The Parent of the Year Award, now in its 10th year, lets students recognize their parents for the help and support they’ve given throughout the students’ lives. UofL students were encouraged to nominate a family member and a selection committee judged their essays and came to a consensus on the 2017 award recipient: Cheryl Hayes and Beverly Rodgers, mother and grandmother to Chelsea Wright, were two of more than 30 parents nominated for this year’s award.
Students nominate their parents by writing a letter and then submitting it to a committee of UofL staff for consideration. Each nominee received a small plaque and a rolled scroll that included his or her child’s nomination letter. Dean of Students Michael Mardis read excerpts from some of the letters that highlighted parents’ accomplishments.
In her letter, Chelsea Wright stated that Cheryl and Beverly had been instrumental in helping her overcome obstacles so she could attend and succeed in college. Cheryl and Beverly were heavily involved in her scholastic life and provided the support that she needed to excel.
Cheryl and Beverly both took home large plaques and a framed copy of Chelsea’s nomination letter.
Read the letter below:
My mom and grandma are two of the hardest working women I know. Coming from a home riddled with violence and addiction, the odds were set against them. Most of the time they went without basic necessities, such as food, water and electric. At one point, they were homeless and on their own. With an incredible amount of hard work, they were able to get back on their two feet. Growing up, I watched my grandma board a bus in dangerous rains, blazing heat and freezing winters while my mom stayed at home with me.
I grew up in a two-bedroom shotgun house in the Portland neighborhood. We may not have had a lot but one thing we did have was a loving home and to me, that is all a child needs. When I was born, they both agreed to guard me from negativity so that I could have a chance at life and a normal childhood. When my dad was sent off to prison for 9 years, my mom told me he was in “timeout” and that was the last we spoke of it. To some, this could be seen as keeping a father away from his child but this was only her protecting me from the hurt of having an absent parent that many other children experience.
All throughout elementary and middle school, I was a straight A student and my mom and grandma were both heavily involved with my schools. They were chaperons on field trips, assisted my teachers whenever they needed it, they supported me in all my adventures — soccer, cheerleading, band, chorus, beta club, yearbook, just to name a few. When I hit high school, things got rocky. Up until junior year, I experienced bullying that no one should ever have to experience. It eventually got to the point where I had dark thoughts every day. In October of junior year, my mom let me drop out to do homeschooling, one of the greatest things she could have ever done for me. I knew my whole life I wanted to be a UofL graduate but college didn’t look possible. I missed out on high school and did not receive the education needed for college. I was so far behind and was rejected my first time.
With the constant push and support from my mom and grandma, I made it. I remember getting my Cardinal Card and sending it my grandma’s work email. She was so excited that she printed it, passed it around her office and bragged about everything I was going to do during my time here. These two deserve parent of the year for their never-ending support, for always reminding me that nothing in life comes easy and you have to work hard at everything you do to achieve greatness. They are my biggest motivators to not stop at just a bachelor’s degree. They sacrificed their lives to give me one and that is something I will never be able to repay. I do this not only for me and my future family but for them and to give them a life they wanted but couldn’t give themselves. I owe them everything.