College Bound Paves the Way to Her Future
When Perjah B. was growing up, she was full of anger. It often seemed like the world was stacked against her and she felt like giving up.
Her mother worked hard, but was raising three kids on her own, one of them with special needs. She often had trouble making enough money to support her family. Chicago could be a rough city and it dealt Perjah and her family a difficult hand. She remembers the day they had to seek refuge at a local homeless shelter.
“I was unhappy, full of hatred, and didn’t understand the value of my own life.”
Perjah’s mom continued to push forward to find the best for her family. They moved again and again, finally settling in Georgia. With frequent moves between school systems, Perjah had a hard time adapting and eventually fell way behind in her studies.
Perjah’s grandmother noticed she was unhappy and suggested that her mother enroll her in the local Boys & Girls Club in her neighborhood. She’d seen other kids go there and thrive and wanted the best for her granddaughter.
Perjah realizes now this moment started a new chapter in her life.
Day-by-day at the Club her anger began to ease.
Not only did she develop close relationships with many of her peers, she also found positive role models in the Club staff. Program instructor and former Club kid, Courtney Gorman, has become a father figure in her eyes.
“The Club and people like Courtney truly saved my life. Sometimes just coming to the Club made me the happiest…nobody judges you.”
Perjah went from being a kid described by staff as “stubborn” and “reluctant” to a leader within College Bound – an educational leadership program facilitated by the Club focused on preparing members for higher education.
This program focuses on helping kids get ready for ACT and SAT testing, secure scholarships, navigate the applications and admission process, and get a handle on what to expect with college life. The program has a high success rate with 100% of College Bound seniors graduating high school and 89% moving on to higher education.
“Before joining the program, I had no intention of going to college. No one in my family had even graduated high school and I just didn’t think it was an option for me. The college tours allowed me to envision a different reality for myself.”
With hard work and dedication, Perjah was able to overcome her struggles in school and now maintains a 3.6 GPA. She is a leader at her Club who recently spearheaded a supply drive to help mothers who are homeless. Those around her know that her heart is big and her future is bright.
“She’s not afraid to try what’s uncomfortable…never afraid of failure,” says “Club dad” Courtney Gorman.
She’s proven she has the strength to chart a new path for herself.
This summer, Perjah will begin her first semester at Georgia State University and walk through campus as the first member of her family to go to college. She plans to explore a career in forensic psychology.