“I’d been trying to figure out exactly what I want to do. I’ve always had a passion for animals, so I thought I’d become a vet,” explains Destiny.
“A lot of that decision came from family members. I don’t want to say they put that thought in my head, but I have a lot of talent with painting, drawing and sewing. I never thought about taking it seriously and running with it.”
Destiny has been a waitress since she turned 16. “I love it because I’ve met all kinds of people. I get to talk to them about what they do and why they chose that route,” she explains.
Figuring out her goals for herself
“I remember meeting a lady from Atlanta. She was here on business and sitting with her computer. I was basically watching what she was doing and saw she was making logos, brochures and stuff,” Destiny remembers.
“I asked her about it and she said she started her own business doing graphic design. She was doing something else before, but it was for her family and she wasn’t happy.”
“She was the person who made me question whether I was becoming a vet for my family or for myself.”
Destiny was worried about disappointing her mom. “My mother went to college, but she got pregnant with my older sister and had to drop out. Then, my father died a couple months before I was born. She was going to be the first person out of our family to go to college and actually finish.”
“I knew nothing would make her more proud than me living out her dream of finishing college,” she says. So Destiny decided to make her own dreams and her mom’s come true: go to college and study graphic design.
Figuring out the FAFSA
Now that she felt sure of her path, Destiny had to figure out how to pay for college. “I had a lot of pressure to get a full ride,” she says.
Destiny’s older sister persuaded her to go to a camp hosted by Get2College, a group Destiny had seen at school, to help her prepare for the ACT and get financial aid.
“I had a lot going on in my family so I almost didn’t go. But on the first day I fell in love with the counselors and the other students.”
At the camp, Destiny got ready to fill out the FAFSA. But there was a problem.
“When my older sister did the FAFSA, my mom created a login — called an FSA ID. Well, when my sister moved to college she took all her information with her. We couldn’t find the login.” Her mom would have to create a new one.
It took a while, but Destiny was able to get her sister’s help finding the folder where her mom’s FSA ID was. “Once we recovered the folder, everything else went pretty smoothly. My mom had questions about the FAFSA that my counselor answered. It took us about 30 minutes to fill it out.”
“I knew nothing would make my mom more proud than me living out her dream of finishing college.”
Destiny found out she was eligible for a full Pell Grant and a full HELP Grant from the state of Mississippi, which is covering her tuition in full. That’s money she doesn’t have to pay back.
“I was really happy to see how much I received! My mom was relieved.”
Destiny’s advice: Don’t let money go to waste
Thinking back on what she learned, Destiny says, “I never knew the FAFSA looks at what your parents make. I thought it looked at your own income and your grades, but that’s not how it works.”
Most of all, Destiny hopes other students will fill it out. “It just really shocks me how much money goes to waste because students don’t fill out their FAFSA.”
“The FAFSA is there to help you. It is free. It’s not hurting you or your family. It’s not judging you as a student or judging your family.”
“I told my friends: It is free money out here, and it’s meant for us.”
Destiny will be attending Hinds Community College before transferring to Mississippi State University. She plans to major in graphic design with a minor in business administration.