Meet a Stepping Stones Grant Recipient

Serenity Randall goes to Bucknell University

Serenity Randall

Kids really do say the darndest things. Just ask Bill Cosby. But even he wasn’t prepared for the outspoken tenacity of 5-year-old Serenity Randall.

Serenity was one of five kids selected to appear on one of Cosby’s television specials. During the taping, the legendary comedian asked Serenity for the name of her church. True Light Fellowship, she responded, but Cosby didn’t quite get it. He repeated back something different. Serenity corrected him. Again, he misstated the name. Again, she corrected him.

Unable to contain her frustration any longer, she grabbed the Cosby’s collar, looked him in the eye and firmly pronounced, “True Light Fellowship, am I making myself clear?”

That particular show never aired. But Serenity’s story continued. Her indefatigable spirit propelled her through a successful secondary school career, world travel and the college admissions process. She racked up accomplishments in academics and athletics. She stayed active in her church and became a role model for younger students in her inner-city school. That Serenity achieved all of this while navigating her state’s foster care system makes her story all the more impressive.

“Anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” said Serenity, who is served by Pennsylvania MENTOR. “I don’t doubt myself.”

Her confident worldview paid off when her high school principal nominated her for a summer travel program in Europe. She knew she would have to raise the money for the trip’s cost.

Serenity enlisted the help of her aunt, other family members, friends and her church. And she got in touch with The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation’s Stepping Stones program, which was established to help kids served by The Network get the most out of life.

“Serenity is a terrific example of the Stepping Stones mission in action,” said Sarah Magazine, the Executive Director of The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation. “Her desire to learn, grow and contribute in a positive way is inspiring.”

A Stepping Stones grant in hand, Serenity organized a concert in her church and charged admission to fund the trip’s balance. The audience was treated to gospel music, poetry and refreshments. Soon, Serenity was packed and ready to go. “It was a real eye-opener,” explained Serenity, who spent 19 total days in Spain, France and Italy. She visited famous museums, sampled local food and enjoyed the company of a host family in Spain. She even took in a bullfight. Most important, she brought home a deeper appreciation of other cultures and of her own.

“It made me grateful for what I have in America,” she said, recalling the immobility of crushing poverty in many places. “The trip made me a better and stronger person, as well.”

Today, Serenity is a sophomore at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She has received two more Stepping Stones grants to help make her dream of graduating from college a reality.

“I’ll blink and I’ll be walking down the aisle at Bucknell,” she said. Yet, for all her future planning, Serenity stops to reflect. “I’m the first of my mother’s children to graduate high school. I’m so happy I can make my family proud.”