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Old 11-15-2011, 11:26 AM   #1
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busybee [Article] Single Moms pursue higher ED.

Young mothers pursue degrees with the help of Misericordia program

It has been said that when one door closes, another opens. Students residing at Rosary Hall and Pauly House on the campus of Misericordia University can attest to the validity of such a statement.

The students are low-income single mothers enrolled in the university's Women with Children Program. Through the WWC program, academically eligible women with children between the ages of two and 12, are afforded the opportunity to earn their bachelor's degree while living on-campus with their children in year-round free housing.

Both Rosary Hall and Pauly House are dorms reserved for the program. Each student has their own bedroom along with a bedroom for their children. Two children per mother are accepted. There are no age restrictions for the women, however children must be between the ages of two and 12.

Intended to break the cycle of poverty facing single mothers without a college education, the program also provides subsidized childcare, financial aid and a support system designed to prepare the women for life after graduation.

In a recent interview, several women spoke candidly about their lives before and after acceptance into the program.

Jennifer Kates, 21, of Wilkes-Barre, lives in Pauly House with her four-year-old daughter, Lissenda. Kates was accepted into the WWC program in 2008, and is now a third year biology major with plans to enter dental school after graduation.

Being able to provide Lissenda with a secure and stable future is a top priority for Kates. She remembers a time not too long ago, when at age 17, she was homeless, her own future filled with uncertainty. It was then she learned about WWC and began the application process.

"Knowing that I was accepted into Women with Children helped me because I knew in a few months I would have a secure place to live and I wouldn't have to worry about being homeless again," she said.

Kates became pregnant when she was in 10th grade at Meyers High School. She was 16 years old. During the fifth month of her pregnancy, she left Meyers to be home schooled.

In June 2006, 18 days after her sister was murdered, Kates gave birth to her daughter. Kates continued her education online until her daughter was nine months old. She returned to Meyers in February 2007.

Shortly after Kates finished 11th grade, her home life began to unravel. Homeless from June through December, Kates made sure her daughter always had a place to stay, and she herself remained in school. On Dec. 22, 2007, the day she turned 18, Kates moved into an apartment with her daughter.

Though she faced many challenges after leaving home, Kates managed to work as a waitress at Red Lobster, care for her daughter and graduate from Meyers with a 3.7 GPA while also taking classes at King's College through the Young Scholars Dual Enrollment program.

Looking back on that period of time, Kates said "I don't know how I did it, but I did it."

Debra Passarella, 22, moved with her family to Pittston from Brooklyn, N.Y., eight years ago. She and her two-year-old daughter, Giana, live in Rosary Hall. Passarella is a senior at the university, majoring in psychology. This is her first year in the WWC program.

It was through a fellow classmate that Passarella found out about the program. She had no idea such a program existed, though she had been a student at the university for two years.

Prior to acceptance into the program, Passarella had been juggling two jobs, school and parenting. She worked as a waitress at both jobs. She would work at her first job until 4 p.m. and the second from 5 p.m. until close.

Her enrollment in WWC has changed her life. She now works part time at Lucky's Sports Bar in Wilkes-Barre, and has time to concentrate on her daughter and school.

"It's a huge lifesaver for me, I barely had time to spend with my daughter," Passarella said. "I was too busy trying to make a living."

It's not only young, single mothers who sometimes need help changing their lives. Maturity doesn't guarantee security.

Robyn Valentine, 35, of Orem, Utah, lives in Rosary Hall with her daughter, Ayzure Reynolds, age 8. Valentine has been enrolled in the WWC program for two and a half years. She is now a senior scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in communications.

Valentine had been married to her husband for five years when they divorced. Never having planned to raise her daughter on her own, Valentine realized she didn't have the resources necessary to provide Ayzure with the kind of life a two parent home offered.

Already working full time, she began taking night classes. With such a demanding schedule, she feared something was going to give. She didn't want it to be her daughter or job. One day, she came across an article in O, the Oprah Magazine, about single mothers having the opportunity to return to school. That was the turning point for her.

Valentine then researched colleges which offered programs designed to assist single mothers and their children. Misericordia seemed like the best fit for her and her daughter because of its mission of mercy and integration of family.

"It's not the typical college party town," Valentine said.

Because of the WWC program, Valentine didn't have to work full time just to make ends meet. She has been able to focus on her education and daughter, working only when necessary. Both she and her daughter have settled into their new life.

Valentine recently completed internships through the university and is now looking into applying for employment locally because she has grown to love the area. Her daughter is a third- grade student at Wycallis Elementary School in Dallas.

When talking about the positive impact the experience of living at Rosary Hall has had on her daughter, Valentine smiled and said "She sees education is a possibility and a reality."kristen mullen / the citizens' voice

By Ann Marie Winters (correspondent)
Published: March 13, 2011

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/arts-living...#axzz1GWHe5Hyb

Misericordia University
301 lake street, dallas, PA 18612
Founded By The Sisters Of Mercy


I am seeing more and more educational programs doing this, I think its great! How about you ?

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