LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) 18- year-old McKenzie Jones has experienced more heartache than many adults have their entire lives.
She lost her mother at only 10-years-old and her father left the family years before.
But despite it all, this Southside High grad is succeeding.
Her scholastic achievements, drive and determination won her full college tuition through the Glenn Armentor “Pay It Forward”, scholarship program.
Here’s her story of triumph over tragedy, in her words.
“It was very hard. My grandpa came, he walks in he says ya’ll’s mom just died. We were in shock. Getting split from my sisters, that was even harder.
“I’m McKenzie Jones, I’m a high school senior and I will be enrolling at UL in the fall of 2021.
I was faced with many challenges growing up.
June 8, 2011, I lost my mom due to a drug overdose and it was kind of a rough time for me and my sisters because we didn’t have a dad either, he left us.
My aunt and uncle adopted me and then my other aunt and uncle adopted my two sisters.
No one in my family really graduated high school so I knew I had to complete high school. I didn’t want to be a failure like they were and not to graduate. And I wanted to push myself not to be like them because a lot of times when people’s parents are like that, they end up turning out the same way and I told myself I couldn’t be a failure and I had to succeed.
My goal is to not have to ask my aunt and uncle to pay out of pocket for this because they did raise me as their own.
I’m very shocked I got the call and when I heard him, I was like he’s about to tell me I didn’t get the scholarship and whenever he told me I got it, I just burst into tears – so just a big thanks!
It is something to motivate me to actually keep going. I told myself I’m going to graduate college no matter what the expenses were. But this just ensures that I’m going to finish and going to make it.
What I want to go to college for is to major in child and family studies to become a social worker that interviews parents who want to adopt kids considering I have a background in that. And i know I was put into a good home and I want to make sure that they are as well.
I just want to give a big thanks to my aunt and uncle for raising me as their own ever since I was 10 and now, I’m 18. So, eight long years of dealing with me and sometimes my attitude. Definitely a big thing. But I just want to thank them, and I love them.”