Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Loretta studies for her postsecondary accounting degree.

Returning to college after 35 years? That’s not what Loretta had in mind for her 50s. But after decades as a stay-at-home mom, Loretta found herself at a crossroads.


She needed a way to support herself and her son still living at home. But she didn’t have the skills or work history to land a good job. Desperate, she turned to the fast-food industry. “I put in so many applications,” she remembers. Finally, Loretta was offered a job at Krispy Kreme. She was grateful — even for the 2 a.m. shift.


Loretta set her sights on leadership, thinking a series of promotions and raises would offer the stability and family-supporting wages she needed. And progress she did! From supervisor to assistant manager, then to general manager at a different store. But it still wasn’t enough. “It just wasn’t enough money,” she says. “I couldn’t support myself, much less my son.”

Loretta with her son.

“I have to do something more.” The thought rattled through Loretta’s mind constantly. She’d need a degree under her belt to go after the kind of jobs she hoped for. But she didn’t have the funds to pay for school, and she had no idea how to get scholarships. After much searching, she was relieved to find Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund. Empowered and determined to make a change, Loretta took a leap of faith and enrolled in school full-time.


A recent surgery meant her first semester was entirely online. Navigating virtual learning can be challenging for anyone, but it was especially so for Loretta who had little need for computer skills during her years as a stay-at-home mom. She took a computer literacy crash course and soldiered on.


Loretta chose to pursue a degree in accounting. “It really clicks for me,” she said. “I’m looking for a career, and this field offers so many opportunities.” Right now, she’s interning in an accounts payable position and looking forward to graduation in May. After four years in school, she imagines just working will feel like a breeze.


“I’m looking forward to living out my goal,” Loretta said, the smile evident in her voice. “Rejoining the workforce, getting my own place, helping my son get on his feet — I can’t wait!”


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