This month’s blog is a dual feature. We would like to introduce Chonda Boatright. Chonda graduated in May 2018 with an Associate of Arts degree and an Associate of General studies degree with an emphasis on business—both degrees were from North Arkansas Community College in Harrison. Chonda is now attending Arkansas State University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in general studies with an emphasis on communication, sociology, and education. We asked Chonda to tell us about her sons, 23-year-old Austin and 18-year-old Chase, and about her time as an SPSF NWA scholar.

What made you decide to go back to school/go to school for the first time?
This was my first stab at college and I was 39 when I started in August 2015. I was married for 20 years and when that ended, I knew I had to do something to be able to support my boys and myself. I wanted to go to school long before, but it was just never in the budget. After my marriage dissolved, this was the best way for me to move on and to show my kids that you never give up just because times get hard. That is the moment you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and push harder than ever before to make it.

How did you choose your major?
I teach Input Technology to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students at Huntsville Intermediate School. I know this position will eventually become a certified position, which means I will have to have a degree to teach it. I love my job so hopefully my degree will secure this spot when it does become mandatory to have a degree to teach it.

What is something that has surprised you about parenthood?
How quickly my boys grew up. I swear, one day they were 4 and 9 years old and now they are grown.

Favorite parenting moment thus far?
Seeing my kids grow up into amazing humans. Austin graduated as valedictorian in 2014 and Chase is the president for the National Honor Society this year. Their drive and ambition make me so very proud.

What do your boys want to be when they grow up?
Austin says he plans to start his own research lab in the future; currently he makes a line of hand crafted soap and personal care items. He started his own business at 17 called Farmyard Bath & Body.

Chase is not sure what he wants to do, but the last he mentioned was to teach high school biology. He loves science, and this made his momma’s heart happy, as I am a teacher and love my job.

Why do you value education?
Education is a need for every human on Earth. It gives us all the ability to live a life where we have the skills and the knowledge to bring our dreams to life. There is no limit to what a person can learn and often times this comes at no cost. Learning is a gift that can change the world. It is the most valuable tool that we often take for granted. The ability to gain my degree will make a new life for me and my boys and they have loved seeing me work and succeed even when there were times I wanted to give up.

How will life be different for you and your family after you graduate?
One, I will have a bit more time to spend with them without all the college work going on. However, the biggest thing will be the ability to make ends meet without as much struggle.

How did you hear about SPSF NWA?
Julie Garrett, current SPSF NWA board member, led me to the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of NWA and has been one of my biggest supporters along the way. She has guided me to so many wonderful people and helped me succeed in this endeavor to obtain my degree.

What is something you find inspiration in?
Seeing my fellow scholarship recipients go on and succeed in life!

What is you and the boy’s favorite family activity?
My boys and I have LOVED all the tickets to the shows at the Walton Arts Center from the Take A Seat Program’s partnership with SPSF NWA. We also love to kick back and watch a movie together.

Other than financially, what impact has SPSF NWA made on your life?
The support and the opportunities that my boys and I have from activities the SPSF NWA provides for us is amazing. We have been to ballgames, shows at the Walton Arts Center and many other things that we would not have had the ability to do had it not been for so many amazing people at SPSF NWA.

What would you like to say to SPSF NWA supporters?
I want each supporter to know just how much of an impact he or she has on our lives. This scholarship has been my redeeming feature in so many ways. Without the scholarship I would not have made it this far. I am a year away from my bachelor’s degree and the pride I feel from that is because of their generous donations. I have told others about this great opportunity. I have a friend that was in the same boat as me, and she too now receives this scholarship. She is amazed at how much it has changed her life as well thanks to all the wonderful people that make this possible for all of us. I received two associate’s degrees last May and this was a dream come true for me. My kids were there to celebrate that milestone with me.