May is a time of such excitement and movement in Louisville. We enter May with the flurry and whirlwind of numerous Derby activities. Two weeks of events and excitement culminates in the most exciting two minutes in sports. Jockeys dressed in their respective silks ride towards the gate on a horse that spent years training for this day.
At Family Scholar House, May brings the excitement of graduation for our participants. Dressed in their caps and gowns from their respective schools, they will take their brief walk across the stage (perhaps their most exciting two minutes) after years of preparation.
The similarities can go on and on. Preparation, dedication, anticipation and life-altering. Emotions are high, stories are heartwarming, struggles are overcome and many are watching and waiting. Wagers are made.
Orb wins the coveted garland of roses with 6-1 odds and millions watching. His trainer, Claude McGaughey, a Hall of Famer, had never won the Derby.
At Family Scholar House, 39 participates also beat the odds. Each with their own story of obstacles that they have overcome and expectations that they exceeded. These individuals have earned their degree and look forward to self-sufficiency and success. While they may not have millions of eyes on them and TV viewers at home on the edge of their seats, they do have the eyes of our community watching to see what they can do, but most importantly, they have the eyes of their children watching and learning how preparation and determination can improve their own odds of success when it is their turn to enter the starting gate.
With the month of May coming to an end, we wanted to share with you the reflections of one of our graduates, LeTonya, on the obstacles she has overcome to earn her bachelor’s degree and set her family on the path to self-sufficiency.
There have been many factors that have impacted my life. Some things I have faced were joyous, and others were heartbreaking. Some of my first memorable moments were the births of my children. Another memorable moment that brought joy to my life was receiving my associate’s degree. Through all the memorable moments, I also faced one of the most devastating times in my life – the death of my mother. However, through it all I remained determined and highly-motivated to accomplish my goals and be a strong role model for my children.
Being the mother of three wonderful children isn’t easy, but they have played such a positive role in my life. I gave birth to my first child at the age of seventeen. Although I had three kids by the time I turned twenty-nine, my motivation led me to obtain an associate’s degree in science. Even though it was challenging being a single mother, I was able to accomplish my goals with the help of my mother.
Shortly after receiving my associate’s degree I was laid off, and my financial troubles started. I did not know which direction to turn; I was thirty years-old with three kids, and I did not want to put the burden on my mother to provide for my family. Then a good friend told me about new housing for single-parent students near the University of Louisville. I called the university’s housing office and learned the program was Family Scholar House. I called and was instructed to come in for an orientation. The process took a year for me to become a resident of the Louisville Scholar House community, allowing me to pursue a bachelor’s degree full-time.
Everything seemed to be falling into place just as I had hoped, but on July 24, 2011 I got the call that changed my life forever. My mother, my best friend, my counselor and my shopping partner passed away. It seemed that I would not be able to move on, but having three kids of my own and being the oldest child of my siblings, I knew that I had to continue my education and be the strong woman that my mother raised.
This spring I will earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Spalding University and will apply for dental school. I thank the Lord Almighty for giving me the strength to make it through my rough times, my mother for instilling values and morals and Family Scholar House for providing stable housing and support for my children and me.