“It has been said that ‘When you educate a man, you educate an individual; but when you educate a woman, you educate a whole family.’ (Dr. Charles D. McIver)We want our women to be well educated, for children may not recover from the ignorance of their mothers.”Spencer W. Kimball
May I introduce you to a very special lady? Sarah is one of the recipient’s of the Stella Harris Oaks Single Parent Scholarships from LDS Business College. Just like Megan, who’s story is featured in the widget on the sidebar, Sarah has been able to go to school to obtain a degree that will help her provide for her four children.
Here is Sarah’s story:
No one ever expects that they’ll have a marriage that ends in divorce, but in August 2009, while recovering in the ICU after complications associated with the birth of my 4th child, I finally determined I had the courage to leave my abusive husband of almost 9 years. Four days after leaving the ICU, and assisted by close friends, I gathered the children’s and my possessions and moved out. At the time, the children were: girl 6 ½; girl 4 ½; boy 2 ½; and girl newborn. Not only was my children’s father mentally, verbally, and sometimes physically abusive, but as he had not provided for the financial necessities of life, I knew he would not be a source of financial support in the future either. This has proven to be correct. I would have to bear the sole financial responsibility to provide for the children. The thought of how this would be accomplished was overwhelming and intimidating. My family in Australia encouraged me to go back to my homeland so they could provide their support and help raise the children. Returning to Australia was not a viable option at that time for a couple of reasons: I didn’t yet know the custody arrangements; and, I was not a citizen of the USA; and if I left the country for 6 months or longer, I would permanently relinquish my residency status. When the divorce was finalized in May 2010, I was awarded sole custody of the children. After a generous donation from a dear friend, I became a citizen in October 2010.
In December 2009, I began interning at various work sites through the Department of Workforce Services in an effort to refresh my skills and make myself more marketable to employers. It didn’t take long to determine that the skills and work experience I possessed would not be enough to enable me to provide sufficiently for my family. I knew I had to gain more education in order to qualify for the much- needed salary increase. Exactly what I would study and how I would pay for it weighed heavily on my mind. After visiting a couple of campuses and exploring their courses of study, I still felt unsettled. A friend who had attended LDS Business College a decade ago suggested I look into the courses offered there. Within moments of walking through the door, I sensed a feeling of warmth and security envelope me. Without having spoken to any of the staff or faculty, I knew I was supposed to attend the Business College. After a 21 year absence from any kind of formal schooling, I felt that it was the place that would provide the nurturing, supportive environment I desperately needed.
I decided to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies, and an Associate of Science degree. Combined, they would enable me to add new skills to those I already possessed, and enter the workforce in a relatively short amount of time with a marketable skill. I literally cried tears of joy and thanksgiving when I learned that I was eligible for, and selected to receive, the Stella Oaks Horizons of Hope Scholarship for Single Parents. It was the answer to many prayers of hope and guidance.
My biggest challenge at LDSBC has been overcoming my initial stumbling block of thinking that, as an almost 40 year old single mother of 4 young kids, I would not be able to do well at school after a 20+ year absence from formal education. I didn’t believe it was in me to be ‘smart enough’ or had the confidence that I could do well. The thought of studying, exams, and so much required reading was very intimidating. Added to that, I didn’t know how I’d pay for it. The boost of confidence I needed came when I found out that the LDSBC offered a Scholarship for single parents, and that I qualified for it. I remember when the email arrived that I had been granted the Scholarship, I cried from feeling overwhelmed with appreciation and joy. I decided right there and then that if the people who donated the funds for the Scholarship and faculty of the College believed I was worth the investment, then I would give my all to my studies and do my absolute best to ensure that those precious funds were not wasted on me. The donors may never fully understand how their gift has blessed my life. Within a few days of attending classes, delving into the textbooks, and getting to know my teachers, a feeling swelled within me that has grown and grown ever since. It was a feeling that distilled on me that ‘I can do hard things’. Learning has become a joy – I’ve learned to love learning. Now in my fourth semester, I’ve averaged a 3.98 GPA. I’m expected to finish my study from LDSBC in December 2012 with both an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Paralegal Studies, and an Associate of Science Degree.
Those feelings of inadequacy and intimidation are gone and I see what I’ve accomplished in the past and have full confidence that my children and I have a bright future ahead of us.
My experience as a student at the LDS Business College has continued to be a more wonderful blessing than I ever thought worthy to receive. I am thankful every day for the opportunity to go to the Business College. With enthusiasm and joyful heart, I do my homework before the children awake and then again once they’re in bed. My time spent studying has become sacred to me. My confidence in my ability to do hard things has increased dramatically. I’ve learned to love the process of learning. Watching myself accomplish things I felt were so unattainable only a short time ago, gives me courage to face all the uncertainties of life. As a direct result of the change in my heart, my children are being raised by a happier, more focused, more attentive, more life-loving mother.
Anyone who has heard me speak of my gratitude to the donors who have made it possible for me to attend the College know it is a topic very close to my heart, and usually accompanied by tears. I look forward to the day when I know the names of the individuals who have donated the funds, to look into their eyes, and thank them personally for allowing me the means to have my life transformed. I don’t expect if I were to meet them that I would have the words to describe my gratitude. A simple “Thank You”, though sincere and heart-felt, is so inadequate to really express my feelings of gratitude. When granted the Scholarship, I promised the donors I’d do my very best and assured them that their precious funds would not be wasted on me. I have kept that promise to them and will continue to do so.
We have raised enough money to fund one full ride, two year scholarship. Please consider helping us fund another one? Or two? Or three? Just $5 will be greatly appreciated! Click on the donate button below.
The widget on the sidebar is updated daily. See how it also shows the total number of donors? I expect to see that number rise by tomorrow, okay? For a little fun I am totally going to put myself out here. If you donate please leave a comment. Just a simple “I donated!” will suffice. For every comment left saying a donation was made I will donate $1. I will do this up to $100. (We do have limits to our personal funds.) ☺