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by Elena Mendez, Student Contributor

Emily Faith Stewart from Whitesburg, Kentucky, is a 2019 graduate from Alice Lloyd College. She completed her courses in the fall of 2018 and is now waiting for her graduation ceremony in May 2019. Although she heard about ALC in her last year of high school, she decided to attend the Southeast Community and Technical College in Whitesburg, Kentucky, for her first semester of college where she earned fifteen-hours of class credit. However, she soon realized that she wanted the college dorm life experience and at the same time meet new people outside her hometown, so she decided to continue her education at ALC.

Emily always desired to make a difference in someone else’s life and to help families in need. Those were the main reasons she chose to study the field of Sociology. After her experience at ALC, she said, “I plan on attending graduate school to become a Social Worker, after I can support myself and my education.” It’s worth mentioning that Emily at the age of sixteen started supporting herself and her education working at a fast food restaurant until she graduated from college.

As a requirement of ALC, every full-time student works on average ten hours per week. When Emily started attending the College, she worked at the ALC Daycare as her first work-study job. She said, “I learned a lot. Kids are such a joy. I always wanted to be around them.” Although she enjoyed this job, Emily wanted to gain some new experiences, especially office experience. ALC allows students to apply for new work-study jobs every semester and that’s what Emily did. She applied to work in the Marketing and Communications Department for her sophomore year. When she was accepted, her experience at this job helped her to better develop her skills such as good communication skills, computer skills, broadcasting, and multitasking.

She tried to make the most in her four years at Alice Lloyd College by participating in extracurricular activities. She shared some of the opportunities and awards she was given: she was the president of the Sociology Club her senior year, made the Dean’s list, earned a CPR certification in her First Aid/Safety class, and she received an award in the Darkness to Lightness training for child abuse. However, not everything was classes and hard work in Emily’s ALC experience, she also shared some of her favorite things at ALC. When she first came, she did not know anybody, but she soon realized how friendly her peers were. She started to make so many friends that later on became her second family. Emily always tells other prospective students that Alice Lloyd College is a tuition guarantee college and a second home away from home because of the way everyone treats each other.

Emily, like many ALC students, had to work one or two jobs to support themselves while obtaining the education they desire. As mentioned in the beginning, Emily started working when she was sixteen because she needed financial support. She did not receive any financial help from her parents as both of them were suffering from serious diseases. Unfortunately, her mom passed away from cancer during her first year at ALC, which Emily says was the hardest experience she has encountered in her life since her mom was her biggest fan in everything she did.

After losing her mother to cancer, Emily and her father forged an unbreakable bond. Though the challenges they would face were long from over, with Emily supporting her father as they waited for news that he would receive a new liver. During Emily’s junior year of studies, a week before Emily would start her spring classes, she received the news that her father would have the liver transplant they’d been waiting seven years for. Following the ten-hour procedure, they realized the bill for the surgery was going to be a challenge for the family to pay, but the ALC community came together to help her family by raising money through a campus-wide bake sale. Despite facing a long recovery after enduring a liver transplant, her father persuaded her to return to school and continue pursuing her academic dreams. The hard times that Emily went through has made her a stronger individual and helped her realize how many people are there to support her along her journey.

Now Emily is a successful young woman who is working as a Case Manager in an Institution for children called “Smoky Mountain Children’s Home” in Tennessee. She said, “I like my job, but it’s definitely challenging. And I am glad that I am getting a lot of experiences working with kids.” Alice Lloyd College helped Emily to grow into her career of choice, though those who have become her second family and know her best would say it is more than a choice, it is her purpose.