It’s easy to overlook the fact that in Smith County, not all adults are able to read at a basic 2nd grade reading level or higher. (1 out of every 3 adults according to the Literacy Council of Tyler)
Most problems that impact our neighbors can be connected in some way to a lack of education. United Way of Smith County’s main focus areas are Education, Financial Stability, Health, and Crisis Intervention. The ability to read and write often determine an individual’s course in life or their ability to reach the potential that God has for them.
At United Way, we believe that access to a quality education is something we can do something about! That is why for the past 76 years, we have worked to establish and support several key nonprofit programs to help our under-educated neighbors define their own possibilities.
It is safe to say that everyone who we have met that lacked an adequate education never lacked for talent and life skills in general. Education opens doors and literally can move someone from a path of poverty to a life full of opportunity and stability.
This is Kui Cogan’s story:
As a young girl in India, Kui Cogan felt there must be more to life than playing second fiddle to her male peers who always received first preference at school. Due to her family lacking the finances to afford nice uniforms and other items needed for school, she was told she could no longer continue her studies. Unlike the USA public education system, only 2 out of 5 female girls ever have the opportunity to graduate high school much less pursue a higher education.
Not letting her lack of education stifle her dreams, she got involved with a missions organization where she served children in several Asian countries for almost 20 years. It was at a project site in Thailand that she met an American who would eventually become her husband.
After moving to Tyler in 2013, 44-year old Kui decided to make her dream of higher education a reality! Thanks to support from United Way and other local contributors, she was able to enroll in GED classes at the Literacy Council. In 2015, she passed the last of her GED tests, and enrolled at Tyler Junior College.
Mrs. Cogan was the guest speaker at the United Way of Smith County’s annual Chairman’s Awards Dinner at Willow Brook Country Club April 18th, 2017. About 140 people attended the event, which served as a “thank you” to our local Smith County companies and individuals who collectively raise over 1 million each year to help some of the most neediest cases in Smith County.
This year, Kui is in her second semester at TJC. She said her goals are to finish her core classes at TJC, transfer to The University of Texas at Tyler to pursue a bachelor’s degree, and ultimately, she wants to earn a Ph.D.