Chantel Blunt: From Victim to Victor
Graduates of Bluefield College’s inSPIRE degree completion program often speak of the significance of earning that long anticipated bachelor’s degree.
July 17, 2012
Chantel Blunt (left) and her husband, Sean (right), celebrate graduation from Bluefield College.
Article by BC student Angi Highlander
It’s the fulfillment of a lifelong dream or the key to career success. For winter 2011 BC graduate Chantel Blunt, it means even more, considering the road she traveled to get there.
As a child, Chantel showed great promise, but her mother and maternal grandparents died from cancer while she was still young, and her father was just never in the picture. Soon after, Chantel found herself in foster care, where she endured abuse that forced her to choose to live in the streets.
“My three brothers and I were separated and lived on the streets of many different cities,” Chantel recalled. “Homelessness became a way of life for me. I wanted to change that, but I was unaware of how to do so. I was always a bright young lady, and I received scholarships to many prominent schools, but I was not emotionally stable to pursue an education.”
Chantel, who grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, attended six different high schools and stayed where she could to find shelter. Despite the obstacles, she persevered and finished secondary school.
“I had to become an adult early in life, and I was not the average kid,” confessed Chantel. “I had no support system. I never fit in anywhere, so I kept running.”
In fact, Chantel continued to wander until she was 25 years of age. That’s when she met Sean Blunt, a young man from Brooklyn, New York, she fell in love with and married. Sean, she said, brought stability, joy and fulfillment to her life, but she knew she needed a college degree to better herself. She took community college courses when she could, but her job came first since she “had to work to eat.”
Through a college fair, Chantel learned about BC’s inSPIRE degree completion program, an accelerated program designed to provide working adults with a convenient, flexible opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree. And, for the first time, she began to see herself fulfilling that goal.
“Before, I never thought I was worthy of great things happening to me,” said Chantel. “I was accustomed to abuse and poverty. I never envisioned the riches that God had in store for me. But, I was worthy, because God said that I was. So, I began to think, I can do this, because God doesn’t make junk.”
It was this same “infectious excitement” that convinced her husband to pursue the journey at Bluefield College with her. Together, they researched BC’s credentials and were impressed with its Christian emphasis, accreditation, and quality curriculum. As a result, they both enrolled, knowing all too well the challenge that lie ahead.
“In addition to going to school full time,” said Sean, “we had to maintain our normal lives, from balancing the day-to-day family operations with two children to supporting my full time work schedule in management. It was tough, but we knew it would be worth it.”
The professors, they said, were “amazing,” and the staff “like extended family.” In addition to the tools necessary for career success, they said the inSPIRE program gave them “focus,” “discipline,” and “confidence.” And, on December 18, 2011, they both walked across the stage of Harman Chapel to accept their bachelor’s degree.
“I have overcome many obstacles,” said Chantel, “but the one thing the inSPIRE program gave me that no one can ever take away is an education. Since the death of my mother this is the first goal that I have successfully accomplished.”
Now living in Locust Grove, Virginia, Chantel and Sean said earning their bachelor’s degree also was a great opportunity for them to teach their children to be “survivors” and to “show them first-hand that they can overcome any hurdle they face.”
“The inSPIRE program has shown us that we can do anything, through Christ,” said Sean. “Our kids had an opportunity to see their parents walk across the stage during graduation. That was one of my proudest moments.”
With his BC degree, Sean is now pursuing a master’s degree at Liberty University. Chantel is exploring programs that offer a master’s degree in human services, all for the purpose of dedicating her life to helping others the way Bluefield College helped her.
“I want to help change the lives of children and young adults by showing them that their past does not define their future,” said Chantel. “The inSPIRE program allowed me to believe that. Now, I no longer live as a victim, and because of my faith in God, I live in victory.”