People often ask Janae Stiles, a 24-year-old single mother of three and accounting senior at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, how she does it.
She goes to school full-time, is raising three children ranging from ages 1 to 5, and works part-time.
“It is not easy, but I know my ‘Why,’” she wrote in an essay that won her the Working Parent Scholarship by Job-Applications.com.
The main reason Stiles is working so hard to complete her bachelor’s degree, graduate in December and move on to accomplish her goal of becoming a CPA, is her children’s present lives and future dreams.
“To successfully balance parenthood, work and school, I need to know my 'Why,' have excellent time management, and I have to be flexible,” her essay says.
Stiles is the sole national winner of the most recent round of the Working Parent Scholarship, a Canton, Ohio-based company that has awarded $30,000 since 2013 to students in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Stiles said the $1,000 scholarship will give her more time to concentrate on her studies and be a parent.
“I can focus more of my attention on making sure I have mastered the material I am learning and still be able to spend some time with my kids,” she said.
Scholarships also have helped her not worry as much about how she will pay for schooling.
“As I continue my education, the cost continues to rise — not only the cost of the education, but the amount of time I must spend working on schoolwork in order to maintain good grades.”
The Working Parent Scholarship is intended help students address the financial burden of obtaining a college education.
Average student loan debt upon graduation in 2018 nationally was $29,200, according to a recent report from The Institute for College Access & Success. In Colorado, according to the study, the student debt figure was nearly $25,000.
“There are certain levels of stress that are unavoidable … I have learned you don’t know how much you can handle or how strong you are until you are faced with that challenge,” Stiles writes, adding that’s what she’s experiencing this semester.
“I know I can do it because I have to. I know why I am doing it no matter how difficult it is. I am not just setting myself up for success, I am setting my children up to have a better life.”
To read Stiles’ winning essay, go to https://www.job-applications.com/scholarship-winners/.