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Congratulations! Jessica Smith, Wallick Resident & Jerry Grier Scholarship Recipient, Graduates from Morehead State University

The Jerry Grier Scholarship Program was founded in 2014 by the Ohio Capital Impact Corporation (OCIC), an affiliate of the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (OCCH). The program was named after longtime OCCH board member, Jerry Grier, and is administered by the nonprofit organization, I Know I Can. Applicants have the opportunity to apply to both a tuition and performance-based scholarship. The tuition scholarship can award up to $8,000 per academic school year to help cover tuition costs. While the performance-based scholarship, can award up to $2,000 per academic school year to assist with student-related expenditures, such as textbooks, laptops and other course requirements.

Jessica Smith, Wallick resident and Jerry Grier Scholarship recipient, recently graduated from Morehead State University with a 4.0 GPA and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Read more about Jessica’s college experience and her plans for after graduation in her personal statement below.

My name is Jessica Smith and I am a 39-year-old divorced mother of two wonderful teenage children, Kaitlyn and Kaleb. I just recently graduated from Morehead State University (MSU) in December 2016 with my Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). My journey with higher education started shortly after my divorce in 2011. I originally wanted to study to be a Respiratory Therapist, but after taking two biology classes, I started to question my career choice. I went to my college advisor at Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC) and told her about my concerns. I was also worried about the commute to Morehead State University’s main campus in Morehead, KY, which I had to make in order to complete the respiratory therapy program. My advisor then told me about MSU’s Ashland Campus and their social work program. So, I signed up for a couple of social work electives, loved them, and then smoothly transitioned into MSU’s social work program after my graduation at ACTC in May 2014, when I obtained my Associate of Arts (AA). I chose social work because social services helped me get to where I am today. Yes, I needed social services, but I didn’t take them as a handout, I used them as a hand up. Living here at Lawrence Village apartments gave me the ability to give my children safe and affordable housing, which alleviated a lot of stress. I worked very hard to make sure I got this degree, not only to become more self-sufficient myself, but to also learn how to effectively help others reach self-sufficiency as well. It’s just as rewarding to me to see others achieve self-sufficiency and reach goals, as it is for me to reach those same things.

In January 2015, I was officially accepted, after a challenging selection process, into MSU’s Bachelor of Social Work Program at their Ashland campus. I was one of 36 individuals chosen out of 70-some that applied for the program. We were the first group to go through this selection process and were called “The Chosen Ones”. Knowing that alone, boosted my confidence even more and motivated me to do the best I could in this program. My GPA soared from a 2.8 to a 4.0 after my first two semesters in the program. I had a close knit cohort and amazing faculty and professors to help get me through this program. With all the assignments we had, my cohort got to practice the skills we were learning together, on each other. We got constructive criticism not only from professors, but also from each other and it was the best learning experience I’ve ever had. Getting my Bachelor of Social Work was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life other than having my two children. They were one of my main motivations to make this change in my life.

Throughout my college experience I received several awards: Graduate Dean’s Scholar, Lola Crosthwaite Scholarship, and the Jerry Grier OCIC Scholarship. The Jerry Grier Scholarship was a huge help and covered all of my tuition my last semester plus my books. It was a huge relief to not have to add more debt onto what I had already incurred. Now that I have graduated, I am currently working on obtaining my social work licensure (LSW) and also waiting for an assessment to potentially obtain employment with the state of Ohio, working for Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, which helps Ohioans with disabilities obtain employment and reach self-sufficiency. I’ve also interviewed with several other jobs as well. I would also like to obtain my master’s degree in social work (MSW) after I get a couple years of work experience. My ultimate goal is to eventually become a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW).

–Jessica Smith, Morehead State University Graduate & Resident at Lawrence Village