Deanna McHenry is counting down the days until her May 13 graduation.
“I can’t wait for the moment I walk across that stage and tell my son that this was all for him,” she said.
The four-time Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund recipient will graduate as a registered nurse from National Park College – her dream since she was 13 years old. Once she has her diploma, Deanna plans to work at CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs and continue for her bachelor’s degree.
But her journey to this point has been anything but easy.
Deanna found out she would become a mom while working on her nursing prerequisites. She took time off so she could focus on her son. Three years after Carson was born, she returned to school in 2020 — in the middle of the pandemic.
ASPSF Program Manager Laura Lee Williard (left) presents Deanna McHenry, accompanied by her son, with a Fall 2022 single parent scholarship.
The scholarship check she received from ASPSF helped the single mom buy her first laptop so she could keep up with classes and assignments. Because of COVID, the hospitals wouldn’t let students in, so many of her clinicals and lectures were online. But Deanna kept at her studies, inching closer to her goal.
Then, new obstacles arose.
Both Deanna’s grandparents become ill and died within six months of each other. She had already lost her father to lung cancer, which also took her grandfather. Her grades slipped, and she didn’t pass her classes.
But Deanna didn’t let that stop her! She reapplied to the RN program a year later and was reaccepted.
“I came back stronger than ever,” she said. “I knew I had to do this in order for my son to have a better life. I knew I wouldn’t be able to provide him the life he deserves on a waitress's salary.”
STUDENT OF THE MONTH
Deanna wowed the ASPSF Ouachita Regional Scholarship Committee during her Spring 2023 scholarship interview. To recognize her determination and hard work, ASPSF has named Deanna as the February 2023 Student of the Month.
“I couldn’t have done this journey without the help of the ASPSF,” Deanna said. “I truly appreciate all this program has done for my son and me.”