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Her family was homeless during her high school years, so Samantha’s future seemed pretty bleak. One day, her mother surprised her by asking Sam if she would visit Trinity International University-Florida with her to ask about taking some classes. “She wanted to rebuild our lives,” Sam recalls. “My mom was nervous, so I went with her, but I didn’t expect anything to come of it.”

Sam was eighteen, and something came alive in her that day. She decided that she wanted to attend Trinity Florida herself. Sam glows when she talks about her college education. She loved that her professors actually worked in their fields and didn’t just teach from a textbook but brought real-life experience with them into the classroom.

Samantha says, “One of my professors at Trinity said, ‘Working on a degree takes a while, but that time is still going to pass by, so you have a choice—either you can work toward something you want, or you can just stay stagnant where you are. But that same amount of time is still going to pass by.’”

Sam graduated with a BA in Elementary Education and after just six months of working in her field, she decided to return to TIU-Florida for her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. “I wanted to get it done before I was 30!” she said. “And I am so happy I did! It was hard, but by taking it one step at a time, I was able to make it through!”

Today, Sam is thrilled to be using both of those degrees vocationally. She’s a teacher for kindergarten students, and she runs a respite program for children with special needs, who are often from troubled homes and have behavior issues.

Sam’s mom has completed her BA and MA at Trinity Florida and wants to become a teacher as well.

And that’s not all—Samantha met her husband at Trinity Florida in a “Group Counseling” class. First, they were friends, then study-pals, and now they’ve been married for four years.

“It’s only through God and his grace that I am at this place today,” Samantha says. “I would never have predicted that I’d be doing what I’m doing! I’m thankful for my experiences because God saved me and kept me going.”

Sam’s advice to potential adult students? “Just do it—take that first step—and you never know where it will lead you!”