NCU Bright Future Scholarship Winner: Elizabeth Carroll

Elizabeth Carroll

Former Dropout and NCU Doctoral Candidate Aims to Keep More Students in School

Not all higher education journeys begin the same — with the excitement and anticipation of the path ahead. In fact, some paths start at the end of a rocky and bumpy road. Elizabeth Carroll’s journey is an example of the latter.

Carroll grew up in rural Kentucky and became a dropout immediately after graduating from middle school. “I hated everything about school,” she says. “I felt alienated, isolated and inadequate.”

Carroll married at 16, and earned her GED at 17 when she was eight months pregnant with her first child. By the time she was 26, she was a divorced, single mother of three who realized that the world was a harsh place for someone who had only the equivalent of a high school education. She knew she had to seek out a new direction.

Education and Self-Discovery

Carroll immersed herself in higher education to gain the credentials and skills to support her family, but also to set an example for her children. She worked hard to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, along with teachers’ certifications and is now working toward a Doctor of Education degree at Northcentral University’s School of Education, taking courses specializing in curriculum and teaching.

As she embraced higher education, Carroll realized that she was not alone on her journey.

“My mother watched my children so I could write a paper,” she explains, “and people encouraged me as I worked to attain my goals.” Carroll says that her faith sustained her when she felt utterly hopeless.

When she realized how much support she’d been given along the way, she changed her approach to teaching.

“I began to teach my students with an understanding of others and a growth mindset,” says Carroll who describes the approach as improving oneself in order to help others have a bright future. Being awarded an NCU Bright Future Scholarship allows Carroll to continue on her current path of growth and as an Assistant Professor at Florida Gateway College in Lake City, Florida.

Planning to Reduce Dropout Rates

As a next step, Carroll wants to help students who struggle to stay in school. In addition to allowing her story to motivate students, Carroll will reach out to those who have already dropped out of school and others who are on the verge of making a decision they might later regret.

“If students can see in me—a dropout who became a teacher and loves learning and education —a desire to become a lifelong learner, then perhaps I can affect a change in their lives,” she says.

After earning her Doctor of Education degree from NCU, Carroll plans on expanding her platform to reach a broader audience to help more students continue on the path to degree completion. 

When she learned that she’d been chosen by NCU to receive a full tuition scholarship, Carroll immediately told her U.S. Army veteran husband, who shared her excitement—as did her three children, and two grandchildren.