Meet a Recipient – Amy Russell
Meet Amy Russell, a Political Science major at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. Amy aspires to teach Civics, Social Studies and History – preferably to Junior High School students! She is the mom to Cameron (16), Ashton (11) and Weiland (2). We asked Amy to tell us a bit about herself and her journey.
What does receiving a SPSF NWA scholarship mean to you?
Being a scholarship recipient is so integral to my family and myself for myriad reasons. First, it is a source of inspiration and excitement when I get that letter in the mail. I wait until we’re all together and weopen it and see that you have assigned worth to my goals. We jump up and down squealing and the kids know that I have support and approval for my endeavors in school that will help ease some of the financial pressure we experience throughout the semester. Sometimes its the difference between paying rent, keeping the lights and water on, sometimes it aids us in taking care of medical bills. (Pragmatics, I know, but these things stress this mama out when we’re barely scraping by!) But most of all, it makes a difference to our family in that we can focus on each other and know that we are worth something to an organization that openly wants us to succeed. I let them know how important that letter is, and we try to be involved in events during the year to pay it forward.
What would you like to say to SPSF NWA supporters who make the scholarships possible?
It is amazing that Single Parent Scholarship Fund exists and that I was fortunate enough to be chosen to benefit from it. It means the world to me because I know I’m not just a name or a take-a-number person who takes his opportunity for granted. Just because I am eligible, doesn’t automatically mean that I will receive a scholarship and I have spent all summer working really hard, maintaining and bringing up my GPA to earn it. The supporting members who take part in the interview process gives me the ability toshare my experience with them and tell them in person how important this process of going through school with three kids is to my family and how much their donations of money and time mean to me. When I walk into the office of SPSF NWA, I am welcomed, greeted by name, hugged, and encouraged. As a tired mom who continually gives hugs and encouragement, I don’t always have that echoed back to me and Single Parent Scholarship offers that combination of reassurance that I am on the right track, and filling my cup so that I am strong enough to press on. It is hard to give what you don’t have, and SPSF NWA aids my dedication to persevere when I lose confidence and inspires me to work even harder to prove I am worthy of your belief in me.
Where do you like to hang out with your family in NWA?
My older kids are video game enthusiasts, and we spend time together at Arkadia Retrocade. It is an arcade with old console games from the 80s and 90s so its a blast from the past for me and a fun safe place to hang/geek out.
Something I would like to do but haven’t had time lately:
I really miss painting and writing poetry. I don’t have any mental energy to do it, nor do I have room in our apartment to spread out my projects so one of these days when my brain is free to create again, I hope to have the opportunity to get back into it. On the poetry front, I would like to present my prose at a poetry slam but having three kids, it isn’t possible as the venues are at coffee shops, bookstores, or bars and requires I secure childcare at night which is problematic.
A movie I never get tired of:
Princess Bride. I really enjoy the enduring love story that is such a cherished fairy tale. Wesley sacrifices everything to get Buttercup back after he was thought to be dead. He tells her, “Death cannot stop love, it may only delay it for awhile.” It makes me feel hopeful that one day I might find a Wesley of my own. (I know, I’m a hopeless romantic.) The visual of Andre the Giant heaving himself and three other people up a sheer cliff side called The Cliffs of Insanity is a visual for how it feels for me to be a single parent in the uphill battle to raise them myself while in pursuit of my degree.
Favorite time of the day
I love walking on campus by myself, every time I am there I feel the sense that it is exactly where I am supposed to be and it is such a beautiful place. (Even while parts of it are perpetually under construction.) After a few-years hiatus before returning to complete my degree, I appreciate every second I participate in getting closer to earning that ever-elusive piece of paper.
For me, I experience the dichotomy of parenting a teen, a tween, and a toddler. Each age brings with it its own demands on my patience and attention, and it is hard to keep up sometimes. It also means that I have to work extremely hard to be consistent in different ways, to meet their needs, which is hard to keep my head straight on what is appropriate for each child. This year, I have instituted a behavior contract for my oldest so that I can give him opportunities to do the right thing while having a plan of action for myself for those inevitable moments when he chooses not to. There is never a dull moment, for sure!
Something I do not leave home without
I absolutely cannot function without my day planner! It is an extension of my brain and things like appointments and deadlines are lost on me unless it is WRITTEN DOWN. It annoys me that I must rely on an inanimate object for my life to go smoothly but it is the difference between anxiety or calm in my brain. I’m cramming so much into it already, I just don’t have room for those extemporaneous bits of intel.
Why do you value education
As a constant learner, I am always soaking up information and reading new topics whether or not I’m in school. I think this quality kept my brain fit all those years I was working a mindless dead-end job before I decided to go back to school. I also journal weekly which helps me record my progress and daily struggles. When I have moments of unrest or doubt, I read back in my journals to see how far I’ve come and find solace in that. No one else is there to remind me that I have suffered and survived so much so it is a readily-available physical reminder to myself. Dedication to my new career direction is pivotal to my success and reading and writing helps keep me sharp and steady on my path. Education equates to job security for me once I earn my degree so I am committed to keep moving forward despite the inevitable, periodic setbacks. It is not for the faint of heart to raise three kids alone while going to school but it is worth every bit of it! I fully intend to do cartwheels across the stage when Ifinally graduate. This sense of eager anticipation keeps me going and enthusiastic to achieve that end.
Posted by Jody Dilday on Thursday, September 19th, 2013 @ 2:26PM
Categories: Inspiring, Latest News, Meet a Recipient
Tags: Career field, Degree program, Family, Meet a Recipient, Northwest Arkansas, scholarship recipient, Scholarships, Scholarships for single moms, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas, SPSF NWA