(Pictured: Bernadette, son Steve, and daughter Jane)

Meet current SPSF NWA recipient Bernadette Holt and her children Steve (14) and Jane (5).  Bernadette graduated from NWACC in 2018 and is now a student at the University of Arkansas majoring in Accounting. Read on and learn about her journey as an SPSF NWA Scholar.

Where do you like to hang out with your family in NWA?
You can often find us at the Randall Tyson Recreational Complex particularly because Steve plays baseball in the Miracle League. The Walton Arts Center and TheatreSquared is where we go for plays, concerts, and movie screenings. We visit museums, parks, festivals and also like trying new restaurants that we have never been to before.

What do you enjoy most as a parent?
The first thing that comes to mind is how much I enjoy my kids’ laughs. Jane has the most beautiful sounding laugh – it is so innocent and hopeful that it makes me want to cry. And Steve’s laugh is joyful and contagious.

What made you decide to go back to go to college for the first time?

A Department of Human Services social worker told me to go to school. I had graduated high school over a decade before and I was struggling to give my kids a safe place to live, to put food on the table, and I was just having a difficult time all around. My social worker encouraged me and told me that she could see that I was going to be successful. I listened to her advice
 because of the look on her face when she told me I was going to be successful. I didn’t believe her right away, but in retrospect that was a life-changing moment for me. With her initial guidance, I enrolled at NWACC and applied to SPSF NWA the same day I met her.

Why do you value education?
When I was a kid, I was taught that college was something for other people, not for me. Now, as a 3rd year student at a university, I value education because I know from personal experience how people in poor neighborhoods are frequently believing that same delusion.

Other than financially, what impact has SPSF NWA made on your life?
SPSF NWA is more than just a scholarship. It’s a staff that makes sure I feel welcome every single time. It is resume coaching, meeting business executives at t
he largest companies in NWA, and being able to talk to prominent business professionals one-on-one about what the industry is really like! In theory, I guess SPSF NWA could be just another scholarship and that is it. But this organization goes out of their way to take care of and shape their recipients. As a single parent, it definitely feels good to know someone has my back. 

How will life be different for you and your family after you graduate?
I am just over a year out from graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and with my experience and the contacts I have made since beginning a higher education has made a difference in my family’s life already. We live in our own apartment, we have good clothes and shoes, we eat as a family, and I have the comfort of not having to worry if the electricity is going to be shut off.

What would you like to say to SPSF NWA supporters?
Thank you for choosing to support SPSF NWA – it is especially important that you decide to help others in our time-deprived society. As a single parent, I have faced shame, discrimination, and outright offense. But I have begun to overcome the single parent stigma after being a part of SPSF NWA, where I experience the best parts of our community.