February 21, 2018  |  Detroit Education Financial Health Transportation

Cornelia Golden

I was recruited into FII-Detroit through my friend Jeff in January 2017. He recruited myself and three other gentlemen in our group. I chose to get involved so that I could monitor my own progress against my personal goals. I figured it would be like joining a support group that provides accountability, which is what I needed. It has been so easy for me to give up on my goals when I wasn’t accountable to anyone. I found that the monthly meetings and journaling were just what I needed to keep me focused.

My experience with FII is currently centered around monthly group meetings. We meet at a centrally located Tim Horton’s coffee shop to discuss current FII news and events. We also discuss possible group activities like healthy recreation and charitable events. This year, I plan to attend more local events with other FII members so that I can expand my network.

My number one goal has been to complete my Masters degree in Elementary Education. The barriers that I have faced while trying to achieve my educational goals were primarily financial. Because I enrolled in an accelerated course, I was responsible for two years of coursework and tuition, condensed into a single year. As a result of this heavy load, I was unable to work full time and had to reduce my hours to keep up with my assignments. I have a 4.0 GPA so, I applied for scholarships and received at least one for every semester. I also applied for loans and my family helped me pay tuition bills.

My group was very encouraging concerning my goals. Completing the journals every month help to keep me on task and mindful of where I was, where I was going, and how far I had come. The UpTogether Fund was also an encouragement and a tremendous boost to the quality of my educational experience. Before I began receiving funds, I would have dropped out of school and re-enrolled because I couldn’t afford the parking fees. After I began receiving the funds, I can pay for a monthly parking pass — it was more convenient and saved me so much time.

Pursuing education has been a sacrifice for me and my household. Our budget has been pretty tight, but some of my family members have been very supportive. My mom and sister frequently take my daughter out for recreation, meals, and shopping for clothes and toys. My brother took my son out and helped him prepare for his prom and graduation last year. Soon after, my son enrolled in college and started working to help support himself which helped to lighten the financial load.

Education has also helped my relationships. The classes that I have been taking have been enlightening and life changing. I have become increasingly self aware and appreciative of differences in those to whom I relate. My growth and understanding of social interactions has helped my husband and I begin to heal from our former estrangement. We still have some healing to do but our communication and interactions have greatly improved as a result of education.

I am currently in my student teaching internship. I have two classes after this current semester ends. I’ll be teaching in my own classroom in the Fall of 2018 and will have my Masters by August 2018.


FII's monthly meetings and journaling were just what I needed to keep me focused. By August 2018, I will have earned my Masters degree in Elementary Education.

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