Growing up, Brandi often wondered if she was going to have food to eat or if she would wake up to find presents under the tree.

Living in poverty is never easy, and being able to afford college seemed like a long shot. While in middle school, Brandi was presented with the opportunity of becoming a 21st Century Scholar. Her dream of going to college had come to life.

“I knew it was that one fighting chance I had to go to college. All these endless possibility ideas started floating through my head.”

Brandi graduated from North Miami High School in 2009 and in 2011 she began attending Ivy Tech Community College. Brandi was homeless for much of her freshman year, moving from one temporary housing arrangement to another and sleeping in her car.

During that same year, she experienced a miscarriage and her now ex-boyfriend ended his life. Naturally, this was a lot to handle by herself and by the end of her freshmen year, her GPA had dropped to a 0.57.

She took some time off to take care of herself and gain stability. In 2015, she had to appeal her way back into attending Ivy Tech. After two years, countless hours spent in tutoring, and re-taking failed courses, Brandi graduated with a 3.4 GPA and an associate’s degree in business administration. During graduation, She was named the “Dean’s Outstanding Student for the School of Business Administration.”

Brandi is a senior at Ball State and is a double major in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing. She is the president of Ball State’s Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) and serves as the 21st Century Scholar Support Specialist at Ball State. Normally, a graduate student would hold that position, but both the AmeriCorps program and Ball State felt that she was uniquely qualified. To this day, she enjoys helping other scholars.

“The students like someone they can relate to,” she said. “Somebody who has struggled and has been in their shoes.”

The U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.  
For crisis support in English, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

Closing the Gap in Educational Achievement

Ball State University’s 21st Century Scholars have been vital to closing the achievement gap, curbing the brain drain, and more. Want to know how this program has made a difference for our students? Read more of their stories.