Mahogany, Nursing Student and MLK Scholarship Recipient

The support that her family received from Person-to-Person during a very difficult time helped them survive a period of crisis while not derailing her education.

Mahogany Tillman MLK Scholarship Recipient

When Mahogany was 15 years old, her life took a dramatic turn after her father was involved in a serious accident. As Mahogany watched him fight for his life in the ICU, the compassion and skill of the nursing staff lit a spark in her. She decided there and then that she wanted to work in the healthcare field - she made it a goal.

Being the first in her family to graduate from high school, navigating the path to that goal was not easy as she had no one to guide her – “I had to figure it out on my own.”

A testament to her determination, Mahogany’s first step on that path was to obtain her CNA license while she was still in high school. Working in the healthcare field at such an early age confirmed for her that she was making the right decision. It also allowed her to save up some money and continue on to Norwalk Community College after she graduated.

While trying to prioritize her studies, along with caring for her young son and her mother who was going through a second bout with cancer, Mahogany had no choice but to cut back her work hours. This reduced income put additional strain on the whole family, who had just been getting by. Turning to Person-to-Person for help with food assistance unexpectedly opened up a world of opportunity for Mahogany.

“Person-to-Person was different. They saw me as a whole person. When they found out I was going to school, they helped me apply for their scholarship program.”

Mahogany received scholarship support from Person-to-Person while she pursued studies at Norwalk Community College and then during the nursing program at Sacred Heart University.

“Receiving the scholarship made me feel valued and like I was on the right path. It will help me continue to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

When life threw challenges her way, Mahogany would return to her goal – setting her sites there to help her prioritize and stay focused. “I was ok with the setbacks as long as I didn’t lose sight of the finish line.” She credits the support that her family received from Person-to-Person, during a very difficult time, as helping them survive a period of crisis while not derailing her education. “It gave us a way when it seemed there was no way. I was able to stay focused on my goal.”

In addition to the educational scholarships Mahogany received from Person-to-Person, she was recently awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship in recognition of her commitment to service. Volunteering in various ways throughout the community, she instills the value of service in her son, teaching him “it’s never ok to look away from those in need. Any chance you have, you reach out.” She is grateful for the support she has received from so many along the way and looks for every opportunity to give back.

“It’s an overwhelming feeling to be able to give back. Not too long ago, I was the one who needed help. As a single mom, going to school, trying to succeed in this program – it’s been hard. I needed all the support I could get. I have to give back, it’s only right. I’m going to give back to everybody who helped me.”

Mahogany will be attending Southern New Hampshire University next year to obtain her Bachelors in Nursing, and plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in the future. In addition to her professional pursuits, Mahogany is committed to a life of service and to using her professional skills to help others in need.

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