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Dalissa Barentine is living out her dream, teaching a classroom full of kindergarten students each day. But her newfound career did not come easy.
Dalissa began her college career several years ago but dropped out after her son, William, was born. However, the financial stress was beginning to mount. “My waitressing job was not going to cut it," she says. "I had to find a way to get back in school!”
So re-enroll she did, this time with a renewed sense of determination. When her daughter was born a year later, Dalissa was determined not to let anything slow her down. She began summer classes just one week later!
Dalissa took 17 hours of courses the following semester while working and caring for a toddler and a newborn. "I was the definition of a struggling college student. A lot of tears were shed," she remembers. "But I knew I had to keep my head in the game.” The determined young mother would often put her kids to bed before staying up late into the night to study. But she says her two children were her biggest drive, giving her the motivation she needed to make it through those long nights. "I wanted to prove to William and Hadley that, even if life gets hard, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to."
In the midst of those hard times, Dalissa was introduced to the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. She describes her scholarship interview as very emotional. “I left crying because everyone I met was so sweet. I felt like they really cared about my plans and my family.” And with tuition prices increasing year after year, her scholarship was a huge blessing financially.
Dalissa has always harbored a love for children. Though she changed her major multiple times, she was always drawn back to education. Once she began her internship, Dalissa knew she had made the right choice. In the classroom was where she was meant to be! "That aha moment when a kid finally grasps what you've been trying to teach them - it's priceless!"
After celebrating graduation in May, Ms. Barentine now has a classroom of her own. "I have my own group of kids," she beams. "They know I'm there to teach them and help them learn. I don't take that responsibility lightly."
The new teacher received her first professional paycheck on her birthday. “I had extra money at the end of the month!” she exclaimed. “That’s something I’m not used to. I’m so excited to be working in a stable, secure job that I love!”