Kenia, you traveled a long road to get to AWC. Can you tell us a little about that?
Well, first I went to North Dakota for their CNA program because I was able to take my child with me and participate in their single parent program. And then I met someone. We had two more kids, moved to Mississippi for a while, I thought I was in love, but it didn’t work out in the end. So, I moved back to Yuma, Arizona and fortunately started working part-time at AWC. Being a first-generation student, I never really knew the ropes. I had been to AWC before in 2011 and left because I was lost and had no idea that there was help for first-generation students like me. But now I’ve found the KEYS Program and I have the support that I always needed to continue school.
Would you say your children are your biggest motivators? How so?
Before I had kids, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life. I was drifting around. Everything was for me. Then as soon as I had children, it wasn’t about me anymore. It was about them. I want them to know that even as a single parent, I can still go to school, I can still do it. They motivate me to do so much, things I never thought I could do. I want my kids to know that they can do it too. Even if no one else believes in you, you can do it as long as you believe in yourself. It’s not a dream, you can get there.
Our Mission at AWC is Transforming lives through education and partnerships to create thriving communities. Do you see your own story reflected in that mission?
I do see myself in that statement because I lived the life prior to higher education, and it was rough. I wanted to just wake up in the future already in my career. I didn’t think I needed an education, but life wasn’t easy without one. Education is the key to open a lot of doors of opportunity. Education can take you all the way and even further than you may think. I’m getting so many more open doors instead of closed doors. I’m having better conversations. I’m so glad I chose to come back.
What are your aspirations? What do you want to do with your degree?
I’m going to graduate from AWC with an Associate of Arts and then I plan to transfer to GCU to study Psychology. Hopefully I will be able to be a psychiatrist, but I’m expecting it to take a while to get there. I feel that people should take care of their mental health as they take care of their physical health. I want to help end stigmas. I never in a million years thought I would be as close as I am now.
What is your message to other single parents who are perhaps reading this now?
You can do it. Don’t feel like you can’t. It’s going to be hard work and less hours of sleep, but if you really want to go to school, do it. You can do it. If you really want to get out of where you are, the situation you’re in, do it!