Elon, NC - An Elon University student has found a way to make an opportunity out of heartbreak.
19-year old Yasmine Arrington grew up without a father in the house; he was in and out of prison most of her life.
The pain and feeling of rejection have always pushed her to her limits. That was just the motivation she needed to start Scholar-CHIPS while in high school.
The program is designed to help financially support children of incarcerated parents attend college.
"A lot of our kids and our babies have parents who are in prison: have a mother, have a father, have a caregiver that has been in prison or is. And that is a financial struggle right there," she explained. "It's my personal story. I have a personal connection to it. It's not just 'oh, I feel so bad for these poor little kids.' And I'm starting this for them. My father was incarcerated."
Yasmine is one of more than an estimated 1-5 million children in the United States who spend their lives with a parent in prison.
She says the reality can leave a child feeling "left out."
Yasmine's father was incarcerated 16 of her 19-years of life.
"When I was younger, I often felt lonely, even though my mother was there, I was just like where is my dad?"
These days, Yasmine's father is out of prison. The two have mended their estranged relationship but the college sophomore knows the story doesn't always end happily.
"It's not our children's fault," she said.
It is why she wants to give as many of them an opportunity at higher education.
"I know the financial struggles that come with that and i also know the emotional struggle, especially for younger people," she said.
In just the last four years, Scholar-CHIPS has given children of incarcerated parents $11,000 to go to college.
The program is now only available in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area
But Yasmine says she's working to expand that - perhaps to the Triad.
To learn more about the organization or contribute to the scholarship fund click on Scholarchips.