My name is William Gardner and I am going into my last semester at Brookdale Community College majoring in Computer Science.
I began using a computer at the age of two. My parents always told their friends stories about my ability to master my first roller coaster game. Eventually, during grade school and junior high school, I began getting bullied by classmates. Around the same time, I was diagnosed with ADHD. This did not help my school situation, at all. The bullying became so intense that I withdrew myself from everyone and no longer even wanted to go to school. My computer was my solace. I could connect with kids around the globe that were just like me. I realized then that my computer was more than a box with wires. It was connection to the world.
With a lot of support from my teachers and parents, I was able to overcome the bullying. I began thinking that if a computer could help me through difficult times, it could possibly help others, too. As I grew older, I figured out that technology had been such a huge part of my childhood that I wanted to learn more about it. I came to the realization that I wanted to make a career out of working in the technology industry.
On October 16, 2012, my life changed forever. The police showed up at my front door in the middle of the night and told my mother that my Dad had been in an accident. He did not survive. When I woke up, she gave me the devastating news. I was in shock and disbelief. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that I would never see my father again. I wanted to know what happened. I wanted answers. My family eventually told me that for reasons, still unknown to us, my Dad’s tractor-trailer had hit the back of another truck in front of him. This caused him to be ejected outside from his seat and then run over by his own truck. We couldn’t even have an open casket at his wake because of the severe damage that was done. I felt like I never got the closure I was looking for. However, as time went by, I was glad that I didn’t get the chance to see his body. I didn’t want to remember him that way.
As a result of my father’s death, my mother and I began struggling financially. We had to sell the house I grew up in to move into a small condo in New Jersey. For me, that house had so many great memories and it was very difficult to move on. I felt like I was leaving a piece of my Father behind. I became very depressed and withdrawn. I felt as if in a blink of an eye, my life had been turned completely upside down. Since my Dad’s passing, my mother had been doing everything she could to support us. It has been, and continues to be a struggle. We get by, but financial issues are always lingering in our minds and weighing heavily upon us like a dark cloud.
This leads me to my never-ending gratitude to have been honored to receive the Pamela Reed Gibson Memorial and KCNJ Scholarship. Earning this scholarship has given me the opportunity to go to college and pursue my dream. I am forever grateful for this chance to further my education and pursue my passion for technology. For once, I am not worried about how I will be able to support myself in the future because I finally have a chance to focus on my education and leave the other problems, behind, for now. I still could not thank this program enough for its generosity and compassion towards those who really need it. KCNJ has given me a second chance and solidifies my belief that there is a light at the end of the tunnel even during the darkest days.