When you support Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholarships, you help create a pathway of success for high-achieving students like Charity Luster ’19.
Charity Luster dropped out of high school at 16. When she went to Job Corps, a free education and job training program, to get her General Education Diploma (GED), she ended up enrolling in its business technology program. It wasn’t long before she discovered that she had found her passion.
“I started to realize that, OK, I’m really good at this,” she recalls.
Luster, a native of Vineland, New Jersey, enrolled in Northern Maine Community College. She started studying computer electronics and eventually moved on to computer and network technology. After earning an associate degree, she applied to one school to continue her education—Syracuse University.
“The school motto, ‘Knowledge crowns those who seek her,’ stood out to me as a representation of my life at that point,” Luster says. “If I didn’t go out and seek a way to better myself, if I didn’t go out and seek a new major that nobody told me I could do, then I wouldn’t have the knowledge I had at that point and the knowledge I have today.”
Luster says being an older, nontraditional student helped her in many ways.
“Because I came in understanding what I wanted from school and the journey I have taken, I ended up getting a lot more respect from faculty members and staff,” she says.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Her first year at Syracuse, Luster spent up to 40 hours a week working two jobs. “It would take me two hours or longer to get myself to and from work on public transportation,” she says. “The experience drained me, and I was failing in school.”
Her friend Stephen Benn ’17, an Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholar, urged her to apply for a scholarship through the OTHC program. Luster says receiving that scholarship changed everything.
“I was able to quit one of my jobs and focus on my classes,” she says. “Without the financial help, without the guidance and encouragement of Angela Morales-Patterson, and the inspiration from the alumni who come back to speak to us, I definitely wouldn’t be on track to graduate this spring. I feel forever indebted to the OTHC program.”
Luster, who will earn her degree in information management and technology from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) in May, has served as both vice president and president of the National Society of Black Engineers, an organization that has been influential in her success.
“When I came in, there were a lot of other women like me in the chapter. They not only encouraged me on the academic side but also on the professional development side,” she says.
Throughout her time at Syracuse, Luster has worked as an information technology support technician at the College of Engineering and Computer Science, where she rebuilds computers for the Windows 10 operating system, and troubleshoots and fixes software and hardware issues. Since fall 2018, she’s also served as co-facilitator of an Inclusive Excellence Dialogue Circle at the school, helping lead a small group of students, faculty and staff in addressing issues of race, ethnicity, and gender through open dialogue. She spent the last two summers working as an intern at Johnson & Johnson.
Luster wants to open doors and encourage underrepresented groups to enter STEM education fields.
“Helping other people have that “moment”–when it clicks in your mind that you need to do better and be better–is what pushes me to do what I do now,” Luster says.
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Meet today’s OTHC scholars and view scholar stories below.