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James Pointer with his daughter, Nyah. Photo by Cheryl Senter.

James Pointer with his daughter, Nyah. Photo by Cheryl Senter.

On his way to a white picket fence

Scholarships help James Pointer work toward his goals

James Pointer has had his share of difficulties. Or, as he put it in a recent college English essay, his life has not been “a box of peaches.” That’s right: a college English essay. Pointer, 37, is going to Nashua Community College full-time with help from a $3,500 scholarship he received from the Foundation. He is studying computer networking there, and also studying to get his journeyman’s electrician’s license.

He did not do well in high school. Dropped out, went to California and ended up working in fast-food restaurants. He had a drinking problem, spent nights in homeless shelters and ate in soup kitchens. He worked for a moving company, an auctioneer, an electrical contractor — long hours of hard labor for dispiritingly low wages.

Finally came the epiphany: To succeed anywhere, you have to go to school.

Meanwhile, Pointer has another motivator: His 11-year-old daughter, Nyah.

“I want her to see me going to school, being successful,” he said.

As he wrote in his application essay: “I’m a single dad. I’ve returned to school in hopes of higher education and a better-paying job. I want to be the best example to my daughter, so I started with school in hopes that she’ll follow in my footsteps.”

Pointer imagines combining the computer skills with the electrical skills he is learning, so he can work on “smart houses” with computerized electronics.

His goals are simple: “I want what normal people have. I want the white picket fence with the kids in the yard.”

This story originally appeared in the Foundation’s 2012 Annual Report.