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Say Yes Scholar Keasya Hudgins featured in the Central NY Community Foundation’s Annual Report (9/16/2016)

CNYCF Keasya Hudgins

Keasya Hudgins credits her childhood imagination for inspiring her to want to further her education. Neither of her parents went beyond high school, but seeing what college had to offer in books, television and movies ignited her dreams for what was possible.

During her time attending Nottingham High School in Syracuse, Keasya accomplished all the things that colleges look for — she earned good grades and participated in numerous extracurricular activities. But without the financial means to pay for a higher education or acquire a student loan, her options were slim. That is where Say Yes to Education stepped in. Say Yes staff provided guidance on how to prepare for, choose and apply to college. The program was available to pay for the cost of her schooling after additional scholarships and financial aid were applied.

In the end, Keasya utilized Say Yes scholarship funding to study hospitality management, receiving an associate’s degree from Onondaga Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State College. She credits not only the academic learning environment but also her experiences on a college campus — surrounded by diverse cultures and backgrounds — for shaping her into who she is today. She now runs her own event planning business in New York City called justKayEvents. Her slogan, “Visionaries Only,” is a fitting tribute to her drive to succeed.

Say Yes to Education was designed to assist students just like Keasya: driven to succeed and motivated to go beyond what they have known, but in need of opportunities to help them get there. The program, which provides academic, health and family support services in addition to college scholarships, is built on the principle that all children can achieve academic success if the barriers they face are addressed.

In the end, Keasya credits the community’s support of Say Yes for her current success.

“If it hadn’t been for Say Yes, I would probably be struggling — still in college while trying to pay for it,” she said. “People look at me and think I have it all together, but I really wouldn’t have, if it hadn’t been for the assistance I received from programs like Say Yes. It is really important to remember where you came from and I am so appreciative of this community for helping make me what I am today.”