Education

Initiative gives scholarships to working moms

Friday, August 22, 2008

If you or someone you know is a busy working mom, but haven't given up your dream of going to college - you need to hear this story. You can get a full-ride and earn your degree on your own schedule for little or no cost through a new initiative just for working moms, but you have to hurry.

Shamin Shaikh of San Francisco is a busy woman. She's a wife, a mom to a five-year old boy and two older children, and works full-time for the San Francisco Unified School District, as an administrative assistant. Her dream is to attend college, but two things stand in her way - time and money.

"One cannot afford it. Especially if you have a family and you live in the area and you have other things to take care of like family bills and mortgages, rent," said Shaikh.

But Shamin now has a shot at realizing her dream. She's applied for a scholarship through a website called "Project Working Mom." The non-profit is teaming up with five universities to offer $2 million in scholarships to working moms - to earn their degrees online.

"Between running a household and working full-time, moms just don't have to time to get in the car, drive to a college campus, assuming there's one near them, and then park and sit in a classroom for two hours at a time. The beauty of online education is that it comes to you," said Helen MacDermott, Project Working Mom.

That solves the time problem and since it would be a full-ride as long as the moms keep up their grades. That solves the money problem too. The idea came out of a smaller scholarship contest in which moms, many of them single, wrote about how tough it is supporting their children.

"They spoke to being stuck in low wage jobs with little or few benefits and almost no possibility for advancement," said MacDermott.

Shamin graduated from high school in San Francisco. She wanted to go to college more than anything. But she says that dream was dashed because her parents pressured her to get married.

Now, after the deferring her higher education to raise three children, Shamin says it's time to focus on her. She'll find out in September whether she was awarded a scholarship. But the confident mom is already planning ahead.

"Once I'm done with my bachelor, I want to do masters, because I want to be able to counsel children, counsel teenagers," said Shaikh.

If you're interested in applying, the deadline is August 31st.

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