From the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV) 2017 Annual Report
Three years ago, Heather Wyatt, a new mom and high school dropout, fled Virginia to escape an abusive partner. She didn't know where to go, only that she had to get away. She and her 6-month-old son, Jaxon, ended up couch surfing in Glasgow at the homes of an aunt and a friend.
A trip to the food stamp office helped her make some decisions that changed her life. There Heather learned about the Kentucky Community and Technical College System's (KCTCS) Work and Learn program, which helps low-income student parents get their GEDs. She also enrolled in KCADV's Individual Development Account (IDA) program and focused on building her credit. Less than a year after earning her GED and winning Student of the Year, she moved on to KCTCS's Ready-to-Work program and enrolled at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College.
"When I came into this program I was homeless, uneducated, and a brand-new single mother," says Heather, who is working on an Applied Associates in Science degree in software programming. "I had no money and no idea where to start. As a single mother, you're so full of worry, full of doubt and uncertainty. It helped me keep my sanity in all the craziness."
The IDA program, which matched her savings for school 4-to-1, gave Heather the courage and the financial cushion she needed to delve into her studies.
In between balancing work and school obligations, Heather, 39, completed credit counseling with her Ready-To-Work coordinator at Southcentral. By making regular, on-time payments on a car loan and two credit cards, she was able to increase her credit score to 714.
Today she doesn't have to rely on her aunt or friend for housing. With rental assistance, she and her son are able to live in their own home. She's looking forward to pursuing a B.S. in programming at Western Kentucky University and to owning her own home someday.
"My end goal is to buy a house, and I'm a lot closer to that goal thanks to the IDA program and the opportunities it afforded me," she says.
(Heather was the featured speaker at this year’s Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Adult Education GED graduation ceremony, sharing her story of perseverance and success.)
You can hear more of Heather’s story in her own words in a video SKYCTC and KCTCS created as part of our Better Lives for a Better Kentucky campaign. If you or someone you know could benefit from our Ready to Work/Work and Learn programs, please contact your local KCTCS college.