Single mom studies early childhood education to create a brighter future for her family and community

Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund September 2022 Student of the Month Gabrielle Hunter wholeheartedly believes children are our future.

“We have to be supportive and encourage them to work hard and strive for the best, to never give up,” she said. “We have to show them it’s true you can be whatever you want to be.”

Gabrielle has been working with children for over nine years and is currently employed at Clarendon ABC preschool as a paraprofessional. Her sons, Brayden and Kyison, are 10 and 7 years old.

“I tell my boys all the time when they say ‘We want to go to school and do like you, Mommy. We want to learn that stuff, too!’ I say, ‘That’s good you want to be like me, but guess what? Mommy wants you to be better than her.’”

Gabrielle earned her Child Development Associate, or CDA, credential in 2014. Two years later, she graduated from Phillips Community College’s Stuttgart Campus with her associate degree. She’s now only two semesters away from her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

“And I’m not stopping here!” she said. “My future plans are to enroll in the graduate school and eventually own my own daycare. I would like to give back to the community. We are here to help one another.”

Her educational journey hasn’t been an easy one. She’s taken a few detours but has always gotten back on track.

“It has been plenty of times that I have woken up and literally wanted to just say, ‘Forget school and just work and take care of my boys,’” Gabrielle said. “But I know that if I want to make this a long-term goal and to actually see some financial increase, that means that I need to better my education.”

Gabrielle says her mother — who raised Gabrielle and her sister as a single parent — is her inspiration: “Women are really stronger than they think.” And she’s grateful that she hasn’t been alone on her educational journey thanks to friends, family, and Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund.

“My support system has been amazing in helping me with my children and even coaching me to continue to get my education,” she said. “I would like to thank everyone that has helped me become the mother I am today. Whether it was a good morning text, ‘Hey, how are you?’, financial stability, or a pat on the back, it helped me.”