2013 Dorothy O'Berry

Those who see Dorothy O’Berry at Como Park Senior High might never guess the inner turmoil she carries with her. Before starting as a junior just last school year, she had attended nine different schools and experienced her parents’ divorce, poverty and homelessness.

She could have allowed her family struggles and instability to derail her, but Dorothy had plans for her future. She saw that a lack of education led to a life of poverty and was determined to take a different path.

She focused on the important things in her life: family, school and work. By concentrating on each of these, she put aside that she was living in a shelter and embraced what was working in her life. Today, she maintains a 3.4 grade point average, is on the honor roll, takes Advanced Placement courses and uses Spoken Word and music to bring voice to her past, her present and her future. She is also currently working 20 hours as a Desktop Engineering Technician through her internship with Genesys Works at Deluxe Corporation. She’s learning business fundamentals and gaining the springboard for a career in technical writing.

Dorothy is confronting the stereotype that poverty is inherited. “I now understand that family is not the source of poverty. My family is at the root of all the encouragement and love that I’ve received throughout my journey. Although they did not have much, they taught me about the things I can have in life and how to set goals to obtain them.” In turn, she is encouraging her five younger brothers to follow in her footsteps.

Even though maintaining her school work and internship was difficult, she knows getting involved with Genesys Works was probably the best decision she ever made. She’s ready for the next step in her life: entering the University of Minnesota as a freshman this fall.

Her definition of beating the odds: “Even though your fate was set to fail, somehow you overcame it, you were not like everyone else, you beat the statistics, you persevered.”