PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Pushing past the pandemic, a Palm Beach County non-profit organization dedicated to helping teens from difficult backgrounds make it to college says they’re not letting the COVID-19 pandemic slow their mission down.
For Boynton Beach teen Luwinzie Wilson she says the program helped her redefine the word ‘success.’ Wilson says 2020 was set to be her year.
“It’s like this is the culmination of my life this is what I worked hard for,” she said.
It’s the year she graduated high school and got a scholarship to attend her dream college, Tuskegee University. But getting here wasn’t easy.
“I’ve spent time with lights off, my water was off for 13 days, my mother was working odd jobs, trying to bring in money,” Wilson said.
Then at 8-years-old she lost her brother.
“He committed suicide near a lake by our house, he drowned himself,” she recalled. “So from that day I always tried to work hard because when he was here we would always try to help me with something.”
Two years later she lost her mom to cancer.
“A lot of times Black children are put in circumstances like poverty, like hunger a lot of stuff that people at war see, but they don’t get any therapy for it, there’s no one to talk to about it,” Wilson said. “You’re told to be resilient.”
Wilson says she buried the trauma and focused on school. Still, she says she had a hard time maintaining focus, until she met Lynne Gassant with Scholar Career Coaching.
“I don’t know if I can say this but she’s really one of my favorites,” Gassant said.
Scholar Career Coaching works to connect high school students with mentors to help them achieve their full potential.
“Letting them know we were there for them, paying for their exams or college admissions,” she said.
Gassant says when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down their in person meetings they were able to use Zoom and their app to stay connected.
As for Wilson she says this pandemic made her realize that a graduation ceremony or a party doesn’t define her journey.
“Sometimes in life you go through stuff to prepares us for some things and this pandemic is no match,” Wilson said.