Food Insecurity, A Broken Car, A Crashed Computer

July 26, 2019

Blake Gordon’s first semester at Kennesaw State University was indeed a challenging one. In November of 2018, he shared his struggle with the Ammon Foundation via his scholarship application.   “I have faced many hurdles since enrolling at Kennesaw State University. My first month in school my car broke down, my laptop crashed, I exhausted my meal plan, and was unable to purchase all of my required textbooks. Many would accept defeat at this point, but I used the hurdles to fuel my success and drive. I found a part-time job that was roughly a mile from campus that I could walk to, I used my resources on campus for my technology needs, and I got creative in finding ways to eat and borrow textbooks. My first semester has been undeniably difficult, but I have remained on course, stayed involved within the collegiate recovery program, and most importantly remained humble and sober. This scholarship would have a significant impact on my continued success in alleviating the financial burden of being a student in recovery.”

Blake received a scholarship for the Spring 2019 semester and in late May he reported,  “The Ammon Foundation removed such a heavy burden from my financially last semester. That weight lifted off my shoulders allowed me to truly spread my wings and focus on self-development rather than focusing on where my next meal would come from. In my first semester back at school I faced food scarcity, lack of transportation, the loss of a job and computer. It was my toughest battle yet in my studies, but I fought hard through the adversity and found Ammon along the way. The scholarship was such a blessing and allowed me to focus on my studies and opened the door for me to give back to my student body in the form of Peer Education. I never truly understood the feeling of food scarcity or poverty prior, but along the way I learned how to manage my money through the struggle.”

Blake is not alone in his struggles.  According to a late 2017 study of more than 30,000 college students, approximately half of two-year and four-year students are food insecure.   Additionally, one-third of two-year students are also housing insecure, while up to 14% are battling homelessness.  

“The nature of my recovery story is often described as consistently searching for an easier softer way,” Blake explains.  “I was first introduced to alcohol at the young age of 12, and entered my first treatment center at the age of 18, shortly after graduating from high school. I refused to believe that I, in fact, had a drug and alcohol problem. Instead of accepting that I was not like most other drinkers, my search began to find an external solution to my internal problem. I thought only if I joined the military or graduated from military college that I will be able to successfully drink again with no consequences. I joined the military and shortly after I graduated from military college. The drinking problem still existed yet was suppressed by my successes and ability to remain out of trouble short-term. At 22 years old I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, 3 months before I was set to deploy to Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter I fell into a dark, deep depression that was fueled by my extensive drug and alcohol while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Once cleared from cancer, my drug use intensified. My life was like a tornado, roaring through the lives of others creating much havoc and chaos. After moving to South Florida, entering my second treatment center, failing to remain sober, and moving back to Alabama I still could not accept that I had a drinking problem. The search continued to find a way of living where I could successfully drink without consequences, but that life never came. I accepted defeat for the final time on May 18, 2017.” Blake recently celebrated two years in recovery.  

As an accounting and finance major, Blake is pursuing his CPA license. His goal is to start his own accounting firm and network of sober-living residences. He is currently an intern at local Accounting firm. Blake has earned a 4.0 GPA during his last few semesters and has been recognized on the President’s List. He is expecting to graduate in December 2020. 

Blake continues to participate in a 12-step fellowship and is a very active member of the Collegiate Recovery Community and the Center for Young Adults in Addiction and Recovery. He attends weekly seminars outside of 12-step meetings that focus on collegiate recovery at Kennesaw State University. Recently, he attended the Southeastern Summit for Collegiate Recovery in Savannah, Georgia. He begins his day with prayer and mediation. He shares that “aside from my internal work, I have now branched out and volunteered in KSU Peer Education and will be educating all incoming freshman of the substance abuse in the form of presentations, sponsored by the CYAAR.” Today, he makes recovery a priority.  

Although paying for college continues to be “an uphill battle,” Blake is determined to continue on his pathway of earning his undergraduate degree. “I am beyond grateful for the Ammon Foundation and the financial burden you helped remove from my back last semester, but my work is not yet done.”

Our blog features the profiles of other recipients of the scholarship award, as well as information about how to apply.