Growing up in an environment where hard work was valued, Ocean-Lea Schrader learned the importance of perseverance. She shares, “If I wanted something, I had to work for it.” Her upbringing instilled in her a relentless pursuit of excellence that extended to her academic endeavors.
Driven by her own experiences, Ocean-Lea found her calling in the field of criminal justice. After enduring a difficult divorce, she realized the significance of compassionate legal counsel during life’s darkest moments. Determined to be a voice for those in similar situations, she states, “I want to be the difference for someone else who is in my shoes. I want them to feel heard and like their life matters.”
Ocean-Lea’s academic achievements hold deep meaning for her. Graduating with her Associate’s degree, with her daughter Brielle at her side, during the challenging times of the pandemic symbolized the power of determination. Ocean-Lea reflects, “Being able to share that moment with her was unlike any other academic achievement I have had.”
“My daughter has directly impacted and influenced my academic and personal growth. As many parents know from the moment you have a child it isn’t about you anymore. You want what is best for them and to show them how to be independent, successful and productive members of society. Knowing that she is watching me through this journey has pushed me to do my best and continue on even on my worst days. I want her to know that success is possible even if you don’t go the traditional route in life.”
Balancing academic commitments with family, work, and personal interests is no small feat. Ocean-Lea acknowledges the support she receives, stating, “I am lucky enough to have a fantastic support system… and understanding bosses that see the value in my education and need to be there for my daughter.”
Ocean-Lea’s resilience shines through in the face of setbacks and moments of doubt. She recounts a challenging semester, where she swallowed her pride and sought help from her family. Overcoming these obstacles, she emerged with a 4.0 GPA and newfound confidence.
Ocean-Lea is a grateful recipient of the The Zoe Fund in Memory of Barbara Livingston Scholarship.
“This scholarship contributes to my motivation because it means that someone else is rooting for us too, even if they don’t know me personally they saw something in me and thought enough of that to put forth a financial interest in my education. I don’t ever want someone to think they bet on the wrong horse so to speak. Without this scholarship, I don’t know if my next semester would have been possible.”
Looking ahead, Ocean-Lea envisions a future where she can make a positive impact within her community. Aspiring to become an attorney specializing in criminal and family law, she dreams of offering pro bono services and establishing her own scholarship to support non-traditional students and those facing educational barriers.