Polk State College Student Was Homeless, Now Following Her Dream


An 18-year-old from Polk County did not let her hard times as a teenager stop her from reaching her goals.

According to BayNews9, Ariel Brant used to be homeless while attending Bartow High School. But she is not letting those hard times bring her down, and she is pursuing her dream.

Brant is currently a student in the firefighting program at Polk State College. The road she took to get there was not easy, being that she used to live in a car with her brother and mother while in high school.

Brant said the the first thing she needed to do to reach her dreams was to complete high school.

“So I had to find somebody willing to drop me off (at school),” Brant said. “Which meant coming to school at seven in the morning and leaving at nine at night.”

Her willingness to succeed was recognized by the Polk County School district, who nominated her and another student.

Brant’s firefighting courses are being paid for by Lakeland Fire Department, and her scholarship is part of a program that aims to help homeless high school students in the Polk County area.

Brant is not guaranteed a job once she completes the training, but the Lakeland Fire Department sees Brant as a future firefighter for them.

“I was so excited I didn’t know what to do or say,” Brant said. “I just started making phone calls letting everyone know when I received the confirmation on the scholarship.”

Brant has months of training ahead of her, but Lakeland Assistant Fire Chief Rick Hartzog believes that Brant has achieved a lot so far.

“And that just struck me as completely amazing,” said Hartzog. “I don’t know how somebody could accomplish all of that, who is… in my opinion a child.”

Brant, along with student Owen Forbes, are the first two students to receive the Lakeland Fire Department’s Fire-Service Opportunity and Career for Underprivileged Students (FOCUS) scholarship program.

“It is extremely exciting,”  Hartzog said about the program. “It makes you very very proud that you are giving somebody an opportunity that just want’s an opportunity.”