Some of us change the world in ways that make breaking news and some of us change the world in quiet yet amazing ways every day. Bridget represents a million special souls that have devoted their lives to helping others in ways that we would never know about because they would never think to bring attention to themselves.
Bridget grew up in Green Sea, SC. Although it sounds like a place for a picturesque childhood to play out hers was not the perfect story. Bridget’s father struggled with drug and alcohol addictions throughout his life. And if we have never experienced that reality we can only imagine the pain that inflicts on the whole family. Pain that would eventually cause her mother and younger sister to leave in search of peace and healing.
Bridget at the young age of 18 made a very tough decision to stay by her father’s side. This could not have been an easy decision, but she felt it was the right one. She knew he needed someone. Bridget worked three jobs to put herself through college. Working hard to earn an academic scholarship and a stipend for playing the piano for vocal classes, she conquered college, but not without hardship. She originally wanted to be a physical therapist, but failed her first biology class, then decided maybe law school was a better option and a way to do some good. Law school proved to be too expensive and after changing her mind 5 times she found a good fit and decided to become an English teacher. It’s good to remember we don’t always find the right thing on the first try and that only means there is something better.
After 5 long years of hard work and determination Bridget made it through college! All the while her father was declining and the all the jobs she had to maintain through college were not only used for herself but to pay household bills and even property taxes for her father. By far it was one of the hardest times in Bridget’s life but her relationship with Christ and her church family is what got her through it all. Those years are when Bridget began to learn a lot about herself and her desire to help others.
After college Bridget became an English teacher to low functioning students, those with both learning and behavioral disorders. She worked at a school down south for two years with the intention of trying to help those kids on a personal level. Working in a school made up mostly of minority students, she began to see that kids cannot learn unless their basic needs were met. Being limited in what she could do to help she tried to just listen as they shared their problems. But her heart was broken, and her passion to do more was growing stronger. After moving to Lewistown and seeing the same things with the students she taught there she knew she wanted to do more. Her husband was the one that suggested Bridget become a school counselor because of her desire to be in a position where she could possibly have more of an impact on young people’s lives.
After making the choice to change career directions she applied at Penn State and was accepted. For four years she taught full-time, took 1-2 classes in the evenings and waited tables on the weekends to make up for the money spent on grad school! Because of working two jobs the normally 2 years to finish grad school took 4. She graduated in 2010 and secured a job at Mifflin County High School.
Bridget finds the most rewarding part of her job is watching kids find success in whatever way works for them. Seeing kids deal with the aftermath of a bad home life or struggle with anxiety and depression or showing up in her office because they were having a panic attack, sharing their thoughts of suicide or other destructive behaviors is the hard side. But seeing them graduate college and go on to become special education teachers or biologists makes her job so worth it. Bridget desires to help kids understand that tough times don’t last, instead they can build character and make a person stronger. She reminds them that yes, sometimes life just stinks but just like hers did theirs can get better too!
Bridget is truly making a difference every day by counseling, supporting and encouraging our next generation of teachers, spiritual leaders, doctors, nurses, psychologists, parents and entrepreneurs. The world is truly a better place because of people like Bridget. People that don’t take no for an answer. People that do not let the tremendous hurdles that stand between them and an education stop them from pushing forward and making a difference in the world. People that don’t let their childhood struggles define them but rise above them to be better than what they went through. We can all be inspired and encouraged that one more person is making a difference in not just one young person’s life but too many to count.