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Former Winters Mill graduate credits NAACP scholarship for finding success, passion

Martha Harri
Martha Harri

For Martha Harris, getting up each day is a chance to help kids.

The Westminster resident spends her days in Baltimore County, embedded in schools in order to offer school-based therapy. She's been working in Halethorpe Elementary School in Baltimore County for about a year. In her program, Harris pulls students throughout the day to see them for therapy. The sessions are just like a typical therapy session, she said, but for some it's more convenient to have a session while they're in school.

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But her life hasn't always been dedicated to helping kids.

Harris graduated from Winters Mill High School and went to college to study music. But after a year, she knew it wasn't what she was meant to do. She transferred to McDaniel College where she studied psychology, graduating with a bachelor's degree. A year later, she got her master's degree in counseling psychology from McDaniel.

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The community will celebrate the eighth annual "A Day On, Not A Day Off" event commemorating the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Harris is one of many Carroll County Public Schools students who received a scholarship from the Carroll County NAACP. With this funding, and a boost of support, she has gone on to help students, Harris said.

"It helped me achieve a goal that's something that nobody can take from me," she said. That goal, she added, was to get a degree and gain knowledge.

The Carroll County NAACP's annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast, which was set for Jan. 14 but postponed until Jan. 28 because of inclement weather, normally recognizes a few local high school teachers, but this year changed things up. Instead, Jean Lewis, the organization's president, asked a former scholarship recipient to speak.

Many times, Lewis said, the public doesn't know what happens to the scholarship recipient after receiving the money. This new aspect of the breakfast allows the former students' stories to be shared, she said.

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"This year we decided we would have one of the students who had graduated and received the scholarship from the NAACP speak and let us know how that aided them," she added.

The NAACP gives out at least one scholarship to students each year, Lewis said. At most, they give three, and each one is for $1,000. Scholarships are given to students of African-American descent, she said. Students must have at least a 2.5 GPA.

Receiving the scholarship also allowed Harris to learn more about African-American women, she said. It reminded her that she can be more than the stereotypes, and could "define my own calling, my own voice, my own way of life."

This scholarship, and the success she has found after it, is proof that there's something else out there, Harris said, than a life leading to drugs or violence.

And in receiving the money, she received so much more, Harris said. The members of the local NAACP chapter are kind and always want to know how the scholarship recipients are doing. Everyone there is kind and welcoming, she said.

"When I got the scholarship," she said, "it's like [I] joined into a family."

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twitter.com/emilychappell13



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