Single dad ‘trying to change the family norm’ by going to college

Kendrick Jackson is Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund's Student of the Month for August 2022. Since starting his higher education journey, he and his daughters, Keniya and Kimmorah, have GPA competitions. 

Single father Kendrick Jackson found himself sitting at home collecting disability checks to support his daughters, Keniya and Kimmorah. He had fainted at his factory job after having heart surgery and couldn’t return.

Kendrick’s coworkers had urged him for years to return to school, but no one in his family had gone to college — almost everyone he knew worked at a factory.

Then, Kendrick went to a friend’s birthday party: “I was sitting there, talking to his college friends, and I was holding a good conversation, but I felt so inadequate because everybody in this room had degrees. But I knew I could know as much as they knew.”

When he returned home, he applied to Phillips Community College in Stuttgart and started on his associate degree. Now, Kendrick has only two more semesters before he earns his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. His career goal is to become a counselor.

Kendrick said that his decision to get a postsecondary education has affected his family, too.

“My daughters and I have competitions over who has the highest GPA,” he said. “Now college is becoming a normal conversation in the house. Even with my cousins — now they’re talking about college. I’m trying to change the family norm: We don’t have to go work in a factory.”

Kendrick has been an Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund recipient for several semesters and said the aid has helped him afford online textbooks, food during the at-home days of the pandemic, and gas to drive the 30-plus miles from his home in Stuttgart to Pine Bluff to attend classes.

“As far as the scholarship, it’s been good to me,” he said. “It’s helped me every semester. It really is a blessing.”