The Single Parent Scholarship of Southwest Missouri

For those of you who live in Missouri, an article in The Joplin Globe of Joplin, MO about a Single Parent Scholarship:

Single parents get a hand up
By Melissa Dunson


To Kristine Rupe, 28, the $500 scholarship means a car repair that will eventually help her get to school each day.

To Renae Brownfield, 39, it’s been the difference between she and her four children, ages seven to 19, going back to school with supplies or heading back to class without them.

It just seems like $500.

But Bryan Vowels, lead adviser for Wells Fargo Advisers in Joplin, says the United Way of Southwest Missouri’s Single Parent Scholarship has meant someone’s children had shoes or food on the table. Vowels was president of United Way’s board when the organization started the program and still sits on the scholarship committee.

The scholarship, now in its third year, gives $500 a semester to qualifying single moms and dads in Southwest Missouri at or below the poverty level.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this without scholarships,” Rupe said of going back to college. Both Rupe and Brownfield attend Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. “It’s so expensive even for one semester.”

This is the first time that Rupe, a Webb City resident, will receive the Single Parent Scholarship. It came at just the right time, she said.

“I just put my car in the shop,” she said.

Rupe said a college degree wasn’t a priority for her until she had her son, Devin, now 2 years old. This is her third year in college. She is pursuing a psychology degree with a minor in some type of law enforcement.

“I want to work with troubled youths,” she said. “Eventually, I want to go back and get my master’s degree. It might take me a long time, but I’m a very persistent person.”

Brownfield, a Carthage resident, is no stranger to the program. This is the second year she received the Single Parent Scholarship. She took one year of college classes when she graduated from high school. That was 20 years ago.

Now, Brownfield is just one year away from graduating with her elementary-education degree. She hopes to become a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher.

Brownfield said the local scholarship helps pay her mortgage so she can take full-time class loads, while still taking care of her four children, working part time on campus and caring for her home.

“Every little bit helps,” Brownfield said. “There’s a lot of juggling with the homework and the kids.”

The United Way just announced the 17 recipients of this year’s scholarships. The nine returning recipients are Brownfield, Kristen DePriest, Courtney England, Glendola Flake, Patrisha Freitag, Calli Gates, Robin Hawkins, Nicole Hoffman and Jessica Del Prato.

The eight new scholarship recipients are Rupe, Ashley Collins, Andrea Harper, Stacie Martin, Angela Parish, Lesley Poe, Angela Ramsey and Starla Rocha.

Vowels said the scholarships are funded through donations, mostly from local companies. United Way’s goal is to give away $150,000 over 10 years, Vowels said. So far, it has distributed $35,000 in scholarship money and $3,500 in merit scholarships.

Information on the scholarship fund and applications for next semester are available via Mary Little, executive director of the United Way of Southwest Missouri, at 624-0153.

Scholarship uses:

The Single Parent Scholarship money may be used to help with tuition, books, utility bills, car maintenance, child care, or other financial needs that helps the recipient achieve educational goals.

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