Beauty From Ashes Videos


Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Mensa Scholarship Winning Essay by Julie Shematz

On Sunday, June 12th I was awarded a financial scholarship from Mensa, the High IQ Society, for an essay I submitted. I knew it was a long shot to win, but after consulting with my scholastic mentors, I decided to give it a chance. I had no idea what Mensa was and realized the type of organization it was when my husband (who has supported me 110%) displayed a look of concern and doubt when I asked him to read my proposed essay. You can imagine how shocked and surprised we were when I received the call that my essay was picked with 9 others (out of hundreds of submissions) to send to nationals and then when I received the call that my essay was chosen from thousands of entries as a winner!  I ended up being one of four award winning essay winners from the region and the only graduate student recipient.   
I would like to publicly thank my husband, Steve Shematz, for his faithful support of my educational and professional endeavors. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Richard Maybee for pushing me to accomplish things of which I never thought I was capable and Sherry Lex-Heinrich of Barry University (Financial Aid Advisor) for encouraging me to apply for the scholarship. Of course, I extend my thanks to everyone that has prayed for and supported my healing journey and the development of Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries. Together we have come a long way and I am very excited about the future. Lastly, I want to thank Mensa for the prestigious scholarship award. Below is my winning essay and it was not titled, however, I think it could be appropriately named, "From Pain to Passion: Why I'm Doing What I'm Doing". 
            I am pursuing a Master of Education degree in the Mental Health Counseling Program from Florida Gulf Coast University as an academic goal in my life.  This degree will provide professional training and credentials to my career goal of providing services to victims of commercialized sexual exploitation and human sex trafficking. 
            In 2005, I founded the not for profit, public charity, Beauty From Ashes™ (BFA) Ministries, Inc.  We work with victims of commercialized sexual exploitation and trafficking locally and nationally.  Our purpose is to EDUCATE the community, ADVOCATE for victims, implement REACH, RESCUE and RESTORE programs and provide safeHOMES (residential recovery homes).
            I am the CEO and oversee all operations of BFA.  Currently, all staff are volunteers.  We meet and assist with victims’ practical needs by providing them and their families with support, life skill development, assistance with education, job placement, relocation, short term and/or residential housing, as well as addiction rehabilitation. We assist individuals in the transition out of and/or away from destructive and emotionally damaging lifestyles by providing guidance and direction for situations brought about by their choices such as substance abuse, pregnancy, occultism, prostitution, abortion, etc. We help them to deal constructively with the consequences their decisions to be involved with this industry and lifestyle have produced.  Teaching them responsibility, character development and how to daily maintain a stable and productive life is our objective.  It is also our purpose to network with and support other organizations dedicated to the same and/or similar goals in assisting individuals and families that desire a healthier lifestyle.
            In late 2002, when I was able to break free from the bondages of modern day slavery, I determined in my heart to do something for the countless others I saw hopelessly feeling trapped and abandoned by family and society.  Recognizing that victims are in desperate need of long term, holistic, comprehensive services in order for them to have the opportunity to become over-comers of this social injustice has inspired me to pursue this career goal.  The complexity of the trauma that has occurred in these victims warrants specialized mental health care.  I know from my own experience of being a survivor of human trafficking, what the benefits these, rarely acquired, services served me through out my healing journey.  In my experience of working with survivors over the past five years, as a service and aftercare provider, I have recognized the need for sound counseling, boundaries, program development, and consulting that addresses education and self care of caretakers.  It is my aspiration to also provide these services to assist aftercare workers in equipping them with longevity in serving the victims and survivors.
           From my greatest pain has come my most profound and significant mission in life.  My organization’s vision is that domestic victims will be given the opportunity to receive the services they need in order to recover from the trauma and injustices done to them.  My purpose is to acquire a mental health counseling degree and licensure because it will better equip me to accomplish this goal and professionally qualify me to work with this extremely wounded populace.  Achieving this goal will also bring credentials to the organization as it serves the community through education, advocacy and implementation of outreach, prevention, intervention and restoration programs.   

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