Breanna, a current WomenGive recipient, shared the following story during the recent WomenGive Annual Luncheon about her experience as a single mother and her journey towards her education:
“My name is Breanna Hernandez. I am a Fort Collins native and a proud single mother to a 2.5 year old boy named Samuel. I am so excited to be here today to share my journey with you all including my dreams and goals for the future.
If you would have asked me four years ago what I planned to do after high school, I would have told you I don’t know and I don’t care. Not knowing or caring about your future can be a very dangerous place to be as a teenager.
My adventure in single motherhood began in the first few weeks of my senior year of high school.
There is no way to describe the emotions you feel when you find out you are pregnant.
I was in complete shock. I remember that all I could think as I processed everything is, “How will I support this baby? How will I give him a good life? What will my son’s father say?” Unfortunately, what he had to say was not a response I was hoping to get. I tried my best to stay positive and consider my baby’s best interests.
I was not sure how I was going to make it, but in the whirlwind of emotions, a few things finally became clear: I needed to graduate high school. So, I did just that. And graduated one semester early. After I had completed the credits to graduate, I made a commitment to work as much as I could to save every penny possible for my son. However, working at a pizza restaurant is simply not enough to raise a child.
Thankfully, my parents were very supportive of my pregnancy, and allowed me to live at home with Samuel. Without their support, I know things would have been completely different.
My son was born in May of 2017, and it was a very special time.
Immediately, I felt the many strains of being a new young mother, but the greatest strain came from a financial aspect. I was having a very difficult time making ends meet, and knew I did not want Samuel to feel these struggles as he grew older. I wanted to return to work, but I did not have childcare. I wanted to attend school, but did not have any idea what kind of degree to pursue.
I found myself wanting to do more with my life, but had no idea what I could do provide the best life for Samuel and I.
I remember explaining some of my challenges to my home-nurse from Nurse Family Partnership, Rosemarie. She suggested I apply to Project Self-Sufficiency as they would be able to guide me through these challenges, and even more. So, I did just that. I applied to PS-S and was accepted into their program. Nicole G. became my advisor.
Nicole led me through career research which helped me determine which careers would help me reach self-sufficiency and exactly how to get there. It was very eye opening to see what the self-sufficient wage is in Larimer County. Having that realization was a pivotal moment for me as a single parent. This realization allowed me to create even bigger dreams for myself—because leading up to this point, I had only considered jobs not requiring degrees; the entry level jobs I found did not supply wages to allow me to create a self-sufficient life.
After completing skills and values career assessments, I was matched with nearly 50 results. I narrowed down this extensive list, and had a top 5. Through informational interviews with career mentors in our community, I came to the conclusion that I really enjoyed Logistics Management. I had finally discovered greater career options to maintain the self-sufficient wage.
In order to perform this job, I will be attending college to earn a Bachelor of Science degree concentrating in Supply Chain Management from Colorado State University.
I sure have come a long way from being a careless teenager.
I currently attend school at Front Range Community College, and am hoping to transfer to Colorado State University in the Fall of 2022. I am a first generation college student, and have adjusted smoothly to being a student and a mother all while working part-time and doing advocacy work with the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
During my first semester of college, Samuel’s father passed away unexpectedly in a car vs. pedestrian collision. In an instant, I went from being a single parent, to being the only parent. It was like carrying the weight of being a single mother was multiplied… So, I did what I do best, and kept moving forward. My almost new role as a parent added to my passion to creating a bright and stable future for my son.
I learned about WomenGive from Nicole at Project Self-Sufficiency.
She suggested I apply for a childcare scholarship because of CCAP’s recent changes to their child care assistance. This was especially crucial for me—because CCAP would only be able to assist me moving forward with child care only when I was working not while going to school.
Like many other parents being affected by CCAP’s changes, I was faced with a fork in the road. Do I quit attending school to work full-time? Do I continue attending school and rely on family members to care for my son? How all will this work out?
Fortunately, WomenGive was a tremendous relief.
By receiving my WomenGive award, my son is able to attend daycare through the month of May while I complete this spring semester.
WomenGive is making this all possible this semester, and I am immensely grateful that while I am attending school and making strides in my academic journey, my son also has the opportunity to a nationally accredited daycare center.
It has been powerful watching my son develop into a very compassionate, kind little boy since he started attending his current daycare. His empathy is contagious. He is well advanced for his age, and I know it is because of the nurturing school environment and devoted teachers.
My hope for my son as he continues to grow is to be comfortable in his skin knowing he is capable of whatever he put his mind to. I hope he will look back on my commitment to giving him the best life imaginable and put forth this same grit and determination in all of his life goals.
I would like to thank everyone who is here today for all your support to single mothers. Your support not only changes the lives of mothers who are trying to rise from poverty, but creating entirely different lives for our children.”
Breanna Hernandez is a WomenGive recipient from Fort Collins, Colorado. She is currently attending school at Front Range Community College and is hoping to transfer to Colorado State University in the Fall of 2022. While attending school, she works part-time and does advocacy work with the Colorado Children’s Campaign, all while caring for her son, Sammuel.