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Astride, a business student and volunteer for The Hanger, a local non-profit that provides clothes to foster children, is a refugee from the Congo. She told the crowd at Professional Development Week about the hardships of growing up in that African nation and how Pikes Peak has helped her find a better life.

“In my country, you may die from war. I had a bad childhood, I suppose. I didn’t have anybody to support me. I wanted to have opportunities in life"

But serving as a mother to her nieces and nephews at 14, she never thought education was a possibility.

A scholarship at Pikes Peak opened the door to futures she hadn’t dreamed of:

“I’m able to focus on education,” she said. “I want to make you proud and my family proud and myself proud. …You believe in me and my potential. God bless you and God bless Pikes Peak Community College.

Here’s an excerpt from her scholarship letter:

“My dear parents died when I was young, so I stayed with my Aunt. My Aunt could barely pay to feed us, let me alone to pay for my education. I wanted to live like a normal kid. I wanted to go school, but that was impossible for a child who came from a poor family like I did. During the war, I was sexually abused by soldiers. I struggled with the pain and stress of having nobody to protect me when even my own county failed to keep me safe. However, I wanted to the make a difference, I held on to my dream of going to school. I really envied those who went to school so much.

Although my family could not pay for my school, I kept looking for way to pay for school and eventually I found one. When I came to the United States, I saw opportunities that others overlooked. I realized I had a chance to better my life and go to school to become the person that I really wanted to be in life. I applied myself to school, and I earned my high school diploma.

Graduating high school while adapting to U.S. culture and a new language while getting into college was a major accomplishment.

As a College student, getting my homework prepared for class each day is a challenge. I struggle very hard to get to the bottom of my homework, understand it and complete it because I speak multiple languages. Sometime I have to translate words into a different English to understand them.

Growing up an African and as a resident of the state of Colorado, I am well aware of our people’s need for economy growth. Living in the both places has provided me with a unique perspective, and my greatest challenge has been helping to improve the lives of other people and my own.

When I am finish with my education, I am going to open a not-for-profit corporation that will aim to provide food and supplies for foster kids and homeless youth. Afterward, I am going expand my idea into something big. I am going to persuade the state of Colorado to provide more shelters for homeless people. I am going to advocate my time and money to help those who are not able to help themselves.

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Pikes Peak gives more than 60 scholarships annually. The scholarship cycle for 2017-2018 is open through March 10. Grab your opportunity now.

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