Madison Magazine April-May 2019 - Page 10

Profile Scholar house gives parents chance to obtain degree O n Sept. 8, 2017, Eastern Kentucky University cut the ribbon on the East- ern Scholar House, signifying the start of a new journey for many single parents on their way to obtain higher education. The Eastern Scholar House had been in the works for 10 years and its mission was simple — to provide single-parent households in eastern Kentucky with access to housing and child develop- ment services while they work toward getting a degree. During the ribbon cutting ceremony, several leaders spoke including EKU President Michael Benson and then Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes. The message they all brought was clear — this opportunity is a way to help our citizens advance their lives. And it has for 43 families, including Colleen Martin and her daughter Haleigh and Ken- nedy Parks and her two children, Joseph and Arrisa. 10 Story & Photos by Kaitlyn Brooks When Martin suffered a freak accident as a line cook, burning 15 percent of her skin, she didn’t know what she was going to do next. The incident left her with PTSD and made it difficult to go back to work, leaving her resume blank for the next 10 years. But the Eastern Scholar House was just the opportunity she needed to get back on her feet and was the leading reason as to why she chose to attend EKU. “This allowed me to choose education instead, to fill a new resume with all sorts of things. The Center of Student Parents offered me the ability to get work hours around my schedule and paid study time,” Martin said. “On top of having affordable housing, I was living my best life.” Haleigh, Martin’s daughter, also has enjoyed living just a few apartments from her friends and school. She was able to attend the Scholar House Child Develop- ment Center, and has given her Madison Magazine A P R I L- M AY 2 0 1 9 EKU President Michael Benson addressed the crowd at the ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the new Eastern Scholar House. home and school the nickname “school house.” Parks said her two children love living at the Scholar House as well. She loves the safe envi- ronment the residence complex provides for them, especially the gate that surrounds the area that makes it so Parks doesn’t have to worry about Joseph and Arrisa running out into the street while playing. For Martin, life at the Scholar House allowed her to have time for things she didn’t think she could have. “Time for my child, time to have friends, to date, to make a life for myself. If it wasn’t for Eastern Scholar House, I would still be a line cook of 10 plus years living on my own, barely making it, having no energy for myself or others, and not giving