Paying It Forward

Manisha Rutherford is going to college this fall. This, in and of itself, is not remarkable. At least, not until you get to know Manisha.

 No one in Manisha’s family has ever attended college, you see. And even graduation  from high school was no guarantee, when she was failing her math class. And if she had not graduated, she would have been in good company – at Manisha’s school, nearly 1/3 of students fail to earn a diploma.

But Manisha is not defined by statistics or the status quo. Manisha is a Community Care Fellowship Starfish.

The goal of CCF’s Starfish Program is to identify high school students who have the desire and potential to pursue additional education after graduation. Participants receiving tutoring, mentoring, assistance filling out financial aid and college applications and scholarship money for application fees, as needed. When Manisha was paired with a math tutor, her test scores began to rise immediately.

“I finished the class with an A,” she notes proudly.

Manisha graduated from Pearl Cohn High School in May and plans to attend Nashville State Community College in the fall. Like all Starfish Program graduates, she is expected to pay forward the assistance she received, by helping to mentor the next generation of program participants.

But in true Manisha fashion, she is not content to merely meet expectations. She plans to make her career a statement in paying forward the help she received; she will be studying to become a math teacher.