Scholarship Winners

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The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winner (Winter 2023)

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award program has concluded for the first half 2023. We would like to thank all of our participants and wish them all the best in the upcoming school year.

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2023

Sarah - Scholarship Winner

Sarah Z.

from Marquette, MI

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Adulthood, and parenting specifically, is a balancing act. As a single parent who is also working full time and finishing my own college education, I have learned how to balance with grace, and who to lean on when it feels as though I am going to fall down. Several factors are contributing to my continued success balancing parenthood, a full-time job, and good grades in university. After much thought and reflection, I would note three factors, in particular, as key to my ongoing success.

Sarah’s Winning Essay

The first is time management. I have learned to prioritize and schedule. Currently, I am working 45-60 hours per week, raising my nine year old son, volunteering, and taking the final few classes to finish my undergraduate degree. I rely heavily on my Google calendar to help keep me on track and on time. I color-code commitments and set reminders, even using alarms and phone apps to track my productivity.

Routines are a working/schooling mom’s best friend. In the morning on week days my son is able to self-direct in order to get himself up and ready for school while I prepare breakfast for both of us and ready myself for work. Beginning our days this way sets us both up for success in school and work. I work from 9-5 and take my son to soccer practice after that, during which I read and study for my college classes. After spending
quality time with my son, which is always a high priority for me, I feed him and get him to bed before focusing on my education for two to three hours each evening. I also allot myself 5-7 hours on Saturdays to ensure my school work is finished and submitted before the deadlines set by my professors. This keeps my grades good and my engagement with my classmates high quality.

The second key to success is determination with the end goal in mind. When I feel tired and run down I remind myself that I am investing in my future. I use positive affirmations and regular reminders to myself of my own values which include hard work, dedication, and integrity. I also know that I am modeling for my son good work ethic and solid choices. School, work, and parenting is an opportunity to show him what is possible with hard work and passion.

Finally, the third key is a solid support system. I am fortunate to have friends and family who support my needs. Though they are unable to help financially, the provide child-care, cook meals when I am too tired or overworked, and encourage me on especially difficult days. My wonderful workplace helps me balance the workloads of my job at a children’s advocacy center, serving child survivors of abuse, neglect, and human
trafficking, raising my son, and succeeding in school. My support system and network are my strength and hope as I work hard to finish school.

There are many who are less fortunate than I am. Every day I remember the blessing of a healthy and happy child, a place to live, a fulfilling and rewarding job, and the opportunity to complete my undergraduate education. Not everyone has these opportunities. I am glad that I have made a commitment to myself to finish school in 2023. It has been, and continues to be relentlessly hard work and I have had to make difficult financial decisions as well. That said, I draw hope and joy from my support system, root myself in my determination, and manage my time thoughtfully and intentionally so I can succeed and achieve my degree in the spring of 2023.

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2022

MiRada - Scholarship Winner

MiRada R.

from St. Joseph, IL

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Winning this scholarship means a lot to me and my family especially because it means a couple less overtime shifts for me and more time for us together as a family. On behalf of myself and my beautiful, blessed family I want to thank you for this scholarship. We are truly grateful.

MiRada’s Winning Essay

Wife. Mom. Nurse. Student. Not always in that order and not always all at once but those four words are what describes me in the shortest form. I am currently employed as an administrative nurse at McKinley Health Center in Urbana, IL. McKinley is the student health center on the University of Illinois campus. I am also the wife of a disabled veteran who has the pleasure and challenge of staying home with our beloved and needy children. I am the mom of three beautiful, energetic and smart children. And lastly, I am a student. I am currently enrolled in my DNP program with a specialty in mental health. Upon successful graduation and board certification, I will be a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. I’d like to share now the three keys I utilize to ensure my success in parenting, employment and school.

The first and likely most important step I not only take but evaluate, expand and improve upon routinely is organization and prioritization. When one person has many different but equally important tasks that are being asked of them you have to be able to efficiently and effectively organize and prioritize those tasks. Organization is crucial because without it one might miss deadlines, forget important meetings or appointments therefore decreasing their odds of success. Prioritization is important because when one is being pulled in many different directions they have to be able to decide where to start, what comes first and what can wait until second or third. This can be a challenging piece to the puzzle because sometimes it might require putting work or school before your children or family and even though it feels wrong in the moment, it’s actually the necessary action to ensure success.

The second key to successfully balancing work, home and school is asking for help and then subsequently using that help. Being aware of what help and support you have around you is so important. Who is rooting for you? Who is in your corner? Who is available and capable to lend a hand when yours are tied up? A perfect example of this happened last semester when I had a zoom class from 5 pm to 6 pm, I didn’t get home from work until 5pm, my daughter had a soccer game from 5 pm to 7 pm and my 5-year-old had a t-ball game from 5 pm to 5:45. School is important, I needed to attend my class which meant that I couldn’t help with getting either of the kids to their games, nor could I watch their games. My husband can’t be in two places at once. So, what did I do? I asked for help, I let the aunts and grandmas know we need transport for one kiddo and support to be there for them watching while their dad takes the other kiddo and supports them by watching their game. Although uncomfortable and at times hard to do, this
example required me to be vulnerable, ask for help and then be okay with using that help that was being offered. For curious minds, one aunt and grandma went to the soccer game, another aunt and grandma went to the t-ball game and both kiddos did great.

The last key I’d like to mention that I found extremely helpful in balancing my many hats is practicing self-care. When a person is spreading themselves super thin with work, kids, school and just everyday life it can be hard to keep up. I have found that even if me practicing self-care
takes me a few minutes away from other important things I am working on, I am still way more productive, efficient and therefore successful. So many things in life we do for others, for example, I am furthering my education because there is a dire need for more mental health professionals in my community. I am working to provide for my family. I am an involved, caring and attentive mom because I want to contribute healthy productive members to society someday. So much of what I do is for others, so I must do some for me. That is where the selfcare comes into place. It isn’t always something big, expensive or extravagant, maybe its just a bubble bath at the end of a long week. Or reading a few minutes before bed, something other than my required readings for class. Maybe it’s taking my kiddos to the park, leaving my phone and laptop at home so that I can give them my undivided attention. Maybe it’s a massage or trip to the store by myself. Whatever it is, I ensure that it is something that I am doing for me and
my own benefit. Refilling my own cup, so that I may continue to balance the act of refilling everyone else’s.

I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat it, being a mom, nurse, student and wife is not easy. It requires sacrifice, determination, organization, prioritization, humility and a little self-care. I will say though, that so far it has definitely been worth it. The smiles on my family’s faces when we check a class off my degree plan, or when we get to head to the movies as a family after a good week at work, it is all worth it. The moment I get to sit down in my office with my first patient seeking mental health treatment for the first time, it will all be worth it.

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2022

Jennifer - Scholarship Winner

Jennifer C.

from Winterville, NC

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

This scholarship is very important to my family and me. I began my undergraduate career at East Carolina University in 2013. During my first month of school, my mom suddenly and tragically passed away. With a lot of determination and support from my family, I was able to return to school and complete my degree. After undergrad, I worked a few odd jobs before landing in my current role. At this time, I had just had a child, we were freshly into the Covid-19 pandemic, and I was unsure of my future. I decided to go back to school to complete my master’s degree in Adult Education with a certificate in Student Affairs. Being a working mom, I have to take all of my classes online while finding time to do school work, work full-time, and care for my family. This scholarship will make a world of a difference for us as I continue to further my education to support my family. Thank you all so much!

Jennifer’s Winning Essay

Being a parent in today’s world is not easy. Add in going to school, working full-time, and finding childcare, it can make one rip their hair out. It took me a while to decide to go back to school while also being a working parent. I was terrified that I would fail. After beginning my role in the office of student affairs at my current institution, I found I had a passion for higher education and adult learners. I decided to go back to school to assist people like me who may not have the opportunity to further their education. Nontraditional students are becoming more common in higher education institutions. It’s important to learn how to best serve these diverse populations.

When examining what coursework, I wanted to take, I had to a critical reflection on what it would look like to be an adult learning, mom, and a full-time employee. I started with a content reflection: I had to think about the actual experience itself and how I would navigate this journey. I immediately ruled out anything that involved going to campus for classes. There was no possibility for me to do this outside my regular 8:00am-5:00pm work hours while also having a child under the age of two at home. I also had to think about the timeframe of the degree program I would be participating in. This influenced my decision as well. I didn’t want anything that was too grueling, but I also wanted to challenge myself to be better for the students I serve. I decided to enroll in the Masters of Adult Education program at East Carolina University. This program is completely online and you take courses at your own pace. I completed my undergraduate degree at ECU in 2018 and now work for the university, so I knew I wanted to attend school here. I decided to go with an online program because I would be more successful in
balancing my courses, mom duties, and job duties. The content reflection of the program itself assisted my decision to start my program.

Next, I had to do a process reflection. This involved some problem-solving skills. I had to really think about what success in this program would look like while also attending to my child and my job. Success is not easy when your plate is so full, but I was determined to make it work. My mom, who sadly passed away in 2013 during my freshman year of college, was a nontraditional student herself. She went back to school when my brother and I were in elementary school to receive her teaching degree. Mom went to school during the day while we were out of the house, at night, and sometimes on the weekend. I thought that if she could make it work with two small children and a job outside of class, I surely could do it. I admired her hard work and determination. I thought about the problems that lay ahead of me. How would I do schoolwork while also making sure my job duties were fulfilled? Would I have enough time to complete my work? The answer always led me back to yes. My husband is very supportive in my decision to attend school. Having a supportive family makes success in the program easier. I was problem-solving along with my husband in order to achieve success.

Finally, I did a premise reflection on why I wanted to attend school. Did I need to go? What would this degree do to transform my life? Was it necessary or was I just overworking myself? The resounding answer was I would be further my mission to serve students who are often forgotten about. I would be contributing to the success of others. My perspective changed in that moment. I believe that is what it takes to be successful while balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school. A perspective change can make all the difference. When one recognizes that further, your education can then assist others to do the same, it makes that person want to work harder. That is the case for me. The more I learn about adult education, theory, and
servitude in this field, the more I want to student to make sure I can provide that same opportunity for someone else.

Three keys to successful learning, as summarized above, are supportive family, motivation, and perspective. I believe with these three topics combined, a person can be successful in balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school. For me, it is also helpful that I have a job that encourages learning and a flexible schedule. If I ever needed time to dedicate to my studies, I know my job would allow me that opportunity so long as my work wasn’t falling behind. Technology resources are also important when it comes to success in school. This is something not everyone has the luxury to use so I am thankful that I am able to access technology when needed to complete my schoolwork. In total, it is important to remember why you are doing what you’re doing when taking classes, Whether it is learning a new skill, gaining job knowledge, or advancing your career to help your family, success in balancing parenthood, work, and school is achievable if you have faith in yourself and your abilities.

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2021

Tiffany - Scholarship Winner

Tiffany H.

from Columbia, MO

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I appreciate being selected for this award. Thank you to all at for being so committed to the academic success of working parents! Balancing work/life/school is not easy for anybody, but knowing that I now have a little bit of wiggle room in my finances helps tremendously.

Tiffany’s Winning Essay

Going back to school after a long break for ‘life experience’ is not easy. Neither is working 2 jobs while going to school. Add being a single parent of an active 6th grader to that mix and you end up with an insurmountable barrier to self-improvement. At least, it feels insurmountable at the moment! But I know that with the right support, and careful planning, I can reach my goal of graduating with a Bachelor’s of Social Work by December of 2022.

I started college right after graduating high school in 2001. I took a break from classes to attend basic training in 2003 and by the time I got back to class in 2004, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself so I walked away. Fast forward to 2015 when my boss asked why I didn’t have a degree. How to answer that? “Meh. I’m just not a good student and it felt like a waste of time.” Note: that is not the right answer when your boss holds a doctorate in social science! With her support and gentle nudges, I enrolled as a part-time exploratory student to try and find my passion. That passion ended up being policy-oriented social work and in 2018 I entered the professional program at the University of Missouri-Columbia as a part-time student.

Without the support of my boss and the entire department, there is no way I would be a successful student the second time around. Having the flexibility to walk away from my desk to attend class, being encouraged to use my downtime to study or do homework, and having coworkers willing to listen to my ideas or proofread my work have contributed heavily to this. I have thrived in such a supportive environment and will be forever grateful to my employer for being there and being dedicated to the success of their staff, in whatever path they choose.

Careful planning has been another key to being able to succeed thus far in my program. Last summer I got the idea that I would be able to take 3 concurrent online courses that were accelerated into 8-week sessions. While I was able to squeeze out of that semester with a 4.0, it would have been a nightmare without a very carefully crafted calendar that dictated exactly what needed to be done and when. I generally use the same calendar for the regular semesters too but it was imperative for the intensity of that summer. Without it, things would have fallen apart rather quickly!

None of this would be possible without the support of my son. I want to set a good example for him and to be able to eventually help shape policies that may directly impact his future. He puts up with me reading textbooks at his baseball games, bouncing paper ideas off of him while he’s trying to watch TV, and being hauled to and from various academic events that I want to attend. He even goes to class with me when needed and has been known to pipe up with the answer to a question when my classmates stay quiet. I have been very careful to protect what I see as ‘his’ time though and from after dinner to bedtime is when we both hang out and just be without work or school getting in the way. I treasure those hours and they are always my favorite part of the day!

In addition to the social and emotional support provided by my institution and my family, I would not be a successful student without the help of fiscal support through scholarships and grants; such as this one. I’m already working 2 jobs (55 hours per week) in order to make ends meet and there have been many semesters that I ended up having to very carefully budget in order to afford textbooks and tuition as well as cover all my regular bills. I have been fortunate that, up until now, the Pell Grants awarded have covered a very large portion of my tuition. But I have reached the point in my schooling that I am timing out of eligibility. If I can no longer rely on Pell Grants, I will be forced to take on a heavier load of student loan debt that I am afraid I may never be able to climb out from under.

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2021

Amanda - Scholarship Winner

Amanda C.

from Mountain Home, AR

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship. As and parent and student the cost of education and raising a family are exponential. Especially for online classes that cost more per credit hour. Taking some of the financial stress off of a fully packed plate is incredible. This will allow me to allocate other resources to care for my family. Thank you so much for this opportunity.

Amanda’s Winning Essay

Maybe life took an unexpected turn, and you were a teenage or young mother. Maybe you are finishing what was started years ago. No matter what bricks paved the road to being a fulltime parent and working fulltime to support your family, a courageous step has been made to better not only your future, but your child’s. Being a successful student, as well as a parent while working fulltime, is a balancing act that comes with many challenges. I recently completed my Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology. I am currently enrolled for my Bachelor of Applied Science in Technical Management with Specialization in Health Information Management. On the road to my associate degree, I realized three keys to successfully balancing parenthood, and working while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Maintaining a strict schedule, persistence, and patience are key to a successful home, work, and school life.


I have always been a fan of schedules. Whether it be my kid’s bath, naptime, and bedtime schedules (when they were babies) or my exercise schedule, they outline the day or goal and make accomplishing the task easier or in some instances even possible. My classes currently go from Sunday-Sunday on the due dates. This allows a full week to complete my reading, quizzes, discussion posts, and all other assignments. I also work 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. fulltime Monday-Friday. I have a twelve year old daughter and a ten year old son. There are days that every minute is filled with a task. I glance over the upcoming week’s assignments on Sunday and write each assignment in a daily planner. I calculate how many pages of reading that needs to be completed for each class, and start my reading assignments Monday night. I am also required to post in my class discussions 3 times per week on different days with the first post no later than Wednesday. I try to complete my reading for the first class by Wednesday, and then move on to my second subject and strive to complete this by Friday. I utilize any time before work and on breaks to read my chapters. I post to my first discussions on Monday, the second post is on Wednesday, and the third is on Friday ensuring that I meet all postings on three separate days on time.

I complete my assignments on the weekend and usually take Sunday to catch up house work, spend time with family, meal prep, and plan the week ahead. This schedule helps me to stay on track with my assignments, and plan family time.


It is no secret that persistence in a traditional college student’s academic life is crucial to success. This is more so for the working student mom. You must be persistent academically, maternally, at work, and all other aspects of life. I can’t begin to explain, how many assignments I have started over due to work and life duties needing my immediate attention. I have had assignments lost because my kids closed out the screen before I can save it. You can’t give up or give in to the feeling of failure. As a mother I have little eyes watching me. The most important thing to do is to shake off the small day to day calamities and press on. A question that I ask myself is, “What would I say to my child in this moment?”


This may be the most difficult, yet important key. You must be patient. This patience applies to yourself, your children, your co-workers, and your spouse. Grace must be given in places where you temper was lost or you want to break down and cry. Cry, do it, get out all that frustrates you in those warm salty tears. Then wipe your face, dry those red tired eyes, and come back as resilient as ever. There is a saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day. This is true. It was built brick by brick, in the cold winter, and in the hot sun. It was built in blood sweat and tears. Yet, there it stands, beautiful with world travelers who bask in the magnificence of its coliseums, art, and beautiful Italian culture.

The educational journey for a parent in the world of college is much the same, built brick by brick overtime with a piece of art to marvel at. This thought cannot be lost in times of disparity. You must be patient to reap the reward that you carefully sew with each credit hour and decision you make daily.

The life of a student is not easy. The life of a parent is even harder. When you apply the right scheduling, persistence, and patience to be set up for success, it will amaze you at how wildly capable you are, and teach your family to never stop reaching for the stars.

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winner (Fall 2020)

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2020

Melissa - Scholarship Winner

Melissa G.

from Locust Grove, VA

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

As a working mother, winning this scholarship takes a lot of financial worry away. Higher education is so expensive, and financing school seems to get more unrealistic the older one gets. I come from humble means, and neither of my parents earned a four year degree. I am a full time certified paralegal, and my ultimate goal is to become a licensed attorney one day. I’m determined to keep going until that is a reality, both for my children and for myself.

Featured in The Free Lance-Star

Melissa’s Winning Essay

As a working mother of two, my life is very full. My life is busy. My life is hectic and sometimes crazy- but my life is beautiful. I work full time as a civil litigation paralegal Monday through Friday, and I am also a student at Liberty University where I am working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in Law and Policy, pre-law. I don’t consider myself an expert at anything that I do, but I do consider myself good at what I do. However, I am not good at it alone; when you are a part of a family, it takes the buy-in of the whole family to make such a big goal possible (like a parent going back to school.) I would like to share three keys that have been incredibly instrumental in helping me go from just dreaming of finishing my degree while working and raising a family, to actually getting it done while not sacrificing my love and commitment to work, family, or my schoolwork.

The first key to my success has been family buy-in. This was crucial. My husband Matthew was the first to jump on board. I was honest with him about my dream of finishing my degree, and my desire to do so while not giving up the job that I love. We need my income to make things work financially, so working while studying had to be the only way to do it. Matthew was supportive and started helping me search for grants and scholarships. We aren’t quite needy enough to get much federal help, but we don’t have any assets or the cash to self-pay tuition, either. We are very middle class, and have always worked very hard for everything we have ever had. Once we were in agreement to enroll me in college and had started to look for scholarships and grant funding, we found the best schedule-friendly school. Once that was accomplished, we explained to our kids what Mommy was doing and how important education was. They had questions, and asked how my classes would work. Matthew explained that if there were times when I need some quiet time to study or write papers, that they should come to Daddy instead of Mommy until I was done with my schoolwork that day. They were happy, and were ready for the grown-up challenge of being a little more flexible with things. I was so proud. Key number one was working, and it was crucial.

The second key to my success has been communication. I have to let people know (family, grandparents, etc.) when I have an important test or when I need an hour or two of uninterrupted time to finish an assignment. I am also sure to thank my family on days when my oldest child helps with dinner, or my husband takes care of certain things instead of me when I have used all of my time for the week between work and school. I know they are giving selflessly to help me reach this goal of completing my education. I couldn’t do it without them. It is important to communicate this. If this key is skipped, misunderstandings can happen and it is hard on a working parent who is also a student to add any more stress. I love them and appreciate them, and I tell them as often as I can.

Key three is a big one, too. This is commitment to work. I made sure when I began to study some days on my lunch hour and my officemates knew I was going back to school, that they also knew it wouldn’t undermine my commitment to my job. In fact, in many ways, my classes are enhancing my performance at work. I am studying a degree program for a field that I already work in, so I am growing as employee. I am applying knowledge to the assignments I am given from the attorneys I work for, and I am letting the education I am getting speak for itself. I think that there is a value in education that goes beyond money. Education is something that once you have it, no one can ever take it from you. It is an investment in yourself that lasts. Now, even the partners at the law office I work for ask every now and then how classes are going and what class I am on at the moment. It is very possible for your heart to be in more than one place at the same time. For me, my heart is in my home, my job, and my studies.

So, you see, these are three of the keys (my family’s buy-in, good communication, and commitment to work) that have helped make my journey to earning my degree as a working parent possible. My life isn’t perfect, and I am not a perfect parent, student, or employee; but I am proof that when you try hard, push forward, stay honest with yourself, your loved ones, and to the ones who depend on you to make their business run smoothly, it is absolutely possible to make college work. You just have to believe it, do it, and keep doing it until you cross the finish line. That is what I intend to do through these three keys to success.

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winner (Winter 2020)

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2020

Janae - Scholarship Winner

Janae S.

from Colorado Springs, CO

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

As I continue my education, the cost continues to rise. Not only the cost of the education, but the amount of time I must spend working on school work in order to maintain good grades. I do not have the time I would like to dedicate to a job to pay for schooling on my own. It is thanks to scholarships, that I don’t have to worry as much about how I am going to pay for schooling. I can focus more of my attention on making sure I have mastered the material I am learning. It is an invaluable gift and I am thankful to everyone at for taking a chance on me.

Featured in The Gazette

Janae’s Winning Essay

I am constantly coming across people who ask how I do it. I am a single parent of three kids. I am working part time and going to school full time. It is not easy, but I know my why. That is the most important thing to be able to accomplish my goals. I know why I am doing them. I also need to have excellent time management and the ability to be flexible. No matter how well I manage my time, there is a curve ball. I can do everything I can to think through the circumstances that come up, but when push comes to shove, I have to be able to think on my feet. To successfully balance parenthood, work, and school, I need to know my why, have excellent time management, and I have to be flexible.

I have three whys. They are my three children. I have been in school since I was pregnant with my youngest child. She has never known a time I was not in school. It will still be a while before I am completely done, but I am working towards a goal and I hope they will be able to look back and see that. My goal is for them to remember their childhood for the family time and vacations I am able to provide them, not the times I was stressed out or distracted. Although I will not be completely done for some time, I try to prioritize time with them. I want them to know I am doing this for them, not despite of them. Which is why I need good time management as well.

Time management is not just important to get everything done, it is important to be able to have time with my kids. I don’t want to be an absentee parent because I am working and going to school. The whole reason I am working so hard is for my kids, I don’t want them to remember that I wasn’t around. When I am with them, I do what I can to be present. To make them food and play with them; to take them to the park and any other activity I can. Another part of having excellent time management is to get things done when I think of them. I cannot wait around when I say I am going to do something, or it may not get done. I have to plan to get things done early as well. Even though I will have planned to do something much later, if I have the extra time now, I need to be doing it now. This is where flexibility comes in.

Not only does flexibility mean not doing things when I had planned to do them because they got delayed. It means I have to do them ahead of time when I think of it. If I have the extra time to do something I have been thinking about doing, I need to do it then. It is a positive snowball effect. Then if a negative curve ball hits me, like getting sick, or my kids getting sick, I am able to deal with it right away. When I can accomplish this positive snowball, I don’t end the semester being stressed and overwhelmed. At least not as stressed and overwhelmed as I would be. There are certain levels of stress that are unavoidable when taking classes, working, and going to school.

This is not to say that I am perfect at it. Especially when I put more on my plate than I should be able to handle. I have learned you don’t know how much you can handle or how strong you are until you are faced with that challenge. I am experiencing that this semester. I know I can do it because I have to. I know why I am doing it no matter how difficult it is. I am not just setting myself up for success, I am setting my children up to have a better life. Not just a better life than I can provide them now, but a better life than I had growing up. That is why I am balancing work, school and parenting. Time management and being flexible is how I am able to accomplish as much as I have in as short a period as I have had to do it in.

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winner (Fall 2019)

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2019

Melissa - Scholarship Winner

Melissa P.

from Fryeburg, ME

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I greatly appreciate the kind scholarship assistance of in helping me meet my education goals! As the single wage-earner for a family of 6, with 3 children in college, it would not be possible for me to continue my education without external financial aid. This scholarship gets me one step closer to where I want to be! Thank you again.

Featured in the Canton Rep

Melissa’s Winning Essay

Parenting is its own full-time job. When you’re a working parent who is also continuing higher education, you know that fact very well. Parenting is its own job with its own demands, but so is education and neither of those eliminates the requirements to successfully meet the expectations of your employer when you’re working. As a mother to four children who is also employed professionally full-time and finishing her bachelor’s degree, put on hold many years ago, I am very familiar with the juggling act of those many priorities. The keys to that successful juggling act are: excellent organization skills and the tools to support those skills, time-management commitment and the ability to not take oneself too seriously.

A day’s work for a working parent who is also going to school can be unbelievably hectic. As an example, before starting my work today, I took my daughter to an early morning doctor’s appointment and went grocery shopping. Upon arriving at the office, I responded to a cascade of email, attended meetings and completed a deliverable. It’s now lunch time and I am writing a scholarship essay. I will call the veterinarian regarding a sick cat and complete a reading for a summer class while eating my lunch. I will continue my work day following lunch, completing my job responsibilities throughout the day. After work, my schedule includes walking the dogs, making dinner and helping my spouse with the house chores, and completing an assignment on the class reading. It’s a summer day, but if this were during the school year, I might also be helping children with homework and/or attending school events. Keeping track of all the responsibilities requires the commitment to detailed schedule-keeping using the tools at my disposal including, Microsoft Outlook, a shared family calendar, and daily and weekly to-do lists. Being able to access my work calendar and personal calendar both on my smartphone allows me to know my schedule at a glance. I utilize an application on my smartphone to keep track of my to-do lists to eliminate the need to carry around a paper notebook. Information on tasks and responsibilities is at the tips of my fingers thanks to the miracle of technology.

As my schedule above indicates, the responsibilities on a working parent who is in also school fill up the time in a day quickly. A detailed schedule and to-do lists are critical, as is the ability to manage time wisely. There is always the risk of doing too many things mediocre and nothing well when trying to multi-task. Ensuring full attention is given to the task at hand is critical, whether it’s writing an essay for school, facilitating a meeting at work or listening to a child talk about the struggles and successes of her day. Using the detailed schedules and lists discussed above, time-management becomes the ability to assign time to complete the tasks to meet the goals identified. The commitment to focus on the task at hand is a valuable component to time management. Minimizing the distractions of the world with an eye on the price of an objective accomplished adds fervor to focus.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, successful juggling of the many responsibilities between parent, employee and student requires a good sense of humor and the ability to not take life too seriously. Even the best laid schedule and task list will sometimes go awry. Getting caught up in the frustration of a misplaced item when trying to get to school on time, or not being able to stop and savor a small moment with children, will create emotional fatigue. Emotional fatigue is the enemy of productivity. It may seem counter-intuitive but knowing when to laugh and when to throw away a list and start over is an art. Life can’t be serious all the time. Finding time for fun is an important part of being a successful parent and laughter is good for the soul. Holding on too tight to expectations creates brittleness. True strength comes with flexibility.

It is possible to do all three things well: a career, an education and parenting. It is a juggling act of watching all the balls in the air and knowing just the right time to catch each item and keep it moving in synch with everything else. Juggling happens at the circus, though, and keeping that sense of adventure and fun in it ensures the fluidity to move through the waves of life.

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winner (Winter 2019)

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2019

Trinity - Scholarship Winner

Trinity D.

from Cisco, TX

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I am so thankful to for the Working Parent College Scholarship Award! Sometimes, in the race of life, keeping up with the pace of working while parenting AND going to school seems impossible. But it can be done! And it will be done. Along the way, growing young women are watching it being done, and they need strong, competent women as mentors. To my daughter, watch me and know you can be anything you want to be!

Trinity’s Winning Essay

Life races at a breakneck speed with the starting line alarm ringing around five A.M. Too long before the finish line approaches, the weariness of running all day sets in. Head crashing to pillow, you hope for congratulatory cheers from the crowd, respite, and a final big breath of glorious, fresh air . . . yet the finish line still feels . . . a bit unfinished. Looming deadlines compete with holding loved ones close, obligations counter devotions. Keeping up such a pace that includes parenting, working outside the home, while excelling in school might seem impossible, but in actuality, it is quite doable. In order to make it from start to finish, though, it is important to keep some tips in mind, three primary “P”s.

Put you first.
This advice may seem counterintuitive. After all, we are generally taught to put others before ourselves. However, consider, for a moment, the runner. She can only please the spectators by tending to herself first. Her commitment to push herself by running great distances each and every day is admirable, and while it is necessary, so is rest. She must take days off from running in order to give her body time to recover itself. If she doesn’t, she may soon see signs of wear. She also mustn’t neglect to fuel herself accordingly. If she’s neglecting nutrition, she won’t be able to go the distance. Not taking the time to invest in her own health will cut her short of her goal. The same can be said of a parent that is working and pursuing an education. The temptation is to tend to everyone else’s needs before your own. You stay up late to finish a paper because you devoted most of the day to others’ needs. You take on more duties at work instead of setting proper boundaries and saying “no” when appropriate. If the runner expects to remain healthy, she must not ignore that nagging pain. She must take the time to give proper attention to herself first. She prioritizes herself so that she has enough to give to others.

She does this because she knows that not all aspects of life bear equal importance. Some areas carry more weight than others, and those areas of salience vary from person to person. In real life application, this may mean that dinner is occasionally burgers from a drive thru instead of a home-cooked meal. It might mean that vacuuming happens less often. Then again, it may mean that a reading assignment is skimmed for the high points this time instead of reading as in-depth as you normally would have. Regardless, it is vital to establish a task hierarchy for yourself. Doing so will lead to higher task mastery. After all, marathon running requires hydration, pacing, and practice for endurance. The runner recognizes these as priorities and properly sets them in place. In prioritizing, she prepares herself for success.

Prepare for success.
Part of preparing for success means organization, and much mental fortitude is exemplified through organization. A little forethought and some great technology help you keep track from start to finish. I love Google for organizing my life. Google has many applications, and I use them daily. In addition to organizing my classes by electronic folders in Google drive, I put all my tasks and appointments in my Google calendar. My husband does the same. We can merge our calendars so that we can keep track of what is going on with our family. Our devices are connected to Google, and they send us reminders of events that are coming up so we don’t forget. Our hectic schedules keep us running, and while we certainly need physical energy to maintain our pace, our mental energy sustains us as well.

In a race, and in life, mental stamina is critical. When it feels like the race will never end, celebrate accomplished milestones along the way. Each time you surpass your best PR, take a moment to savor it. Don’t worry about finishing first. Cross the finish line, and revel in your accomplishment.

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winners (Fall 2018)

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2018

Donald - Scholarship Winner

Donald K.

from Tyrone, NM

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Thank you so much to the team at for this scholarship. This has been a comfort and a confirmation that I am making the right choice by continuing my education. Life can get tough and finances can get even tighter when the size of your family is growing alongside your education, and scholarships like this one are a great blessing that help ease the burden. From my wife, my kids and myself, we are truly grateful.

Featured in the Grant County Beat

Donald’s Winning Essay

We all know what it is like to feel the tension between different roles we possess in life and the pressure from all sides to fulfill them. No other spheres of our lives collide more than parenting, personal education, and work. The nine-to-five among most employees is just that: a workday only so many hours long. Educational demands ebb and flow with course load and the time of the year. Parenting demands your attention constantly, with unexpected chaos just hiding around the corner. All of these spheres overlap in some way and at different times, motivating and competing. We need ways to keep them all in view and balanced appropriately. Below, I will outline three things I believe are keys to doing this with excellence: Prioritization, Purposefulness, and Progression.

First, let’s look at prioritization. Prioritization of responsibilities is looking at what needs your attention or your energy and organizing them according to some sort of standard. This is something we already do on a daily basis in every sphere of our lives. At work we prioritize responsibilities of our position. In school we organize assignments. In the parenting world we do this when, for instance, we “pick our battles.” There are different standards, or guides by which to prioritize. One such standard is organizing responsibilities by what can be done easily at the time, like a reading assignment on your lunch break. This standard has its place but the one I will look closer at is prioritizing according to importance.

Importance is something that can constantly change, such as when an employee has a massive order to stock on the shelves but then a co-worker calls for a backup cashier. The stocking of merchandise is an important job but its priority changes when there is a line of customers waiting at the registers. In addition, importance can also be something that stays constant, such as the importance of getting to work on time rather than fixing that cup of coffee. The employee needs to earn a living for his family while the coffee can be grabbed later on a lunch break. When organizing life along these lines, it is looking for what is the most pressing responsibility at hand that will have the greatest impact at the moment. Prioritization of importance looks different from person to person, but the principal still remains the same as a guide for how to balance parenthood, work, and education.

Second, let’s talk about purposefulness. After the most important things are prioritized, you have to be purposeful to engage the task or sphere before you with all of the attention you can devote. Engaging with focus is not always easy to do. This takes practice. In order to engage purposefully with the kids, or focusing on that school assignment, we have to battle against distractions.

We live in a world where technology is always trying to notify us of something (important and unimportant), keeping our attention from the moment at hand. Our minds can bounce from A to Z in a flash, and soon we will be shopping on Amazon for something we cannot not remember. Engaging purposefully means setting aside that smartphone and setting your fingers to the keyboard for that research paper. It means tucking your children into bed without worrying about that job meeting the next morning. It can even mean avoiding too much chit-chat at work to complete an important project on time. If we want to achieve excellence in the areas of our lives that demand the most attention, then we must practice mental acuity and emotional investment by setting aside distractions.

Lastly, let’s look at the final key: progression. We will never balance everything perfectly every time. Some days we may mis-prioritize the most important things around us, or never fully engage the most important things with purpose. This is the key where we evaluate the processes we have followed to determine whether change is needed to improve.

Example: “How prepared did I feel taking my mid-term the morning after volunteering to pick up that extra shift? Has my study time been most effective early in the morning before the kids wake up or late at night after they go to sleep?” We do not have infinite hours in a day. Evaluating questions are ones we will have to ask, and we have to work with the answers given if we are to excel. Different seasons of life may mean changes in your routine, like the birth of a new child or a promotion. These kinds of things may cause you to rearrange how you prioritize or engage in order for you to progress towards your goals.

Being a parent, student, and employee will never be fully separate spheres; they will always conflict with each other at some points during life. But this reality should not hinder us. Rather, it should cause us to grow as we strive to do our best for our kids, for our jobs, and for our education by using strategies to keep us ordered, focused, and fluid.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2018

George - Scholarship Winner

George T.

from Cross Plains, TX

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I’m ecstatic they chose me for this scholarship. I knew going back to school was what I needed to do, but was a little anxious about borrowing. Winning this scholarship helps validate that I’m on the right path and that I can continue to achieve when I put in the effort. This award will help me pay tuition for my master’s degree. Thank you to everyone who helped with the scholarship program at! I appreciate everyone involved for choosing my essay and having confidence in me.

George’s Winning Essay

My college journey “started” when my son was born in 2006. Minor issues meant that my wife had to have a c-section. The surgery was scheduled and we knew he would be arriving November 1st. I was visibly nervous in the days leading up to his birth. I was ready though. When I first saw his face, that’s when the reality of it all hit me. I was responsible for this tiny little life. I needed to set a good example.

I was a proud dad, but I felt like I could set a better example than underpaid computer technician. As my son grew, I started to think about our future and the path that we were on. I was working a job I liked, but with no opportunity for advancement. How could I make my future, and my family’s future better? I decided that my best chance to get out of my dead-end job would be to get a degree. It was the summer of 2009 when I finally took action. Now, I immediately knew this was going to be difficult due to the fact that I was the sole breadwinner. Before this, I really had no intention of going to college and we had been living quite comfortably with my wife and I both working. I started researching FAFSA, Pell Grants, and online colleges. I knew that a self-paced online program was probably the only way I could make this work. Four and a half years later, I finished my Bachelor’s degree. This is how I did it.

In order to succeed, a person must set realistic goals. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish in two years, even if I tried. I still had family and full-time work to attend to. So I set my graduation goal as five years. I made sure that I set measurable goals for myself along the way. For school these goals were things like – finish this many credits per term. For home, I made sure to take at least a couple hours each day for family-only time. It helps to have something specific to measure. Not only does it keep you committed, it gives a sense of being on the right path.

Second I learned I to cut the crud. I, like many folks, spent a lot of time on things that really just weren’t important. Things like watching sports, TV, surfing the web, and playing video games. I really missed video games during this time. Cutting the crud is where I found most of my study time. I won’t lie, it was difficult at first but once the habit is established, it became my new norm. Late nights of gaming with friends became late nights writing papers. Surfing the web was only for research. TV and sports, well they just had to wait.

Last but not least, support. Without the full support of my wife, I would never have been able to accomplish anything. She arguably made more sacrifices than I did during this time. I put countless hours into schoolwork. I think the only breaks she got were when I would take my son out the playground to swing and slide. We’d stay our there for hours while I listened to course material though headphones. I can’t imagine how I could have succeeded without her understanding and support. She knew that I needed her to have faith in what I was trying to accomplish and know that even though the road there was bumpy, we were doing this for our family.

Now, its a few years later, our son is 11 now, and I’ve returned to get my Master’s degree. I’m not sure he interested in playground swings and slides anymore, so I still have that piece to work out. I intend to take these things that I learned the first time around and re-apply them in my current endeavor. I know that I have support, I can (re-learn) to cut the crud, and I have realistic goals set. So, I’m sure it will all work out.

Third Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2018

Rachel - Scholarship Winner

Rachel K.

from Oregon City, OR

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

As a working mother, student, and full-time employee, I have learned to find balance my life in order to manage all of my personal and professional responsibilities. Sometimes, these responsibilities include having to be creative in fulfilling all of my financial obligations of raising a family, being married, and paying for the lifestyle we want (having basic needs met), all while managing my other obligations. With this scholarship, my burden is lessened in having to compensate for less income for when I start my internship next Spring, and will be working less. I feel so blessed having the support to reach my educational goals, while taking care of my family at the same time. Thank you so much, you are helping people to fulfill their dreams, and you are very appreciated!

Rachel’s Winning Essay

Balancing responsibilities as an adult can sometimes be overwhelming, depending on how many roles one takes on in his or her life. For many adults looking to advance in their careers, higher education is necessary; however, with the onset of adulthood may come the desire to find a partner and become a parent. Suddenly, taking care of one’s family while working towards vocational goals can seem like working two full time jobs at once, while ironically, most adults trying to advance themselves are already working a full-time job in addition to their other responsibilities. Even though this is not uncommon for several working adults today, one must admit that all these extra responsibilities can create some disequilibrium within a person’s life. Sometimes stress within the family is the result of family conflict, and other times it can be a predictor of conflict within the family (Wierda-Boer, Gerris & Vermulst, 2009*). None the less, successfully balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school revolves around a person’s coping mechanisms, self-efficacy, and support network. I will discuss each of these categories more in-depth below, as I believe they are the keys to success for a person to manage his or her personal and professional goals, while raising a family.

Coping Mechanisms
According to Wierda-Boer, Gerris and Vermulst (2009*), people learn their coping mechanisms early on from childhood, much like how a person forms his or her personality. Personality itself can be a predictor of someone’s stress management style, although people still have the potential to condition themselves to learn other coping mechanisms. Some traits of personality that predict successful stress management are: agreeableness, extroversion and emotional stability. Agreeableness is one of the “big five” personality traits and is associated with people who can empathize with other’s situations and cooperate in a sympathetic manner to create space for social harmony (Wierda-Boer, Gerris & Vermulst, 2009*). Extroversion is another personality trait in which people tend to look at situations more positively, which in turn may influence the perspective of others to enhance their shared experience. Lastly, emotional stability is one’s ability to regulate him or herself in his or her reactions to an experience (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015*). Emotional regulation is best utilized by learning it from a young age. This is where adults can learn new coping mechanisms, such as mindfulness and relaxation techniques, if they were not emotionally regulated early on as a child. Additionally, being a successful parent involves teaching our children how to emotionally regulate themselves, primarily by modeling this behavior to them.

All these personality traits combined can help a person cope with hardships he or she may encounter as a student, parent, and employee. However, beyond having successful coping mechanisms in reacting to one’s experiences is the belief in one’s own abilities to accomplish his or her goals. Without the drive and intentionality to accomplish a goal, people can get stuck “going through the motions” of life, simply doing what they must do to maintain their current lifestyle. Pushing oneself to reach his or her potential requires belief in his or her own abilities to expand his or her comfort zone, and this is where self-efficacy comes in (Wright, Perrone‐ McGovern, Boo & White, 2014*).

Self-Efficacy and Support Network
These last two elements of balancing one’s personal and professional responsibilities are inter-related because a person’s self-efficacy sometimes needs to be initiated by another person who encourages him or her to reach his or her goals. A person’s support network can look like family members, a coach, a therapist, or teachers to name a few. Carl Rogers, the creator of Person-Centered Theory, based his model off what he called “unconditional positive regard” (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015*). In unconditional positive regard, the therapist (in this example) has an unwavering acceptance of the client in that the therapist sees the client for all he or she is in the current moment as being his or her best self. In other words, the client is seen as having all the skills he or she needs to accomplish his or her potential, the therapist just helps the client to draw out those natural gifts and abilities. Once the client understands his or her own potential, the client may start to believe more in his or her own abilities to the point that he or she is passionate about pursuing his or her calling.

Sometimes, parents do things out of necessity for their children, such as gaining higher education in order to ensure the stability and success for themselves and their children’s future. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model, people must sometimes focus primarily on what is necessary in order to ensure their survival needs before advancing in pursuing their purpose, or “self-actualizing.” Basic needs being met are the foundation of the hierarchy of needs model; and therefore, most parents must also work a job that may be less fulfilling than what they are studying to become in order to provide for themselves and their family’s basic, immediate needs (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2012*). Ultimately, however, in order to have longevity in their career, parents must go into a vocation that realizes their potential by incorporating their natural gifts and abilities into what they do for a living. This is a goal to work towards, provided basic needs are accounted for. As mentioned above, most parents are working towards fulfilling each of these needs on the spectrum by being employed and by excelling in school. From my experience as an aspiring therapist, the keys to balancing each of these roles are effective coping mechanisms, self-efficacy, and a strong support network, of which I have tried to implement in my own life. Without one of these keys to success, I do not believe I would have made it this far, and I am thankful for the opportunity to help others do the same.

* References available upon request

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winners (Winter 2018)

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award scholarship program has concluded for the second half of 2017, and we’re very proud to announce that we once again had such an impressive field of applicants we have selected three more scholarship winners this winter.

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2018

Shelley - Scholarship Winner

Shelley B.

from Asheville, NC

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Thank you so much! I am so excited and honored to win this scholarship. Going back to school as a working mom is like jumping off a cliff, not knowing how I’m going to make the landing, but jumping anyway. A scholarship like this affirms that I’m doing the right thing and it builds my confidence to know that resources are available to help me achieve my goal of becoming a nurse. This award will cover my tuition for the final pre-requisites so I can apply to nursing school. Thank you for helping me take the leap!

Shelley’s Winning Essay

As if parenting and working isn’t a hard enough combination, going back to school adds a new dimension to the mix. I recently returned to school after almost 20 years of working and parenting. Previous chapters of my career were in humanitarian aid, non-profit management, and running a family business, but now was the right time to jump back in and pursue my goal of becoming a Registered Nurse.

I am currently taking nursing pre-requisite courses at my local community college, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, in order to apply for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Western Carolina University. The ABSN program is part-time so it will allow me to continue to work while I go to school. This makes the goal of balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school a hot topic for me. In addition to school, I am married to Kevin, my husband of 15 years, we have two children (Lucy age 12 and Gardner age 8), and I work 20-25 hours a week as the Business Manager for FOX Factory, Inc. in Asheville, North Carolina. It is a full life!

There are three things that help keep me focused and feeling successful as I pursue my goal of becoming a nurse. The first is setting clear boundaries. This means I have to be very clear with myself first, about what is important and what can wait. I’ve said no to social invitations because I need to study for an exam. But I’ve also said yes to going outside for a walk because I know I can’t sacrifice my health and wellbeing. I need to take care of myself or I won’t be a good mom, employee, or student. A component of setting boundaries is a mantra I say to myself to “stay in my lane.” As a young student, I remember getting caught up in competition and drama that didn’t matter. Now as a mature student, I am able to stay present and focused on what I need to do without getting distracted by classmates comparing grades or complaining about classes. I “stay in my lane” because my plan is the only one that matters to me, not how I do in comparison to others.

Another thing I focus on is gratitude. I am so grateful that I am able to pursue this dream of becoming a nurse. That at age 46, I can go back to school, learn new things, and have fresh opportunities open up ahead of me. I’m grateful that there are creative programs tailored to adult learners who need to work while going to school. I’m grateful for my family who all support me and my workplace that allows me to have a flexible schedule. Every night I write down five things that I am grateful for and I’m never at a loss for words.

In addition to setting clear boundaries and focusing on gratitude, it takes a lot of good communication. I’m juggling work schedules with my husband, our children’s school and sports commitments, as well as my own school schedule. Every Sunday we make a meal plan for the week and write it on a big chalkboard in the kitchen, along with a daily list of who goes where and when, who picks up the kids, and other appointments. It’s our family dashboard for the week. I also ask for dedicated study time at home, sometimes combined with my kids doing their homework. I include my children in conversations about what it will take for me to become a nurse, what I’m learning in school, and how they feel about it. Oh, and maybe the most important thing I do is I set the alarm for 5:30 am each morning to get up, have coffee, and study before the rest of the family wakes up. I make my moments happen. And I’m clear to communicate that the early morning time is my time!

I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression: Want something done? Ask a busy woman. It does seem like the busier I get, the more organized, focused, and successful I become. Financial assistance from the Biannual Working Parent College Scholarship Award would help take some of the stress out of returning to school as a working mom. It would allow me focus on my family and school, instead of getting extra hours in at work to pay for books and tuition. Thank you for the opportunity to apply for this scholarship.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2018

Alayna - Scholarship Winner

Alayna O.

from Milwaukee, WI

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Winning this scholarship has multiple meanings for me. First, it serves a practical purpose as our family will be utilizing childcare services next semester so that I can maximize my school schedule. This provides a bit of a financial cushion as we take on the new and necessary expense of childcare. Secondly, this scholarship provides me with the encouragement that every parent needs from time to time. It reminds me of my own words, “it can be done”; and it fuels me to continue to put my best foot forward as I am reminded through this experience that it will pay off! Thank you so much for your generosity and for considering nontraditional students who are so often overlooked.

Alayna’s Winning Essay

It’s important to understand that as parents, our educational experience does not have to duplicate that of a traditional student in order for us to experience success. In fact, being a parent while in school provides certain advantages along with its obvious challenges. In consideration of the challenging characteristics of parenting while balancing work and school, I have outlined several principles to ensure academic, occupational, and familial success. Even so, as I write this essay with my infant son on my lap, I cannot help but to be amused by the irony, however, this submission itself proves that “it” can be done.

Principle #1: Integrate

The sooner we accept that our paths will be unique, the sooner we can maximize our time and resources to effectively balance the demands of our nontraditional paths. One way to do this is through integration. Look for opportunities to incorporate the tasks of your life as seamlessly as possible. For example, if you have to complete an assignment while your child is at home, try incorporating your child in your work. Ask your child what they think about your work. Or if your child is nonverbal, read to them aloud so that you can build their brain while absorbing the information you need to fulfill your coursework.

Additionally, think of work as an opportunity to connect with other adults and to release your potential when you’re not home being mom or dad to your child. This is your time to activate your creativity and to solve problems in the work place. This practice alone will bolster your self-esteem and sense of purpose which complements the smaller, more automatic tasks you may find yourself engaged in daily as a parent.

As you integrate your life and balance the demands of work, school, and home, it is important to communicate your needs to those who you might be working with. For example, peers from a group project, employees and employers, and professors are all important individuals who you will want to communicate with regarding any unforeseen circumstances; this is not to evoke sympathy but rather to promote effective collaboration when possible.

Principle #2: Self-care

Self-care can be hard to come by when you’re so busy with wearing multiple hats and personal identities. However, it is important to consider your own health to avoid burnout and becoming overwhelmed. While managing these three important areas can be done, it is imperative to consider how it is to be done.

First, we must be self-aware of the level of stress we hold. We have to understand when we are in need of a break. Unfortunately, we may not find ourselves in a position where we have the support to take a full day or weekend to decompress, however, we can use the resources we have to creatively find ways to recharge.

Recharging isn’t always about quantity as much as it is about quality. If you only have thirty minutes to be relieved of immediate pressures, purposefully utilize that time to re-charge with ways that are effective for you. These might include, sipping tea in a quiet room, going for a walk, listening to music with your eyes closed, getting lost in a novel, or even scheduling a psychotherapy appointment. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we have to slow down to rehydrate along the way.

Principle #3: Employ Time

One of the advantages of being a parent and a student while working is that it serves as a natural cure to procrastination. Because you never know when one area is going to demand a little more than usual, you have to complete school work, work tasks, and other duties with immediacy. Don’t put it off, do it now. How we think about time, specifically the past, present, and the future, can aide us in the balancing act of wearing multiple hats. Moreover, it is important to remember that it has been done in the past and that we can accomplish success as well in our futures if we do what it takes now.

The only moment we have within our influence is now. By being conscious of this, we allow ourselves to accurately assess how we should spend our time. Balancing is not having an equal amount of time given to each area but rather having the appropriate amount time given to each area, and this formula is a variable one. Therefore, we must prioritize our needs and respond accordingly moment to moment.

To achieve balance, we have to take advantage of opportunities to streamline our lives through integration. Also, we should ensure that we are prepared to take advantage of those opportunities by engaging in the proper self-care that will allow us to recharge our energy for future efforts. Furthermore, our perspective of time is paramount. We should always take advantage of time whether we have small moments or large gaps. By taking a tortoise approach, little by little, we will cross the finish line.

Third Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2018

David - Scholarship Winner

David W.

from Nashville, TN

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

This award is such a fantastic recognition of the hard work that working parents put in to provide a better future for their children. With the support of the burden of paying for another degree has been lifted a bit, and I thank them for helping me achieve my career goals. It is my hope that this award will help me lead my family into a better future so that we will prosper in the years to come. Thank you

David’s Winning Essay

I remember sitting in my office the night of December 4th 2015 thinking I was on the verge of having it all. I was putting the finishing touches on my second feature film, taking another big step towards completing my childhood dream of being a film producer, while I was watching my son rock quietly in his crib. Having a family was my other big dream. I was doing it. I was the man I had dreamed of being. Having it all was firmly in my grasp. The next morning my life exploded. When my wife Kaylee went to wake my son for his morning feeding, his lifeless body was all that remained in the little crib. He had died in his sleep from SIDS. I knew from that first instant I would never be the same. I knew in that very first moment I would have to choose which one of my dreams to hold onto, because I was in for one hell of a fight.

We decided that we would move from Los Angeles to my hometown of Nashville, TN as soon as I wrapped production on my third film, which was scheduled to go into production in just a few months. Before we left Kaylee and I were blessed with the news that she had again become pregnant. We would be parents again after a year of suffering the agony of loss. It was at that time I decided that I would pursue a different path. One that would allow me to earn a stable living and provide the kinds of opportunities for my new son that were provide to me when I was a child. As soon as I completed production on my current film, we sold our house, packed up the car, and headed east to the place my family has called home for nine generations. While I work to complete my current project, I have taken a second job teaching movie producing at Belmont University. In order to insure that I will be able to provide the same sorts of opportunities for my child that I had when I was growing up, I have also enrolled in the Executive MBA program at Vanderbilt University. My plan is to find work that will allow for me to reliably care for my family, and to actually spend time with my wife and my son as he grows up. As I navigate the difficult demands of being a working parent and a student I have learned lessons about time management, caring for myself, and taking the time to enjoy the love my family gives me.

Finding time to do everything can be difficult when you are trying to do it all. Clear communication with my spouse has proved vital to setting expectations and paying attention to detail as we work through the transition into our new life. We have found that weekly and daily conversations combined with clear scheduling have been the best tools to help with time management. We have a chat every morning about both of our schedules so that we clearly map out who will be caring for baby Ryer at what time, and when we will be getting our work done. At the beginning of the week we also have a big picture chat about what will be on the horizon in the week to come so that there are no surprises and we are prepared for everything. Finally we meticulously schedule everything in iCalendar so that we can have a clear reference for both of our schedules at all times.

By the time I had gotten a few weeks into both my first ever semester teaching college, while I was also managing post production operations back in LA, and plowing through a rigorous business school curriculum I felt worn out. I was up before dawn caring for Ryer so his mother could get some rest after getting up in the middle of the night to feed him. Then I was off to school to get my lesson plans in order, then usually a few hours of phone calls and emails with my team back in LA, teaching classes at Belmont in the afternoon, and then most nights a meeting with my c-team at Vanderbilt, before coming home to a stressed out wife and squalling baby. It was nonstop. Even my Saturdays were dominated by my classes at business school. I was exhausted, and joyless. I realized I really needed to take the time to take care of myself, to get a workout in or even just a quiet walk around campus to sooth my nerves. I needed to watch my diet more, and make time to see my friends. Quickly after making those adjustments I noticed that I was not only feeling better, but more productive as well.

The third and most important lesson I have learned was that I needed to take time to enjoy my life with my family. In the same way I was making time to study here and prepare for lectures there, I needed to make time to spend with my family and have fun with them. Feeding times and diaper changes are necessary, but so is time to enjoy each other’s company. I needed to ground myself in the big picture reason I am doing all of this. I’m doing this for that beautiful blonde, and that adorable baby boy. This isn’t just a scheduling issue, it is a reminder to be present, not to multitask away the hours I spend with them. This is time to be in the moment and feel the warm joy of being part of a family.

My life has changed quite a bit over the last two years. It will keep changing rapidly over the next few years to come. I have faced the hardest challenges life has to offer, and I know I will come out the other side a stronger man, and a better husband and father.

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2017

Adrianna - Scholarship Winner

Adrianna M.

from Chesaning, MI

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I am humbled and elated to earn this scholarship award from! By far, my biggest adversary in deciding to return to school last year to finish my bachelor’s degree was the impending weight of the debt I would incur. Even a year later, cost compels me most to reevaluate my educational aspirations. Not only does this scholarship award alleviate a large portion of my tuition costs for fall 2017, it offers me validation and motivation to fight through the debt and doubt of pursuing personal goals in the midst of an already chaotic day-to-day life. I am inspired and encouraged by all the individuals who submitted this application alongside me, by those strong-willed, strong-spirited parents, students, and employees who dare to do more. A huge thank you to for your generosity!

Adrianna’s Winning Essay

I juggle many roles in any given day. Mom, Student, and Employee are three of them. At times, it feels like I was designed for this very performance; other times, just holding one role in my hands feels overwhelming, and keeping the other two from dropping to the floor feels impossible. Since returning to college two years ago, I have learned several practices (largely through trial and error) of how to manage the act. Of these several, three stand out: one, plan for the expected and the unexpected; two, prioritize what is most important in the moment and in the big picture; and three, remember why I started juggling in the first place.

When your weekly tasks are abundant and your goals are grand, planning for the expected and the unexpected is crucial to success and sanity. Every Monday morning, I make a detailed schedule of all expected assignments (as well as a large pot of coffee). I list and organize all school assignments, work projects, and motherhood duties in a day-by-day weekly planner so I know precisely what I must accomplish each day to meet the week’s quota. Sometimes, I even add “eat lunch” or “shower” to my to-do lists so I don’t forget (again). Seeing the week’s work in this format shows me which days are the least hectic and could accommodate additional household duties, special time with my kids, date nights with my husband, et cetera. Further, when scheduling school work, I always plan ahead. I schedule to complete school assignments at least two days prior to their actual due date. Doing so allows time to account for life’s unexpected assignments. Unexpected assignments include all tasks I did not know about ahead of time but that often take urgent priority over expected ones, such as child illnesses, sudden work needs, or family/work emergencies. Depending on the format of the class, I can sometimes complete coursework up to two weeks ahead of time. (This either makes me a teacher’s dream or worst nightmare). Whatever the class format, I work ahead in as much as I am given ahead. Therefore, I am less stressed when those unexpected urgencies arise. If my kids get sick and I have to drop the entire day’s tasks to tend to them, I don’t risk losing credit on late or missing assignments. Additionally, working ahead in school spares me the late nights of creating sub-par schoolwork to barely meet deadlines. Scheduling and scheduling ahead eliminates a lot of stressors that commonly accompany balancing different roles.

Another key to balancing school, work, and parenthood is prioritizing, prioritizing, and prioritizing. In the grand scheme of things, I firmly believe that while education and career aspirations are important, my children and family mean more. Keeping my family as my utmost priority both encourages me to be intentional in my time spent with them and inspires me to persist in other areas of my life for their sakes and my own. In that respect, holding my kids as more significant than school or work does not lessen my drive for education and personal aspiration but increases it. Prioritizing the big picture is as equally vital to success as prioritizing each single moment. When you are concurrently living in three different roles, it is inevitable that at least two of those roles will require something of you at the exact same time. When this happens, I must prioritize which need requires first or most attention. For example, if I am e-mailing a client for work and my daughter asks me to get her third cheese stick of the day for her, I’ll likely wear my Employee hat a little longer. However, if I’m drafting said e-mail when my daughter trips over her toys and bites through her tongue, my role as Mom becomes more important than my role as Employee. Sometimes reading a book to my son is more important than writing an essay, and sometimes writing an essay is more important than sleep. When I ask myself, “What is most important in this moment?”, balancing my roles throughout the day (or night) is smoother, easier, and more successful.

Lastly, I could not manage the act of balancing Mom, Student, and Employee if I didn’t remember my motive and inspiration every day. Amid the stress and chaos, I must remember why I’m doing this. Before going back to college two years ago, I already had two children and a job. I received a variety of different input from well-intentioned family members: “there’s no point in going to school since you already have a job,” “you don’t need a degree to be a wife and mother,” and “it’s not worth the money to get something you’ll never use.” I heard each of these more than once. Yet, I couldn’t let go of my innate desire to return to school. I wanted to continue my education to better myself. I had a job, but I wanted one where I could expand and exercise my passion for writing and literature. I already had two children (now three), and I didn’t want to tell them education is important – I wanted to show them. I want them to see that if I can, they can. I am juggling these three wonderful roles because I chose to do so, and I choose to do so not only because each role makes me a better version of myself, but the very act of balancing them makes me better, too.

This juggling act is not solely an overwhelming phase of life I need to “get through.” It’s a time of learning and refining, and when I remember that, the way gets easier. The way, tough as it is, feels enjoyable. After all, enjoyable is exactly what juggling was intended to be.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2017

Erica - Scholarship Winner

Erica P.

from Stratham, NH

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I am overly appreciative I have been awarded a scholarship acknowledging working parents that are seeking to pursue higher education. This scholarship will help ease some strain on these ever challenging roles. Lessening financial stress will allow me to spend more time with my children and focus more on school. Ideally, a college degree would be attainable by everyone, but there are so many obstacles that make the goal difficult. Through hard work and determination I know I can be successful in all of my competing roles. I am thankful for your support in my endeavor.

Erica’s Winning Essay

Parents sacrifice many things the moment their children are born. Obvious losses are sleep, privacy and spare time; however, the love for a child often trumps things once considered basic rights. Education is another privilege that is often cast aside to focus on a child’s health and well-being. Child rearing is difficult, but adding in work and education to the equation seems daunting. Yet, a working parent can continue to strive toward their goals and attain their aspirations with proper planning and balancing of responsibilities. Three keys to being a successful student while parenting and working are: self-care, positive parenting and preparation.

Nurses are taught early in their career to care for themselves before they care for their patients. In reality, nurses often choose to forgo meal breaks, bathroom breaks and stay past their shift ends. This practice can also be seen carried out by many parents but it is not in the best interest of anyone involved. Self-care is a necessity of any caregiver because without it, it is difficult to maintain attention and concentration. A working-parent-student is facing an enormous amount of responsibility and is being pulled in many directions; without a solid base to stand on, it could be easy to lose footing. Eating balanced meals, exercising and finding even a small amount of time to be alone can make a major impact on well-being, physical health and positive attitude, all of which are needed to succeed as an employee, parent and student.

A positive outlook can infiltrate every corner of someone’s life. Taking on multiple roles will no doubt be overwhelming and frustrating at times; however, remaining positive in the realm of parenting will make an enormous impact in a child’s life. All parents make decisions their children might not necessarily choose for themselves, such as, spending less quality time with a parent that is furthering their education. A child does not understand the importance of deadlines and should not have to bear the stress and burden of such. Maintaining a positive tone when interacting with children will create less resentment and allow for joyful interactions and memories to occur. A positive approach toward school will also help to preserve the focus and intentions for furthering educational goals. In turn, children will be able to understand the importance of education they will then carry into their futures.

Balancing many roles requires adequate and proper preparation. A student, a worker and a parent all practice methods of planning, but one person taking on all three roles must be a master preparer. Foresight into the week or month ahead will alleviate anxiety when deadlines approach. Children do well when consistency is maintained; planning meals and outfits ahead of time will save time and tension later. Assuring childcare is adequate and daily routines are continued will help ease hassles for both the parent and the child.

Schoolwork must be approached with the same preparation. Anticipation of tests and paper due dates can help the parent-student to schedule out blocks to time to accomplish these tasks. At the same time, it can help reveal blocks of time to squeeze in minor studying blocks. Lunch breaks at work or sitting and waiting at a child’s swim lesson might allow for quick periods of time to accomplish an educational task. Many students use electronic calendars to manage personal as well as academic important dates, others rely on checklists; whatever the method, a system that is easy to use and manage will help keep a hectic life on track and allow for more seamless days.

Preparation, positivity and self-care are three tools to focus on while juggling the roles of parent, employee and student. Although, they are not the only keys to maintain family, academic and career roles, they are certainly important. Children must remain in focus as much as the other roles the parent takes on and the interactions with children during these stressful times should remain positive as they will be impacted greatly by the decrease in quality time with the parent-student. Along with positivity, preparation will help decrease stress in all facets of life and help maintain focus of significant events. Although, planning requires some effort upfront, it will save time in the long run and highlight areas of downtime. The most vital key to balancing these roles is self-care. Taking time for oneself is essential to preserve health, concentration and compassion; others cannot depend on a parent, student or employee lacking these qualities.

Third Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2017

Emily - Scholarship Winner

Emily H.

from Monroe, IN

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Being awarded the Working Parent College Scholarship Award is an honor. This award will aid me in focusing on what is important to me, achieving the highest degree of success possible while continuing to remain present in my home and work life with less stress. Thank you for your generosity.

Emily’s Winning Essay

Balancing parenthood, work and excelling in school, though tricky, can be done. With the right attitude and support system, people are capable of more than they realize. Implementing the following three keys can aid in achieving continued success in these areas of life.

Key #1 – Have a Plan

When wearing so many different hats, it can greatly relieve pressure to strategize beforehand. It has been said to “plan your work, then work your plan.” Consider which points in the day or week cause the most stress and take steps to simplify or prep in such a way to reduce the stressor. For example, on the busiest nights, when working late on a school project or at work, supper time could be the main system to break down. So, before returning to school in the fall, spend a Sunday preparing freezer meals for the coming semester. This could alleviate the tension in that area. Maybe childcare, housekeeping, or carpooling are activities that need to be delegated.

Perhaps creating a schedule of activities, such as chores, study time, and date nights would help busy parents stay diligent. Stay positive and keep a great attitude when communicating with the support system and they will be even more excited about getting on board with the plan.

Key #2 – There Is No Balance, Just Blending

Life cannot be balanced. It can, however, be blended. Balance, by the Dictionary App’s definition, is an “equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.” When trying to finish some tasks for work, school or home, sometimes things are not balanced, often due to deadlines. Frequently, more time and energy has to be invested in one area than another. This is when blending comes in handy. Blending makes it possible to fit little bits of one task in when there is down time during another. An example would be listening to a text book in the car on long drives to and from work.

Another idea of blending would be to always carry assigned readings or flash cards along in case there is unexpected breaks in schedule, such as being in line at the pharmacy, in a waiting room, or being early to pick up the kids from a practice that ran over. Blending has a great deal of preparedness involved, but little pockets of time are so valuable. When asking a working parent, they might seldom report having huge chunks of time in which to study or read, but they can likely seek out multiple shorter spurts that add up to quite a bit, if used wisely.

Key #3 – Remember the “Why”

Don’t forget the reason. When things get particularly challenging or stressful, think back to the purpose for which the journey began in the first place. Maybe it was a personal dream to fulfill. Or the education could be a requirement for a job which is desired. Often times, what seems to be able to make one pull through a tough season could be to remember that the furthering of an education to be qualified to improve a career is a benefit of their whole family. Considering the opportunities this advancement will be able to afford the children and family as a whole, while doing something they love, can be an inspiration to achieve greater things. And like the great Winston Churchill once said, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

In conclusion, though challenging at times, with proper planning, mastery of the skill of blending, and remembering the “why”, achieving success in parenthood, career and academics is possible.

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2017

Cody - Scholarship Winner

Cody W.

from Kyle, TX

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I am so thankful to for their generosity in offering the Working Parent College Scholarship Award. The financial realities of higher education in a difficult economy make this scholarship a sweet and welcome help. Thank you for playing a significant role in helping me to better myself for my family and my ministry through education.

Featured in the Corridor News

Cody’s Winning Essay

I will never forget the day our son was born: Sunday, April 26, 2015. We had just entered the third trimester and everything was going very well. My wife asked routinely if I was anxious about his arrival, and of course I said “No,” but that was not completely truthful; one by one the butterflies were growing in my stomach. But butterflies or not, that afternoon, without any warning, Jonah announced that he was coming—early! It was frightening to be sure, but after three weeks in the NICU, mom and baby were both well, and we went home to begin the new chapter in our lives.

It is funny how a major life event can be simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. In the midst of all the excitement you begin to wonder, “What do I do now?”; “How will I be able to provide everything this child needs to live a successful life?”; “How can I be the best parent possible?” This brings me to the purpose of this essay. Every parent desires to provide the best life for their child that they can. So when the opportunity arises to better yourself through education, you feel obliged to take it. But then the dilemma presents itself: how do I balance working, being a husband and parent, and going to school? Each one of these things is equally important to providing the life I want for myself and my family, and if one is neglected, then it will negatively impact the others. Therefore it must be an all or nothing proposition. In order to succeed in one, I must succeed in them all—but how? Following are three lessons that I have learned about properly balancing going to school, being a husband and parent, and maintaining a full-time ministry work.

First, one has to be completely committed to the task. Rearing children, working, and going to school are all difficult and time consuming. Each one alone could be a full-time occupation. With all of the demands on a person’s time, it can be tempting to give less than satisfactory effort and attention to any one of these areas. But that is simply not fair. The children still need their parent, one’s spouse still needs their mate, the employer still requires a full day’s work, and the professors will continue to push the student to do their best. Even if it means late nights or missing a football game, you must be committed to giving everything you have to ensuring that you give the best you have to everyone who requires it. Lack of commitment always breeds failure.

Second, it is important to have the support of family members. The requirements of education can be taxing, and the added stress can very easily cause a student to become discouraged and consider giving up. In times such as those one’s family can be the greatest asset. They can encourage and remind a person why he decided to pursue higher education in the first place. That desire to be the best possible is a strong motivator that pushes and prods the student forward. A strong support system is vital to the successful completion of any task, and nothing is stronger than a united family.

Third, the student must learn to properly align priorities. Family, job, and school all require attention, and thus they must take priority over hobbies and other pursuits. Careful time management is crucial to ensure that each receives the attention it requires. This can all be managed successfully if one will make a weekly and daily list of things that must be completed, ordered from the most to the least important. One must budget time properly among each element and exercise discipline to stick to the plan. Otherwise there will be a tailspin of stress in attempting to find time and fight against deadlines on a regular basis.

Continuing an education is a privilege, but it must be done not only with academic vigor, but also with the wisdom to manage all responsibilities effectively. I look forward to my studies at Freed-Hardeman University, and I will manage my involvement so that my family, my work, my school, and I will come away pleased with the outcome.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2017

Jamie - Scholarship Winner

Jamie A.

from San Jose, CA

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I am honored to receive the scholarship. This scholarship will help fund my tuition for the spring of 2017 at San Jose State. When starting nursing school in 2014, I had to resign from my full-time position and switch to an “extra help/part time” position. This left me very concerned about the welfare of my family and financial future. This scholarship helps alleviate some of that stress and financial burden that comes with obtaining a degree. This support helps make it possible for me to continue my education while trying to raising my son. I wish words could amount to the gratitude I feel for being chosen to receive this award. It makes me smile knowing that scholarships are available to those in need. It promises a better tomorrow because we are working together as a community today. Thank you for choosing to support my educational goals. Thank you everyone at for awarding me this scholarship.

Jamie’s Winning Essay

I am a nursing student at San Jose State University, a part-time employee at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and a mother to a beautiful 7 year-old boy. Playing all three roles sometimes feels like I am juggling multiple balls with one hand. For me to be successful at juggling I take an organized and attentive approach spiked with a little creativity. There are days where all three strategies fail me but I have a simple back up plan to regenerate my success to keep pushing forward.

The major key to my success at being a woman with multiple responsibilities is attentiveness. Whether I am choosing to do homework, taking care of a patient at work or playing with my son: I must give my full attention to what I am doing. Attentiveness to me means, shutting off the mind chatter that occurs when juggling too much. When it comes time to play Candy Land with my son, I free myself from my never-ending to-do-list and strategize how I am going to get to the candy castle. When it comes to homework, I maintain attentiveness to the task by studying in distraction-free environment. Distractions are frequent in house with a seven year old so I give my Candy Land master a kiss good-bye and do my studying elsewhere. Then to finish the day, I am at the hospital being attentive to my patient’s needs only. I shut off the rest of the outside world to maintain focus. My attentiveness is fueled by the fire of “never enough time”. I have to embrace the requirement to get work done so I seize the moment to make the most of it. Sometimes being attentive and focused still doesn’t generate enough time with my son so I have to be creative.

I find creative ways to do my homework with my son to create more time. We do art projects together were my son will be making holiday themed art and I will be coloring pictures of anatomical structures. So while my son is busy making the best Santa Claus for his grandma, I am coloring the regions of the heart where oxygenated blood is flowing. I also get to take this time to capture my son’s attention with my immaculate art skills and teach him a few things about anatomy. I view it has a double success; I get to teach him something and I get to reiterate my own understanding of what I am studying. I am creative at work by trying to request patients with illness that I am learning about. My pursuit for the most complicated patient allows me to produce a novel about the treatment of diabetes in my next lecture at school. Creativity is my go-to skill when trying to balance the schedule of the three roles I play.

I shuffle around a schedule that tries to successfully fit everyone’s needs; this is where the juggling becomes a little difficult. I tackle this obstacle with being organized and time efficient. My son’s school schedule, my husband’s and mine are synced together so that we can have more time in the evening, as a family, when I am not at work. My son’s extra-curricular activity is where I combine all three skills: creativity, attentiveness and organization. My son takes a music class once a week. During this time, him and I get to be creative in the car by making up games and then in the waiting room I can be attentive to my schoolwork. Organizing schedules appropriately allows all of this to fit together. I have learned trial and error that being organized is the only way to get a child off to school on time, with lunches made, homework done and scrubs clean for my late night shift.

My secret glue that holds it all together is knowing when to take a break and rest the superhero cape that I bare daily. Rest periods are essential to regenerate myself because it is easy to get burnt out with my schedule. Sometimes I will take time for myself to patch up the gray hair or go on a hike with my son. No matter what I choose, I know it is refueling so that I can continue to create success in my life.

My success is created by my own definition. When I feel like I am in involved in my son’s life and he is in many parts of mine I view myself as a successful mom. My success as a nursing student is defined by my ability to understand and incorporate the material I learn in school. My success as an employee is being able to skillfully treat patients. I achieve my success by balancing the demands of my life through organization of schedules, attentiveness to my environment and being creative with studying time. Then, most importantly, I shake off all the stress that comes with a busy lifestyle with some homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Third Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2017

Andrew - Scholarship Winner

Andrew D.

from Nampa, ID

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

I am overwhelmingly grateful to be the recipient of this scholarship. I have been applying for scholarships for months after I finish with work, school work, and put the kids to sleep. This is the first scholarship I have received and I can’t be more excited. I am grateful that I can go back to school even though it is challenging while working full-time. The funds from this scholarship will lift a burden off my back. Sometimes when I think about the student loans I am taking out and the interest I will pay on them I get discouraged. Winning this scholarship has renewed my conviction to persevere though my classes. It has also allowed me to take out fewer students loans which is a tremendous relief for me. I want to thank this scholarship program. I will put it to good use and be a better employee, student, and citizen in our community because of it. Thank you!

Featured in the Idaho Press

Andew’s Winning Essay

Life is tough. Becoming a successful parent is extremely tough. Developing yourself in your career is challenging. Achieving in school is difficult. When you take all three and combine them together—parenting, working, and schooling—it is stressful enough to cause even the most disciplined and skilled to question their sanity. The purpose of this essay is to explain how I have worked to create a balance between these three subjects while simultaneously succeeding in all three areas. To keep it simple, I will associate my three steps with the first three letters of the alphabet. All anyone needs to remember is to do the ABC’s.

“A” is for Accountability. Accountability and responsibility go hand in hand. My father always told me “if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right the first time.” He taught me that I am accountable for my actions and my responsibilities. As I have grown older, my list of responsibilities has grown to include providing for and protecting my family. Procrastination is the enemy to responsibility and accountability. I do my best to not put off my school work because I know that if I do I will have to forego time with my family later on to complete my assignments. Find an accountability partner. Be accountable to them. It is much more difficult to procrastinate if you already made a verbal commitment to someone you love and trust. If you fall short, admit it and commit to improve the next week. As you succeed, share your successes. As you take your responsibilities seriously and account for your actions you will be imbued with the power and enthusiasm to push through the daily challenges of working, parenting and going to school.

“B” is for Balance. Too much focus on any one aspect of our lives will create an unhealthy imbalance, even if what is being focused on is inherently good. For example, work is good. It provides the financial resources necessary for me to be an upright parent and dedicated student. However, if I focus too much on work, I will lose control of other important areas of my life. An analogy is apropos. Imagine that I am talented at plate spinning, the art of spinning plates on a pole. Each plate will spin on its own for a bit, but eventually needs me to reach up and spin it faster or it will fall off the pole and break. Not every plate needs attention at the same time, but when attention is necessary, undivided attention is required. When I am at work, I am productively spinning my work plate as fast as I can to build up speed. This built up momentum will keep it spinning so I can then focus on spinning my parenting plate when I get home from work. After the kids are asleep, I need to focus on spinning my student plate. There is a time and place to spin each plate and some plates may require more time to build up momentum than others. Nobody can be spinning all three plates at the same time successfully. The trick to maintaining a balanced lifestyle is to recognize which plate needs attention and then to give it the appropriate attention it requires. When I go to work, I focus on my work. This allows me to be able to focus on my family when I get home. If I am not productive at work, I will have to take it home and do it there which means I will neglect my parenting plate. As I seek to maintain a balance in my life, the overall stress of going to school while working full time and being a parent dissipates.

“C” is for Consistency. Any plan will fail if it isn’t strictly adhered to consistently. In order to succeed, you must be consistent in all aspects of your life. One reason why soldiers are able to perform under pressure is they have practiced consistently. Some say practice makes perfect. I prefer to say perfect practice makes perfect. As I wake up each day at the same time, I get in a rhythm that continues throughout the day. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.” As I practice becoming a better student, it is easier for me to be a better student in the future. Consistency is key. Like any lock and key, without the key you will be locked out and unable to enjoy the treasures preserved for those who possess the key. As I am consistent, I am able to unlock my potential to becoming a better employee, father, and student.

There you have it. Just remember your ABC’s and you will be able to meet the challenges associated with parenting, working, and schooling head on. There will be bumps along the way of course, but if you are accountable for your actions, create a balance that focuses on spinning the appropriate plate at the appropriate time, and strive for consistency you will enjoy the satisfactory results that will surely follow. I have applied the ABC’s in my life and invite you to do the same. Life is tough; applying the ABC’s makes life less tough and more rewarding.

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2016

Amanda - Scholarship Winner

Amanda C.

from Texarkana, TX

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Thank you for choosing me to receive the August 2016 Working Parent College Scholarship Award. This award inspires me to continue working towards my dream of becoming the Executive Director of FEMA. The adjunct award will pay for two of my six classes this semester as I begin my Emergency Management Administration degree at Arkansas Tech University. Alleviating the financial burden associated with multiple courses ensures my ability to focus and perform at my fullest potential. Also, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my personal testimony with other like-minded students. We are so such a diverse body of students, but we face some of the same obstacles throughout our college careers. I believe each one of us can teach the others a new strategy to balancing college, careers, and parenthood. Thank you for your continued support in post-secondary education.

Amanda’s Winning Essay

For my first Halloween contest in community college, I dressed up as a student calendar and won. As president of the student ambassadors, I could not miss the party because I was overwhelmed with classes, volunteer work, and parenthood. I did not have the money to buy a costume, so I looked around my messy house for ideas. This particular month was a busy one packed full of appointments, commitments, meetings, and responsibilities. My desk looked like the desk of Albert Einstein, and that is when I thought of the most cost efficient, funny, and creative costume ever. I grabbed the large calendar off my desk and began filling it with my schedule for that month. In less than thirty minutes, I was on my way to compete with my classmates. As a single parent, college student, and dedicated community outreach coordinator, I have learned how to think smarter and not harder. The three keys to successfully balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school are creativity, innovation, and grit.

Albert Einstein stated, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” I believe creative ability begins to develop at birth and continues to grow throughout the life span. As adults, our world is full of choices and creative ability allows us the freedom to make decisions about how we solve everyday problems. This basic fundamental is necessary for all students who balance hectic work schedules, college classes, and parenthood. For example, my responsibility of parenthood sometimes conflicts with my duties at work. Therefore, I find creative solutions to balance my life such as integrating parenthood into my job. I choose to work as a community outreach coordinator that organizes social events for single parent students within my community. I can bring my children to work with me, and they can contribute ideas for the kid’s activities. It makes my job fun and allows me the time I need to help develop my children’s individual talents. An excellent example of using creative solutions to balance parenthood and academics is the time that I baked a cake with my kids for a class project. In biology, I received an assignment to create a model of an animal cell. I used colorful icing, candy, and toothpick flags to create a masterpiece. It was a delicious project. Creativity is the ability to produce new ideas and goes hand in hand with innovation or implementation of that creativity.

My campus was minuscule and offered one option for me to serve as an officer of the student body. The lack of opportunity inspired me to create another presence on campus and continued to extend to my entire region. I did not want to limit my potential, so I challenged my ideas and founded a nontraditional student alliance. How could I make the biggest impact in my community? I could use my testimony of strength, endurance, and passion for inspiring other students, specifically adult learners. I could teach my methods and strategies to others so they could learn how I am successfully completing my college credentials while maintaining my other responsibilities. I started out by hosting workshops on campus where I would present PowerPoint presentations about topics such as financial literacy, resource management, and the importance of volunteering. These small speaking engagements on campus turned into speaking engagements across the state. Innovated technology has connected me to an online body of students across the nation. I can host live webinars and train more students across the United States. This volunteerism attracted other students who also wanted to make a difference in the world. I am proud to announce that I am currently working towards publishing a book about my experiences throughout college with navigating academia, securing financial aid, and how one small vision has turned into a movement of adult learners helping each other reach graduation. This adventure has not been an easy task but through perseverance, it continues to thrive.

I remember asking an established career-oriented mentor what she meant when she said I had grit. She explained how the ability to stay focused on my agenda through the trials and adversity that comes along with success is unique and a highly wanted in higher level employment. Resilience is a quality that I possess, and it helps me look at the bigger picture. For example, the lunch and learn workshops on campus had few attendees but I looked at this situation as practice for the future. I am continually learning how to use different methods to represent information to my audience. There are days that I am unable to keep everything perfectly maintained such as housework, but I know that this dedication will ensure a productive club and impact another student’s life. Also, my children are receiving a step by step guide on how to overcome obstacles. They watch me present to groups of students and learn how to communicate effectively. My oldest daughter, Aleigh, can tell you exactly how to complete college successfully as a single mother with limited resources. My youngest daughter, Harleigh, has an extensive vocabulary for a three-year-old and understands how to use her words in the proper context. I decided when I returned to college that I would utilize this time to embrace my natural born talents and to engage in new opportunities that could teach me new skills. Adversity is the chance to find a creative and innovated solution to overcome the situation.

The best chapters of my life require a more analytical approach when faced with obstacles standing in the way of my dreams. If you look at balancing college, careers, and parenthood as a puzzle, you know that there is a piece that will fit in every empty spot if turned the right way. When you combine all the pieces, the puzzle becomes a big picture. Applying this concept in life will allow you to live your life to the fullest with minimal resistance. Remember, think smarter and not harder.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2016

Sandy - Scholarship Winner

Sandy C.

from Chandler, AZ

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

For me, winning this scholarship means more than the financial help for just my tuition and books. Because this scholarship subject embodies the ideals of hard-working students and parents everywhere, it gives me hope and relief. Hope that we can endure this daily, and relief that someone cares and understands the hardships that we go through in order to ensure we can be successful as individuals and families.

I am honored to even be able to share my experiences and write about it, in turn, being able to reflect and be grateful for my circumstances. Thank you for the opportunity and offering this scholarship.

Sandy’s Winning Essay

It is never easy when one has to juggle their responsibilities in life, not only to see them through, but do them exceptionally well all together. The people who know this all too well are the ones that are parents, full-time employees and students. It is not an easy task, but there are important key steps in order to being able to efficiently balance all of these. The three main key skills and abilities that I believe that lead to balance and success are: time management, passion and perseverance. It is the unison of all these key qualities of a person that must come together in order for great equilibrium and success.

Time management is essential in how one organizes their use of time and being able to carefully determine tasks and projects by priority. Having common sense as to what projects will require more time or details, what projects have closer deadlines, and being able to foresee unexpected events are all part of having good time management skills. Being very well organized is the core to time management, as it helps separate what is higher in priority to complete, what needs to be the focus to work on, as compared to what can be completed at a later time. This translates into being able to complete projects by priority of your employer at work, being able to determine which classes and projects have a tighter deadline to follow, or being able to fit a child’s busy extracurricular activities by priority.

Without passion, one would not be able to balance parenting, work or school simultaneously. It is not by the recognition and praise from others that one strives to do their best; but by their internal will for the love of the work- that one chooses to do what they do. Their passion in just simply being able to do great work is their drive and determination in finishing what they began. Passion is when your employer has expectations and you go above and beyond the usual duties. Passion is being excited with your child when they are learning how to read. Passion is being excited about the subjects that you are learning in school and taking the initiative to ask questions when you are not sure.

I believe perseverance is something that is often overlooked when talking about successfully balancing life challenges. Obstacles are unavoidable to everyone; however, if you are able to pursue your goals when difficulties and failure comes your way, you are able to achieve the extraordinary. Whether it’s being able to persevere studying for a test, being able to handle your children’s’ schedules, or being able to handle a challenging employer, it all comes down to how you are able to persevere. This is a key quality to success, it overcomes everything.

As a parent, student, and full-time employee, handling these three key qualities can be quite a challenge, but I noticed that they are applicable to all areas of my life. I do think that it does take a certain amount of experience and maturity to fully understand how each of these components attributes to success. When I was younger, I would be missing one of these key components and wonder why I failed. It look a very long time and a lot of personal examination before I realized that if I am completely passionate about something, learn how to properly manage my time and goals, and persevere through the hard times, nothing can stop me. Success is when someone implements these three key components towards a goal, and with it, they are unstoppable.

Third Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2016

Desiree - Scholarship Winner

Desiree M.

from Ingleside, IL

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

This scholarship means the absolute world to me. Words cannot describe the feelings that I felt reading the email that I had won the Working Parent College Scholarship. I will continue to balance college, work, and parenting until I have succeeded and received my college degree. Thank you so much for the opportunity of winning this scholarship.

Desiree’s Winning Essay

Juggling, obstacles, running around, and eight arms are some characteristics of a circus and octopus. One thing people may not know is that those are also characteristics of a mother, especially a mother who works and goes to school all while taking care of their child. Mothers are a very important part of their family’s lives. Without a mother who would do their laundry, cook, clean, help with homework, buy groceries, provide necessities, and also give in to the occasional toys/wants? A mother is the core of the family or the trunk of the tree; she supports everyone and without her everything would fall apart. I am nineteen years old and a mother to my three year old daughter. I attend Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and work at U.S. Bank in Vernon Hills, Illinois. I successfully balance motherhood, working, and school work because I am motivated, organized, and positive.

I have continued to stay motivated and determined to be an amazing mother all while juggling work and school because I want to make sure I can give my daughter the best life she can possibly have. I had my daughter at fifteen years old and was told that I wouldn’t be successful or live a “normal” life. Yes, I did have my child at a very young age, but that did not stop me from striving to be a successful teen mom. I graduated high school a semester early and enrolled into Carthage College Spring 2015 and completed my first semester with all A’s and B’s as well as making it on Carthage’s Deans List. I maintained almost straight A’s while also working part time as a teller at U.S. Bank. There were times when it got difficult because I’d get home from work and want to sleep, but I needed to get school work done. I kept telling myself school was more important than getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep. Unfortunately, this past semester I did not do my best because I focused more on work than my school work. Once I saw that my grades were going down and my GPA was also I felt horrible and had a meltdown. I have always been an honor student and never had a GPA lower than 3.5 so I was very hard on myself because I know that I can do better. Therefore, this coming semester Fall 2016 I cut my work hours down by six hours so that my main focus could be on school again and I could get that GPA up and get back on my A game. I stayed motivated and determined to get good grades, not to prove to others that a teen mom could succeed, and not because everyone says that I needed to go college. I stayed determined to do well in school because my daughter motivates me. My daughter is the reason I want to have a successful and good paying job so that she won’t have worries in life.

One important characteristic of staying on top of school work, working, and parenting is staying organized. Every night, I set me and my daughter’s clothes out so that in the morning I’m not running around like a mad man making sure I have everything I need. I also make sure all my school materials are in my bag and all set for the next school day because I can’t go through a good school day if I’m missing a homework assignment or forgot a textbook. I also need to stay organized because depending on my school schedule I go straight to work after school or vice versa, therefore, I need to triple check that I bring an extra change of clothes. I obviously cannot go to work at the bank in my jeans and sweater and I also would feel odd going to class in my dress pants and blazer. Now staying organized is also a key aspect to being a college student. Studying for an exam can be quite difficult if my notes aren’t taken well and organized. Turning in assignments and projects can be a disaster if my binder or folder isn’t organized by class or put in order. Organization is absolutely key when being a college student and also a mother.

Lastly, staying positive is important when balancing all the things that I do because things can pile up and be overwhelming. There are days or weekends when I just want to relax, but all I can think about is the laundry that needs to be done, the dishes that need to be cleaned, and a paper needs to be typed that’s due the following week. On top of all those things that need to a down there’s a toddler crying and begging for me to feed her and take her to the park. Sometimes taking a deep breath and saying out loud “I can do this” is all I need to stay positive and get everything done that needs to be done. I stay positive and prioritize what needs to be done first or think of what’s more important. Now to a mother feeding her child and taking her to park is the most important, but to a college student typing the paper is more important. What gets done first when you’re both a mother and student? I feed my child while jotting down an outline and while she plays at the park I’m writing a first draft paper. The only way this is possible is because I don’t tell myself that I can’t do it; I tell myself that I can do it.

Although, my current GPA is a 2.7 I hope to be considered for the working parent college scholarship. My GPA dropped because I had difficulties juggling work with school, but I plan on focusing on my education and have lowered my work hours. This is an obstacle am I looking to overcome since I am a circus octopus.

The Ohio Resident College Scholarship Award Winner (August 2016)

The Ohio Resident College Scholarship Award scholarship program has come to an end for 2016, and we’re proud to announce that we have selected a winning entrant for the award.

Ohio Resident Scholarship Winner for 2016

Alyssa - Ohio Scholarship Winner

Alyssa M.

from Findlay, OH

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Thank you so much for awarding me the August 2016 Ohio College Scholarship Award. This scholarship will provide me the funds to pursue my degree. I am currently a sophomore at Eastern Michigan. I am a Psychology major with a Chemistry minor. I need to take many classes to receive my bachelor’s degree and go on to get a master’s degree. The scholarship allows me to take the classes I need to receive my degree. Receiving my degree and having a successful career will allow me to give back to the state of Ohio both financially and with my work.

Alyssa’s Winning Essay

The United States of America is constantly changing. These changes include the economic situation, foreign policy, and laws and regulations. With those changes for the entire country, each individual state changes as well. The state of Ohio’s economy is always changing. Ohio’s economic climate has a large effect on the amount of jobs brought to the state and kept in the state. With respect to job numbers and employment, Ohio currently has a rise in job numbers which makes for a decrease in unemployment rates. More jobs have been brought to the state and minimum wage has gone up. Most of the statistics which can be found on Ohio’s economic climate through Sperling’s Best Places are better than statistics relating to the entire United States. These statistics include unemployment rates, recent job growth, and future job growth for Columbus, Ohio. Unemployment rates in Columbus, Ohio are about 4.3% whereas in the entire United States the rates are about 6.3%. The statistic for recent job growth in Columbus, Ohio is just over 1.4% whereas in the entire United State it is about 1.2%. The statistic for future job growth in Columbus, Ohio is 38.5% whereas in the entire United States it is just over 36%. The state of Ohio also produces a large amount of revenue for Ohio residents. The large amount of jobs in Ohio keeps residents in the state. If Ohio residents live in the state, pay Ohio taxes, and buy local products, this creates a large amount of revenue to circulate within the state.

The growing economic climate in Ohio will affect my career choice of being an attorney. Knowing about the positive economic climate, it will affect where I live and the type of law I choose to go into. My undergraduate studies are at Eastern Michigan University; however, if the economy continues to grow, I will attend law school in Ohio. Some of the Ohio law schools I am looking into include the University of Toledo, Ohio Northern University, the University of Cincinnati, and the Ohio State University. The importance of going to law school in Ohio is that I will learn about Ohio laws and meet attorneys from Ohio which can help me grow in my career. The amount of jobs which are in Ohio and will hopefully stay in Ohio with the current economic climate will make for possible job openings. With every business, errors are likely to occur. These errors are likely to result in lawsuits which need attorneys. Attorneys are also kept on retainer for many large companies if these companies were to get in lawsuits. Seeing that I do not know what type of law I want to go into, having a growing economy with many large businesses and companies that may need attorneys could be a good option for me.

My future goals for my education and for myself are to live in a thriving environment where I do not worry about unemployment or extremely high tax rates. I believe that with the current state of Ohio’s climate, I will be able to live the rest of my life in the state without feeling stressed about impending economic troubles. Ohio’s economy is on the rise; it does not look to be in trouble, even in the future. Knowing that I can raise my family in a thriving environment where I will not have to worry about losing my job is relieving. I also have to make sure my husband would not lose his job. On top of all of that, I want my children to go to school in a state where their degrees will have meaning and they can get and keep good, high-paying jobs. The positive economic climate of Ohio will allow me to live a safe, satisfying life in my home state.

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2016

Travis - Scholarship Winner

Travis H.

from West Jordan, UT

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

This scholarship is an amazing opportunity to further my education while having the ability to save money towards my son’s college fund. From the day I began college I told myself that I was willing to work as hard as I had to so that my children would be able to go to school debt free in the future. This scholarship from puts me one step closer to that goal. Thank you.

Travis’s Winning Essay

When I first began attending college I was excited. It was time to learn new skills, meet new friends and mentors, and give myself the ability to make something of myself in the future. Having grown up in a middle class family with seven total kids, I would need to work while attending school and pay my own way. I quickly understood that working full time and attending school was going to be very difficult, but I never knew how hard it could be until my son was born and I had to add parenting to my juggling act as well.

I knew that in order to be an accomplished parent and student I needed to get my priorities together and figure out how to successfully balance parenthood, working, and excelling in school. After pondering how to accomplish this, I came up with three, crucial, keys that would allow me to do this. These keys are: 1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize 2. Sacrificing “social hour” first. 3. Keep your eye on the prize above all else.

The first, and most important, key to being a successful parent and student is to prioritize. Prioritizing is crucial to overall success in any avenue and education is no different. I had my whole day mapped according to priorities and a timeframe in which they should be completed. Work first, then attending class, finally spending as much time with family as possible. Any tasks that could be put off, such as walking the dog, going to the gym, or homework, were always done after my son and girlfriend went to sleep. This meant that I slept less but was able to get a good balance with work, school, and family.

The second key to being a successful parent and student is sacrificing social time in order to make sure that the important aspects of your life were getting the attention that they needed. This meant rarely going out with friends and budgeting time for these types of excursions and keeping them to minimum. It was important that, not only, did I manage my social life accordingly but also that I didn’t get wrapped up on the technological side of the equation when I was spending time with family or doing school work. This meant eliminating social media outlets and keeping my phone out of sight and mind during family time. Once again, these sorts of activities could be done after your parenting and family duties were performed.

Finally, it is important to keep your eye on the prize when attempting to balance work, school, and family. You truly have to know what you want and go after it. Once of the main reasons I began pushing so hard towards obtaining a degree was because of my son. I wanted him to be able to pursue anything he wanted in life. By getting an education, I could show him that this could be accomplished and set him on a path towards success. Anytime I had a hard time with my balancing act, I would go back and reflect on my “endgame” and the importance of keeping my eyes on the prize. This would lead to a reinvigorated dedication to the task I set out to accomplish.

Balancing work, school, and family is not an easy task. There are going to be hard days and some sacrifices will be made. However, in order to give your family and yourself the future that you want to, you have to be willing to cope with these sacrifices and balance your time accordingly.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Winter 2016

Andre - Scholarship Winner

Andre S.

from Charlottesville, VA

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

First off I would like to extend my greatest gratitude for the amazing experience and opportunity. I cannot express my gratitude in words and what a positive change this scholarship will have on me and my family. In a situation of being a working parent of two amazing daughters, trying to be a good husband to an amazing wife, and pursuing higher education, balancing work-life schedule can be a challenging task. These funds will be used to benefit my family. I am also an altruistic person and give my word to continue to reach out in betterment of our community. There is much to say about the meaningfulness of this scholarship. But in a few words, I would like to say thank you. You have made a lasting impact in mine and my family’s life.

Andre’s Winning Essay

I believe it is the past that shapes us for the future, hence it is impossible to fully understand my motivations and goals without briefly discussing my past.

I was born in a small town in now the independent nation of Ukraine, in the final few years of the Soviet Union. In my early years I was told that the communist system will straighten things out and bring order to this world. At the age of six however, I watched that system crumble and fall apart. From that point forward I was told that the new Ukrainian system will make things for the better. However, gradually that system grew increasingly corrupt and progressively led Ukraine into the civil war. At the age of twelve I immigrated to the United States, and now I understand that it is up to us, the people under the providence of God, to make this world a better place. It is the passion of the just men and women, motivated not by the desire of gain but the desire to make this world a better place for all, which drives the positive changes in this world. As was realized by numerous studies the best motivation for positive changes in the world and full commitment to the purpose is job satisfaction.

Today I am a working parent of two amazing daughters and I wish to leave this world a better place for them. I understand that my life may not have been the simplest and I did not always make the right decisions, however, I wish for my daughters to have a better life than I had.

It is extremely difficult to balance being a father, student, and an employee, but God gave me strength and wisdom to be the best father I can be for my children.

I balance the work, school, and parenting schedules extremely carefully.

First key to successful balance is placing right priorities in life. My daughters are my motivation to better myself in education. My father worked over 80 hours per week trying to sustain our family, and I saw too little of him, hence I am motivated every day to pursue a higher degree so that someday I can spend more time with my daughters.

Second key in a careful balancing act is setting goals and timelines. Too often I meet graduate students who have goals but no timelines, and vice versa, some students who have timelines for ambiguous goals. Both combinations unfortunately are wasteful and do not lead to success. On the contrary setting clear achievable goals and timelines for the goals has enabled some moderate students to become extremely successful.

Third key to this balancing act is perseverance. Far too often people quit half way through reaching their goal. It is just as important to reach a goal as it is to establish one. There are far too many geniuses who unfortunately are not known simply because they did not have perseverance in their character.

Setting the right priorities in life, goals, timelines, and persevering is what will inevitably lead to the success of any individual, working parent or not.

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2015

Dyana - Scholarship Winner

Dyana I.

from Modesto, CA

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Thank you so much for this award! I am so honored to be a recipient. With the support of, every penny from this award is helping me in obtaining my degree in Registered Nursing. Balancing work, school, and family is not an easy task, but with success just a year away I can’t help but be more motivated and driven towards my goal. Thank you for enabling this opportunity! I hope one day to help others, as this organization has helped me.

Dyana’s Winning Essay

The Schedule of Life

As a child growing up, I always dreamed of that storybook fairy tale that was waiting for me when I was old enough to begin “life.” The story obviously had that happily ever after ending. The fairy tale would begin when I would finish high school with honors, go off to college and pursue a degree with something in the medical field, meet my knight in shining armor, finish college, get married and have children that would run around in my huge house, the one with the white picket fence. That was the dream anyway, but all of that dreaming did not occur as scheduled.

Fast forward to present day. I am now 30 years old, unmarried with an 11-year-old son. I work full time as a vocational nurse at a narcotic treatment clinic and most of my earnings go to poor healthcare payments and a house that I rent. Yes, I am paying for someone else’s mortgage. I also attend University of Phoenix full time in the hopes of obtaining my RN degree. This was not how it was supposed to be. Everything is backwards. Even so, I would not change anything if given the opportunity. This is the schedule of life that was given to me, and this is how I get through it.

First off, to keep things in balance I have to prioritize my life according to importance. With parenthood, work and school all on my plate, guess what has to come first? School- work is my priority. Yep. As a mother, I said it. School comes first. This doesn’t mean that I neglect my child and leave him stranded at the mercy of his grandparents. This doesn’t mean that he is not important. This means that I make sure all of his needs are met such as a roof over his head, food to eat, attendance in school, and his health and safety not in jeopardy. With all of that settled, I put my school- work first because I am looking at the end result. To successfully complete my nursing program, I must successfully complete my courses and clinical assignments. The end result is a better career, a better life.

Secondly, to balance the chaos of parenthood, work and school, I have to sacrifice my social life as well as family functions. One would think that this may not seem important, but it’s pretty surprising how many birthdays, weddings, graduations, and even funerals occur over the span of our lifetime. “Yes, I got that invitation but I’m working on a presentation that’s due Monday. I’m so sorry about your lost, but regretfully I have my clinical rotation that weekend and I can’t make it up. Congratulations! But I have to cover a shift that day.” No matter how many events I have to decline, I have to remember that there will be plenty of events to celebrate in the future, especially the celebration of my own graduation given that fact that I stay focused and on track by avoiding these present social events.

Lastly, I keep myself motivated to get through all aspects of my life. Although I make school a priority, my main motivation for success is my son. He keeps me youthful, determined, and very content. I am fortunate to have been blessed with a son who understands my struggle and who understands my inability to be with him at all times. I’m thankful that we are not homeless or starving. I never let the things that I want in the future interfere what the things that I have now. I communicate my goals and reasons for the long work hours and long study times. We understand what the end result is: finishing college and obtaining my BSN degree. He motivates me to wake up, to stay up and to work towards success. Nothing in life comes easy, and nothing in life comes as scheduled. But by prioritizing tasks, sacrificing time and commitments, and maintaining a strong motivating factor in life all things are possible.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2015

Priscilla - Scholarship Winner

Priscilla G.

from Grand Rapids, MI

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

Receiving this scholarship means the world to me because it proves that hard work pays off. As a mother, student, and employee, it can be very difficult to balance every task given to me, but I have learned to take one thing at a time and stay focused on the main goal. This scholarship motivates me to continue to work hard to not only graduate with my master’s degree but to change how college is viewed in my household. I want my children to value the importance of higher education because I grew up in a household where college isn’t valued and I don’t want my children to view higher education as optional. I know this scholarship will be one of many motivators to keep me on the track to success!

Priscilla’s Winning Essay

When raising children you learn to love them more than you love life itself. You no longer do things because it’s just something you want to do. You do it for your children. Growing up I was never taught the importance of an education. I was raised by a single mom who showed me everything a parent wasn’t supposed to do instead of what a mom should do to be the best influence in her children’s lives. Now as a single mother myself, I am preparing to enter the world to be a guide for anyone who is lost and wants to lead a better life. I have a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Ferris State University with a minor in Psychology and an Associate’s degree in Arts from Grand Rapids Community College. I am currently admitted at Grand Valley State for the Master’s in Social Work program and couldn’t be more excited to learn how to help any and every person I can.

I’ve had a long college career that has been very challenging. I’ve changed jobs a few times, failed classes, tried hard without success but still never gave up. Throughout my long college career I’ve grown to learn and live by three standards which were always be positive, be confident, and be prompt.

Why stay positive? It’s so easy to let the negative things that happen in your life effect how you live. When I had my son at the age of 20 I was employed at McDonalds and a very proud new mother. I did everything I needed to do to be a great mom. When he was 3 months old he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and I was told he may not live past ten years old. This was a dark time in my life but I decided I was going to make his 10 years the best 10 years a child can have and can’t wait until the day he turns eleven to show his doctor he was wrong. I don’t let statistics get me down in parenting, school, or work which is why maintaining a positive attitude is one of the many keys to success. I always replay a scenario in my head where I imagine myself running and jumping off a cliff to get to the other side. I always think to myself, even if you run as fast as you can, and jump as high as you can, and still don’t make it, don’t give up. Only you can determine where the “bottom” is. My theory is if you don’t make the jump, grab onto a ledge on the way down and hold on until you’re strong enough to climb to the top. It may not be a quick recovery but if you hold on you’ll get enough strength to make that climb.

I believe confidence is also an important part of one’s success. I was always embarrassed to tell people about my mother’s drug addiction growing up because I was so ashamed. Now I take that misfortune and use it as fuel to be a better mother myself. I always think to myself “look at you”. “You’re doing a great job beating the odds”. I could have let my upbringing mold me into a totally different individual but I didn’t. I’ve worked hard to make sure I was never just an employee but the best employee and not just any student but the best student I could be and to always be the best mom I could be. I’ve gone into each and every semester and told myself you can do this. You can be a mom, student, and still pay your bills on time!

My last standard is to always be prompt. In school or at work this is very important. I’ve never approached a project thinking “how long do I have to turn this in”? Instead I’ve always thought “how soon can I get this done”? Allowing myself more time has always resulted in me producing the best quality of work I possibly could. Being prompt also helps with juggling multiple projects because when the dead line approaches you want to have as much done as possible.

Most importantly, these three standards also help someone else if you use them to uplift that individual. In a home, classroom, or workplace it is always nice to be positive towards other people. Help boost others confidence by saying kind words and rewarding them for doing a good job. Last but not least to remind people to be prompt. If everyone is performing at the same level they would make a great team which creates a better individual. As a parent of two I show my kids these qualities every day!

Third Working Parent Scholarship Winner for Fall 2015

Teresa - Scholarship Winner

Teresa B.

from Mount Airy, NC

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

This scholarship means I can continue my pursuit of my teaching license. This will allow me to finish my classes earlier than planned due to the lifted financial constraints. THANK YOU, for this wonderful opportunity!

Teresa’s Winning Essay

Making the decision to change career paths late in life was a tough one. I had to think about my children and their needs as well as adding to the already financial burden due to job loss and one child beginning his first year of college. To be honest I never thought about the balancing act it would require. I have never thought I couldn’t do something if I set out to do it. I made the decision to teach and I got extremely blessed and landed a lateral entry job that would allow me to teach while I took courses to get my teaching license. The balancing act begins and I will tell you why time management, prioritizing, and being flexible are what I think are the keys to balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school!

I actually began teaching in March, 2014. It took a couple of months to get my course of study from the state and by then school was out for summer break. My plan was to begin taking classes in the fall. I had worked at least two and sometimes three jobs at once so I wasn’t worried about being able to manage my time. Prior to and throughout the summer my youngest son and I spent a lot of time at the orthopedic doctor’s office with what we thought was a sports injury to his leg. Months of therapy and finally excruciating pain in his left hip led to a MRI which showed a tumor. August 4, 2014, the week before I was to begin my first full year of teaching, my son was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer. We were told he would have to go through a rigorous treatment plan of chemotherapy and radiation that would cover a period of 10 months, basically the entire school year. Our school ends on June 12, 2015 and his last radiation treatment is scheduled for June 16, 2015.

Beginning the year was chaotic and managing time became very important. Working full time and managing the planned hospital stays that were eight days a month and then throw in emergency blood and platelet transfusions, that took a minimum of six hours, and going for periodic scans, made time management mandatory. I quickly learned I had to make the most of my time. The best way for me to manage time is to create a weekly calendar list and then break it down to daily lists. Writing down the things that need to be done takes some of the stress away because it brings some organization to the chaos. If I don’t have it on the list there’s a 99% chance it will be forgotten! Important tip; write the list in pencil as it constantly changes and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Another key to balancing is to prioritize. Once the list is made (and revised…several times), the items on the list are ranked by order of importance. Do the most important things on the list first. Prioritizing is a must so that if something comes up, and it probably will, the less important things can be moved to tomorrow. Once my son was diagnosed and started treatment, all of his needs were priority. My workplace was understanding and knew that some days I may have to leave at a moment’s notice and some weeks I would be out a few days. Because I knew I would be out of work frequently I would do emergency lesson plans in advance when I had extra time.

The final key for me balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school is to be flexible. There are always going to be things that just “pop up” during the day and you have to learn to not stress and make adjustments. There were many days I did my online class work while waiting in a doctor’s office. I carried my iPad most places and took advantage of any downtime to read and work on assignments. If something came up with my husband’s work schedule and he couldn’t take our son for treatment I knew I would need to adjust my schedule. It isn’t worth to the turmoil of getting stressed out over things that are out of my control. Being able to adapt and move on is helpful to keeping a sense of balance.

I can say, even when I thought there wasn’t enough time in a day, things always worked out. Some nights had less sleep than others and some weeks the laundry piled up but that’s part of being flexible. Has it been an easy year for me? No, it wasn’t easy, but it was manageable because I found a balance between parenthood, work, and school.

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winners (December 2014)

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award scholarship program has concluded for the second half of 2014, and we’re very excited to announce that we once again had such an impressive field of applicants we have selected another three winners.

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for December 2014

Sarah - Scholarship Winner

Sarah C.

from Saint Peters, MO

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

“Winning this award is humbling and ‘thank you’ does not seem to express my appreciation. Knowing there is less of a financial burden my family has to face is a great feeling. Being able to hold a full time job, care for my family, and be successful in nursing school can be overwhelming in itself. believes in me and my goals. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

Update on Her Progress:

Here’s “a little update and yet another ‘thank you’ for’s support. I completed my Fall semester of nursing school with an overall grade of 92.2%. While I know it may not be commonplace to hear from scholarship winners again, I wanted to let all those involved know in choosing the recipients and donating to the scholarship fund that the funds have gone to help someone succeed.”

Sarah’s Winning Essay

Three keys to successfully balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school are organization, dedication, and a support system. As a mother of two young children and a firefighter’s wife with an eleven year career as a Paramedic, the choice to go back to school for my Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree did not come lightly. I knew this choice would affect many people. After years of debate and many discussions with my family and co-workers, I returned to college as a Nursing major in January of 2013. I started full time nursing classes the same month my 5 year old daughter began Kindergarten and completed my first semester with a 90% overall average. Without organization, dedication to school, and my surrounding support system, I would not be a successful student, wife and mother.

Organization of school work, home life, and the work schedule is essential. Planning for my full time semester began months in advance of my first day. I prepared my class schedule according to the times of my daughter’s school. On days my husband worked, I had to be available to take her to school and get her off the bus. Classes were five days per week with two of these days beginning at 6:30 am. Arrangements had to be made for both kids on these days because daycare didn’t open early enough. I made sure to make time alone with no distractions for homework. Dinners were planned every morning, lunches were packed each night, and my husband took over laundry duty. I had to submit vacation days to work so I could attend classes. Years of banking my vacation time gave me enough time available to take off. While it sounds like a logistical nightmare to some, it is possible and important to keep it all organized and plan ahead.

Dedication to Nursing and earning the degree is another aspect of being successful. I want to be a nurse. It’s that simple. I am dedicated to the homework, classroom, and learning. Without dedication, I would fail. Instead of watching TV my time is spent making note cards or reading materials for the next lecture. There are countless nights my 3 year old son wanted to watch TV and snuggle with me before bed. Taking my notes with me to the couch, I was able to still study while still getting some ‘mommy time’ in. There were many early mornings I was up before anyone to complete assignments and many late nights cracking the books. It was my commitment that kept me from hitting the snooze button on the alarm. If it weren’t for my dedication, I wouldn’t be successful.

I believe the most important aspect is a support system. I would not have been able to return to college if my husband, parents, co-workers, and neighbors were not supportive of me achieving my goal. Having two small children to care for can be difficult in itself. Adding homework to the mix is hard. I have many offers from my parents and neighbors to watch the kids for a few hours while I study. My husband has had many trips to the park so I may have a quiet house and quizzed me late at night before a big test. My supervisors have helped me find someone to cover my shift when my vacation day was not approved. The frequent phone calls from and text messages from all of them wishing me ‘luck’ on my test or ‘checking in’ to see how I am let me know they are cheering me on and supporting me. Without this amazing support system surrounding me, I would not be able to immerse myself into college.

Organization, dedication, and a support system are three keys to successfully balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school. Achieving an overall semester grade of 90% shows it is possible for a full time mom, career woman, and wife to succeed and still juggle life. There are sacrifices, tough decisions, and moments of feeling overwhelmed, but the feeling of accomplishment and pride when you see how well you have done makes it worth the hard work. Knowing that I am teaching my children these values through example is priceless.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for December 2014

Nathalie - Scholarship Winner

Nathalie S.

from Terrytown, LA

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

“As a working mother and student, my income is spread very thin. Each semester I am concerned with whether I will have enough financial aid to cover all of my expenses, which adds heavily to my stress. Recently the limits of financial aid have forced me to search for alternative solutions, yet I did not believe I would win over the myriad of other participants. This scholarship has allowed me to exhale for this semester, which means more to me than you know. I have received just enough to cover my remaining balance and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for selecting me as one of the recipients.”

Nathalie’s Winning Essay

Parenthood in itself takes up most of my free time, however combining parenthood with both work and school is one of the most difficult accomplishments I will make; especially working 40 hours a week at a demanding job with an inquisitive toddler at home. Success for me is nothing less than an A, and striving to accomplish such a high goal depends on organization, prioritization, and proactive studying.

Organization is one of the key factors, as well as the starting point for every task I have. I break down my day and my work into small but manageable goals. At work, we call these “Wildly Important Goals”. The idea is that with every little goal I meet, I am one step closer to my end goal, whether at work or in my personal life. Moreover, the best form of organization is a calendar. My calendar is my personal assistant, and it is structured by the hour. My work day is an 8 hour work day, and I must accomplish all my tasks before I am able to leave and put my work behind me mentally. Furthermore, wearing as many hats so-to-speak as I do, I have different folders and systems in place in order to separate my work from my personal life. I utilize a studying software where I break down my lecture notes, versus my book notes for each class individually just I have different files at work for each aspect of my job. Also, I ensure that I only have the papers in front of me that pertain to the task at hand; all additional files, or books have been put away. Working or studying in a disorganized or cluttered environment is detrimental to my concentration, and as such, organization is one of the most important steps to success.

Prioritization is another important key to success. Although organization is important, it is not the only factor that I can rely on. More often than not, and as parents know, things do not always go according to plan. As a result, knowing which tasks are more important, and which can be rescheduled is necessary. Prioritizing my day effectively is not always easy, however not every task is as important as the next. Studying for an upcoming test is more important than finishing a reading assignment for another class, and finishing a presentation for a meeting at noon, is more important than reviewing the files of clients who are arriving next week. I utilize checklists daily, set priorities based on when the assignment is due, and often looking ahead to ensure that I am on track. My tasks are prioritized by their importance, as well as by the time needed to complete each one; this type of prioritization helps me to figure out which task can be postponed should an unexpected problem arise. There have been numerous times that a new client has popped up, or my nanny is unavailable and I was forced to reschedule a good portion of my day. Taking control of my work and my studies helps to alleviate the confusion and overwhelming feelings that can often occur from having too much on my plate.

The last and probably most important element of success is proactive studying. Organization and prioritization are the lifeline of my days, yet they are only a means to an end. In order to obtain the job that I prefer I need excellent grades and great references, and neither organization nor prioritization alone will give me these. I need, as I put it, to be a proactive studier. Proactive studying is studying little by little at least two weeks in advance of each test. I have never been one to like procrastinating, and leaving studying to the last the minute leads to anxiety and poor test performance. When I take a test, or give a presentation I must be well versed on every possible topic. I put each day’s lectures and book notes into a series of computerized notecards that I proactively type up daily. The software that I use memorizes every card that I know, versus those that I don’t and then quizzes me again and again until I know it all. As a result of this way of studying, when I take the test there is rarely a question that I am not familiar with. This type of studying has allowed me to minimize the test anxiety and fear of failure that has been a problem in the past.

I am 32 years old, and so close to my end goal. I have learned that the only way for me to be successful as full time parent, full time worker, and part-time student is to account for every part of my day. I know when to wake up, when to leave to bring my son to daycare, and what time I will arrive at work. I am well versed on how long it takes me to complete each task I have at work, with or without possible distractions. I know when to begin studying for exams, and when to stop. I am confident in my abilities to succeed, and I know that I will reach my goal with or without help. This confidence and my current success realized by my grades is in large part due to these three key factors I have put in place for myself.

Third Working Parent Scholarship Winner for December 2014

Horace - Scholarship Winner

Horace M.

from Levittown, PA

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

“I am honored to be one of the recipients of the Working Parents Scholarship. Thank you for your generous support, as I am the first male in my family to go to college. I have just began my undergraduate career in Computer Networking and MIS at ITT Technical Institute. My ultimate goal is a master’s degree in Computer Science. My educational endeavors would not be possible without the support of organizations such as yours.”

Horace’s Winning Essay

The first key is goal setting/strategy. I spent seven years as a production recruiter in the U.S. Army. During that time, I helped young men and women succeed and pursue their initial goals of joining the military and going off to training. Now that I have recently finished a 24 year career, I understand that setting intermediate and long range goals helps me put things in perspective. Without setting intermediate goals, there is nothing to look forward to. Students need an immediate sense of gratification. This is more important when you work full-time, and are raising young children. I have a five year old son, and three year old daughter. I have had to monopolize and manage my time more effectively, by dividing things into small bites of accomplishment. On the other hand, I need long range goals so that everything has a meaning and comes into perspective. Ultimately I want a master’s degree in Computer Science. Originally, it was a bachelor’s degree only. My networking instructor who has two graduate degrees has encouraged me to shoot higher, so I have.

The second key is time management. This has been the biggest challenge as a father and student. As a student, I have been plagued by what system I plan to use to get better organized. I have had meetings with my wife on how to coordinate work projects/school assignments with my son’s t-ball games, etc. All the while studying for a mid-term or final exam. I have written down reminders on note pads and prioritized household chores and grocery shopping, etc. My wife and I have moved to google calendar to stay on top of our important dates (e.g. kid checkup dates like the dentist, eye doctor, etc.). It has been a challenge. However, it has paid off. We are not perfect, but we have gained valuable time back that has helped us excel at what we do. At the end of the day, 15 to 20 minutes of organizing/preparation makes a tremendous difference in everything that you do. Families today are under a tremendous amount of pressure to multi-task. I have been reminded by my wife to make sure that we make time to eat dinner at the table as a family. Sometimes I have an assignment, and want to watch T in the living room, and my wife pulls me into the dining room to make sure that I focus on family and do my assignment later. So, I have learned to manage my time smartly, by understanding when a task is important, and when it is not.

The third key is drive – I would describe this as grit. That determination to get things done. My wife and I are both in school. I am pursuing a bachelors in Computer Science/MIS, and she in nursing. Without our drive to succeed, neither one of us would have come this far. We realize the sacrifice involved in that process is in exchange for family trips, dining out, etc. When I spoke at high schools as a recruiter, I talked to most of the juniors and seniors about success. That it is part hard work, and part strategy. I think that drive is the diligence to finish what you start. I think that this is the biggest part of the pie. But when you have drive, it is infectious. It encourages those around you to be better and do better. I have been motivated to do better by being in the company of driven people.

In closing, I would like to say that goal setting, time management and drive are accentuated by the understanding and support of a husband or wife/boyfriend or girlfriend.

The Ohio Resident College Scholarship Award Winner (August 2014)

The Ohio Resident College Scholarship Award scholarship program has ended for 2014, and we’re proud to announce that we have selected a winning entrant.

Ohio Resident Scholarship Winner for 2014

Savannah - Ohio Scholarship Winner

Savannah F.

from Massillon, OH

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

“Winning this scholarship means so much! I am both grateful and proud to have been selected. The scholarship money will help immensely with the costs of my education. This means less pressure in paying my current tuition while simultaneously applying to law school, which is costly in itself. I am glad that opened this scholarship to students in the state of Ohio by asking about planning for the future with the economy in mind. Not only does it offer a wonderful prize, but it also provokes applicants with a question that will help them in making their life plans. Thank you again for providing this opportunity!”

Savannah’s Winning Essay

I am currently completing an internship with the Mayor of Canton, Honorable William J. Healy II. My duties include the usual coffee fetching and copy making, like most internships. However, because of my educational background, I have been given more intellectually challenging tasks that have truly opened my eyes to the current state of Ohio’s economy. As a student at Wittenberg University, I am double majoring in Economics and English with a minor in Political Science. My plan is to attend law school and concentrate my studies in either Labor and Employment Law or Trademark Law, two of the limited fields in law that seem to be growing.

Majoring in both Economics and English can sometimes be difficult, but it is the extra work that I am putting in that will help me get a job in the state of Ohio in the future. It is with no surprise for me to state that Ohio’s economy has seen better days. Most of Ohio’s economy is dependent on manufacturing. In recent years, factories like the Hoover Plant have shut down and outsourced to countries where labor and resources are cheaper. Just this past winter, farmers’ fields faced a harsh winter, which makes summer crop cultivation more difficult. Despite all of this, Ohio’s economy seems to be on the rise, especially in the city of Canton.

One of my first tasks as the Mayor’s intern was evaluate the trends of unemployment in the city of Canton. Canton is a relativity poor city that has faced high unemployment since the nationwide recession of 2007. However, as of this April, Canton has reached 6.2% unemployment, which is the lower than pre-recession levels and just under the nationwide unemployment rate. One reason Canton has been able to reach this unemployment level is because of the Utica Shale. The Utica Shale is an underground area in which oil is pumped. With the Utica Shale being under the city of Canton, many oil and gas companies have decided to relocate to the area. Without my diverse education, I would have been unable to complete this project. My education in Economics aided me in the research phase of this project, and I was able to write press releases with my background in English.

The city of Canton is indicative to the state of Ohio. The economy of Ohio is still struggling, but things do seem to be getting better. The past and present instability of the economy is something I take into consideration when making my future career plans. There are many people that think that getting a degree in law means getting a job. This is not the case. In fact, there is currently an overabundance of lawyers trying to find jobs. In this current economy, it is risky to invest thousands of dollars in my education, but it is with my diverse background and research in employment growth, that I plan to pursue my passion of law anyway. One of the things that I have learned from studying Ohio’s economy is that diversity is important to embrace. Ohio’s exploration in the oil and gas industry is unlike what we have depended on before. I am personally trying to remain employable by majoring in two very different fields.

I am attempting to hone two necessary skills for the future: writing and analyzing. Both should help me throughout my law school education, but I also believe they will help me stand out when entering the work force. If law doesn’t work out, I hope to be able to fall back on these skills. If there is one thing I have learned from the current state of Ohio’s economy, it is that no matter how much we try to predict what is going to happen, the future is still uncertain. I have kept this lesson in mind when preparing for the future, and have planned accordingly.

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winners (June 2014)

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award scholarship program has concluded for the first half of 2014, and we’re happy to announce that we had such an impressive field of applicants we have selected three winners.

First Working Parent Scholarship Winner for June 2014

Tracie - Scholarship Winner

Tracie W.

from Richland, WA

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

“I was going to have to postpone going to school because of financial hardship. When I got the news that I had won the scholarship contest, I almost cried. This scholarship will allow me to continue my education without hurting my family financially. I work in management now and am working on my business degree. Without this scholarship, I don’t know when I would be able to afford to take the classes I need to finish school. Thank you.”

Tracie’s Winning Essay

There are many keys to successfully balancing parenthood, working, and excelling in school. I believe that the most important thing in life is family. If there is not balance and comfort within a family, there is not the support necessary to excel in other aspects of one’s life. Next, a positive attitude is essential in order to be successful; without it you are setting yourself up for failure. Finally, without organization, success may not be attainable. I will touch on the importance of each of these factors when balancing parenting, work, and school.

Family should come first, above all else. When things are good at home you are more able to focus on other things that you need to do. If you nurture your relationships, you have the best support system in the world. Spending time with your spouse is especially important; you must schedule time to do things with them. Keep in mind, any stressed relationship you have at home will spill over into work and school. Putting your family first ensures healthy relationships which, in turn, ensures overall success.

Sitting down for dinner is an important element in making family first and is more than just eating together. Family mealtime gives way to communication, which is essential in keeping a healthy relationship with everyone. This is an opportunity to reconnect with each other. With all the busy schedules, it is often hard to take the time and catch up with one another. Dinnertime is a good time to recharge and develop a sense of who we are as a family. Eating together is a small step, but a very important one, in helping each person be successful in all they do.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important factor in being successful. When you make the time to eat right and workout, you are stronger in all aspects of life. When you include your family in these things, you are more likely to stick with it. Everyone is healthier, and you have that much more time together as a family. Many studies have proven that healthy people are happy people. Staying healthy is definitely a big step in being successful in all you do.

Another key factor in being successful is a positive attitude. There are several things you can do to stay positive throughout your journey. The first thing is don’t expect perfection. This is the hardest thing for some people. When you strive for perfection, it is easy to get frustrated and frustration can lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and ultimately make a person want to give up. One way of keeping a positive attitude is by setting attainable goals for yourself. Be realistic; don’t set your sights for something that you can’t possibly achieve in the amount of time given. Remember that stress is inevitable and usually it is more realistic to learn to relieve it than it is to prevent it.

It is also important to allow yourself to take breaks so you can go back at it with a clear head. Relaxation time by yourself or with friends and family can make a huge difference when it comes to focusing on the tasks at hand. Allow yourself to enjoy life no matter what. Keep your eye on the prize! Don’t lose sight of the fact that this phase in life doesn’t last forever. Also remember that you are not alone and if others can do it, so can you.

Communicate your needs to those around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help. People who care about you want you to be successful. If you keep everything to yourself, you’re likely to become overwhelmed and give up. Tell your boss that you are going to school, but don’t let school interfere with work and vice versa. Let your spouse know that you have a test coming up and you need time to study. Don’t be afraid to ask your parents, siblings, or friends for help with the kids sometimes. Be a little selfish and let someone else worry about dinner every once in a while. If you don’t let someone know that you need help, they are likely to think you have it under control all by yourself. Communication is a key factor in staying positive and being successful.

Finally, staying organized is essential in keeping balance in all aspects of life, especially when you are a working parent who is also going to school. There are several ways to keep yourself organized. First, create a space just for studying. You need a quiet area where you can think that is also clear of all clutter. If you can’t find your homework, it is hard to turn it in. Make a flexible schedule and understand that sometimes things come up. There are lots of online calendars, planners and such that can help with this. With a schedule, be sure to keep work and school separated. You will be more successful in each one if you don’t combine the two. Having your own space allows you to stay organized and a schedule helps to keep you on task. Both of which makes success much easier.

I know I don’t have all the answers and sometimes stress management eludes me as much as the next person, but when I put all of the precluding factors to use, I am successful. My attitude isn’t always positive but I know it is short-term and I can make it through this. Sometimes my life becomes disorganized and I step back, take a break to clear my head, and go back and tackle the task at hand. The one thing that I never lose sight of is that my family is the most important thing in my life and without them all other things would be pointless. All of these things are what make me successful as a parent, an employee, and as a student.

Second Working Parent Scholarship Winner for June 2014

Ryan - Scholarship Winner

Ryan J.

from Yucaipa, CA

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

“I appreciate so much this scholarship from My family and I sacrifice many luxuries and work very hard to be sure that we are successful in our educational endeavors. We strive to never put our family on the back-burner while we push forward. Every scholarship, grant, or source of income allows us to cover a few more expenses, and that creates a little less stress. As an Accounting major I hope to be successful enough to create a supportive and comfortable life for my children, and I also hope to be able to return the generosity given to me throughout my educational career. Thank you for your willingness to reach out to me, my family, and others. It will always be appreciated, and it will never be forgotten.”

Ryan’s Winning Essay

Balancing Parenthood:
Key number one: Quality family time.

As I have worked, attended school and fulfilled my role as father to three young children I have found that spending quality time as a family has been the number one key in balancing my home, work, and academic life. Before I figured this out I was overwhelmed, and I felt like I was failing at all three. If I spent too much time in one area, the other areas suffered. I sat down with my wife and prioritized my life so that I could find greater joy and strength to progress successfully at all three. We decided that we needed to be unified and happy so that our happiness would filter down to our children. We first started by planning weekly outings as husband and wife. Even if we spent only 30 minutes getting ice cream and talking, those 30 minutes were enough to rejuvenate our friendship and relationship. This helped us to be better parents. Next, we planned weekly outings with the children. I am never too busy for an hour a week with my kids. We would go to the zoo for an hour. We would go to the school and play tennis, basketball, or have races around the running track. Lastly we made a commitment to read and pray as a family each evening. 10 minutes at night is never too long when it’s quality family time.

Balancing Working:
Key number two: Work only enough to meet my basic needs.

I have a wife, three children, and I attend school full time. My wife and I have chosen to make many sacrifices so that we can finish our education. Work is important because we understand the negative impact that excessive student loans have on graduates. We made a goal to take out as few of them as possible. We have been able to keep our student loans minimal, but we have also had to sacrifice much. We live off of the bare essentials. We find activities that are inexpensive or free. We look to save a dollar wherever we can and we work as hard as we can without sacrificing our family time. I could work more hours and make more money, but I would not want to sacrifice the time I spend with my family; especially my children. This part of my life is a stepping stone toward a better life for my family, and I want to make sure that I keep my priorities where they need to be.

Excelling in School:
Key number three: Focus, be efficient, and stay organized.

When I take 12-14 credits at a four-year university, work, and try to maintain a positive family and home life, I have to stay focused, be efficient, and stay organized. I have to focus on my studies. This is going to be the lively hood I provide for my family. It is important for me to focus on my classes and get the information that I need from them so that I am successful in my future career. I have to be efficient because I can’t dedicate every hour of every day to every class I take. I have to plan out my time for each class and each assignment so that I am aware of what I need to do and how long I have to do it. I have to stay organized because forgetting about a project or assignment causes and creates undue stress. I don’t need to add stress to an already stressful situation. When I stay organized I feel confident that I can accomplish what I need to, when I need to.

Three Keys:
Prioritization is the key theme to the three keys of my success.

In conclusion, the overlapping theme to my three keys is prioritization. My family comes first. I have to give them the time they deserve, no matter how busy I am with work and school. Because my family comes first, my job is a tool that I use to provide for them until I can complete my education. As I am focused on my education and complete my assignments efficiently and on time, I can use my education to further my ability to provide for my family. By prioritizing and putting my family first, I excel in my work and education.

Third Working Parent Scholarship Winner for June 2014

Mark - Scholarship Winner

Mark H.

from Logan, UT

His Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

“Being a parent, husband, student and employee all at once is one of the hardest things I could be doing at this point in my life. My wife is also a parent, student and employee which, needless to say, is stressful. This scholarship will allow us to excel at all four roles that we play on an everyday basis. With this money I will be able to take some financial strain away and I will be able to use that time that I would have been working to be a better parent, husband and student. Many parents want to give the best to their children but I believe that something that we do not give to our children as often as we should is time. That is the best we can give and we should give it freely to our children whom we love so dearly. When I think about why I applied to this scholarship I come to the conclusion that it was not just so I could win or receive help with my school expenses. It was because I love my wife and son and I want to give them the time they deserve. I know that this scholarship will allow me to give of myself which is the best that I can give to my wife and child. I am extremely thankful that gives parents like me the opportunity to receive some help as we are going through this rough time in our lives. It is a magnanimous gesture and I will put it to good use. In short, with this money I will become an even better parent, husband, student and employee. Thank you”

Mark’s Winning Essay

When my wife and I received the blessing of having our first child in October 2013 we were filled with happiness. We did, however, feel some apprehension about the juggling act that we would be required to perform between school, work and our little family. I quickly realized that I would need to have an indomitable sense of endurance as well as compartmentalization skills. I also knew that I would need to have a great love for my family and my field of study.

I have always known that endurance is important but I never realized the magnitude of it. For the better part of the last semester I would wake up at three thirty in the morning to go up to the college to clean one of the buildings for four hours. I would then go home at eight and take care of my son, who was still a baby, while my wife went to her part-time job. We then would go to classes together because we both are in the social work program. We would have various friends sit outside our classrooms with our son and if he started crying one of us would go out and take care of him while the other took especially good notes so we could study together. I had fifteen credits that semester which was breather compared to the eighteen I had taken the last two semesters. After our classes concluded I would go work at another job in the evening and get home around nine or ten at night. I needed endurance to keep that up during that marathon of a semester. I believe that I endured in a healthy way because I still managed to achieve a 4.0 GPA during that semester. Endurance is a necessity in everyone’s life but it is extremely imperative for parents who are working and going to school.

Compartmentalization is a skill mentioned most often in psychology. It is normally considered as a coping strategy but I would like to think of it more as a skill that needs to be developed in order to be successful while working, going to school and caring for one’s family. I would like to consider compartmentalization to be the act of separating time and resources for the different responsibilities that I have as a parent, student and employee. I found out the importance of separating my work and school from my family time fairly quickly. It is common knowledge that frustrations occur at work and at school. I would do a great injustice to my family, however, by bringing those frustrations home with me. I would not offer the best possible care to my son if I was constantly worrying about an essay that I needed to write or a project that I had not finished at work. I needed and still need to separate all these things to give them their proper attention. One way that I do this is when I am at home I try to not answer phone calls about work but I do return them if they leave me a message. I also try to do most of my homework at times when my son is sleeping or my wife is at work so I can devote myself to them when we are together. A useful strategy that I use is to relax while I am driving home from work so I do not continue to think about work while I am at home. This has worked well for me and I think it has helped me give more quality care to my son.

The most important key to being a successful parent, student and employee is love. I love my family in an unconditional way. I love my field of study as a social worker and I am excited to get my master’s degree so I can become a one-on-one counselor or therapist. I maybe do not love my job but I love that I have the opportunity to provide for my family with the work that I am able to do. My family will always be first. If I needed to steal some time from school or work to help my family I would do that in a heartbeat. After all, why am I even going to school and working? It is so I can provide for my family and give them the best lives possible. If I lose sight of that then I lose sight of my purpose. If I was to be going to school so I could make a lot of money and just spend my time playing around and engaging in self indulging activities then I would be fulfilling nothing. I love my wife and that is why I support her in school. I love my son and that is why I am going to school. I love what I do and feel as though it is a calling for me to help other people. If love was not the reason why I was doing all of this then I feel it would be a superficial endeavor. Love makes me stay up late to do homework and then get up an hour later to take care of my crying baby. Love makes me want to work full-time and still do well in school. Love is the reason behind everything and it will always be the most important key to being a successful parent, student and employee.

The apprehension of how to make everything work still comes to me now and then but I know that through endurance, compartmentalization and love I am able be the best parent, student and employee possible. Many people do not experience what this is like but I am glad that I am experiencing it now because I know it will prepare me for the challenges that lie ahead.

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award Winner (Fall 2013)

The Working Parent College Scholarship Award scholarship program has ended for 2013, and we’re proud to announce that we have chosen a winner.

Working Parent Scholarship Winner for 2013

Sandra - Scholarship Winner

Sandra M.

from Gilbert, AZ

Her Thoughts on Winning the Scholarship

“Being selected for this award is a huge honor for me. While nothing will compare to the feeling of achievement I will have on the day I receive my diploma and embark on my career, being recognized for my success in balancing a family, academics, and a job is very rewarding. Especially having small children, this prize will certainly have a positive impact for my family, and I am continually grateful for all the help and support I am receiving to further my education.”

Featured in the East Valley Tribune

Sandra’s Winning Essay

While many students may struggle to excel in college, those who also balance their academic life with the responsibilities of being a working parent are presented with unique challenges. I am a full-time Computer Science major, a wife, a mother of two young boys, and a night-shift employee. Being successful in all these capacities requires being very organized and proactive, knowing one’s limits, and being able to stay motivated despite all the obstacles and challenges that may present themselves.

The most essential skills in maintaining the logistics of balancing a family with school and a job are organization and being proactive. Being highly organized helps ensure that homework assignments are not forgotten, bills do not become overdue, and children always make it to their doctor appointments. At the beginning of each semester, I create a spreadsheet to post on the refrigerator showing the times and locations of all my classes, as well as what time I need to leave the house and when I expect to be home. I also have a large dry-erase calendar that I update monthly with family activities, exams, bill due dates, and anything that is out of our normal routine. Keeping these up to date ensures that my husband and I are always on the same page and know what to expect for the coming weeks. Additionally, I keep a separate calendar on my phone and computer that has all my assignments, exams, and study reminders so that I can check items off as they are completed. Although other individuals may have their own methods, the basic key is to have a very efficient organizational system to ensure that all obligations are met on time and there is no miscommunication within the household. Hand-in-hand with organization is being as proactive as possible in completing necessary tasks. For me, this means that I strive to always get my assignments finished well before their due date, to study in advance for exams, and to never wait until the last moment for anything if it can be avoided. Life is full of unpredictable events, particularly with young children who are often prone to getting sick or hurt or breaking things at the most inopportune times. Being highly organized and proactive is the best way to ensure that all tasks are completed on time, despite the unforeseen events that may occur.

Another key to successfully balance so many responsibilities is to know one’s limits and when to say “no.” Especially being surrounded by so many students whose sole responsibility is their school work and therefore also participate in clubs, fraternities, and internships, it can be tempting to want to take on all these other activities as well. While this is sometimes possible, in many cases adding more responsibilities and time commitments while already being a full-time student with children and a job would be self-defeating and overwhelming. I have been invited to join academic fraternities, and I often worry about competing in the job market after graduation with other students who have all these resume boosting activities, but I know for myself that I am already balancing everything that I am capable of doing well. Adding more activities would upset the balance: my school work would suffer, I may be too exhausted at work, or I would simply not have enough time with my family to be a good wife and mother. Knowing the limits of the most that I can do well, and adhering to those limits, is important in ensuring that I can continue to be successful and take care of my responsibilities effectively. This also at times means setting boundaries and saying “no.” For example, this past semester a coworker of mine was out on medical leave and I began working extra night shifts during the school week to help out. However, after 3 weeks of working night shifts full-time, going to school full-time just prior to mid-terms, and trying to help my husband take care of the children, I knew I needed to say “no” and stop working the extra shifts, or I would be at too great a risk of falling behind in school and becoming completely overwhelmed. Being able to set these boundaries and recognize my limits is essential in ensuring I do not take on more that I can handle successfully.

Perhaps the most essential component of all in effectively balancing parenthood, marriage, school, and work is staying motivated. Navigating the day-to-day stress of all my responsibilities can often be challenging, and it is pivotal that I remain positive and always remember why I am doing everything that I do. My children are what keep me focused and inspired to continue along my path. My older son is in 1st grade, and could not wait to start school last year so he could “be like Mom,” and now he says he wants to go to Arizona State and be an engineer. Both my children ask what I am learning when they see me working on my assignments, and my three year old is already asking when he can go to school too. Seeing my boys take such an interest in what I am learning, and that my journey through college is already influencing them to be academically motivated, is enormously inspiring to me and gives me the drive to continue through the difficult times I encounter. Also, remembering that ultimately my time in college will provide me with the skills to have a successful career and provide better opportunities and security for my family is imperative towards staying focused and not getting discouraged.

Navigating a post-secondary education while working and raising a family will surely be one of the most challenging periods of my life. However, not only am I gaining the academic skills on which I endeavored, but I am also acquiring important life skills and lessons on how to be effectively organized and proactive, knowing my limits, and how truly inspiring having children can be in achieving my goals.

Good Luck to This Year’s Entrants

Once again, congratulations to all of our Ohio Resident & Working Parent College Scholarship winners. We look forward to receiving applications and essays from future scholarship applicants!