Started from the bottom, but now she is here! Jelena Roland, a remarkable young lady who received a full ride scholarship to The University of Detroit Mercy when it all seemed impossible.
Jelena Roland was born in the sunny state of Florida. She lived in a single parent household with her mother and brother. As a kid, Jelena didn’t know much of her father nor did she rarely see him. Jelena also struggled financially with her family, but she was surrounded with love. Other family members, especially her grandmother, were very supportive and still help assist when they can.
In 2019, Jelena had to move in with her father due to some financial issues her mother was dealing with. Leaving her mother and bother and moving in with someone she had only known for a year or so. It wasn’t long before Jelena had to leave Georgia with her father. Her father’s wife disliked her and wanted her out of the house. Jelena was defeated! She was only a kid and yet her own father kicked her out the house.
As a result, Jelena ended up having to move in with her grandfather. “I was in a very difficult time in my life”, Jelena emphasized. Her grandfather who was Hispanic, was very racist towards her and disliked that she was of mixed race. “I no longer wanted to live like that, I knew it was time to contact my mother,” she stated.
Things were starting to look up, her mother became a travel nurse and she was reunited with her real family. Then of course covid hit, as a result her mother lost her job and they had to live in their car. Jelena was in the lowest place in her life, and she was losing faith that things would get better. With all of this, her grandmother always reminded her “Never let the things you can’t control affect you.”
In 2021, Jelena and her family moved to Pontiac, Michigan. She started attending Pontiac High School. Very soon after starting school, her mother got incarcerated leaving her to fend for herself while finishing school. Jelena had to get a job, attend school, and get her own apartment. She struggled a lot with trying to balance everything, and her grades dropped a lot while trying to survive on her own. There were many times Jelena didn’t know how certain bills would be paid and her phone would get cut off frequently.
Jelena was going through a very difficult time, and things were just getting worse. Until one day, Jelena’s high school had a special guest Kaino Phillips, President and CEO of the Clarence E. Phillips Ascend Foundation, come in and speak to the students. Jelena and Mr. Phillips got connected and he listened to her story. “I respect Mr.Phillips so much, he is a very supportive and generous man”, Jelena told me.
Soon after, Jelena met Nathan, an advisor at the University of Detroit Mercy. Nathan saw something special in Jelena and wanted to help her apply for college. However, Jelena was unsure of how she was to pay for college. He ended up offering her a full ride scholarship to attend college. The Pontiac Housing Commission heard of her story as well and gave her a scholarship to cover her room and board. Through everything Jelena went through in her life, she realized God was preparing her for her breakthrough.
Jelena Roland went from living in a car with her mother, to having no lights or phone, to attending college for free. Jelena is living proof that there is always a way. She made one when many thought there wasn’t one. With just being a teenager, Jelena has accomplished so much in her life. Many people in her position would have given up. Jelena didn’t only overcome her struggles, but she conquered them.
I asked Jelena: “How did she get through all of the triumphs in her life?” Jelena stated that she kept her faith in God, and remained optimistic about her future. “I never let the things I can control affect me, what will be will be”, she emphasized. Jelena is thankful for everything she has been through and believes it has made her stronger. Jelena is an incredible young woman, and her future’s so bright! Her story inspires other young kids that no matter the circumstance, the sky is the only limit. Anything is achievable with faith and hard work!
To see more information on Jelena Roland and her scholarship visit this link!