Jennifer Georgalas

"The advisors stayed with me every step of the way."

I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, NY. My low-class status gave me little hope for success on any scale the way I dreamed it. My father was separated from us, so we were left in a single-mother home with four children. I was the second eldest. My mother was lost in her own addictions, so it was up to me to make sure my siblings were fed and doing well.

I became a young mother myself. At fifteen, I had my first daughter. I was signed out of school after an accident there almost caused me to lose her, but I went back to school as soon as I could. I have always had a love for learning. At nineteen, I had my second child, my youngest daughter, and continued to work full-time to support them and my siblings as my mother began her road to recovery in my early adult years.

After leaving my mother’s house, I neither had time nor could imagine affording to go to school. I continued to work harder and to get better jobs, believing I would never get to achieve my dream of a degree. After meeting my current husband, we had a son. Years later, after we were both laid off and lost our apartment, we were homeless for nearly a year and we were separated from the kids, as they stayed with family.

Having no luck in the city forced me to move to Ohio where I could afford a place for us to live all together again. Nothing was more important to me than getting my kids back with me again. Shortly after moving here to Ohio, I got a call from SNHU, a school I am very familiar with, as my grandmother lived not too far from its campus for a time when I was a child, and I remember our visits to her house well.

After talking to the advisor, I had little hope since I lived in Ohio and the school was in New Hampshire, but then she told me they had just started online classes and my heart skipped a beat. I was still concerned about affording the program, but the advisors stayed with me every step of the way. Next thing I knew, I was getting ready to start school. My dreams were actually coming true! I am the first woman of my family to go to college, and I hope that other women who have faced adversities will know that no matter what, you can achieve your dreams.

I am three years into my degree in international business management with a minor in sociology, and I can't wait to graduate! My mother and I have a great relationship now, as do I with my daughters and my son. They all have aspirations now, not dreams—they know they can achieve their goals. To me, that is the best gift: to have confident children. They don't have the doubts I did or the childhood I had. They have hope and seeing me work hard makes working hard natural to them. They are my heroes even as they say I am theirs. They were my inspiration to work as hard as I could to give them a different life. As I tell them, knowledge is food for the brain, and much like your body, you have to feed it daily.