Jade Faulkner dreams of a career marketing and producing her own beauty products. Her journey starts this semester at Howard County Community College in Columbia.
"I am taking two business courses, economics and English," Jade said.
Getting to this point wasn't easy. Weighing on her heart while a student at Lauren High School was the fight her mother Darlene was waging with Stage 1B breast cancer. It was late 2013. Jade was in the 10th grade.
"At first I was afraid and then eventually I looked at it as an experience that I needed to get through and it made me appreciate her more," Jade said.
She persevered. She graduated high school and started saving for college. She worked part-time at two jobs to help afford tuition. Then her cosmetology teacher, herself a survivor, encouraged Jade to apply to the Nanci's Gift Scholarship Foundation. Founder, Nanci Young, is a four-time breast cancer survivor.
"Breast cancer can ruin a family financially as well as emotionally. The toll it takes is unbelievable," Young said. "We just thought it was important to keep opportunities available for the children who wanted to pursue their education."
This past spring, at the foundation's first gala, Jade's proud parents watched as Nanci presented her, and four other high school seniors, with one thousand dollars each to begin their higher education.
"We will follow the students up to four years and give them money every year that they're in college," Young said.
Wonderful news for sure. But even better news for Jade's mother, Darlene Faulkner.
"I went through several surgeries and my oncologist thinks I am cancer-free," Jade said.