After getting laid off from her job as an office manager for an auto glass repair shop, Roberta Steele decided to return to school to pursue a career in healthcare. That move is certain to pay off once she completes her nursing degree at Grossmont College, but living on $700 a month in government assistance and a small stipend from a work-study job is tough, especially for a single mom with two young twins. With a bachelor’s degree in theater from San Diego State University already in hand, her financial aid options are limited by guidelines limiting aid only to those without university degrees.
When she lost her mother last year, Steele wasn’t sure if she could continue college. She said a $500 Dreamkeepers grant came in the nick of time, providing a financial and morale boost, as well as the incentive to continue her studies.
“I would have never made it, had I not gotten the $500 from Dreamkeepers,” said Steele, who used the money to pay rent. “ I’m an older student in my 50s and these past few years have been really difficult. I lost my home to foreclosure. I received my bachelor’s but couldn’t get hired at any of the technical writing, PR, or marketing jobs I had been applying for. It was like beating a dead horse. I even did quality control work. When I finally did find work as an office manager, the business shut down because the economy had gotten so bad. Returning to school to pursue a nursing career is like getting a second chance.”