Last year in the Winter issue of The Record, Khalilah shared her Epworth story of how she overcame fear in her life and found stability at Epworth in her teenage years. Being able to live in a structured environment, while keeping in touch with her family, put her on a trajectory for a great future. Part of that future recently became a reality.
On Saturday, May 13, 2017, Khalilah became the first college graduate in her family when she crossed the stage at Claflin University. She earned a degree in marketing and finished her college degree with honors, earning over a 3.0 grade point average. Khalilah completed her degree while being a part of Epworth’s Independent Living Program for young people ages 18-23 who are transitioning from Epworth’s cottages into independent adulthood. With degree in-hand, Khalilah is now looking ahead to the next chapter in life, graduate school.
She has already lined up her first post-college jobs. This summer she is working at a local financial advisor’s office. As she helps around the office, Khalilah is learning financial advice that many young people in their early twenties have not yet considered. She is learning the benefits of accelerated debt reduction, how to navigate the insurance marketplace, budgeting and the advantages of retirement planning. All of this information is exceptionally timely as is she looking to move into her first apartment later this year and is currently saving to purchase her first car.
Later this summer she will enlist as a counselor in Columbia’s City Year AmeriCorps Program. There she will mentor other young people to improve educational outcomes for students and communities. Her City Year program builds from her experience last summer at Clemson University’s Emerging Scholars summer camp for disadvantaged youth. At the end of last summer’s program, she was voted Counselor of the year by the campers.
“I love kids,” Khalilah said. “I just love talking with them and hearing about what they are going through. Kids these days know so much more than most people think. It is great to just talk with them about what they have experienced and help them however I can.”
Khalilah also reaches out to those younger children at Epworth to help them follow in her footsteps. Recently she spoke to our residents during worship at “Graduation Sunday” and emphasized the importance of education, whether it is through a college or university, the military, or another path – keep learning. “No one can take away your knowledge. They can take your clothes, your money… but they can’t take away what you have learned.”