Financial Assistance Lightens Load for Single Parent

Thirty-five year old single parent Kimberly Green-Lockett's pursuit of a psychology degree with a minor in criminal justice has been challenging, but her financial load has been lightened by the Executive Women International/Jean Bradford Memorial Scholarship. The Chattanooga native secured the scholarship through an arm of the Center for Community Career Education, the Educational Opportunity Center, housed on The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus.

Founded in 1998, the goal of the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) is to provide information and assistance for residents of Hamilton, Marion, Walker, Dade and Catoosa Counties to become enrolled in a post-secondary educational/training program. Lower income adults whose parents have not received a college degree are especially encouraged to apply. All services are free, and they include educational information, financial aid counseling, academic advising, career counseling and referral services. For Green-Lockett, the Center provided urgently needed help.

"I have less than 26 credit hours to go, and the people from the Educational Opportunity Center helped me transfer from another institution, helped me with the scholarship and they encouraged me to continue and not give up," Green-Lockett said.

May, 2004 is when Green-Lockett plans to graduate. When she does, she will be the only one of the six children in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. With the requirements for her criminal justice minor satisfied and her sights set on receiving her undergraduate degree, she is looking to continue her education at the master’s level. Green-Lockett would ultimately like to work at the Fortwood Mental Health Center or the Women’s Shelter in Hamilton County.

"I am a people-person who does not like pushing paperwork. I changed my major from education to psychology because I find that a lot of people cannot deal with reality or choose to live in the past. I want to gear myself toward working in a position where I could give sound advice and create a more positive atmosphere for those who are struggling," Green-Lockett said.

Cynthia Wallace, Project Manager for the EOC, says she loves her job and meets a lot of neat people. "The people we work with need our help, and it can make the difference between having success or not. With our help, the student can focus on class, not on all the paperwork and financial problems," Wallace said.

Although Green-Lockett admits it is not easy to continue her education as a non-traditional student with a four-year-old daughter and a part-time job, she made that commitment when she enrolled in Families First, Tennessee's welfare reform plan. At a time when student loans were mounting, Green-Locket discovered the EOC with the help of the Urban League.

"This has been a great opportunity for me. No one has ever offered me a scholarship, and it was great of the Educational Opportunity Center to consider getting me this financial help. I think it is an excellent program," Green-Lockett said.

For more information about the Educational Opportunity Center in Hamilton County, please call (423) 425-1702.