Cost 

Education Impacts a Life—and a Family

Even after graduating from Indiana State University, James Yates is dedicated to learning.

Yates was raised by his mother Angela, a single parent, who worked several jobs to support him and his three siblings. And while he knew that she wouldn’t financially be able to contribute to his college education, he was “raised to believe that there is no wealth like knowledge and no poverty like ignorance,” he said.

“I learned to sit back and observe,” Yates said. “This student earned an A+ on that exam, and I earned a C-. What did they do differently that led to their success that I did not do? If it meant studying extra hours, I did it. If it meant joining a study group, I did it.”

Yates was among the first in his family to attend college when he arrived on campus at Indiana State University as a 21st Century Scholar. Being a first-generation college student presented challenges due to lack of academic guidance. So—like a lot of freshmen—Yates had to learn from his mistakes.

When his grades began to decline, Yates took action. He studied his failures, and more effectively explored resources on campus such as free tutoring sessions, met with professors, and began to shadow more successful students.

With his family’s support, James Yates (left) is continuing his education. Photo courtesy James Yates.

“I learned to sit back and observe,” Yates said. “This student earned an A+ on that exam, and I earned a C-. What did they do differently that led to their success that I did not do? If it meant studying extra hours, I did it. If it meant joining a study group, I did it.”

The one constant was the 21st Century Scholars program. Yates made sure to maintain his eligibility each year and became a leader, serving as president of ISU’s 21st Century Scholars student organization before graduating in 2010.

“Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity,” he said.

The program helped Yates eliminate any academic debt, which has been one way that he has been able to continue his education. He has earned five professional healthcare certifications and is currently starting a master’s degree in human service using education benefits offered by his wife’s employer. He and his wife, Jacque, are parents to two children, Jackson and Josephina, and they have started a family ministry to help others. He also serves as a mentor for the 21st Century Scholars Alumni Mentorship program.

“I have many individuals to credit for my many achievements but my mother, she gets credited first,” he said. “We are raising our kids with those same core values, but with more opportunities. It’s such a blessing.”

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