The road to higher education is without a doubt a difficult one and seemingly getting more difficult with each generation, both academically and financially. However, for students with parents who are incarcerated, the journey is vastly more difficult.
According to a Pew report, “only 15 percent of children with an incarcerated father, and 2 percent with an incarcerated mother, graduate from college” while noting that for children without an incarcerated parent, the rate for college graduation is much higher at 40 percent. Those staggering statistics make it all the more clear that students with a parent in prison need supportive people and programs to help them overcome obstacles that would otherwise prohibit them from achieving their goals of higher education.
The Venus Morris Griffin Scholarship was created to remove some of the financial burdens of pursuing higher education for one graduating high school senior with an incarcerated parent. We received applications from high school seniors all over the country and took the time to learn about these students’ stories as a family. After lots of deliberation, we are excited to announce that one student, Justus Robertson from Canby, CA has been chosen as our 2021 scholarship recipient!
Here is our conversation with Justus after he was surprised in person by John Morris and notified that he was the recipient of the $10,000 Venus Morris Griffin Scholarship.
Q: Congratulations on being selected as our scholarship recipient! When you applied for our scholarship, did you ever imagine that you might be the one receiving a giant check?
A: No, I didn’t! I even stayed at school for an extra two hours to get a better internet connection because I thought I would only be getting a zoom call (from Venus).
Q: On a more serious note, you’ve seemed to have dealt with a lot of hardship in your young life; what’s motivated you to keep pushing and stay on a positive path?
A: I look at the motivation as I could either stay in the situation I grew up in or go down a different path. But I decided that I don’t want to live that way. I want to experience life and do well for myself. And I love stocks. I’ve been focused on stocks for two years, and I went on an independent study just to keep learning and growing.
Q: Who, if anyone, has been your biggest inspiration or motivation to do well in school and continue to pursue higher education?
A: Honestly, school. Getting good grades and doing well in school helped motivate me to keep trying. And Candace, my counselor this year, has kept encouraging me to go to college.
Q: What are your long-term goals? Any ideas on what you want to pursue studying in college?
A: I want to be an accountant and own my own business. Day trader in stocks, become a financial advisor.
Q: Well, congratulations again! How do you plan on celebrating?
A: I don’t know; apply for more scholarships, I guess! I didn’t really think my story could reach anyone like that and have an impact, and it seems like it can. So I’m happy to share my story. There’s always positivity in everything. There’s always good in a bad situation, and that’s the way I’ve always looked at it.