“My first Single Parent Scholarship Fund Spark of Hope banquet is something I will never forget. I work at Hog Country Media and we are a printer for SPSF NWA, as well as a sponsor for this great organization. Because of our sponsorship, I had the opportunity to come to my first Spark of Hope banquet back in 2013. That night I sat at our table and just cried as I listened to the speaker talk about how their life was changed. I remember sitting there overwhelmed with longing and fear; thinking that was something I could never do. I thought of myself as this “stupid, unimportant person that was not smart enough to go to school.” I also believed it would be too much of a financial burden to even try.
You see, I grew up in a hard environment with alcoholic, biker parents and was the one that took care of my siblings. I ended up getting pregnant at 17. I have been married and divorced more than I like to admit. I have made several “not great” choices in my life. I have been a single mother of two great boys for most of their lives. I struggled to make ends meet, often having to choose between paying utilities or feeding my kids. I have always made just enough money that I was not able to get any financial help, but not enough to live on as a single parent. So, when I sat there and cried at that Spark of Hope, I thought this would be just another area that I would not be able to get help in, and let my fear of even trying overrun me, and pushed that spark it gave me down and went on with my life.
Fast forward 5 years to 2017. I was involved in Celebrate Recovery, a Christian organization that helps with people’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups that was helping me change my life and how I thought about myself. After lots of talking and encouragement I decided to talk to Carrie about applying for a SPSF NWA scholarship. She was so kind and patient with me. She made me comfortable and did not see that “stupid unimportant person” I saw myself as.
In my first interview after I answered that scary question “Why should SPSF NWA invest in you?’ Gretchen, one of the interview volunteers gave me some words of encouragement that changed the way I saw myself. She said that asking for help was not a shameful thing or sign of weakness. The people that partnered with SPSF NWA do it because they want to help people like me overcome their struggles and work towards providing a better future for their families. But they could not do it unless people like me were vulnerable and brave and willing to ask for help. This one conversation changed how I viewed going to school and being able to do whatever it takes to succeed.
My boys are a big motivation to my success and my schooling has had an impact on their lives. My oldest son is 25 and in the Air Force and my youngest is 16. The older son is planning on going to officer’s school after this tour, which is college for the military. He says it is because of my dedication and hard work that he is going to do it. My youngest son Brayden, has had a front row seat, watching me change my life to make our lives better. He loved when we were working on Biology at the same time and we were able to help each other with our homework. He is looking at what he wants to do in the future, which right now looks like joining the military like his brother. Because of my school journey, he has a better understanding of what is needed to achieve a dream and it is something he is not taking for granted.
I am an 8-time scholarship recipient and I graduated with my Associates in the spring from NWACC with a 4.0 GPA, and I have started JBU this fall , working towards my Masters in Psychology to be a Therapist that specializes in helping children and teens.
I am also a 2-time recipient of the Diana Ruth Griscom Endowed Scholarship.
SPSF NWA has been a vital key to my success in school. Because of my scholarship, I have been able to reduce my hours at work a little to have more time to focus on schoolwork. I am an online student, and that requires a lot of discipline and time. I have used all the services offered to students, from Karen Hodges helping me learn how to take proper and helpful notes, to talking with Tywla Rownak about lots of areas in my life as well as how to go about being a Therapist and what it really entails. Brayden enjoys Golftoberfest, and I always come away from Spark of Hope with so much encouragement. I even had the opportunity to award my first college teacher with the Most Supportive Professor award at the Spark of Hope in 2018.
SPSF is an organization that helps single parents in so many ways.
The financial support I receive is invaluable to reaching my education goals, but for me it is so much more than money. It is an organization with a group of donors and volunteers that genuinely care about us single parents and truly want to help us succeed in changing our lives. And for that I am eternally grateful. “