ACE Scholarships and supportive community transform young man’s life
When Noah got kicked out of his first high school, he was certain college was out of the question. Thanks to ACE Scholarships, and people who believed in his potential, Noah just graduated from Billings Central Catholic High School and is heading off to the University of Montana. He is planning to major in psychology with the goal of being a high school guidance counselor.
“The first 4 years of my life were spent with my single mother in a homeless shelter,” Noah told a group of business leaders in Billings gathered for an ACE luncheon. “My dad was never in the picture … when they heard about our situation, they drove all the way to Georgia to pick us up and bring us back to Billings.”
Noah’s grandparents went above and beyond to ensure that he and his mom were cared for. They purchased them a mobile home and helped his mom get back on her feet.
“Then my grandpa passed away from lung cancer,” Noah recalled. “My grandmother was stretched thin and my mom had things going on in her personal life so I was spending a lot of time alone without any direction, and started having problems at school.”
By middle school, Noah had fallen behind and stopped paying attention in class. His grades dropped, and the trend continued in high school.
“Academically, I felt lost in the crowd of too many students and a lack of personal attention,” Noah told the business leaders. “I was surrounded by drugs and drinking and felt the negative pressure of my peers surrounding me.”
One day, Noah got into trouble and was kicked out of school. He felt destined for failure.
“Thankfully, my mom wasn’t willing to let me accept failure,” Noah continued.
Noah’s mom set up a meeting with a highly-regarded football coach at Billings Central Catholic High School. Known for forming young men of character, she felt he might be able to provide encouragement to Noah.
“I remember the coach sitting me down in the office and looking me in the eye and telling me he believed in me,” Noah recalled. “He told me I could come to Central and the past would be the past, but he said I had to choose to change.”
Noah felt hope welling up in his heart, but he knew that he would have a tough time with academics, and he was afraid his mom could not afford the tuition.
That’s where Katie Hogan, a guidance counselor at the school came in. She let Noah know that he could apply for an ACE Scholarship and, with his mom providing additional support, he would be able to enroll in the school.
“Mrs. Hogan had a tremendous impact on my life,” Noah recalled. “She gave me advice and was always honest with me, even when it was not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear.”
“For the first time, I was in a school setting where I felt wanted, where I fit in,” Noah explained. “The difference between my public high school and my new environment was night and day.”
Noah struggled academically at first but caught up quickly with the support of his teachers and classmates. It didn’t take long for him to achieve a B+ average, the highest he had ever achieved.
“Before Central High and ACE Scholarships, I was ready to drop out and accept failure, now I am going to be the first in my family to go to college,” he said. “I didn’t have a purpose until I received my ACE scholarship and attended Central.”
“ACE gave me hope and a new beginning,” he concluded. “Without God’s grace, my amazing school, ACE Scholarships, and the generous donors who make ACE possible, I do not know where I would be today.”
For more information on ACE Scholarships, please contact Trent Wiesen at [email protected]