Sarah’s Story: A single mom finds hope through education
Editor’s note: This post comes as part of our participation in a fundraising effort this month for a scholarship for single moms. For more information on the scholarship and this fundraiser, see here.
No one ever expects that they’ll have a marriage that ends in divorce, but in August 2009, while recovering in the ICU after complications associated with the birth of my 4th child, I finally determined I had the courage to leave my abusive husband of almost 9 years. Four days after leaving the ICU, and assisted by close friends, I gathered the children’s and my possessions and moved out. At the time, the children were: girl 6 ½; girl 4 ½; boy 2 ½; and girl newborn. Not only was my children’s father mentally, verbally, and sometimes physically abusive, but as he had not provided for the financial necessities of life, I knew he would not be a source of financial support in the future either. This has proven to be correct. I would have to bear the sole financial responsibility to provide for the children. The thought of how this would be accomplished was overwhelming and intimidating. My family in Australia encouraged me to go back to my homeland so they could provide their support and help raise the children. Returning to Australia was not a viable option at that time for a couple of reasons: I didn’t yet know the custody arrangements; and, I was not a citizen of the USA; and if I left the country for 6 months or longer, I would permanently relinquish my residency status.
In December 2009, I began interning at various work sites through the Department of Workforce Services in an effort to refresh my skills and make myself more marketable to employers. It didn’t take long to determine that the skills and work experience I possessed would not be enough to enable me to provide sufficiently for my family. I knew I had to gain more education in order to qualify for the much- needed salary increase. Exactly what I would study and how I would pay for it weighed heavily on my mind.
When the divorce was finalized in May 2010, I was awarded sole custody of the children. After a generous donation from a dear friend, I became a citizen in October 2010.
After visiting a couple of campuses and exploring their courses of study, I still felt unsettled. A friend who had attended LDS Business College [LDSBC] a decade ago suggested I look into the courses offered there. Within moments of walking through the door, I sensed a feeling of warmth and security envelope me. Without having spoken to any of the staff or faculty, I knew I was supposed to attend the Business College. After a 21 year absence from any kind of formal schooling, I felt that it was the place that would provide the nurturing, supportive environment I desperately needed.
The boost of confidence I needed came when I found out that the LDSBC offered a Scholarship for single parents, and that I qualified for it. I remember when the email arrived that I had been granted the Scholarship, I cried from feeling overwhelmed with appreciation and joy. I decided right there and then that if the people who donated the funds for the Scholarship and faculty of the College believed I was worth the investment, then I would give my all to my studies and do my absolute best to ensure that those precious funds were not wasted on me. The donors may never fully understand how their gift has blessed my life. Within a few days of attending classes, delving into the textbooks, and getting to know my teachers, a feeling swelled within me that has grown and grown ever since. It was a feeling that distilled on me that ‘I can do hard things’. Learning has become a joy – I’ve learned to love learning. Watching myself accomplish things I felt were so unattainable only a short time ago, gives me courage to face all the uncertainties of life. As a direct result of the change in my heart, my children are being raised by a happier, more focused, more attentive, more life-loving mother. Now in my fourth semester, I’ve averaged a 3.98 GPA. Feelings of inadequacy and intimidation are gone and I see what I’ve accomplished in the past and have full confidence that my children and I have a bright future ahead of us.
Anyone who has heard me speak of my gratitude to the donors who have made it possible for me to attend the College know it is a topic very close to my heart, and usually accompanied by tears. I look forward to the day when I know the names of the individuals who have donated the funds, to look into their eyes, and thank them personally for allowing me the means to have my life transformed. I don’t expect if I were to meet them that I would have the words to describe my gratitude. A simple “Thank You”, though sincere and heart-felt, is so inadequate to really express my feelings of gratitude. When granted the Scholarship, I promised the donors I’d do my very best and assured them that their precious funds would not be wasted on me. I have kept that promise to them and will continue to do so. I too would like to donate to the Scholarship fund, so that other people in similar situations have the opportunities that have been afforded to me.
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Interested in donating? You can donate to the Stella Oaks Scholarship for single parents here.