Blackburn College works to shape students both inside the classroom and beyond. For Tyla Ross ’19, college seemed to be an unattainable dream, but thanks to the Affordable Access Award, she has been able to take advantage of the opportunity of higher education, and the work-learning values instilled in students through the College’s unique Work Program.
Tyla, a sophomore psychology major, has already honed her communications skills and developed more independence working in the Campus Services department. Quickly rising to a shift crew head in her department, Tyla is working to develop managerial skills that will be invaluable in life after college, and is excited to discover and learn more skills through her work.
Coming from South Side Chicago, Tyla didn’t think college was within reach due to the cost of tuition, room and board. Then she found out about Blackburn. She first learned about Blackburn College through a high school counselor who discussed affordable college options with her. Blackburn’s Affordable Access Award (AAA), which allows Illinois students with the greatest financial need to attend tuition free, made it possible for Tyla to make her education a reality. “I was hooked on coming to Blackburn,” she said.
Not only did the College’s AAA program encourage Ross to attend, but it has provided her with new life experiences and an opportunity to see the world in a different perspective. “I am from one of the most violent parts of Chicago, and I learned how to not give in to the temptation of the influence of those around me. I wanted to get away and better my direction in life,” she explained.
Although being at a school like Blackburn is new to her, Tyla is glad she took the opportunity. “Blackburn is inclusive.” she said, “People here want to help out more and get to know you better.” Additionally, Blackburn’s affordability was a weight off of her shoulders. “It’s a relief,” she said. “Many schools want a lot of money for fees and tuition and not everyone can afford that. Blackburn has low costs and with the AAA program it’s even better.”
There are many things that Tyla likes about Blackburn, but one her favorites is being actively involved with the Psychology Club for which she is vice president. She also loves the College’s quiet atmosphere. “It’s very different coming from city life to here,” she said. “I really enjoy the quiet.”
Tyla’s interest in psychology is also a personal interest. A family member with autism sparked her curiosity and she has observed his behavior since she was young. Wanting to help her relative led to an interest in helping others. After graduation she hopes to attend graduate school and earn her master’s in clinical psychology and as a psychologist, she hopes to make a difference in the lives of children, both with and without.
“I really want to help the kids who are struggling because I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” she explained. “I want to help the parents and families of the children, too. It’s not easy.” Tyla wants to change people’s perspective for those with disabilities. She wants to help show the world that no matter who you are or where you’re born you can make a difference.