in Decatur, GA, a commuter campus. Something she once never thought possible.
“Before my guidance counselor suggested this opportunity to me, I was wondering how I would pay for school and if I would even attend college because of my financial situation,” said Whitehead.
Thanks to the scholarship program, Amber is able go after her dreams…and her passions. “I have a passion for helping others in as many ways as I possibly can. I love giving back and making a change within my community,” remarked Amber.
Part of the expectation of the scholarship is the scholars volunteer within the community. In fact, all 50 scholars volunteered during the annual Hands On Atlanta Day.
On a warm October Saturday with 3,000 other volunteers, they completed 64 projects across metro Atlanta. Projects focused on food insecurity, homelessness, youth development, senior citizen support, and community beautification.
Elaine Hudson, Associate Director with Hands On Atlanta, coordinated the volunteer projects and was particularly impressed with the State Farm Scholars.
“They were energetic, enthusiastic and ready to volunteer. I could tell they wanted to be there; they were eager to help,” said Elaine.
The scholars volunteered at schools in Decatur where the majority of students are on free or reduced lunches. Fifteen scholars worked at Southwest DeKalb High School where they built a community garden and picnic tables. The other 35 scholars were at Columbia Elementary School where they painted and landscaped. Many of the scholars are alumni of the two schools.
“Even though I graduated from another high school, I was always helping out at Southwest DeKalb throughout my years in high school. I consider it my second school,” shared Amber.
The scholars don’t just volunteer one day a year. They adopted a Boys & Girls Club in South DeKalb County where they help with homework and tutoring being in Spring 2018.
As for Amber, she wants to make it her life’s work to continue giving back – as a teacher. Her first goal is to get a Bachelor’s degree and teach high school mathematics. Then, onward and upward, ultimately obtaining a Master’s degree and becoming a college professor.
“My mother, a single parent, has always stressed to me the importance of education,” Amber said. “If it were not for State Farm, I would not be in college at this very moment heading to success.”