Wednesday, June 26, 2013

TSIC Alum Stephen Helwig's Story

TSIC Alum Stephen Helwig
Take Stock in Children Director of Alumni Affairs, Kevin Bulger, recently had the opportunity to speak with TSIC alum Stephen Helwig. Stephen’s story is an excellent example of how TSIC continues to shape lives. Read the full interview below:
Take Stock: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college and what did you study?
Stephen Helwig: I was born in Jamaica and moved to the United States when I was eight years old. Until 7th grade I lived in Boynton Beach, just south of West Palm. At the start of 7th grade my family moved to Palm Bay, FL and I attended Covenant Christian School. Eventually I switched to West Shore Junior/Senior High School in my sophomore year. I received the Take Stock in Children scholarship in the 11th grade. At first I did not receive a mentor, but I was very fortunate to be matched with one during my senior year.
I attended Brevard Community College (BCC) and received my AA degree; afterwards I moved to Orlando and attended the University of Central Florida (UCF). In 2007 I got my bachelors degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) from UCF.
TS: What has been your career path after college? Can you tell us about your current job?
SH: After I moved to Orlando in 2006 to finish my college degree, I began looking for internships and entry level positions before I finished my college coursework. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who was interning at Siemens, which is an international electronics and electrical engineering firm with their Energy Division US headquarters in Orlando. He told me that Siemens was looking for student interns with MIS majors, and, with his help, I was able to secure an internship there, which later turned into a full time position.
In total, I worked at Siemens for 6 years and made my way up the ladder to become a Level 2 IT Architect. However, the farther I moved up the chain at Siemens the less they asked their employees to develop their technical skills, which was a skill set I still wanted to develop. I also wanted to transition from internal IT support, to working on a product that was a revenue stream for the company. This led me to accept my current position as IT Architect at Silverpop, which is based in Atlanta, GA. At Silverpop, I get the opportunity to further expand my technical skills building an email marketing solution using cutting edge cloud and web technologies.
TS: When did you first become involved in Take Stock in Children?
SH: My guidance counselor at West Shore actually brought it to my attention during an English class. At first I brushed it off and didn’t pay any attention to her. But she persisted, called my family, and eventually I was forced to sign up. A year later I found out that I received this scholarship.
TS: Who was your mentor? Can you talk about your relationship with your mentor?
SH: Dyer Matlock was my mentor. In the beginning, I wasn’t paired with a mentor, and, at first, I didn’t think I needed a mentor because I thought only the kids who got into trouble got mentors. I was never a kid who got into trouble. But, in my senior year, I was paired with Dyer who has become a lifelong friend and role model for me. In the beginning, we met once a week and after high school graduation we would work on cars together and do woodworking together. Over time he became like a family member to me and we still talk regularly over the phone. In fact, he and his wife are planning to make a visit to Atlanta to see me and my wife. We’re looking forward to their visit!
TS: Would you say Take Stock in Children impacted your life? How so?
SH: Take Stock in Children impacted my life in many different facets. First, Take Stock introduced me to Dyer, who as I mentioned, is someone who I will be friends with for the rest of our lives. Second, the scholarship got me on track to obtain a degree and not get burdened by student debt. I only had to take out loans to pay for my living expenses while at UCF, which was very minimal. This investment also had a great impact on my family because with my college tuition paid for, it allowed my mother to help afford my brother’s college expenses. In the end we were both able to get jobs and improve our family’s future prospects.

Take Stock congratulates Stephen on all of his accomplishments, as he stands as a real role model for current TSIC students!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TSIC Alumna Crystal Chapman-Lambert Delivers Commencement Address at USF

Take Stock In Children Alumna and University of South Florida College of Nursing BS-PhD student, Crystal L. Chapman-Lambert, MS, FNP-BC, ACRN, AAHIVSdelivered the commencement address to more than 730 graduates and their friends and family during the student address at the USF Commencement Ceremony on May 4, 2013. 

Crystal graduated from USF with her BSN and just finished this semester with her BS-PhD in Nursing.  We are so very proud of Crystal’s accomplishments and how she has demonstrated that, with hard work and dedication, you can do anything that you put your mind to. Kristy Scott, Take Stock In Children’s Marketing Manager, had the opportunity to interview Crystal about her experience as a Take Stock scholar, and this is what she had to say:

What Take Stock in Children program did you graduate from?
Sarasota County, I received the scholarship in 7th grade and graduated from Sarasota High School in 2002.

Who was your mentor? Can you provide some details of that mentor relationship?
Bonnie and Jack Harrison. Bonnie is a retired nurse and Jack is a Pulitzer Prize winner and retired Vice President of the New York Times Company. The Harrisons came into my life during my 10th grade year. After three mentors, I really did not want to open up to another mentor, but now they will not go away (this is just a joke). They are not only my mentors, they have become my family. I can call them to say hello or whenever I need advice. Even to this day – 12 years later, we have conversations at least once a month and they are always there for me.

Do you think mentoring is an important factor in the TSIC program?
The financial award from the TSIC program is great, but the mentorship is priceless. I know that my family is interested in my success, but to have strangers take a vested interested in my success gave me extra motivation plus invaluable advice, perspective and guidance.

What are your aspirations after receiving your PhD?
I have so many opportunities. My dream is to educate the next generation of nurses and nurse practitioners, conduct research that advances the science of nursing and improves healthcare outcomes, and manage the healthcare needs of individuals infected with HIV.

What were your biggest obstacles graduating high school and how did you overcome them?
My biggest obstacle graduating from high school was staying motivated. "Senioritis" is not a myth but it is just a state of mind that many seniors must overcome to succeed. During my senior year, I only needed two courses to graduate so that left me unmotivated to attend classes. My mentors just kept me going and kept reminding me my whole world would open up soon as I entered college - they were right! I had help overcoming my obstacles. My mother and my mentors constantly encouraged me to continue.

What is advice would you give to other TSIC students? 
I would tell TSIC students to set goals, short and long term, and take steps to accomplish those goals. Also, I would tell them failure is a normal part of success. Do not be afraid to fail, but be afraid of giving up!

TSIC Alumna Samantha Hartman's Story of Success

Samantha Hartman, a 2005 alumna from the Take Stock in Children Polk County Program, doesn't let obstacles get in the way of achieving her goals. Diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma (a soft tissue cancer found in her left foot) in middle school, Samantha underwent two chemo treatments and two surgeries. Cancer was just one of the many obstacles Samantha had to conquer to achieve her academic goals. Her parents advised her when she was in 10th grade that if she wanted to attend college, she would need to find a way to pay for it. 

 Through her involvement with the Take Stock in Children program in Polk County, serious academic study, and the support of her mentor and program director Theresa Choquette, Samantha was able to graduate from college without any student loans. After college, Samantha participated in a yearlong fellowship with the John Jay Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Currently, Samantha is the legislative aide for Senator Kelli Stargel (R) of Lakeland in the Florida Senate. Paying it forward, this young alumna mentors a group of four 10th grade students through her church sharing her time and wisdom to build a solid support network. Her future aspirations include teaching college classes, becoming a school principal and being involved in education policy. 

 Her advice to other students in the Take Stock in Children program is a favorite quote from Thomas Edison -- "Many people miss 'opportunity' because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work." Samantha adds, "Be a hard worker, not so others will notice you, but so that you are a person of integrity and character."