Words Alive Celebrates the Graduation of Westreich Scholarship Students

“Words Alive has demonstrated that there are people who care for others without expecting something in return. They have been so loving to me, and my experience at UCSC wouldn't have been the same without them.” 

– Brittany Jackson, Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Student

From left to right: Words Alive Operations Directior Chrissy Green Califf, Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Student Brittany Jackson, and Words Alive Volunteer Mentor Sarah Archibald. Chrissy and Sarah made the journey up to UC Santa Cruz for Brittany's graduation! 

From left to right: Words Alive Operations Directior Chrissy Green Califf, Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Student Brittany Jackson, and Words Alive Volunteer Mentor Sarah Archibald. Chrissy and Sarah made the journey up to UC Santa Cruz for Brittany's graduation! 

The Words Alive Teen Services Program attempts to engage students from Momentum Learning (formerly Juvenile Court and Community Schools) in literacy, reading and education in a variety of ways: through a monthly book club, writing and career readiness workshops and a scholarship program.

In 2007, San Diego philanthropist Ruth Westreich created the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Program, with the first scholarships awarded the following year. The program awards scholarships to Words Alive Adolescent Book Group participants to support them in their pursuit of higher education at the college or vocational level. Unlike other scholarship programs, which typically fund only tuition, books and educational supplies, each recipient is eligible to receive funds to cover the cost of rent, food, childcare, clothing, travel and other living expenses. Additionally, the program matches each recipient with a mentor. Student and mentor meet regularly throughout the school year, and the mentors provide guidance, direction, and often, a shoulder to lean on.

Ten years later, the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Program is going stronger than ever.  In the past month, we have seen two of our scholarship students, Cathy Campos and Brittany Jackson, graduate with bachelor’s degrees. Words Alive met both Cathy and Brittany in our Adolescent Book Group at Monarch , a school that educates homeless youth in San Diego.

Cathy Campos has been a Words Alive Scholarship recipient for four years, graduated from San Diego State University last month and benefited from the mentorship of Susannah Walker throughout her time with the Westreich Scholarship Program. Brittany Jackson has been a Words Alive Scholarship recipient for five years, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz last week, and benefited from a close relationship with her mentor, Sarah Archibald.

Words Alive is thrilled to have been a part of the journey towards success for both of these wonderful students. We are so proud of Cathy and Brittany; they both embody what it means to persevere and thrive.

We interviewed Brittany Jackson to learn more about her college experience and her experience with the Words Alive Westreich Scholarship Program. Read on:

Name: Brittany Jackson
Age: 23
College: University of California, Santa Cruz
Area of study: Sociology with a Chemistry background
Mentor: Sarah Archibald ❤

When were you first introduced to Words Alive? How has your experience with Words Alive affected you?

I was first introduced to Sarah when she was a volunteer for Words Alive at Monarch School. After I received confirmation as a recipient of the scholarship, then Sarah was assigned to me. I am so happy she was my mentor! She is very supportive and understanding of all the obstacles I encountered while I was in school. I am so grateful for her. My experience with Words Alive has affected me by showing the support that I lacked at home, both emotional and financial. Words Alive has demonstrated that there are people who care for others without expecting something in return. They have been so loving to me, and my experience at UCSC wouldn't have been the same without them.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in earning your degree? 

The biggest challenge that I faced earning my degree was depression. There were mornings where I didn't want to wake up or [wanted to] call it quits but I kept pushing forward.

How did you overcome that challenge? 

I overcame these challenges with the support of family and friends that were very close to me, including Words Alive. I also kept saying the quote from Finding Nemo in my head, "Just keep swimming!"

What is your favorite book that you read during your college years? Why? 

My favorite book was called, "The Emotional Self" by Deborah Lupton. This book helped me understand my emotions and take better control of them, rather than [letting] my emotions have control over me. 

What are your future plans now that you have earned your college degree?

I plan to apply for my Masters in the fall to achieve my credentials to become a High School Counselor. I want to help other students understand the importance of education and everything that it has to offer (besides job security). 

What advice do you have for the next generation?

The advice that I have for the next generation is to never stop trying. If you fail a class once, twice, keep trying. If your midterm score wasn't what you expected, keep trying. Never give up! Just because you didn't pass a class or didn't excel on a test, that doesn't mean you didn't learn anything. Keep trying and figure out what to do better next time or ask for help. But the true value is not your letter grade or score but it's in your education. You may have not learned everything about the class, but you knew more than you did before you walked in there.