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Whiitney Crews and Elizabeth Gregory standing in a field with their children

Completing a post-secondary degree can be challenging for any student. Still, the task of finishing a college degree can seem enormous when a student is also working a part-time job and raising children by herself in a pandemic. For Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC) students Whitney Crews of Glasgow KY and Elizabeth Gregory of Franklin KY, not only overcame these challenges they graduated with honors.

Whitney and Elizabeth were both enrolled in the Ready to Work program at SKYCTC. Ready to Work (RTW) is a partnership between the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and the KY Cabinet for Health & Family Services, Department for Community Based Services. The program provides support to help students balance family, work, and school. It also provides work-study opportunities that do not reduce certain public benefits as well as advocacy and mentoring, access to daycare and transportation assistance, and employment skills training opportunities.

“As a single mother, pretty much starting over, I was informed of the Ready to Work program through the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) office,” said Gregory. “This program assured I had a life that would allow for me to get my education and still provide for my child and myself. I was able to focus on finishing.  To think I had no idea where my life would go after I had my son, now I am starting a full-time career.”

Gregory was placed in a work-study position at the Simpson County Child Support Office as receptionist through the Ready to Work program. She has now accepted a full-time position there as a caseworker. “This is a great fit for me, allowing me to utilize my life experiences and my training to do what I love most, helping people,” says Gregory.

“There is a sense of community and the staff at SKYCTC genuinely want you to succeed,” said Gregory. “You are not alone. If you do not understand an assignment, need extra tutoring, or even need directions to the right class, someone will be sure you find the help you. I found expectations of me to be clear, which is also important to me.” 

Whitney Crews agrees. “SKYCTC was a wonderful experience for me. It opened a great deal of opportunities I never even imagined possible. It has prepared me for my career in Respiratory Therapy and showed me that I am capable of so much more than I believed I was. I have made lifelong friendships and memories I will treasure for the rest of my life all while securing a remarkable career,” says Crews.

“I am the mother of two children, one boy and one girl,” says Crews. “I have very supportive parents that pushed me to keep going on the days I felt like giving up, helped me with caring for my children when I couldn't be with them because of school and work, and showed me unconditional love at all times.”

Crews says, “The Ready to Work Program afforded me educational opportunities that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to pursue. I was the first student to be placed at TJ Samson Hospital. I was able to apply for my Student Respiratory Therapist Licenses which allowed me to obtain relevant field experience. The hours that I worked for the program were beneficial to my education and to my family financially. I am grateful for the program and the doors it opened for me. The student position with the program lead to a full time Respiratory Therapist position with TJ Samson Hospital because I was able to show clinical skills, dedication, and willingness to learn. All things I wouldn't have been able to do without The Ready to work program and wonderful people like Kelly Meredith that worked extremely hard to get TJ Samson as my work site.”

Both Whitney and Elizabeth would say their biggest motivating factor were their children. Whitney is a single mother of two children – she graduated with a 3.270 GPA. Elizabeth is a single mother of one son – she graduated with a 3.844 GPA. 

“While there are an untold number of things that could be worrying you about going back, it is possible, and there are resources available to help,” says Crews.” I was sure that so many things would go wrong, but I found that it fell into place, and people were behind me to help along the way.” 

Gregory would tell Single Parents there are a lot of networks of support out there and if you're considering going to college Do it!  It’s the best decision I have made for my children and myself thus far. The opportunities are endless.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Elizabeth and Whitney in the Ready to Work program,” says, Kelly Meredith, Ready to Work Coordinator at SKYCTC. “Being able to help these students find job placements that have turned into fulltime job offers is what this program is about.  These ladies have dedicated themselves to achieving their goals, no matter what obstacles they have been faced with.  I know they will do great things in life.  I am very proud of them and the example they have set for their children.”