To the world around her, Trinity Overmyer is just like any average college student, but in fact she is not your average student. She is not your average anything. A non-traditional student, Trinity tries to schedule most of her classes near the lunch hour because she works a demanding job five days a week in Purdue’s Mechanical Engineering graduate office while carrying 15 credit hours. Her days are filled with work, and her evenings are filled with group meetings and extra-curricular activities. This balancing act keeps her moving at the speed of light.
She is the recipient of three scholarships offered through the Span Plan Adult Student Services Program (Span Plan), a program committed to assisting and encouraging adult, non-traditional students at Purdue University. With the help the Office of the Dean of Students Nontraditional Student Scholarship, the Helen B. Schleman Scholarship and the Peggy Sullivan Achievement Award, Overmyer is leading the charge in her own destiny.
Having many female influences in her life and raised by a strong single mother she learned at an early age that feminism is about inclusion and equality for everyone. She adds, “I started identifying as a feminist when I realized, the point of feminism is that EVERYONE should be better off.” Her passion for gender and women’s studies will lead her to “learn beyond the classroom” this summer when she goes to Uganda as part of a five-week study abroad program through the Women’s Studies Program.
Wanting to do something good in the world, she heard about the Uganda trip and knew immediately it was something she had to do. “It wasn't just another study abroad trip to Paris or Scotland. It was about teaching and learning from non-profits that are working for the betterment of the people,” says Overmyer. “Although I can and do my part locally, I think being in Africa will change my perspective and help me see my local community – and the challenges we face – with new eyes.”
While there, she will work as an intern at the Uganda Women’s Network, a group that works to change public policy in Uganda as it relates to education for girls, healthcare, access for disabled persons and numerous feminist issues. “We will learn how they work at a grass roots level to create social change that is beneficial to everyone – not just women,” she says.
Overmyer will graduate in December 2012 with degrees in professional and creative writing, with a minor in gender studies. She is confident her education at Purdue has her poised for success. It is not only the curriculum preparing her for success, however. Overmyer is also learning from her female role models and professors, from life and the Span Plan.
But it is her scholarship donors whom she feels have helped her the most. Because of the scholarships she was able to purchase a laptop, allowing her to work during breaks between classes and while waiting for and riding the bus. “With every minute crucial, this helps tremendously,” she explained. Knowing she has the financial backing allows her to be a much better and more engaged student because she can focus on her studies and not feel stressed about money. She describes the impact giving to scholarships has had on her life as “a ripple effect of good in this world.”
Understanding the women behind the named scholarships she received – their strengths and examples as leaders – Overmyer recognizes that to be a good leader, you cannot simply order people around. You have to motivate and call to action. Leadership is about activating people’s desires and standing aside to let them move forward.
That is exactly what she believes these scholarships have done for her. And she adds: “I know that people believed in me enough to help fund my education, which means so much. I push myself even harder to show them that their contributions are not squandered.”
Feeling pride, the responsibility to represent her donors with dignity and a deep sense of gratitude, she expresses, “I will be taking their lead upon graduation and helping raise others up as I have been raised up.”
Editor’s note: Overmyer is copy editor for Classtastic – a student-developed program allowing students to go online to find classes they are interested in and receive notifications when a seat is available. She has benefitted from using the program herself – managing to graduate a semester early because she was able to get the classes at the times she wanted.