Turning initiative into opportunities



Chelsea Sparks says her journey to college can be summed up with two words. Focused effort.

A focused effort from everyone who loved and support her. A focused effort on academic performance. A focused effort on her passion of music.

It was in band class at Madison Southern that she was influenced this way. "I learned about self-discipline, the importance of teamwork and the amazing power of a focused effort," she said. Mike's Kid scholarship recipient Chelsea Sparks

Just how powerful? Her focus on academic performance earned her a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Kentucky through the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts. An aggressive pursuit of her goals gave her the opportunity to study abroad in Finland through UK's arts administration program.

But this journey started at home, in Madison County Schools. And Chelsea acknowledges the scholarship she received from Mike's Kids Education Foundation was a powerful motivator as she took her first step in the world of higher education.

"To be selected meant that people I hadn't met, maybe never would, believed in my story so much that they were willing to support me financially," Chelsea said. "It reassured me that even though I faced so much uncertainty in my next steps of life, I was supported. I am very grateful to Mike's Kids Education Foundation for the honor of receiving this scholarship."

Chelsea studies arts administration and music at UK with minors in business and music performance, hoping someday to own her own business. She expects to graduate in May 2015.

Just as her education at Madison County Schools enlightened her about the value of being focused, her college education has taught her how to turn her own initiative into opportunities. It's been both challenging and rewarding.

"I can look back and see how I could follow through with goals, like studying abroad, if I stayed dedicated to them," Chelsea said. "I look back at other goals that I haven't followed through with, and I am forced to think about what could have been. I have to really focus on what I want to accomplish to set realistic goals for myself so I can follow through with the right ones."