First in household to attend postsecondary faculty, single mother says ASPSF ‘helped me hold my head above water’


Shalonda along with her daughter, Catoria, and son, Kirdarion. 

Shalonda Garner discovered herself in a scenario like many single moms discover themselves: and not using a job, two younger youngsters, no youngster assist, and a choice to make concerning the future.

“I used to be working a manufacturing facility job in Jonesboro, and I misplaced my job,” Shalonda stated. “I believed, ‘I’m not going to take a seat round on my butt and do nothing,’ so I had to determine what I used to be going to do.” Shalonda didn’t need to discover herself in that place once more, so she started taking a look at profession choices with extra stability.

“I didn’t need to be in a manufacturing facility ceaselessly, so I knew I needed to give myself choices,” she stated.

Shalonda’s daughter, Catoria, had additionally been speaking about taking technical lessons when she acquired to highschool to earn her licensed nursing assistant license whereas nonetheless in highschool. Shalonda determined that to indicate her daughter it might be accomplished, it was one thing she may do now. Shalonda enrolled in class and accomplished lessons for CNA and phlebotomy at Arkansas State College-Newport.

“I didn’t take the CNA examination as a result of I wished to proceed on to that subsequent degree: I knew I wasn’t going to cease there,” stated Shalonda, the one of her siblings to proceed her training after highschool.

Shalonda has been working as a house well being aide. She accomplished the stipulations and was accepted into the licensed sensible nurse program at ASUN on the Marked Tree campus.

Aaliyah Hudson (from left) Shalonda Garner, and Sydney Pollard stand collectively. 

“Being a single mother or father and having solely that one revenue was exhausting,” Shalonda stated. “I’m grateful for these with Arkansas Single Mother or father Scholarship Fund that helped me hold my head above water. The scholarships helped us make ends meet with payments and groceries and with fuel to get backwards and forwards to high school and work. Having individuals such as you on my workforce, I knew I couldn’t let the individuals who supported me down. I stored going as a result of I knew I couldn’t allow them to down as a result of how may I after they invested their money and time in me. I wasn’t going to try this.”

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Shalonda’s important motivation, nevertheless, was her two youngsters, Catoria, and son, Kirdarion: “I had my youngsters watching me. It was exhausting not seeing them a lot generally, however seeing them watch me graduate and them cheering for me whereas additionally understanding they completed it with you, that does one thing to you.”

Shalonda stated when she first began faculty, she nervous about lacking her youngsters’ video games and actions, however she discovered alongside the best way the way to stability faculty, work, and her household — even when that meant taking her books along with her to the ballpark.

Shalonda accomplished the one-year program in 2021 and graduated on Dec. 10 of that yr.

“The entire day I used to be pumped! I used to be so proud I had completed yet one more factor I had set my eyes on. I used to be overjoyed,” she stated. However that pleasure rapidly turned as she confronted a twister that broken her house.

Whereas at commencement, work was calling her to come back in, so she needed to rapidly drive her youngsters house, change garments and report back to work. Quickly after, storms had been headed towards Northeast Arkansas, so she known as her sister to select up her youngsters. When she was lastly capable of return house, she discovered roof injury and different injury together with {the electrical} meter and cable field torn fully from the house. With no water or electrical energy for a number of days, she checked her household right into a resort.

Shalonda Garner attends commencement. 

With assist from the Arkansas Single Mother or father Scholarship Fund’s emergency funds, Shalonda was capable of obtain some assist paying for a few of her resort invoice, changing the chilly and frozen meals misplaced through the energy outage, and changing her tire that was broken whereas driving by particles.

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“Since my journey by nursing faculty, the ASPSF program has been there each step of the best way,” stated Shalonda. “I’m so appreciative of the sponsors who fund this system. With out their assist, quite a lot of households, single dad and mom like myself, would wrestle and even go with out.”

When requested what she wish to share with others in class or contemplating going to high school, Shalonda stated: “It’s not unattainable. You will have individuals outdoors of your loved ones to inspire you, that can assist you. You’re by no means going to be alone.”

In early March, Shalonda took her LPN licensing check and was thrilled to seek out out the following day that she had handed in solely 75 questions.

“I used to be the primary one to complete within the room,” she stated. “The check ends when you’ve answered sufficient questions appropriate or it can finish if you happen to’ve answered too many improper. I believed I used to be going to throw up once I left the room as a result of I didn’t know. I felt like I knew the fabric, there have been a pair I wasn’t positive about, however I felt like I knew it.”

When the outcomes got here the next day, Shalonda stated she jumped off the sofa screaming, “I informed [my kids] I handed, they usually had been leaping up and down they usually began calling my sisters and telling them.”

In late April, Shalonda accepted a job supply with NEA Baptist Clinic and can be part of their workers as a full-time LPN. Her purpose is to someday return and earn her registered nurse license after working for some time and spending a little bit extra time along with her youngsters.

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