By Elsa Maxey
Stafford High School graduating senior, 18-year old Christine Egu, is a standout who has beat the odds in many ways.
She’s about to be awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the Texas Children’s Defense Fund presented to raise awareness about the challenges facing youth and the need for continued advocacy and investment. Egu is receiving a Beat the Odds scholarship and is one of only five recipients in Texas.
How’s that at beating the odds? The tuition scholarships are awarded annually to high school students, who have overcome tremendous adversity in life and yet managed to achieve academic excellence. Egu ranks sixth in her graduating class, reports a 3.92 grade point average and has been active in varsity volleyball and basketball for three and four years, respectively. But she favors volleyball and intends to participate in the sport while in college.
Egu triumphed in her personal life after having lost her mother, who died of cancer, when Egu was 11. As the youngest of three children living with their father in Stafford, this was a time of challenge. Egu’s mother died “the day of TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills) testing,” she said adding that “for me that was a big problem.”
For Egu, the Stafford schools have probably represented the other home as she’s attended them since first grade, except for second grade, when the family moved to North Carolina, the place she was born.
“It took a while to cope with it,” Egu said of her mother’s passing, and she tightly holds on to what her mother valued. “She told me to do well in school, behave well and that’s what has contributed to my success today in everything I do,” adding that “motherly love” is what she also recalls receiving.
Egu said A’s are most accepted at home and that’s the standard set by her mother.
“No matter what it is you want to get into, you have to be educated and knowledgeable about what it is that you want to do in order to create your own success,” Egu said.
Those are some profound words from a young aspiring clinical psychiatrist, who will be attending the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she will pursue a psychology degree. Her 22-year-old brother is studying to be a nurse and her 20-year-old sister will be a dental hygienist, when she completes her studies.
“I am very interested in human motives and behaviors and I would like to help people with mental health issues like problems, addictions, trauma … I feel am the go-to person for people to talk to,” she said.
Given that, it seems like Egu is “spot on” about her career choice envisioning herself in a hospital setting positively “impacting as many people as I can…that’s my goal.”
Egu said she likes how the teaching community is supportive with its willingness to help students apply for scholarships, and they make recommendations.
“Stafford is small and community oriented, very close knit,” she said. “For a small school, there’s a lot of opportunity to do well and you have a lot of resources here.”
This year there will be 229 graduates from Stafford High School. The total student population at the high school is “about 1,000 students,” reports Communications Coordinator Michael Sudhalter of the Stafford Municipal School District.
Egu will continue on her road to success and share these words to help others beat the odds: “For someone trying to overcome adversity, get support at home, tell the person you trust or write down what you want to get over or what’s bothering you; get motivation from something you love, maybe playing a sport, focus on a certain subject, talk to a teacher that you’re close with, and when you have support to do something, you can be more determined to succeed and do better for yourself.”
Since 1999, through generous community support, the Children’s Defense Fund in Texas has awarded more than 125 scholarships to outstanding youths like Egu. The organization reports that many of its recipients have gone on to pursue advanced degrees and positions of leadership throughout the country and stay involved with the organization.