If you question whether Katelyn Pressley is going to Georgetown University next summer, just notice the light in her eyes. Or is it fire?
She is determined and the $5000 price tag may feel like a lot, but her parents, friends, other family members are determined to make it happen. They have only "a few hundred" of what they need now, but they are hoping a bingo night on March 30 will kick up the effort and get them closer to goal.
The sum includes airfare, housing and meals for the 13 days she will be on the Georgetown campus, a little spending money and the tuition for the program studying law.
Okay, lawyer jokes aside, Katelyn Pressley, a 16-year-old sophomore at the REaCH High School at Isothermal, has a deep desire and a strong story behind her intention to practice law. She and her two younger sisters were adopted by Stanley and Pam Pressley six years ago, but had been living at the Pressley home for the four years before that.
Sitting in Daniel Talbert's office, noticing the books on the shelves, the other objects that evoked the legal world, during the adoption process, began her journey.
"Ever since third grade, I've had strong opinions and liked to argue my strong opinions," Katelyn said.
Her mother, Pam, agreed about the strong opinions.
But her adoption was clearly her best evidence that courts and judges and lawyers can have a positive and dramatic effect on people's lives, especially young children needing to escape "a bad situation."
Her adoptive grandmother, Barbara Shires, knew her biological grandfather and they knew the three girls needed a better home.
"I actually asked to be adopted. I visited their home (the Pressleys) and knew it was a better environment," Katelyn said.
A six-year-old girl knew she needed a better home? Her biological parents, "didn't care."
If that doesn't break your heart, it's hard to figure what would.
But from heartbreak forward, Katelyn has worked hard at her studies and is set on a career in law, working with children in similar straights, helping victims of domestic violence, and practicing both family and criminal law.
"I also thought about another time that made me realize I wanted to be a lawyer. It was when I was watching a Law and Order and this woman had been wrongly accused of a crime. As I watched the show this thought came to my mind and it was that her lawyers held all the power to get the woman off. They just had to use the facts and knowledge that they knew. That's another thing that made me realize I wanted to be a lawyer," she said.
As part of her studies at REaCH, she was required to job shadow someone in a field where she might later find employment. She chose Daniel Talbert, the lawyer who helped with her adoption.
She said of that experience, "During the time of job shadowing I learned all about the job and how it all worked out, one of the biggest things that I learned is that for a lawyer to be successful their team has to work with them and the lawyer has to be flexible and work completely with the team."
As part of the day with Talbert, she got to ask lots of questions and attended sessions of family court, district court, and superior court.
The bingo on March 30 will take place at the Ellenboro Women's Club, 107 North Glenn Street in Ellenboro. Food service will start at 4 including hot dogs, barbecue, drinks and homemade desserts. Bingo starts at 5 and prizes include gift certificates and free stuff from local businesses including: Waters Florist, Gregory's Original, C My Styles, and Barley's Taproom.
Pam said the great responses from the businesses that donated the prizes is a real encouragement and the family is so grateful.
Katelyn said friends from school are supporting her efforts and plan to be at the bingo night. In addition, her great aunt Regina Arrowood is helping along with friends: Gigi Robinson, Lisa Miller and her aunt, Janie Owens. Her uncle Stacy Owens will be calling the bingo.
A yard sale is also planned for April 27 at the family's home, 548 Piney Mountain Church Road in Ellenboro. Donations can also be mailed to that address or Box 43, Ellenboro, 28040. The family has sent out 50 letters asking for help and so far has only received one response from Daniel Talbert, the lawyer who helped with the adoptions.
Givers who want to help can also use Gofundme. Katelyn's campaign is called Katelyn Goes To Georgetown on the Gofundme site.
Katelyn's passion for folks in trouble has seen her volunteering at the Grace of God Rescue Mission in Forest City and collecting coats and food through an effort she helped found, Keep Rutherford County Warm and Fed.
Her great-aunt Regina Arrowood said this of her work to make the fundraising successful, "Katelyn is an energetic and enthusiastic young lady with strong character, who displays exceptional insight and maturity. She expresses empathy and compassion for others. Through the years she has served as a true inspiration to me and others. Her collective intelligence, character and analytical skills will make her an amazing lawyer."
Rutherford County's poverty rate is 19 percent, so there is definitely a need for Katelyn's brand of generosity.
The trip to Georgetown University will include mock trials where students will get to play the roles of judges, jurors, and opposing attorneys. The money needs to be in hand by the end of April.
Email Pat Jobe at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to help?
Checks can be mailed to Pam Pressley
P.O. Box 43 Ellenboro, NC 28040
Katelyn's Gofundme: Katelyn Goes To Georgetown
Bingo March 30 - Yard Sale April 27