AXA Scholarship Recipient, Brenda Ray, Discusses the Importance of Advocacy and Achieving Change

Dress for Success Worldwide has partnered for the eighth year in a row with AXA for the “Pursuit Beyond the Suit” scholarship program. Since 2009, AXA has helped Dress for Success empower women on the road to success with their national educational scholarship. This year AXA will fund $30,000 worth of scholarships to five Dress for Success clients. But first, we wanted to take a look back at our 2016 winners and celebrate their educational success this year!

We checked in with 2016 AXA Scholarship recipient, Brenda Ray, on the steps she has taken in her education and career since receiving the scholarship.

DFS: How has the scholarship award been able to financially assist you with continuing your education? Would you have been able to continue your studies without the scholarship?

BR: The scholarship I received paid for my whole semester of school. For one semester, the scholarship was a huge relief. My mom passed away in June and my expenses were overwhelming at the time. Receiving the scholarship took the stress out of paying for school. I may have quit, but the scholarship allowed me to keep going. Now I have one more semester before I complete my degree.

DFS: Have you or are you in the process of reaching your educational goals?

BR: I am in the process of completing my degree. I will earn a Masters of Social Service Administration (MSSA) equivalent to a MSW in August. My goal is to work with teenagers and families. I believe that sometimes kids make bad choices, but that it does not make them bad people. They just need a little guidance and someone to listen and help guild them to achieve their goals.

DFS: Is there a personal story or something you learned during your semester that was new and you were able to apply towards your career goals?

BR: In the Fall 2016 semester, I learned a lot about advocacy and how hard it can be to achieve change. I learned that working together with others in the community that change can happen. I was part of a team who made phone calls to encourage community members to vote on a transit referendum. In the 2016 election, the referendum passed. The results are clear: Indy residents want to expand mass transit, and they want to do it for the right reasons: helping our neighbors and growing our city. This means more people will be able to get to work or school, so they can provide for their families. By investing in transit, we are investing in our neighbors, and giving them a chance to succeed. Advocating is a part of social work and having the chance to learn firsthand how it works was an amazing experience.

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