Student receives Gates Scholarship

Krystal Heard is a junior education major at Liberty University, but more than that, she is one of 1,000 minority students nationwide chosen to receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

Each year, a select number of high school seniors are awarded the Gate Scholarship which covers 10 years of education according to their website. Two years ago, Heard went through the application process at her high school in Louisiana.

“The whole time I was on faith. I said, ‘Okay God, if You want me to leave the state or go to Liberty, provide the way to go,” Heard said.

She started the application process in January of her senior year of high school along with more than 20,500 minority students. In conjunction with academic achievements, the students are picked based on community service and leadership potential according to the website. The students must be nominated, send in recommendation letters and write eight essays. In April she found out she had been accepted.

“It means the world to me because I would not have been able to go here or anywhere outside of Louisiana,” Heard said. “You can imagine just how surprised I was with no other scholarships available. I said, ‘Thank You, Jesus!’”

Dr. Michelle Goodwin, assistant dean of the education department and licensure programs coordinator at Liberty, remarked that Heard is a very dedicated young woman.

“I’m very proud of her. She always goes above and beyond and always does more than what is required of her,” Goodwin said.

“My life verse is Luke 12:48, to whom much is given much is required,” Heard said. “I guess it’s why I am so ambitious. I was given a lot.”

For the past two summers, Heard worked with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools as a Servant Leader Intern (SLI) for fourth graders in Baton Rouge, La. It is a six-week program for students K-12 during the summer or an after-school program in 29 different states according to their website.

“We have books that are the center of the lessons we do,” Heard said. “They learn things in ways they can relate to through a fourth grader.”

The typical student reads 20-30 books throughout the program. Heard listed a number of books that her class read through including “Letters to a Soldier,” “Grandpa has Changed” and cultural books. The main character is the same age as the students so that they can experience situations through a perspective they understand.

Heard said that the SLI’s teach in story fashion and create activities to help explain concepts. For “Grandpa has Changed”, Heard organized her students in a circle and had them pretend they were neurons. When she pointed for one of them to leave the circle, the neuron “died” thus portraying Alzheimer’s disease.

“Freedom School encourages students to enjoy reading, learning, and being active participants in the community,” Heard said. “It was founded on the fact that education is the way out just like the Gates Scholarship was for me.”

Goodwin said Heard is considering teaching overseas and has been looking into a position in Haiti for after graduation. As far as Goodwin knows, Heard is the only Gates Scholar in the education department and she said she is honored that Heard chose to come to Liberty.

“She has an open mind to wherever the Lord leads her whether it is an urban school or international schools,” Goodwin said. “She has energy, enthusiasm, ethics, Christian values and is a hard worker.”

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