TAMPA — Taylor Carroll looks like a typical college freshman.
"I know to get anywhere you need to go to college," said Carroll.
Especially to fulfill her aspirations to work as an astrophysicist for NASA. But the 18-year-old faces more challenges than most students
"I lost my dad when I was 14 years old," she said.
He died suddenly from a brain aneurysm
"I definitely miss him. He was a big support in my life, he taught me about hard work," said the 18-year-old.
And by 16 her dad's lessons became a reality. Home life proved too challenging so she moved out.
"I was shy about it. I denied it. Eventually if you say something people are willing to help," said Carroll.
Her Crystal River community rallied behind her. Many people offered her places to live.
"I didn't realize how many people were out there willing to help. It's crazy, I'm so grateful," she said.
That burden lifted, she was able to focus on work and getting into college. USF gave her a scholarship and Carroll saved enough to buy a car to get her there. But just a few months into the semester, she had another obstacle to overcome.
"I was driving and the gasket blew," said Carroll.
She doesn't have the $2,000 to fix the car and now she can't even get to her jobs to make the money. But as they have before, her community is rallying, raising money to help her get back on the road.
"I am overwhelmed, forgive me if I get emotional," she said.
Now she has hope: not just for her, but her brother and sister, only 10 and 8, who she helps support.
"I feel that college is important for my siblings. I want them to see that I'm setting an example," said Carroll.
Just like her dad did.
"If he was here today I know I wouldn't be in the circumstances that I've been, but I know that he would be proud." said Carroll.
HOW TO HELP
To help raise money for a car to help 2017 Crystal River High School grad/University of South Florida student Taylor Carroll, contact Joe Marteski at 727-580-0891 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, Taylor has other needs, including textbooks, which her scholarship doesn't cover.
Marteski can also direct you to other trusts and charity groups directed at helping students in need. One of them is Joseph A. Bennett Trust.