Amber Rechelle ’18 came to Minnesota from Beaumont, Texas. A talented violinist, she spent two years at a Minnesota music college but determined it was not the place God had for her. Her pastor told her about North Central and although she at first didn’t want to attend a Christian school, her options boiled down to returning to Texas or going to North Central. She chose NCU.
Challenged not just by the cultural differences but with unexpected academic struggles that dropped her GPA to the point of receiving an academic warning, her first year was a struggle. “I’m not type of student to have bad grades,” she said. “That semester was hard.”
On top of that she learned that her financing had fallen through and she owed the school more than $10,000. Despite the difficulties, Amber wanted to persevere. “I went home [that summer] hoping in my gut I could come back.”
In Texas she found a job that she didn’t love but worked at faithfully, following her mother’s advice to use half of every paycheck to pay down her college bill.
Ten months later, Amber had paid most of it. Her mother believed God would provide the rest so they flew from Texas to Minnesota, still unsure of how they would pay. An unexpected gift from her grandparents, Donnell and Betty Polk, allowed her to settle the remaining debt.
Supported by scholarships
“Back at North Central everyone was excited to see me,” Amber recalled. “They didn’t know I was coming back.”
Thanks to funds available through generous donors, “God blessed me with additional scholarships from North Central,” Amber said. She applied herself and watched her GPA rise.
When school started in fall 2017, Amber received news that her family had been forced out of their home due to Hurricane Harvey.
She went to Texas—to her mom’s temporary home—for Christmas break intending to drop out of school to help her family. “My mom said, ‘No, you have to finish,’” Amber recalled; “’you’ve got a promise on your life!’”
Her maternal grandmother also played a pivotal role in encouraging Amber.
Deeply discouraged by her situation, Amber was held up by her grandmother, Miss Frankie Leblanc Webster Jones, who reminded her of her favorite Scripture, Proverbs 3:5–6. Her grandma looked at her and said confidently, “God is going to change your direction. And you’re going to school for one thing but you’re going to leave coming out with something different.”
Smiling at the memory, Amber said, “Old black women always say everything’s gonna be all right!”
While her family dealt with the aftermath of the storm, Amber’s financial situation was still tight. “I was barely able to make rent, but I was trying to maintain the promise that God was going to restore.”
In March 2018, Amber got the news she had been accepted into Howard University. “A small-town girl from Beaumont got into Howard University,” she marveled. “I come from a family of collegiate people, but my mother doesn’t have a degree so I’m the first child to have a bachelor’s degree. We have come from having no light, no groceries, not being able to pay bills…” to being accepted into graduate school to study, not music, but Education Leadership and Policy Studies—her grandmother’s words rang true.
It was a noticeable juxtaposition for Amber. The storms left her family in disarray but Amber is filled with hope.
Evidence of God’s faithfulness
Amber walked across the platform at North Central’s graduation ceremony on May 4 while her mother, sister, and grandparents cheered from the crowd.
“My story is not complete,” she said. “But in the midst of all the storms, both physical and spiritual, God has shown himself to be a restoration in my life and in my family.
“I feel like this is such a big thing in my family. I know God is calling me to be a leader in this generation. Not just lead the future educators but to lead the children, fix the policies in education so we can have a generation of future leaders—male, female, black, white, Latino—to change the education system for generations to come.”
Amber is grateful for the family that has stood by her and for the education she’s received. “I’m grateful to North Central,” she said. “I’ve met some of the most amazing professors. I’ve met my best friends for life, both black and white. I’ve learned who I am as a young lady. I’ve learned my calling. I’ve learned a lot about God.”
Pictured above: Grandparents Donnel and Betty Bernard Polk, graduate Amber Rechelle (Polk), and Amber’s mother and sister, Pamela Jones and Morgan Polk.