Pushing forward through adversity


By Joe Gbodai

Contact Joe Gbodai at

Often times, first-year students of higher learning encounter situations that cause bumpsin the road. It may be financial, academic, or even personal, but, one way or another, these circumstances are oftenunexpected and difficult to overcome. Though it may not seem like it in the beginning, these challenges help to mold us into the students that we need to be. When I started my education at DCCC, I learned first-hand how much of a struggle the higher learning process can be.

Coming from a Liberian family, my parents have always been adamant about the importance of education. After graduating from Upper Darby High School in 2012, I filed for my resident alien card that summer and would be attending Delaware County Community College. As my father and I stood in line during late registration, I noticed a woman by the name of Pat Shannon, who’s the assistant director of enrollment services for DCCC.
“Excuse me miss,” I said. “My name is Joe; you came to my school to talk about DCCC.”
I explained my situation and immediately my father and I were ushered inside of her office. She diligently worked on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) with us. Until I got financial aid, I would have to pay for my classes out of pocket. After nearly two hours at the college, I was finally registered and my father would have three days to accumulate the money to pay for my classes and start a payment plan.
Eventually, I received my resident alien card and was able to take out a loan that I used to repay my father. Throughout the journey of my first two semesters,
Shannon acted as a mentor who motivated me to be successful in college.
With her immense support, along with a fierce desire to prove to myself that I can triumph over those obstacles, I earned a 4.0 my first semester and was subsequently informed about DCCC’s Education Foundation.


After filling out the application and writing the required essay, I got news late summer of 2013 that I was chosen for the Office Depot Scholarship and invited to DCCC’s Education Foundation Annual Scholarship Dinner, which is held to introduce donors and their scholarship recipients.I was seated with other students and the Foundation board members.

“We would like you to take a photo with the other Office Depot scholarship recipient,” a lady at the dinner said in a warm voice. In that moment, I realized that there are numerous possibilities to become successful in college. All you have to do is apply yourself. If you need help or someone to consult with, look for a mentor and ask questions. At DCCC, we all have a common purpose: many are here to save money, while others attend DCCC because of its geographic convenience. Regardless of the reason, we all find ourselves here. There are great people and many resources available, just waiting to be utilized.

I’m challenging students who may have or are experiencing any hardships this semester to do as I did. Anticipate any obstacles and

Education Foundation Board Member Julie Sebastain and Joe Gbodai pose for a photo at the Annual Education Foundation Dinner December 2013.

get work done before it’s due; study longer and harder to earn the highest grades possible. Fulfill your potential. Find yourself.
Take heed to the words of the late Nelson Mandela:
“Education is the most powerful weapon,
which you can use to change the world.”


Photo Courtesy of DCCC’s Public Relations Department

By Joe Gbodai – Contact Joe Gbodai at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s