Ds Scholarship

State News: Nonprofit helps single parents achieve college, career goals (3/10/22)

Abigail Stiedel (left) credits the Single Parent Family Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas with putting her on the path toward earning a college degree from North Arkansas College in Harrison. Her daughter, 4-year-old Naomi, has sometimes accompanied her to campus. ‘I did it for Naomi,’ Stiedel said.

Back in 2018, Abigail Siedel read a newspaper article, pinned to a bulletin board in the kitchen of the restaurant where she worked a treadmill schedule as a waitress.

She remembers reading about a local nonprofit providing scholarships to single parents so they could go to college.

It sounded good. But life was busy. Along the way she recalls how her life went off track. Yet she never forgot that article and she never gave up hope that things could get better.

When COVID-19 changed everything and restaurants closed up tight in the spring of 2020, Abigail knew she was ready to change her life.

She knew nothing was going to stop her. She remembered that article that caught her eye and gave her hope. It felt as if one door closed and another door opened.

It didn’t happen overnight, but last year the Single Parent Family Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas put Abigail on the path toward earning her college degree.

Since the fall of 2021 she has been focused full time on classes at North Arkansas College in Harrison, on track to start a new career in human resources within the next two to three years.

“I think that the Single Parent Scholarship Fund has been beyond responsive and helpful to me,” she said. “Not only with the tuition they provided me but also giving me vital counseling, emotional support, parental guidance and personal outreach as well.”

She says her family fully supports her goals. She lives in Green Forest. Abigail’s mom helps out with babysitting chores, and her 4-and-a-half year old daughter Naomi is excited for her mom. “I’ve taken her to the campus with me sometimes and Naomi tells her little friends that she goes to college too,” she said, laughing.

Abigail encourages other single parents to take action.

“It’s never too late to start over,” she says, and urges single parents to be persistent and keep asking questions when applying. “Don’t be scared. I remember being worried that I wouldn’t be accepted. But I was. So reach out, make the call.”

In the end, that yellowed newspaper article on the bulletin board she noticed five years ago really wasn’t what made her make the decision to go back to college.

There was another good reason that spurred Abigail on to change her life.

“I did it for Naomi,” she said.

The Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas – representing Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties – will be closing its summer application process on March 15, 2022.

This application process is for low-income single parents who are looking to pursue an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, licensure of cosmetology or graduate degree.

The application process for the fall 2022 semester will be April 15 to June 15. To learn more about the scholarship and how to apply visit www.spsfnwa.org.

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