One of the minds in Cleveland I admire the most belongs to Denise Reading.
Where most people see only problems, she sees solutions.
She was in her first job as a professional, as Baldwin-Wallace College’s student life director, when a student tearfully confided that her younger sister, a bright student with a full ride to another college, had gotten pregnant in her senior year of high school.
Her sister would have to give up her dream of going to college, she cried.
The year was 1990. Reading had heard similar stories, and it spurred her to type up a letter to Baldwin-Wallace’s president.
This college claims to support students, she wrote, so why don’t we back that promise up by going out on a limb for single parents? She suggested converting a campus building into a residence for single moms, and channeling existing financial aid toward covering their tuition, room and board.
“I didn’t have any children, I didn’t know anything about social services,” she remembers with a laugh. But it seemed to her that if students had shown the ability to succeed in college, the door shouldn’t be slammed because of a pregnancy.
It was a cheeky move. Very few U.S. colleges had tried anything like it.
But Reading persuaded the president to launch its SPROUT program, or Single Parents Reaching Out for Unlimited Tomorrows, during the next school year.
Read more: http://www.cleveland.com/bernstein/index.ssf/2012/02/plea_to_help_single_moms_has_a.html