We all understand expected and unexpected life events that come our way. In May 2010, a young woman, 17 years old named Courtni Matthews was completing her junior year in high school when she discovered she was expecting a child. Courtni has two sisters that have completed college and a devoted mother, who unfortunately was battling a serious medical condition. The financial preparation for Courtni’s college education had to be put on permanent hold. In February 2011, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
After completing high school, Courtni struggled as a new single mother to balance her desire to be a great parent with her dreams to finish higher education. In July 2012, via a referral by a family friend, Courtni enrolled in the Enhancing Parenting Skills Program (EPSP) with Intercultural. It offered a village of supporters. Those in her network of parents with similar struggles provided a way for sharing; Intercultural counselors guided through counseling and teaching life skills; community partners (such as CHOP and PECO) extended support and opportunities; and invited speakers from the community offered their possibilities.
As fate would have it, while Courtni was still in our program, a representative from Harcum College, came to speak with the class to offer a fantastic education opportunity. The school was accepting applications and offering a tuition free Associates Degree. Even though the school is located in Bryn Mawr, the classes for this particular degree opportunity was offered in the West Philadelphia area, which was perfect for Courtni and her situation.
Courtni has expressed her gratitude for the Enhancing Parenting Skills Program, stating, “this program has allowed me to become the best mother I know how to be and has allowed me to see a better future for myself and my son”. Courtni’s journey shows that with the right help, everything is possible.