A Life-Changing Scholarship

Kelli Carter

“This is going to change my life,” says Drake senior Kelli Carter, who could not imagine graduating without the scholarship support she received.

Throughout her college career, Kelli Carter has visualized walking across the stage to receive her diploma.

It's been the image that has kept her going as she's pursued her education while raising two children and working part time.

Carter is seeking a degree in special education at Drake. She hopes to find a job teaching with the Des Moines Public Schools. She believes she can be an inspiration and source of support to students who face challenges since she has overcome adversity time and again in her own life.

"I think I have a lot to offer students," she says. "I have lost a home that I worked so hard to get. I have lost things. I have lost both of my parents. I have had a hard life, but my education is something that no one can take away from me."

Limited resources have also made it difficult for Carter to complete her degree. Last year she received scholarship support from The Catalyst Fund. The Catalyst Fund was created by a group of faculty committed to advancing the goals of diversity and inclusion at Drake and providing assistance to students who struggle financially. It offers scholarships as well as emergency funding for individuals facing a one-time financial hardship.

"The goal is to focus on access, and we understand that some of the biggest obstacles are financial hurdles," says Deb DeLaet, the David E. Maxwell Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, who helped to spearhead The Catalyst Fund. "We want to send a message to students that they belong and the faculty wants to support them."

Carter says receiving the scholarship from The Catalyst Fund made it possible for her to continue her education at Drake last spring.

"It is very difficult for me to work and go to school, especially being an older, nontraditional student. I don't know how I would have finished school without The Catalyst Fund. It means everything to me."

With the assistance she's received, Carter hopes to graduate next semester and fulfill her lifelong dream.

"This is literally going to change my life," she says. "I have overcome a lot of barriers to walk across the stage in December 2017."