Throughout Ciera Minor’s young life, role reversals have been the rule rather than the exception.
Prior to entering the foster care system, Minor was raised in an unstable household where both parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol and were rarely at home. A child herself, Minor became parent to her three younger siblings.

“Being the oldest, I took it upon myself to take care of them,” said Minor. “I pretty much did everything a mom would do, except there was one difference. I was eight.”

Because she was already functioning in that capacity, the young student also knew from an early age that she would one day be a teacher. “I have wanted to teach my entire life,” she said, “as far back as I can remember I played school with my sisters.”

Eventually adopted into a loving family here, Minor and her siblings followed their new mother into the sanctuary of nearby First Presbyterian Church of Mount Vernon, IA. “That first day at church, I gave Ciera and each of her siblings children’s Bibles,” recalled the church’s former pastor, the Rev. Emory Gillespie. “Her new mother called me that afternoon and said that the children had spent the rest of the afternoon in the hayloft of the barn, reading the stories out loud to each other.”

Encouraged and affirmed in her vocational choice both at church and at home — as well as in her high school — Minor hungrily pursued her own growth through education. “From the beginning, Ciera has been enthusiastic, making her way into church leadership,” Gillespie said. 

“She planned a mission trip to El Salvador. She did puppet ministry every Sunday morning. She made dinners for our committee meetings. She was a shining student in confirmation class, creating projects for the Children’s Hospital,” Gillespie explained. “She preached sermons on youth Sunday. Before our very eyes, she has transformed from a young girl reeling from the chaos of foster care into a young woman who is confident, loving and kind.”

Those qualities are already recognized by the young children who seem always to surround Minor. “I know how to talk with kids and make them want to learn,” she said. “Kids need to know that learning is really a privilege and that they have been given an opportunity to get an education which a lot of children in this world would only dream of getting.”

Minor’s words have since become her own reality, as the 18-year-old’s dream of attending college to become a third grade teacher has come true, thanks in part to an award from the National Presbyterian College Scholarship (NPCS) program. 

NPCS, a program offered through Financial Aid for Studies, a ministry of the Office of Vocation, offers need-based scholarship assistance to students preparing to enter as full-time incoming freshmen in one of the participating colleges related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In August, Minor will attend Coe College, a 15-minute drive from her home.

“It means so much that I could get a Presbyterian scholarship,” she said.  “I’m really excited about going to Coe. It’ll be something different, even though it’s so close to home, which is probably a good thing since I’m a little nervous, too.”