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Better Latte Than Never: Tips Brew Return To College
Tips Brew Return To College
For 20 years prior to 2009, Vanessa Keenan could not shake the horrid thought of when she dropped out of college, unfulfilling a dream to become a teacher.

The mere thought of this “burden,” as Keenan described, haunted her daily, intensifying each time she thought about returning to college.


After hearing this story during one of the many conversations the two had while she was at work at a Starbucks in Plano, Carrie Moore, who was enrolled in Collin College after a 10-year absence at the time, decided to do the unthinkable.

Knowing that “16 weeks of a class is equivalent to around four weeks of Starbucks tips,” Moore saved her tips at work during the holiday season to surprise Keenan with a special gift on New Year’s Eve in 2009.

To Keenan’s surprise was a gift bag that included $112 in wadded tip money – exactly enough for one Collin College course.

In addition to the tip money, included in the gift bag were two of Keenan’s favorite motivational books, The Little Engine That Could and The Little Red Hen, a motivating note from Moore and a Collin College application and Registration Guide.

“I cried and tried to refuse the gift but Carrie said I could not, and that I had to take it,” Keenan recalled of the emotional moment. “Carrie said this gift meant more to her than to me because I saw her for more than a Starbucks employee but rather as a person.”


Because of Moore’s generous gift, Keenan was determined more than ever to overcome her previous hurdles and jump back into resuming her education.

With the fear and excuses now out of the picture, Keenan wasted little time as she enrolled in Collin College for the spring semester that following Monday, using Moore’s tip money to take a Texas Government class.

By the end of summer 2010, Keenan completed five more classes at Collin College, which, she says, prepared her for the spring 2012 semester at Texas Woman’s University, where she will become one step closer to becoming an educator.

“My experience at Collin College was amazing,” an excited Keenan said. “Collin College re-inspired me. Collin College gave me my confidence back, hope for a future I didn’t think I deserved and an opportunity to be an example to my children about the importance of education."

Equally important, these facts also give Keenan a reason to forever be grateful to Moore and her selfless act of kindness.

“So many times, we need to hear a genuine ‘you can do this’ from someone outside of our immediate circle before we fully commit to an idea,” Moore said. “Looking back on what happened at Starbucks, I am not surprised that Vanessa has been so successful at Collin College and will continue her education at TWU. Teaching is her calling and she will touch the lives of many students in the near future.”

Just like how Moore has impacted Keenan’s life.

Reprinted with permission by Plano Profile