The Person Who Changed Robin Roberts' Life

"Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts never met Wilma Schnegg-Merold, but she knows this woman changed her life long before she was even born.

A second-grade teacher in Akron, Ohio, Schnegg-Merold encouraged Roberts' mother, Lucimarian Roberts, to study hard and to believe in herself. She became Lucimarian's unofficial guidance counselor, giving her advice all the way through high school.

"She'd say, 'I want you to take these classes because you're going to go to college,'" Lucimarian said.

A true life force, Schnegg-Merold was on a mission to get Lucimarian into college.

"She envisioned a life for my mother," Robin said. "She taught her about values, principles, adulthood -- far more than just reading and writing."

Robin's grandparents weren't educated past junior high school and they were poor, so despite their love for her mother, they didn't have have the skills to track down scholarship money. Schnegg-Merold stepped in and helped Lucimarian get a scholarship to Howard University.

In her junior year of college, Lucimarian ran out of tuition money. Schnegg-Merold came to her rescue in a most unusual way.

"She said, 'we'll have a recital,'" Lucimarian said. "It was enough for me to go back for my senior year."

Schnegg-Merold's ripples of love and lessons for life spread through the school and helped a generation of children. Schnegg-Merold, who taught for three decades, was widowed young and never had any children, but there are countless families who have been changed by this one magnificent woman.

"My mother became a teacher herself -- taught for many years -- and was even the chairperson of the Mississippi State Board of Education. She met my dad at Howard University," Robin said. "So Miss Schnegg certainly changed my mom's life and brought the spirit of learning into our family. My sisters, brother and I all graduated from college."

One of Robin's sisters, Sally-Ann, was so inspired by the help Schnegg-Merold gave to their mother that she helped found a mentorship organization in New Orleans called Each One Save One.

"It sponsors the kind of one-on-one mentoring Miss Schnegg gave my mother," Robin said. "What Miss Schnegg did for my mother and my family and countless others will live on."

In addition to a love of education, Schnegg-Merold left Lucimarian with an important message.

"Her legacy to me is that you're always a little bit better and a little stronger than you think you are," Lucimarian said.

For more information on Each One Save One, click here.

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