David Slater didn’t feel like he had many opportunities to grow as a child in an economically distressed neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee. That all changed when he got a scholarship to attend New Hope Christian Academy. David tells the story of what that opportunity meant for him:
Originally growing up in Frayser, there wasn’t a lot that a young African American could do besides go to the park or play with friends outside. Going to NHCA (New Hope Christian Academy) gave me many experiences and opportunities that I know for a fact some of my friends were not exposed to. It instilled in me at a young age core values like education, relationships, service and Christianity, which I still hold close to my heart today.
The scholarships that I received made all of that possible. Education wise, I was able to see both sides of the tracks by attending both a private school and a public school. At a private school, the work seemed challenging and rewarding at the same time. When I transitioned to public school, it was clear that the work was much easier. I was ahead in every single class and often had to help classmates catch up.
Relationships that I made from attending Harding, ECS and NHCA still exist to this day. The relationships have not only been mutually beneficial for both parties, but it allowed us to be connected more than others.
Service, which we regularly incorporated into our daily lives at New Hope, led up to me working at a Christian camp, taught me service over self, which I continued as a member of my fraternity. Our motto is culture for service, service for humanity.
Christianity can be achieved anywhere, but attending a private school allowed for it to be intertwined in our daily lives on a consistent basis. This may not seem important to others, but it was for me and my family. Scholarships like the ones I received are the reason I personally made it out of the hood.
I can’t speak for others, but the difference a scholarship made for me is that it put me in a position over others where I have achieved amazing connections. It is why I got my FedEx internship this summer. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have met teachers and administrators who pushed me to further my education.
I didn’t really have a support system growing up, besides my mom, and the school took on that role. All kids should have these choices because I was one of the lucky ones that got out. I know friends who turned to violence, gangs and even some who have died at a young age. That isn’t fair. Luck shouldn’t be a part of it.
I am not saying that if the scholarships were available to everyone, then everybody would be a success story. What I am saying, though, is that if the scholarships were open to everyone, then others could experience what I got to at a young age. Whether it be going on VBS trips, going to Victory Ranch for a week, a better education system, or even a support system for those who don’t have one, all kids should have these choices available to them.