Beat the Odds 2017: Jessica Nelson Happy to Keep Moving Forward

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Jessica Nelson was on the phone lamenting her financial situation to a friend when she got another call informing her she was chosen as a finalist for the Beat the Odds scholarship.

“I literally started crying, and thought, ‘this is so amazing,’” Nelson says, turning her initial, negative phone call into a positive one.

$2,500 may not seem like a lot to some people, but for Nelson, it meant she could study more, and worry a lot less.

“This scholarship is huge,” she says. “It almost overwhelmed me when they told me because I had been thinking, ‘how am I going to pay for school, I’m going to have to get more student loans.’

“Money is just a stressful topic, especially for a college student,” she continues. “The scholarship relieves so much stress. I was thinking about having to get a third job.”

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Jessica is in her first year of college, and it’s gone well, in spite of working two jobs. Not only did she pass all of her classes with some high marks, but she was a starter on the volleyball team.

That’s significant because of the obstacles she had to overcome to get on the court.

Two years ago, a suspected faulty wheel bearing sent Nelson’s car rolling into a field, crushing her legs, and nearly killing her before she was rescued by a farmer in the right place at the right time. Had that farmer showed up minutes later, she says she probably would have been dead.

What came next were multiple false starts at healing, screws in her leg that had to be turned to stretch her bone, and a doctor telling her she would never play volleyball again. Not only was it a sport she loved, but one that was going to help her pay her way through college thanks to her talent. (You can read the full story here.)

Receiving the scholarship money eases her mind. But the financial boost is not the only thing Nelson feels good about.

“It means a lot for somebody to overcome a lot of things and get the right perspective out of it, and I know all the winners have that,” she says. “So for them to look at my story and think it fits… it’s amazing.”

The Beat the Odds scholarship program awards deserving students from the Rochester and surrounding areas, a $2,500 scholarship to attend Rochester Community and Technical College. To be eligible for a Beat the Odds scholarship, candidates must be a high school senior or a first-year RCTC student who has overcome obstacles such as personal or family hardships, abuse, neglect, poverty, disabilities, or language and cultural barriers. Despite their challenges, these students have persevered and endeavored to become personally and academically successful and are preparing for the next step in life of attending college.

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