No one can take away my education or my confidence.
–Keneysha, University of Louisville senior, Social Work
“How did I get here?” she asks, smiling, “Well, that’s my favorite part of the story. It just took one person knowing about this place for me to get here.”
A former military wife who’d depended upon her husband’s salary, she found herself unexpectedly divorced with two preschool daughters, and not much in the way of a marketable resume or education.
“There I was,” she says quietly, “separated, trying to decide where to go and what to do, and I remember hearing this voice—God—saying, ‘just stay’ so I did.” She found an apartment, got a job, put her daughters in daycare for the first time in their young lives, and enrolled in a nearby community college. She says she didn’t sleep a lot during those years, and that the worst part was that she had so little time with her girls.
“We’d pack everything into Saturdays. All the cleaning and laundry and errands. And then Sunday we were always at church.” Still, somehow she managed, eventually earning her Associates’ degree. That was enough to spur her on to more, determined to make a self-sufficient life for her little family. She applied and was accepted to the University of Louisville, and even though she lived an hour away, made the commitment to work on her degree.
“I called the housing office one day and asked about single-parent family housing. They told me they didn’t have any, but that they could refer me to some apartments near the campus. I knew I couldn’t afford an apartment, and then, whoever I was talking to said, ‘Well, there is this one program I know about’….”
That one program was Family Scholar House, and she immediately called, got to an orientation and began working towards housing. Still living an hour away, she made the drive into town for workshops, academic advising and case management. “I worked it!” she laughs, “even knowing that there were other participants who lived closer, who could be around more.”
And then one day, when she and her girls were coming to FSH for Christmas items, she decided that it was crucial the staff at FSH remember her name and face. “So I went in there, with both girls, and I stood in the social worker’s office, and I said ‘This is us. Please don’t forget us. Please know who we are.’”
By the next spring, she and her girls had an apartment, and she had the immense joy of walking to school for the first time. “It was great!” she says, “I loved it! Had my backpack and everything!”
Now her girls see college as a “when and which one” not as an “if.” They are learning important lessons about receiving gifts, and then living lives that give back out of what they’ve been given. “I don’t ever want my girls to see the things we’ve been given at Family Scholar House as a ‘supposed to’ sort of thing,” she says, “what we’ve been given, it’s all blessing.”
And sharing that blessing is how she wants to spend her life when she’s graduated come next spring, and then her Master’s finished a year later. A woman of immense faith, she is clear about one thing: “I’m open to wherever God leads me, and would love to use the skills I’m learning to give back, in whatever capacity that may be.”
She adds, “I want to use what I have to the fullest, and take care of myself and my girls in the process. And I want to be the one person who tells someone else who needs it about Family Scholar House.”