(Payton and her son, Sawyer)

What is your son’s name and how old is he?
My son’s name is Sawyer and he is 3, years old.

Where are you attending school and what’s your major?

I’m attending Crowder College, studying Nursing.

What is something that has surprised you about parenthood?
Parenthood has challenged me to better myself in every way possible. I know that my child will learn from my example and will become a reflection of his surroundings. Being a parent has made me dissect every part of myself and really ask some tough questions. “Am I who I want my son to be mentally, physically, and spiritually?”

What is your favorite parenting moment?
My favorite moments are when my son shows me what a kind and loving individual he is. Those hugs and kisses that you don’t have to ask for are the best.

Where do you like to hang out with Sawyer in NWA?
We enjoy all of the parks in NWA. We love to explore Devil’s Den, and we have recently started fishing at SWEPCO lake.

What is something you wish people had told you before having kids?
Make every effort to become the most well rounded individual as you possibly can before you have kids. Know who you are and your self-worth before you bring another person into the world because who they are and who they will become will reflect solely upon who raises them.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I enjoy hiking, reading (one of my favorites before a baby and nursing school), four-wheeling, camping, and fishing.

What is your idea of a great weekend?
I absolutely love camping by a body of water and finding a few good hiking trails. There is nothing better than a fire-cooked hot dog, smores, and star-gazing with my little man.

Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by talking to elderly people. I find their stories about the simplicity of the world before I knew it fascinating. Hearing about the trials that they have faced and conquered really puts things into perspective.

What are some of your biggest challenges?
Staying organized and time management.

How did you hear about SPSF NWA?
A counselor at school recommended that I look into it, and one of my peers told me that she was receiving help through the SPSF NWA.

What is one word that sums you up?
Evolving

What are some words you live by or your favorite quote?
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:39

Why do you value education?
I believe that if we are not evolving, we are dying. Education helps us to understand the world that we live in and asks necessary questions that allow us to grow as humans. Knowledge truly is power– without it, we would not evolve.

What does Sawyer want to be when he grows up?
I am not sure. He would probably say Gekko or Buzz Lightyear because those are his favorite cartoon characters.

What do you enjoy most as a parent?

All of the love that is given and watching him grow into his own person.

What made you decide to go back to school/go to school for the first time?
I had two reasons for wanting to go back to school. When I realized that I would never be able to provide a decent home for my son or save enough money for his first car on my own I decided that I had to go back to get my nursing degree. I had earned a degree in medical assisting, and the medical field intrigued me. As a medical assistant, my scope of practice was very narrow. I craved to know more about the human body and how to treat medical conditions. I wanted to earn the ability to advocate for my patients on a higher level than what I was capable of.

How did you choose your major?
I was already in the medical field, and I loved it! I love taking care of patients and knowing that I can make a difference in someone’s day.

How are you and your family adjusting to online classes?
Online classes have been a real challenge. These classes are not meant to be online, and the teachers have really struggled to adjust our schedules and tests. Also, my son does not understand why I cannot provide him with my undivided attention.

How has being home during COVID-19 impacted you?
It has been a struggle. As a nursing student, my schedule has always had a lot of structure. Structure helps me keep my sanity. It has been necessary for me to have specific times for specific tasks every day to maintain balance, and that balance has definitely been destroyed.

Other than financially, what impact has SPSF NWA made on your life?
SPSF NWA has helped me maintain balance. Before I was receiving the scholarship, I was working two jobs, attending clinicals, attending school full time and had very little time to bond with my son. I felt like I was failing at being a mom, and I was getting very little sleep. After receiving the scholarship, I was able to quit my weekend job. SPSF NWA provided me with precious time to spend with my son. Time with your little one is something that you will never get back, and at Sawyer’s age he was growing and learning at lightning speed. I felt that I was missing all of it. When SPSF NWA gave me the ability to stay home and spend time with my baby, they gave me the greatest gift a mother could receive. They have been here to help every step of the way. They have been one step ahead through this pandemic and have offered more resources than I ever thought possible. I will forever be grateful to SPSF NWA.

How will life be different for you and your family after you graduate?
My life has been changed by nursing school. I now KNOW that anything is possible if you have determination, and I will teach my son that anything IS possible with confidence because I know firsthand that it is the truth! My life has purpose now, and I know that I will be doing what God intended for me to do. I also know that no matter what happens I will always be able to provide for my child.

What would you like to say to SPSF NWA supporters?
In a world where there is so much greed and evil, you are proof that there are still wonderful people out there! You have changed my story. I cannot imagine what this two-year journey would have been like if my circumstances hadn’t changed. I cannot imagine missing out on all of the time I have had with Sawyer these last two years. Thank you so much for supporting us single parents. You are such a blessing.