Alrine Smith

Persistence Pays Off

Alrine has a story like no other. From Jamaica, she understands the hardships of first-generation college students experiencing poverty. As a mom and wife, she enjoys meeting up with friends and going out to eat, reading before bed, and traveling when she has time between her busy school schedule. While she was in accounting when she was younger, at 50 years old, she will be entering the healthcare industry to be a nurse. She said, “Sometimes, you recognize your gift later in life. I have a love for people and it’s a passion for me. This is what I was made for…this is my ‘why.’”

Her passion in the healthcare field narrows further to mental health. She lost her son to suicide, and that is the biggest reason she is pursuing this line of work. She wrote an essay on suicide prevention and getting information to parents to help them identify the signs. She rallies for that and believes she can make a significant impact with this knowledge.

Fighting through tears, Alrine explained how the Persistence Pays Off program has made such an incredible impact on her to help her pursue these goals. She said it is a support group that’s not just for school – it’s a program that comes to those first-generation students who don’t know how to ask for help. It helps her/them make long and short-term goals and includes mental health check-ins. The grant that she receives to help her pay for her therapy is lifechanging. Alrine wouldn’t be able to afford spending hundreds of dollars a month on therapy, and the PPO grant gets her the help she needs. “The PPO program comes alongside you and tailors their support to your needs. There is nothing like that in my country. I am so happy, privileged, and blessed.”

Alrine mentioned that being 50 years old, she went into this not knowing if she had what it would take. But, that fear gradually diminishes from this program and all of the support you receive from everyone around you. With utmost passion, she said she believes that the PPO program is creating generational change and breaking the cycle of poverty and education. “The best thing you can give someone is a good education. I am going to give back to this program one day so other first-generation, low-income college students can experience this rewarding program, too.”