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Heather Meeks is the single mother of a beautiful four-year-old. She’s also a first-generation college graduate, a social worker, a generous volunteer in her community, and about to add “graduate student” to her resume.
But four years ago, things weren’t looking as bright.
After months of doctor visits, Heather’s newborn daughter, Payton-Elaine, was diagnosed with silent aspiration, asthma, and laryngomalacia. This required trips to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for multiple surgeries and cost Heather numerous sleepless nights.
Also during this time, Heather was leaving an abusive relationship — and attending classes as a first-generation college student at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton. “For the first year and a half of my college career, my future felt hopeless,” she said.
Then in 2019, Heather found Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. It not only provided her with a flexible scholarship for three years but also emotional support as she navigated life’s challenges.
For example, when the pandemic hit, ASPSF gave her a laptop so she could continue her classes virtually and keep her daughter safe from the coronavirus. With hard work and perseverance, she achieved a 3.4 GPA while taking 15 credit hours in Fall 2020.
“I came across the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund in 2019, and they've been at my side ever since!” she said. “They instilled optimism in me and inspired me to pursue goals I'd had since I was a child. Having someone on the sidelines encouraging my every move was incredibly helpful.”
Heather graduated in December 2021 with honors at Arkansas Tech University with her bachelor’s degree in psychology and began working part-time as a social worker at the Salvation Army in Russellville, making about $30,000 annually. In August, she begins a full-time job at Lake Point Recovery & Wellness as a recovery treatment specialist to help individuals recover from substance abuse.
But that’s not all! Heather also volunteers with ASPSF to support other local single parent families and Pope County’s CASA program to help abused children find a safe and permanent home. And this fall, Heather plans to pursue a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling.
“I am grateful for this organization that has built a foundation of hope for my academic future,” she said. “Thank you so much for all you have done for my little family. We will forever be blessed by this amazing organization!”