How To Change A Life
Scholarship Recipient Overcomes Troubled Youth To Graduate
By the time she was 10 years old, Tiffani Stone had been placed in 10 foster homes.
“When I was living with my mom, I was beaten repeatedly and abused emotionally and sexually,” she says.
At seven, she says she had to steal food and diapers to take care of her siblings. Any future beyond immediate survival seemed an impossibility.
In December 2011, Tiffani Stone graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State University, a walking testament to the power individuals have to not only change the life of someone else but to change that person’s entire future.
For Stone, the change began when was she was placed in her final foster home, a loving environment that promoted structure. She says she had someone requiring her to go to school and to do her homework. The result was a student who had failed the second grade and now won academic competitions. A scholarship to a community college followed.
“When I transferred to Southeast, I got an on-campus job with the Harrison College of Business. They really helped me. It was a big transition from a three-building campus to a university with 11,000 students,” she says.
Her studies became her mission.
“For most of my life, my one constant was my social worker,” says Stone. “I decided I was going to impact someone’s life in that way, so I changed my major to social work.”
Stone worked hard, coupling her on-campus job with another to help make ends meet. To complete her degree, however, she would need an internship her senior year, and that meant quitting both part-time jobs.
“I appreciate Naomi Newman so much for creating a scholarship in memory of her parents,” says Stone. “This wonderful woman has truly enriched my life.”
The Homer and Emma Atkinson endowed scholarship is created especially for a student studying social work who has overcome the “greatest odds” to complete his or her degree.
After graduation, Stone accepted a job as a social worker at the same place where she completed her internship.
It is ultimately Stone’s success and not her struggle which exemplifies the importance of endowed scholarships for the students who receive, and in some cases depend upon, them.
“It could not have come at a better time. The generosity and compassion shown to me has truly been life changing,” she says.