My Turn: A once seemingly impossible dream of going to college made possible through scholarship


Thursday, June 14, 2018

My name is Job Morgan and I am a Greenfield Community College student and grateful recipient of the 2018 Fred and Helen Renfrew Memorial Scholarship. The financial aid will indeed be a great help in achieving my long-time goal of getting a college degree.

Growing up in Amherst, discrimination is something that my teachers and community often discussed regarding race, gender, religion and economic status, but the topic of age discrimination never seemed to come up. I never really thought about it much either, but as I have transitioned into middle age (I’m 41), I am really starting to see how our society can disregard older citizens.

I came from a broken home and while I always tried to stay optimistic, many of the opportunities that my peers had available were not present for me. I was a homeless teenager and was not able to complete high school as I spent my time simply trying to survive. I did manage to enter the work force and had some success in the hospitality business and was able to put a lot of my broken past behind me. My daughter, Sofia, was born in 2005 and, while her mother and I did not stay together long, we are both dedicated parents to a wonderful daughter. As I moved through my 30s, I physically lost my quick step and I noticed that my body was not capable of the same type of intense labor that I had been doing all my life. I also noticed that I was treated much differently in the work place as I got closer to 40 years old.

Lacking education, I was never able to progress in the work place. I felt that gap and the challenge of being a middle aged person in the physically-labor-intensive side of the hospitality business, which is really a younger person’s game. There were also many expectations of what I should be and what type of success that I should have achieved. This left me struggling to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

I always wanted to work with computers because that is my passion, but I never was able to transition out of the hospitality business because of my financial responsibilities and also because of the fear that I wouldn’t be good enough or smart enough to go to college.

But in August of 2017, a friend and co-worker passed away from a opioid overdose. He was a kind and generous person with a very bright future in front of himself. In the turmoil of reconciling this completely unnecessary loss of life, I decided that I would not allow the rest of my life to be just “going through the motions.” I decided that I would take the plunge into education and put my full efforts behind it. I immediately faced barriers of all types, but I had made a promise to my friend and to myself that I would succeed, no matter what.

While many of these barriers still exist, I have managed to make it through my first year of full-time classes with a 3.79 GPA, exceeding my own expectations. I’m working hard this summer to save up for next semester and I am already looking forward to classes starting because my experience at GCC has been really great so far.

I want to thank the family of Fred and Helen Renfrew for helping me with this scholarship. It really made me feel welcome and valued at the college and helps validate what I am doing as a non-traditional student. I long for the day that I can help someone else in such a manner, by “paying it forward” as they say. I hope to bring light to all the struggles that exist for those trying to improve their lives through education as non-traditional students. I will do this for those future students and to honor Fred and Helen Renfrew, two people that I will never know, but who have helped me greatly with their kindness and desire to give back.


Editor’s Note: The GCC Foundation 2018 Annual Campaign ends soon. Readers are asked to consider supporting Job and all Greenfield Community College students with a donation. You can give online at: www.gcc.mass.edu/give or by calling 413-775-1600

Job D. Morgan is a student at Greenfield Community College.