SINGLE MOM CONTINUES PURSUING HER CAREER DREAM
Irene was born in Michigan and adopted at age 5. Her family relocated to Logan, WV, which is where she still lives today, as a single parent of two children. Having several years of experience, she worked as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home. But Irene wanted more for herself and her children.
"Being a single parent isn't easy, and trying to provide for my children to make sure they have what they need has been challenging at times. Being the loving mother that I am, I only want the best for my children. I want to be a good example to them in every way. I want them to know that you have to earn what you get from life," Irene said. "Anything of value doesn’t come handed to you on a 'silver platter' or without paying a price. Yes, I could settle for less, but I choose not to. I needed to make better money for me and my children, so I wouldn't struggle for the rest of my life."
She decided to enroll at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College to take online Criminal Justice courses. Irene noted that Southern has many advantages: campus is local, low tuition, and the online programs offered can accommodate most lifestyles.
"I wanted to be a part of my children's lives as much as I could and get a good education at the same time. So, taking online courses seemed to work much better for me and my children. I learned to develop good study habits and studied hard to be a good student," Irene said. "Definitely, I faced barriers along my journey, but I always kept my motivation and determination intact. When things got hard, I pushed harder. The obstacles seemed like detour signs, but I always found the time to complete assignments on time somehow."
"I was determined to let nothing stop me," she continued. "The sun started to shine bright through all of the dark clouds. I could see the finish line just ahead of me. I was ready to complete my last semester at Southern.
"Then, about the time I thought things were looking brighter, I faced legal issues that were devastating to me, my children, and family. However, being a participant in the TANF Program, helped change my life. When I felt my spirit was low, Hattie Evans, the Student Services Specialist, would instill inspiration for me to press on. She was and still is my cheerleader. She believed in me as a person and wasn't about to let me give up. I was going to cross that finish line. When I lost my vision, she helped me find it again. I only needed one more semester to complete my Associate's Degree and Certificate. She was going to make sure I received what I had worked so hard for."
Irene graduated from Southern with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and Certificate in Criminal Justice in May 2018 - with honors. She is currently taking full-time Gen Ed courses at Southern, in preparation for a transfer to Lindsey Wilson College where she plans to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and Counseling.