ROGERS — It would have been easy for Christine Nance, a single mom and recent college grade, to take the easy way out, to just say, “I can’t do it,” — or worse, “I won’t do it.”
As an infant, her biological father was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Then, on Oct. 18, 1993, “my world crashed,” she said. Her father was charged with murder, and the victim’s mother took her own life. Her dad was eventually executed by the state in 2005.
Nance got pregnant with her daughter, Sydney, at age 15, dropped out of school and was married and divorced by 18. She worked 10 years at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, five of those as a sergeant. When she decided to go back to school, a friend told her about the Single Parent Scholarship of Benton County.
“They put tires on my car, they got me counseling, they gave me Christmas for my daughter,” she said of the group.
Nance recently graduated with a degree in organizational management from John Brown University and put her degree to work at a new job Monday (May 7) at Sam’s Club. Before embarking on this new phase of her life, she took time to speak to some Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Benton County corporate sponsors gathered for an appreciation luncheon at the Embassy Suites of Northwest Arkansas.
Through her father’s execution and other family crises, those who run the scholarship fund kept her going, both financially and emotionally. “They’re my family,” she said.
The luncheon’s featured speaker was Linda Hefner, exeuctive director and chief merchandising officer for Sam’s Club. Hefner, also a single mother who grew up in a single-parent household, values her education above all else.
“I know education, my own education, opened doors for us as a small family of two,” Hefner said.
“Even if there wasn’t a dollar involved, the fact that there’s someone standing behind you saying, “Go girl,” [or “go boy”] means a lot.”
The nonprofit Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Benton County was started in 1984 by Marjorie Marugg-Wolfe and Ralph Nesson (who now runs the statewide scholarship fund). The Benton County group was one of the first and a model for all others that came after it. Every dollar doled out to the student-parents is controlled internally. Checks are written directly to the source of help they need, whether it’s daycare, utilities or bookstores for textbooks.
For more information, check out the scholarship fund’s website.