by: Kory Stone/Business Manager
Ashley Moore is a 19-year-old expecting mother who spends her days-when not in school-living with her boyfriend, Dave. When she is not otherwise engaged she is looking after their cat Rascals or dealing with drama at the apartment. Wesley Batson is a 24-year-old male nontraditional student who moved from New York several months ago in pursuit of adventure and a better life. On the surface it may appear that these two are fairly different from one another. However, both share in a unique experience-an experience that has tested them physically, mentally and emotionally: both were homeless not six months ago. Both have clawed their way out of the hole of despair they found themselves in to get to a level playing ground, all by becoming full time students.
Moore is criminal justice major who plans to use her degree to become a lawyer in order to help kids within the judicial system. Having grown up in and out of the system her whole life-adoption agencies, juvenile detention centers, jails, prisons and shelters-she wants to help other kids caught up in it. She takes responsibility for her choices but, at the same time, realizes that things could have turned out very different for her if she would have had the right environment to excel in. Moore is incredibly bright, has excelled in school most of her life and enjoys it very much. Moore attends school while Dave, whom she met at a shelter, works a construction job. They are both looking forward to putting the past behind them in sight of a new and better future for themselves and their growing family.
Batson never would have thought that he could have ended up in a shelter. But that is exactly what happened when the opportunity he was chasing fell through. Out of the six or so months he has been in the Mattoon/Charleston area, four of those months have been at Mattoon’s “P.A.D.S.” He now currently resides in Fairgrange, IL, outside of Charleston, with a friend and her family. Batson is going to school to become an executive administrative assistant. He hopes to one day manage or own a catering business. This being his first time in in college, he is learning more than just his subject of study. For example, he is learning about his perseverance, demonstrated by his willingness to ride his bike from Lake Land to Fairgrange- a two-and-half hour journey- when he cannot get a ride. Also equally important is how much he, like all of us, depends on the kindness of others in achieving his dream.
When asked what they would want to share with others in their experience, Batson’s message is to not take life for granted-chase after dreams but enjoy the way there. Moore’s message is similar. No matter where a person is or where he or she came from, never give up and learn as much as possible. One thing that cannot be taken away from a person is an education, and sometimes it maybe the only thing that is going to help.