(Pictured: Melissa and her daughter, Rylee)

Meet current SPSF NWA recipient Melissa Blue and her daughter Rylee (5.) Melissa is  a student at the University of Arkansas majoring in Special Education. Read on and learn about Melissa’s journey as an SPSF NWA Scholar.

Where do you like to hang out with your family in NWA? We like to go to the park, we like to swim, and we go to Mt. Kessler to hike. We love being outdoors when the weather is nice, and if its not, we sometimes go to a movie or to the skating rink. We are also members of Northwest Assembly in Farmington.

Why do you value education? An education is one thing a person can have that can not be taken away from them. Education is what advances individuals, and ultimately our society. Anyone can become someone through education and hard work.

What does Rylee want to be when she grows up? Every time I ask her, she says “I want to be just like mommy.”

What made you decide to go back to school/ go to school for the first time? I worked for the post office as a substitute rural carrier for 4.5 years. I worked very long hours, especially during Christmas. I also struggled financially, because sometimes there was not enough work or hours. I also realized that I was missing out on my daughter’s childhood. I had an associate’s degree, but I could not find a job in the field I had previously studied and I realized that the only way to change my situation was through more education. I took a giant leap of faith in January 2019 when I began full time classes. Today, I know that I could not have made a better decision.

How did you choose your major? I chose special education because several of the children in my family, including my daughter, have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). I also felt that teaching was a good option for my family because I can work while my daughter is at school. Every summer, I will be able to stay at home with her, and I don’t have to struggle to find someone to watch her if we have a snow day. Finally, I feel like I have chosen a career that allows me to give back to our community, and that is a really good feeling.

Other than financially, what impact has SPSF NWA made on your life? This foundation has provided me with resources to help me be successful. I am inspired when I meet alumni that have achieved their goals, and I am connected with current recipients that have similar aspirations.

How will life be different for you and Rylee after you graduate? I will be able to help my daughter and other children in my family to advance academically. I will be better able to provide financially for my family, and I will have more time to be a mom.

What would you like to say to SPSF NWA supporters? I genuinely want to say, “thank you for your support from the bottom of my heart.” I have been on my own with my daughter since she was born, and I do not receive any type of child support. My family is unable to provide much financial support, though they are very supportive in other ways. The only way out of my previous situation is through an education, so I do not have any room for failure. An education would not be possible for me if it were not for the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA- This organization provides me with so much more than financial support, they provide a network of resources that enable me to succeed. My success would not be possible if it were not for the supporters of this organization, and for that I am truly grateful.