Pelipost is a family-run business that was founded for the purpose of helping families affected by incarceration. As Pelipost’s business has grown, so has the team’s passion for making a positive impact on people with incarcerated loved ones. To give back to this community, the team decided to create the Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship, which will be debuting in January 2022. We sat down with Joe Calderon, son of a formerly incarcerated mother and co-founder of Pelipost, for a Q&A on the Pelipost scholarship.
What is the Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship?
The Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship was created to empower and reward 5 students seeking a college education while experiencing the hardships of having a parent or guardian behind bars. The National Institute of Corrections estimates roughly 2.7 million children have an incarcerated parent or guardian, revealing that there are more children impacted by incarceration than adults currently in the prison system.
“To apply for our scholarship, the student must be pursuing an undergraduate degree, have a parent who is incarcerated, and submit an essay,” Joe says. “The winners will be picked based on which essays are compelling, connected to the cause, and where our company can make the greatest impact for the greatest need.”
Joe Calderon’s Story
The Calderon family created the Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship because they understand what it is like to go through college with an incarcerated parent, and want to give back to students in similar situations. Joe Calderon was in his freshman year of college when his mother, Becky, was sentenced to three years in prison.
“It’s a personal experience for me. I know the struggles firsthand of being a first time student, having a job, and going through having a parent on the inside,” Joe says. “I know other kids out there are going through the same experiences, so it just felt right to do our part and help them overcome these challenges.”
When Joe was in college around ten years ago, he worked both a part time job and internship — all while taking classes — to make ends meet. He pointed out that college expenses have exponentially increased since then as well, making it even more difficult for these students to pay tuition.
If Joe had a scholarship like this during his educational career, it “would’ve relieved financial headaches,” he says. “I would have worried less about money and focused more on my education.”
Furthering Education While Facing Adversity
When a parent is incarcerated, it can force a young person to grow up fast. Adding this aspect to a student’s life can add a lot more stress, responsibility, and challenges to overcome.
“On top of your schoolwork and job, you have to stay connected with your incarcerated loved one, write to them, send photos, add money to their books, send quarterly packages, and try and visit,” Joe says. “When my mom was incarcerated, her facility was 8 hours away. Making the time to visit took up almost a whole weekend.”
All of these added responsibilities and hurdles to jump over can have an impact on these children furthering their education. However, on the other hand, the strength they gain from facing adversity can help them to adjust to the realities of the real world. Joe Calderon believes that these experiences give you a sense of responsibility and can mature you in a way others may not relate to — whether you want them to or not.
“These experiences show you the challenges that you are able to overcome,” Joe says. “That’s what life is. It throws you curveballs that you’re not ready for, but builds your character when you overcome them.”
Words of Encouragement
Although faced with challenges, Joe Calderon went on to graduate with his college degree and managed to start his own business. He encourages students overcoming adversity to keep going.
“You always have to remember that when you’re in a crisis it’s only a temporary state,” he says. “You have to keep looking towards the future and working hard.”
He goes on to say that even if it feels like, “why is this happening to me?”, you should keep persevering because there is a bigger plan to your life.
“If my mom had never gone on the inside, we would have never started this business that impacts thousands of people everyday,” Joe says. “You have to keep pushing because the hard times are only temporary.”
To apply for the Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship, visit https://bold.org/scholarships/pelipost-overcoming-adversity-scholarship/. For more information on Pelipost and to get started sending photos, visit https://www.pelipost.com.