Ever since she was a little girl, Jeanne Sarmiento wanted to be a lawyer. As she grew older, however, her life took some unexpected turns.
After what she calls "a series of poor choices" as a young adult, this mother changed her life and became inspired by her children to go to school. Even as a single parent of an infant, Sarmiento was determined to get her degree, and she added credits slowly but surely over the years. Eventually, she graduated with an associate's degree. She is now going back to school for an additional degree and cannot wait to hear her kids yell, "You did it Mom! You did it!"
"I can't wait to hear my children screaming my name from the stands," says Sarmiento as she imagines graduating with a bachelor's degree. "They are my inspiration. They are holding my hands as I realize my dream. I will do it. I will do it."
To help other parents in the same situation as Sarmiento, eLearners.com a web brand of EducationDynamics, in collaboration with online colleges, Ashford University, Capella University, Everest University, Virginia College, and Ashworth College will grant at least $2 million in full-ride scholarships to working parents across the country. This campaign, Project Working Mom.and Dads, Too!, is part of the "Project Working Mom - Putting Education to Work" education awareness program.
Additionally, eLearners.com has launched a comprehensive Web site, designed to empower working man and women to enhance their career by going back to school. The site includes self-assessment quizzes to determine readiness for online education, an online community wherein potential students can talk with other moms in similar situations, a database with $15 billion in financial aid opportunities and numerous articles filled with advice and insight.
The funds and the Web site are designed to help moms overcome the barriers of time with access to online education opportunities; money with the provision of scholarship; and confidence through a Web site full of resources and a community.
Unlike a traditional campus education, the convenience of online education allows for school to be scheduled around the life of a busy parent. Most online courses have flexible schedules, which allow a working mother to study late at night or on weekends. The need to arrange for childcare, find parking or courses that are delivered during a certain period are eliminated with online education. According to Eduventures, 2 million students are expected to enroll in fully online degree programs this year.
Most full-time working mothers and fathers need financial aid to go to school part-time, however, financial aid eligibility and awards are modeled after a traditional campus-based student going to school full time for 10 months. According to the Institute for Higher Education Policy, in 2003-2004 only 54 percent of students attending part time and classified as "working poor" received financial aid grants.
So far Project Working Mom has been a great success with over over $4 million in scholarships awarded in 2008. "Our goal for Project Working Mom.and Dads, Too! is to raise awareness of the fact that federal financial aid is not fulfilling its obligation to the adult working student, particularly the single working parent," says Thomas. "It's a public policy issue that must be addressed."
" Project Working Mom.and Dads, Too! is the long-awaited answer for many women struggling to make ends meet without a college degree," says Terrence Thomas, EVP of Marketing at EducationDynamics. "The scholarships, resources and community that eLearners.com has pulled together will give parents the extra boost they need to finally take greater control of their life."
Take control of your life! Apply for a Project Working Mom.and Dads, Too! Scholarship and get advice and financial aid information on going back to school online at www.ProjectWorkingMom.com Some finalists will appear on an upcoming episode of the "Tyra Banks Show".