Renee Stender | All it Takes it a Little Faith

Document created by Sara Jo Lee on Mar 18, 2020
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Renee Stender shares what drives her to achieve more.
My Journey to #AchieveMore
I grew up in the 60s with my grandmother, on welfare. I was headed for failure with drugs and alcohol. My high school counselor saw something in me and saved my life. She brought me into her office almost every day and convinced me that the way out of my life was to go to college. After laughing her off she worked on me until I started to believe that it might just be possible. She showed me brochures, found scholarships and grant money to make it happen. She spent a lot of time on helping me to become sober, attend classes, make up units needed to graduate, and show me a different life was possible. In short she believed that I could be something in my life. I made it to college with her help and support, she even drove me to the Greyhound bus with my suitcase and her tears (mine too). I am the first person in my family to graduate from high school and I have earned a Master's Degree. It took me 10 years, two children and working full time to earn my BA, but I hung in there. It took 4 years working full time and attending night classes 30 miles away to earn my teaching credential. However, the thing I am most proud of is that my two children have their Master's Degrees and one of them has a PHD. I broke the mold of poverty and lack of schooling in my family. I went to the retirement celebration of my high school counselor with my baby daughter on my hip. I spoke before the crowd about what she had done for me and my family, how she had saved my life, and her undying belief in my ability to change my life. Saying that I am grateful does not begin to cover how I feel. I am a different person due to her, one who helps others achieve their successes. I have been a teacher and coach for 30 years. One who firmly believes I have changed the lives of my students by believing in them, supporting them, and helping them through adversities of their own. The photo I downloaded is one of my youngest grandchildren graduating from pre-school. My counselor made that possible for my family to move forward and achieve their goals. My daughter has teased me over the years saying that she and her brother knew they were going to college even though I would tell them that I just wanted them to be happy. She said the unspoken rule was that they would be going to college. Well, I guess that was true. My family and I value education, helping others, giving back to our community, and family.

What Drives You to #AchieveMore?

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