Brenda Mattingly knows first hand what it means to overcome obstacles.
“The bottom can fall out of your life when you least expect it,” said the College of Education and Human Development graduate student.
Mattingly was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. At that time she was teaching English at Doss High School, but she quit because of the physical toll of the treatments.
“I had no insurance and the medical bills just kept piling up. When I was able to return to teaching I substituted for about a year before deciding to apply to the special education program at U of L,” she says.
Perhaps it is Mattingly’s experience with personal difficulties that makes her so sympathetic to others. She was executive director at the Salvation Army Center of Hope, where she worked with homeless men, women and children. She now works with teenagers with behavioral or learning disabilities at Buechel Metro High School.
“I tell the kids they all have special gifts in different areas, despite the obstacles they have to overcome. Volunteering with the homeless has made me even more determined to do everything I can to keep young people from falling into homelessness,” she says.
Her experiences convinced Mattingly to pursue a master’s degree in the special education learning and behavior disorders program. The challenge was finding a way to pay for it. Most scholarships are designed for entering students, she discovered.
“But there are plenty of non-traditional students like me out there,” she says. “They need our support and attention just like younger, traditional students do.”
The university helped guide Mattingly through the financial aid process, and the College of Education and Human Development selected her as one of the recipients of the Education Alumni Scholarship. The scholarship was created for alumni who want to give specifically to a CEHD scholarship fund.
“U of L and I have been great for each other. The university has helped give me a new beginning, and I just want to let everyone know how it has changed my life. This has given me a second chance,” she says.
She added, “The scholarship I received helped make me strong again. I felt lifted. No matter the size of the gift, it really affects people’s lives.”