Tina Clevenger says it wasn’t too long ago that her young teenagers had no plans to go to college. The single mom, who had not attended college herself, says her children would talk with her about the kinds of jobs they would pursue after high school.
When Clevenger’s marriage ended after 18 years, she enrolled at UTC and began to pursue a business degree with a concentration in management. She continues to keep up with her children’s busy schedules and cleans houses when she can.
Despite her responsibilities at home and her rigorous academic schedule, Clevenger’s children began to notice how much she loved going to school. Now, their conversation focuses on college and even graduate school when the family talks about post-high school plans.
“Their biggest fear is they can’t do it, but I’ve shown them it can be done, even with three kids!” said Clevenger, a junior.
Like many other UTC students, Clevenger has taken out a loan to achieve her academic goal. She’s also grateful to be one of two recipients of the Jean Bradford Memorial Scholarship.
“As a single mother, the struggle is real, especially with finances,” Clevenger said.
The Jean Bradford Memorial Scholarship was established in 1996 by the Chattanooga Chapter of Executive Women International (EWI) in memory of former EWI member Jean (Mrs. James) Bradford. The scholarship assists women, particularly displaced homemakers and single mothers, who return to school to enhance their career opportunities.
This year, EWI contributed $9,335 to the scholarship fund.
At UTC, Cynthia Long works with many low income, first-generation non-traditional college students at the Educational Opportunity Center. She assists those who make the transition to higher education.
“It is an honor to select students for these scholarships,” Long said.
Alicia Kubik, a single mother with a 9-year-old and a 12-year-old, also benefitted from the scholarship. When her children are on break, she takes them to class with her. She wants them to be comfortable on a college campus and frequently encourages them to think about higher education. She’s been surprised at how much they’ve picked up.
“My daughter was 8-years-old when she took notes with me in my algebra class. I don’t think she understood many of the words, but she really did take good notes,” Kubik said. “My son came out of one of my science classes and had a lot of questions. He was really paying attention.”
Kubik is grateful to EWI for its contributions to the scholarship.
“It’s an amazing financial burden off my shoulders. And it means so much to me that women I don’t even know care enough to help me. It makes me feel cared for and loved,” she said.
The Jean Bradford Memorial Scholarship is supported with EWI of Chattanooga’s scholarship program, Adult Students In Scholastic Transition (ASIST),
“This program is available to adults facing economic, social or physical challenges who are looking to improve their situation through educational opportunities,” said Tammy Hargis, EWI of Chattanooga President.
Clevenger says she’s very grateful for the scholarship because it helps her to relax and focus on her studies. She’s got plans to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) in February, because she wants to become an attorney.
“My ultimate goal is to work with the governor and Congress to change the laws, to change poverty in this nation. When I started back to school, as impoverished as I am, I had to take help from the state. And it stinks. There’s so much bureaucratic red tape and it is so difficult for people to get the help they need. I want to help people who cannot help themselves,” Clevenger explained.