When she first attended the University of Utah 16 years ago, Brandi Pitts was planning her wedding and managing undiagnosed ADHD. While she loved school, she was having a hard time focusing and wasn’t doing well in her classes. This time around, Pitts is a wife and mom of five on track to receive her undergraduate degree in elementary education in spring 2022.
“I consider my education my career right now and I work really hard,” said Pitts. “The past two semesters I’ve gotten a 4.0 and I’ll probably continue on to getting my master’s in special education after graduation.”
Pitts was inspired to return to school after volunteering in her daughter’s kindergarten class. She said her daughter’s teacher was such an incredible educator and Pitts was enjoying the work so much, she started the enrollment process right away. The only hang-up was paying for tuition.
“I couldn’t take that money away from my family,” said Pitts. “I told my academic advisor that and she pointed me to a ton of resources. She put me in touch with the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) and TRIO and encouraged me to apply for scholarships with them.”
Between grants and scholarships, including the Crankstart Scholarship from the WRC, Pitts has been able to have most of her education costs covered.
“It makes me want to cry but I think people who give money to start scholarships may not realize that they’re not just helping individuals, they’re helping families and generations,” said Pitts. “I’m not having to take food out of my children’s mouths to pay for my education or deny them anything for that, and it’s giving them a good example, too. I can say to my kids, ‘look, I’m doing Zoom school during the pandemic too and I’m still getting As so what’s your excuse?’ And in my case, they’re helping the community as well because I’ll go on to serve as an educator.”
The Crankstart Foundation has announced they will once again be awarding $120,000 in scholarships to the WRC. This means there is still money available to disburse to students for the spring and summer 2021 semesters.
“I just want to encourage others to apply even if you don’t think you’re qualified because I always thought scholarships were for the academic elites or something,” said Pitts. “I didn’t know people would take a chance on me and I’m profoundly grateful because I literally would not have been able to go back to school without them.”
The Crankstart Scholarship exists to assist adult learners of all gender identities at the U who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree. Applications are due Dec. 4, 2020. Find out if you qualify and apply here.