Growing up economically disadvantaged and the child of divorced parents with no college education, my parents never wanted me to repeat their mistakes and find myself in the same predicament.
Considering the abysmal state of the local public school system, they sacrificed immensely to send me to a private school. Most people, however, do not know that I worked two jobs through high school to help them do this. On top of that, I enrolled at the local community college my sophomore year. Before I graduated high school, I had already earned 30 college credits with a 4.0 GPA.
In the fall of 2008 I began my undergraduate career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, living in a small dorm with large dreams. My first semester passed as expected. My second semester, however, started with a somber realization – I could not afford to continue at UW at the out-of-state tuition rate. I prepared to temporarily withdraw from UW, work, and establish residency.
What happened next was much more permanent. I was 18 and pregnant. From that moment forward, obtaining any additional education would be a choice rife with sacrifices – a choice I have prioritized the last ten years.
After spending a year and a half at home raising my daughter, I re-enrolled at UW. I started commuting daily between Illinois and Madison because completing my degree at UW was my greatest professional priority.
The spring and fall 2011 semesters sparked a passion for organic chemistry that still burns within me. As the fall finals ended I, once again, had to withdraw from UW for financial reasons.
At this point, I began working at least 40 hours per week to pay for daycare, living expenses and college expenses as I enrolled full-time at Rockford University. As a single mother trying to balance two jobs and a full course load, my three semesters at Rockford University were the most trying times of my life, but every ounce of effort finally paid off on graduation day.