mother changing diaper to her babyGoing back to college at age 25 last year wasn’t an easy decision for me.

I went to college at age 18, but took a break to work and earn a living.

When I was 20, I became pregnant with my boyfriend’s child. As hard as we tried, the relationship didn’t work out, and we parted ways.

That breakup was difficult. Except for some phone calls and emails, he had stopped being involved with us by the time my beautiful baby girl was born.

Making it Work as a Single Mom

I moved back home to raise my daughter with supportive family and friends nearby.

I enrolled in beauty school, worked as a waitress, and a year later, I had my cosmetology license and went to work doing hair.

But I always had a second job—first at a restaurant and later at a home for Alzheimer’s patients.

During the first three years after my child was born, I battled for my self-confidence. I can’t stress how lucky I was to be covered by my mother’s insurance so I could continue paying other bills. I was also extraordinarily lucky to know a day care provider who I trusted with my daughter, and even luckier that I could split the cost with my mother while I was in beauty school.

I knew full well that one day I was going to have to take responsibility for these expenses instead of relying on my mom. But I didn’t want to settle for just any work that would merely pay the bills, yet gave me next to no quality time with my daughter.

There were moments when I felt completely helpless, believing that where I was in life was where I would always be.

Eventually, I realized I would have to make a change.

The Decision to Go Back to School

I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture, refocusing on the life I wanted my daughter to live. What came to me were my deepest wishes for this child: to have a positive role model, to see that anything is possible, and to learn to have the confidence every child deserves.

While continuing to work, I started taking classes at the local community college, which provided child care. That was great. My daughter was preparing for kindergarten, and she and I were on the same campus.

That experience began motivating me to utilize as many resources I had to in order to reach my goal: permanent economic security for our family.

Why I Went to College

I am now a full-time student at the University of California at Davis, studying to be an art teacher and on track to graduate in 2015. I am accessing all of the scholarships and financial aid available to me. I am supporting my family by cutting hair and by filling in at my daughter’s former day care. And I thank God for my mother, who pitches in to help with the bills.

We live on a very tight budget, but I know that any sacrifice I make now is in the service of our security later.

My daughter is happy and healthy, involved in sports and activities, and enjoying kindergarten at a neighborhood school. I’m grateful every day for her smile, her laugh, and her beautiful spirit. I am well on my way to providing her with what she’ll need to realize all of her dreams, and I look forward to achieving mine. All it takes is willpower—and the courage to ask for help.