S.O.A.R. Scholarship: Future Peace Corps Volunteer Uses Art To Speak About Abuse

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Sometimes art speaks when words can't and for Brittany McDonald, art told her story before she could.

"Speaking to people isn't always easy to do, but art is something that gives you a voice when your voice can't be heard and that is a major role in my road to recovery," she explained.

Brittany grew up in a very abusive home.

"Most of the time, Mom and Dad wouldn't be home or if they were it was a very abusive - oh we need to hide to stay okay - kind of situation," she said. "It finally got to a point where I had to go to the hospital because I had lost a lot of blood and they were able to save my life through several surgeries."

After that, Brittany went into foster care. That's where she met the McDonalds, who adopted her and her three younger siblings. However, the trauma from the abuse wasn't over and that's where art came in.

"I completely shut down," she said. "I didn't talk to people. I didn't do anything besides worry about my little siblings... I was kind of the mother role and I refused to let anyone touch them or do anything with them."

"It took some time and eventually I would let Laura - who I finally started calling Mom - sit with me while I did my artwork or I would sit and talk to her about that I was doing at school that day, what did I do in art class, and it all centered around art and who this was my outlet into the world and so she was plugging into that," Brittany added.

"It was actually through that that I got over my trauma and was able to connect back into the world and start living that kid experience again."

The Rivermont Collegiate Senior is now getting ready to graduate high school, but before she does - WQAD News 8 wants to give Brittany a S.O.A.R. Scholarship, with the help of The Sedona Group.

"It's a great honor to be able to receive this award," said Brittany.

When she's not spending time in the school's art studio, Brittany is giving back to those less fortunate through the Wilton-Durant Community Clothes Closet, the American Red Cross, and FCCLA. She hopes to continue doing so.

"I plan on attending Coe College in Cedar Rapids to get a double major in Business and Psychology with a minor in Art," she explained. "I really want to go into Psychology or Therapy to help others who had a similar situation that I did."

After college, Brittany plans to join the Peace Corps.

"It's kind of killing two birds with one stone - I'm traveling the world and giving back on a larger scale, which I've always enjoyed."

The S.O.A.R. Scholarship is all about a student's Strength, Optimism, Achievements, and Resolve. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded to five area high school seniors every year.