Teen overcomes obstacles, earns full scholarship

Published 12:36 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Straughn High School graduate Hope Wallace was one absence away from failing out of high school, but now she has graduated, earning a 32 on the ACT and a full tuition scholarship to the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Coming from a terrible home situation, Wallace worked with the Covington County School’s Board of Education and the Straughn High School administration to allow her to finish her senior year from home.

“My senior year was really rough,” Wallace said. “My dad was in and out of the hospital, and my mom couldn’t take care of him by herself. My dad was so sick that a lot of the times when you would go to the hospital with him, you wouldn’t know if you would be leaving with him, so I had to miss school to be at the hospital with him. The school understood that and gave me the option to finish online, that way I could be with him at the hospital and still be able to finish my school work.”

Wallace said that life was always a struggle. Now, she had to take over as head of the household and keep her grades up.

“My dad, being very sick, couldn’t do things for us, and my mom being an addict wasn’t able to do a lot of things for us either,” Wallace said. “I have a little brother as well, so I was having to be the head of the household and stay on top of my schoolwork. It is very difficult to do when you are trying to figure out your own life. I mean I was only 17. My mom and dad were not very good at managing money and as a kid, they wouldn’t let me help. At least every other month, the water was turned off or we were relying on my grandparents or some other family member to pay the light bill. Any bill that you can think of, every other month, it didn’t get paid.”

When Wallace was 18, she moved in with her older cousin JoAnn Peters.

“She has been such an inspiration,” Wallace said. “I love my mom and dad to death, but I never had that motivational push from them. They never really said that they had faith in me or anything like that and JoAnn has done that. She is the mother that I wish that my real mother could have been when I was growing up and who my mother is trying to be now. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her.”

Without the Covington County School’s Board of Education and the Straughn High School administration, Wallace said that everything wouldn’t have been possible.

“They were a huge part in everything,” Wallace said. “The teachers at Straughn who knew what I was going through, especially Mrs. Bryan, Mr. Cobb and Mr. Powell, they just understood what I was going through. Giving me the opportunity to walk across the stage and get my diploma in front of my friends and family meant so much because normally you wouldn’t be able to do that. They understood that I made the right decision leaving and it was important for me.”

Wallace said that seeing what her family went through with education pushed her to do better.

“My dad dropped out of school when he was in eighth grade,” Wallace said. “My mom just now got her high school diploma, so I knew that I didn’t want to live like that. I knew that I could do more with my life and I knew that as hard as I worked, there has to be something waiting for me on the other side.”

A couple of months ago, Wallace’s father passed away, but she still wants to work hard to make him proud.

“My dad, despite our crazy relationship, has always wanted the best for me,” Wallace said. “It’s really hard moving forward because you always want your dad there and you want him to be proud of you, but making these achievements for myself, I am proud of myself and I know that he is proud of me. I know that I am doing the best for me, which is what he would want for me.”

Growing up, Wallace knew that she would have to earn scholarships to be able to attend a university. With the full scholarships from UAB, she knows that her hard work has paid off.

“My parents just couldn’t afford that type of money,” Wallace said. “So I knew that I either had to get a scholarship or some type of financial aid. This scholarship just symbolizes that I get to actually do what I want to do with my life.”

For the kids that find themselves in the same situation at home, Wallace said that there is always hope.

“It may not seem like it in the moment,” Wallace said. “But there is no one that can take away your opportunities in life, but you. As long as you try your best and give forth effort, good things will come to you.”

By being admitted into the UAB Graduate School Early Acceptance Program, Wallace has the opportunity to be admitted into any graduate program that she chooses after she finishes her undergraduate coursework.

“I am looking at studying psychology,” Wallace said. “I am torn between forensic psychology or becoming a youth psychiatrist, because I have battled a lot of mental health issues and that is something that is really close to me.”