“Odyssey is a safe space where my children are appreciated, the staff is approachable, curiosity is nurtured, and the learning is hands on.” This is why Sumaria Carmichael’s three students love and have come back to Odyssey year after year. Sumaria is the mother of five children that include three Odyssey scholars. The twins, Taelor and Tamaria are in the 7th grade and Courtney is a high school senior. She hopes that someday her four-year-old will be selected to be an Odyssey Scholar.
Sumaria is a native of Atlanta and is a graduate of Harper Archer. She learned about Odyssey while serving as a volunteer school nurse at Scott Elementary School in 2014. At first, she was skeptical, “how can a 6-week program on the Westminster campus be free?” she asked herself. “What’s the catch?” She explains that looking back, taking a chance on Odyssey was one of the best decisions she has made for her children.
Sumaria shared that Odyssey has helped all three of her daughters grow. She saw Odyssey push the twins to be their best while at the same time giving them responsibility for their own personal growth and learning. She watched Courtney come out of her shell and blossom into a secure and confident young woman. Sumaria explains that her oldest son who is 22 did not participate in Odyssey. While he is doing well, college was never on his radar. Courtney, on the other hand, got excited about the idea of college as she received one-on-one counseling while completing her common application and was able to travel on a three-night college tour that exposed her to a variety of campuses. Courtney is still making her final decision on college and has offers to attend Georgia State, Fort Valley State, and Albany. Taelor and Tamaria see the great things their big sister is doing and are motivated to rise to the top of their class as honor roll students.
Above all, Odyssey is a safe place where Sumaria feels her children are cared for and given great opportunities. She does not let her children go on sleepovers but she trusted Odyssey to take the twins on an overnight camping trip. She does not let her children travel without her but she trusted Odyssey to take care of Courtney on a three-night college tour. In Sumaria’s opinion, one of the greatest things about Odyssey is that it exposes children to different kinds of people and teaches them to collaborate and work together.