Getting it Done
By Judith Georges
It’s that time of year when people are considering if and where to apply to college. We thought this would be a great time to talk to one of our favorite college grads. University of South Florida 2016 graduate and former Salvation Army Student Housing resident Judith Georges shares about her experience of getting her college degree as she works toward her goal of becoming a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and her thoughts about how to support people of all ages to realize their academic dreams.
Like most young women, Judith has a lot of goals and things she wants to achieve.
Career-wise, she plans to combine her talents in science and caring for children. “One of my main goals is to become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon because I love kids and working with them. Seeing them in pain breaks my heart; therefore, getting into this field will allow me to put a smile on their face when they feel discomfort physically and emotionally. “
Clearly, it takes a long time to become a surgeon – so embarking on that path takes faith, endurance and a community of love. Having overcome challenges already encourages Judith for the road to come:
“Looking back at past achievements and thinking of how overwhelmed I was at the time, it gives me a great hope as I look towards the future. My faith in God has played the ultimate role in what I have been able to accomplish and what I plan to continue to pursue. God has been my source for everything that I have encountered. Whether it has been good or bad I know that he is there with me. As I continue to trust God in the way he’s shaping and molding me I reminded that ‘I can do all things through him.’
“I have the privilege of worshipping at the Tampa Corps, when I am not working or back at home in Fort Myers with family. During my time in Tampa, I have been surrounded by spiritual leaders and mentors who always seemed to give the perfect advice in a Christ-like manner. I recall disappointments, failing grades, uncertainties and then God would just whisper “Be still.” The love and kindness that are shared in my faith community have helped me get through many challenging days. I can truly say I am who I am now because of my faith in God and many others who have interceded on my behalf. “
Judith Georges, who is a leader of children’s programs at the Tampa Salvation Army Corps, took part in programs that provided critical support to help her get her undergraduate degree. Programs are helpful, but Judith notes that her mother’s tremendous support and personal relationships were critical. Supporting kids, so they can believe in and work hard for a good future, takes more than a good program.
“In middle school I was a part of a program that helps kids prepare for college. The program was called College Reach Out Program (CROP) and it was run by Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers. Fortunately, through that program I was awarded a scholarship that would pay 90% of my tuition once I got to college, so that was a motivation to go on to college.
“My mother [Linda Leger] worked two jobs to assist me with the other 10% of tuition, plus bills and living necessities. The Salvation Army was a huge help. I lived in the Student Housing program for college and vocational students in Tampa for three years. The program provided just about everything for a small program fee. In addition, I was awarded the HANDS Scholarship through the Salvation Army the last three years of college, which helped with tuition – especially when I transferred from a community college to a university. Salvation Army officers (too many to name) have poured love, words of encouragement, and more on me.
“I believe the community needs to put more emphasis on teaching life skills and how they should cope with a lot of things around them. It is fun to know things like CPR and how to put up a tent, but what about budgeting, looking for jobs, and/or studying habits? We see too many single parent homes or homes where parents are barely home because of work. I believe the community needs to find a way to step into a child’s life and assist the parent(s) in areas that are lacking. The community needs to go beyond picking up the child, have them participate in activities, and dropping them off. We as adults know there is more to life than those things. It can be simple things like going out for ice cream, supporting them in a sports game, or playing catch at the park.”
Challenges of all kinds can happen, but Judith believes God’s encouragement can help students and aspiring students to overcome the discouragement that setbacks can bring. Staying steadfast can help students to find the opportunities and supportive people who are ready to help you stick it out and achieve your goals.
The motto “when Jesus says yes, nobody can say no” has been a real motivator many times for Judith, who says, “Often times we get discouraged when things do not go our way. For instance, not getting financial aid, not having a car, or not knowing exactly what you want to do. However, listening to God’s voice and obeying by acting on what he is telling you allow you to triumph over all those obstacles. There are plenty of opportunities out there and there are plenty of people out there willing to help. There is no time limit on completing college or having a career. One of my classmates was 58. Take it one step at a time. If that means taking one class a semester, then do that. If it means taking a semester off, then do that. If that means humbling yourself to ask for help, then do that also. DO NOT let mishaps discourage you from doing what God wants you to do because He is bigger than it all.”
“I wore the Haitian robe because I wanted to represent my country and thank my ancestors for paving the way for me to able to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree, “ Judith Georges said. “Also, I was raised in a community that looked down on Haitians. To others, they were only good for low-income jobs that nobody else wanted to do. Therefore, I wanted to prove to my people that – regardless of immigration status, getting a degree is possible. “