#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller

Julie S. (name has been changed), New York

Julie S.’s story began to change, from one of childhood abuse and dropping out of high school, when she finally decided to take the GED test.

“I had put off trying for my GED because I honestly didn’t think I could pass,” said Julie, who asked that her name be changed to protect her privacy. “It’s so hard to have faith in yourself when it seems you have nothing but a trail of failures behind you.”

Passing the test, as well as considering her two children’s future, inspired Julie to earn an associate’s degree in English for adolescent education. She’s continuing her education toward a bachelor’s degree in linguistics to become a teacher.

“If there is any wisdom or insight to share, it is simply to believe in yourself and keep the faith no matter how tough it gets. I know it sounds cliché, but these truly are the principles I live by every single day. The tears will come. You might doubt yourself because you’re afraid. That’s okay. Just don’t let it stop you.”

Caring for her son, diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disability, an autism spectrum disorder, competed with her studies, but also motivated her.

“As an educator, I hope to learn invaluable skills that can help my son get to graduation day with less frustration. I’ll finally be able to afford counseling for socialization. It might also help him make the friends he longs for,” said Julie.

She will use the $1,000 scholarship to buy a computer for her studies at Stony Brook University.

“Receiving this award has confirmed that I have what it takes to create the life that I want,” said Julie. ”It is an incredible feeling when someone recognizes the challenges you confront and conquer on a daily basis. I will still be an older, nameless face to most on campus, but someone out there now knows all the mountains I’ve been climbing to be there.”

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