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Scholarships help single moms pursue BRCC degrees

Taking five college classes while working full-time would be a tough balancing act for any 22-year-old. Victoria Hayes has an even higher priority every day — spending time with her daughter, Holly.


A single mom, Hayes was spending her life savings to pay for class and buy books when opportunity came knocking in the form of Dede Walton, a parent educator with the Children and Family Resource Center.
“She kind of found me,” Hayes said. “She called me out of the blue and introduced herself. I think I was referred somehow, but it was really kind of a blessing in disguise.”
VictoriaHayesVictoria HayesHayes and Evelyn Gutierrez were the 2016-17 recipients of the Children and Family Resource Center Scholarship for Single Parents, a $1,000 award that goes to an outstanding individual who is pursuing higher education as a single parent.
Hayes is studying at Blue Ridge Community College with a goal to be in office administration.
Hayes meets with Walton once a month to catch up on life.
“She’s kind of like my third mom,” said Hayes. “She’s helped me learn a lot about Holly and her development and when I get frustrated or have tough times she’s always there.”
Hayes used the scholarship to pursue her associate’s degree from BRCC. After she graduates in May, she plans to get a bachelor’s degree through online classes so she can spend time with Holly, who starts kindergarten next year.
“It means a lot to be chosen” for the scholarship, she said. “I’m really grateful, because I really didn’t have the financial means to continue schooling.”
Mentors at the Children and Family Resource Center have helped her, too.
“I thought I knew everything,” she said. “I took early childhood development, but I didn’t know anything when faced with it. The resources are very beneficial and I would recommend it to any mom who is doing it on her own and wants the best for her kids.”

Grateful for support

EvelynGutierrezEvelyn GutierrezGutierrez, 18, is studying to become a medical assistant. She is on track to graduate in April from this program, the second program she has been able to complete due to the CFRC scholarship money. She’s already completed a certified nursing assistant class. first heard about the scholarship through Emily Balcken and Sarah Hoffert, who were a part of the Adolescent Parenting Program that Gutierrez was referred to shortly after she moved to Hendersonville from California during her junior year of high school. After hearing Gutierrez’s plans to continue her education after high school graduation, Balcken and Hoffert recommended the scholarship.
After her April graduation, Gutierrez hopes to work in a doctor’s office and eventually attend nursing school. Working in a doctor’s office would be nice, she said, because it will have regular business hours and give her weekends with her son, who is 15 months old.
“I’m so grateful to have this help to start off my career and what better way is there to give back to the community than being in the medical field and offering my help to anybody who needs it,” Gutierrez said. Without the scholarship Gutierrez said that it would have taken her much longer to save up for her education.
“This scholarship shows a lot of support and I’m really thankful for having it and I was able to show the scholarship to somebody in my CNA class,” she said. “Being able to even go to college as a teen mother is a rewarding thing to have and with this scholarship it feels like I have a lot of support from the community as well.”