Geolaina lived in public housing for 13 years with her mom before her mom passed away from cancer. When she moved into her father’s house, his housing situation was not very different from what she had grown accustomed. However, the Foundation stepped in to help Mrs. Copeland and her father create a successful path for her. DHA followed along with her in school while she attended Prairie View A&M, where she graduated magna cum laude and received her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies/Elementary Education. Additionally, in between semesters, Mrs. Roseborough and the Foundation provided an internship that prepared Geolaina for a selfless career. She reminds us of the small and large ways in which the Foundation gave her exactly what she needed. Along with the opportunities to go to and succeed in college, Mrs. Copeland explains, “in college, I was able to swap stories with friends and roommates about camping experiences. Without DHA and the Foundation, I wouldn’t have had stories to share.” DHA made her feel like every other college student, not ostracized. While she has been a teacher for 11 years now, she recently graduated with her Master’s degree, and she has used her position to give back in as many ways as possible. Geolaina started her own photography company that aids people who cannot afford photos like senior pictures. Too, she and her family have started a series of children’s books called The Adventures of Super Kai in which her husband is the illustrator and her son Kai is the inspiration for the main character. The books launch March 2018, and her goal is to give out 100 free books to encourage fluency among young readers whose parents are unable to afford the books.
When Mrs. Copeland first began teaching, she wanted to teach Kindergarten because she believed she could make an impact on those young students’ very first year of school, preparing them for the years ahead. She was an excellent Kindergarten teacher and won the Kindergarten Teacher award in 2012, but soon moved to 4th grade teaching under a specific recommender who saw potential in her to help older children who were facing academic challenges. When she looks back on her time with DHA, she explains that she never would have seen college without them. The Foundation provided the tools to search and explore colleges. With the Foundation’s help, students were able to fill out the paperwork that was necessary for college, and this had not been something to which they had previously been exposed. Had it not been for their guidance, she says she wouldn’t even be a teacher. Their guidance made her who she is today.
Mrs. Copeland says to future foundation scholars: “When you have a team behind you, you need to just go for it. Don’t let the situation at home hold you back. You have to use the opportunity to soar. Maximize the opportunities you have right now, and don’t look back.”
To the foundation’s leadership, Geolaina comments: “Thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made to make sure that others are successful. You didn’t ask for anything but for us to be the people we were called to be. You saw something in us that we didn’t see. You broke the cycle. We’re able to leave a legacy for our own families now. And for that I am truly thankful.”
In addition to all of her personal and professional success, Geolaina still finds time to give back to DHA and the Foundation, teaching money management classes so that future students are prepared for their financial journeys ahead.