The March Alumni Update features 2018 graduate Jennifer Hackler. Please read on to see how life has changed for Jennifer and her 6-year-old son Michael since completing her education at the University of Arkansas.

Tell us about your degree and current employment.
In 2017, I received my Bachelor of Science in K-6 education. I graduated with my Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Arkansas in 2018. I am dual endorsed in dyslexia therapy and STEM education. I landed my dream job as a sixth grade English and Reading teacher at Kirksey Middle School in the Rogers Public School District.

Did your pursuit of a college education influence your children or other family members?
Michael saw me doing homework and never giving up on my education. He says he wants to go to college and be a teacher just like me. I think he saw that it wasn’t easy for me, but that I didn’t give up. That has been a positive influence on him.

What has changed most for you and your family now that you are no longer in school?
I am no longer staying up at all hours of the night doing homework. There are nights I do bring grading home, but now that I have a degree and a stable job, I can have family time in the evening with my son. I don’t have endless hours of homework to do anymore, so we enjoy most weeknights together cooking, playing games, or doing things outside. The financial aspect of not living paycheck to paycheck and knowing where my next source of income will be coming from is a blessing.

What or who kept you motivated during your time as an SPSF scholarship recipient? How did SPSF NWA contribute to that motivation?
Reminding myself that the struggle was only temporary was the best way to keep me motivated. At the time, it was hard to see past being a student and struggling to make it all work. You just have to take it one day at a time. SPSF NWA helped motivate me by reminding me I’m not alone, that I have an organization that supports me and many others going through the same struggles that I have gone through.

What is your favorite SPSF memory or activity? 
My favorite memory would have to be the Spark of Hope. I love listening to the recipients and their families speak and am always amazed at the impact SPSF has on Northwest Arkansas.

What was the most beneficial part of being an SPSF NWA scholarship recipient?
The financial assistance allowed me to buy what I needed as a single mother attending school more than full time. I was also connected to a wonderful group of ladies who inspired me every day.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment since completing your degree?
My greatest accomplishment since completing my degree would have to be finding a job the very month after graduation. Also, *almost* surviving my first year of teaching (we still have two and a half months to go, so anything is possible).

What has been the most rewarding thing about having a degree?
For me, the most rewarding thing about having a degree is having a stable income and not having to live paycheck to paycheck. I always have that degree to fall back on, and nobody can take that away from me.

What advice would you give someone desiring to go back to school/current recipient?
Take one day at a time. It is okay to feel overwhelmed, and it is okay to feel like you are not good enough. I had many of those breakdowns. Take the night to break down and then come back the next day ready to try again! Start every day fresh.