In 2017, Jessica Marks began her journey with the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund as a scholarship recipient, not knowing that a few short years later she would be helping other single parents achieve their educational dreams. After receiving a dual certification from the Western Governors’ University in K-12 Special Education and K-6 General Education, Marks joined the Southside School District teaching special education.

“I chose education as a program of study because I love working with children, especially those who need extra love, care, and guidance. In my heart, I have felt that I was called to work in this field. I love making a difference. I want to make sure that my students not only love to learn but to also learn to love. I hope to make a positive impact on my students’ lives that they can carry with them beyond the classroom,” Marks said.

Currently pursuing her master’s degree in Special Education, the mother of one, is serving as a volunteer for the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund for Independence County, Marks is not only shaping the lives of those she teaches, but she is also helping single-parent recipients from Independence, Cleburne, Jackson, Woodruff, Stone, Izard, and Fulton counties providing program support, serving on interview panels, application review, volunteer recruitment, and award program presentations.

“Volunteering with ASPSF is another way I can make a difference. When I received this scholarship, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I was so blessed when I got the news, so I understand the challenges a single parent faces and I am so happy to be a part of this organization,” Marks said.

An ASPSF recipient interviewed by Marks wrote, “when I heard you once received this scholarship, I knew that you understood. I have had to use the funds from this scholarship to put fuel in my car and it is hard when you don’t have something as simple as gas in your car to get you where you need to go. It’s hard to talk about.”

With the ongoing local support of Entergy, Arkansas Department of Higher Education, First Electric Trust, United Way, and so many others, ASPSF is changing lives one single parent at a time.

“From the application to graduation, our volunteers are there for the single parents,” said Alodia Hankins, ASPSF Program Manager. “Single parents often feel like they are alone struggling to reach their goals, our volunteers walk with them and work to help them succeed. “

Volunteers make it possible for ASPSF to provide life-changing scholarships and support to thousands of low-income single parents each year. Volunteers share their time and talents by reviewing applications, planning student workshops, mentoring students, teaching study skills, or assisting with fundraising. Volunteers strengthen families as they help strengthen our program and expand the program’s reach. Learn more at aspsf.org/get-involved or contact volunteer@aspsf.org.

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