Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Single Mothers’ Scholarship to Brittany Redfern and Laurie Hucks. Our scholarship committee was impressed by the overall dedication of single mothers to pursuing their educational goals, while caring for their children, but these two women are true stand-outs for the way in which they are able to balance their academic workloads while caring for their children.
Below you will find these winning essays from Brittany and Laurie. Based on the positive responses we have received from school officials and students, we are please to announce that our scholarship program will continue for 2015 following similar parameters for this year. You can view the parameters for the upcoming scholarship here.
Thank you for all participants and best of luck in all endeavors!
Brittany L. Redfern: Brittany is enrolled at Villanova University School of Law and is a J.D. candidate anticipated 2017.
Making the choice to continue my education not only through the duration of my pregnancy and shortly after childbirth, but continuing on to law school has been one of the toughest and most enduring three years of my life, but I credit motherhood for giving me the compassion, the sensitivity, and the value of time needed to be a successful student pursuing a legal education.
Becoming a mother at twenty-one was a trying time for me as I very quickly became a selfless and more empathetic individual. As a full time student trying to breastfeed and care for a newborn, while also making it to WIC and newborn check ups, I very quickly gained a compassion and sensitivity for struggling mothers. Qualifying and ultimately being a recipient of public assistance furthered my compassion for those I once regarded as lazy – these people weren’t lazy; they were just like me – people trying to move further in life simply needing a little help along the way. My compassion, respect, and empathy for mothers falling below or within the level of poverty grew so much that it crafted my entire undergraduate Sociology research thesis as I conducted ethnographic research to understand the barriers to initiation and duration of breastfeeding amongst low income women. I wanted to take my agency of education to uncover the barriers and ultimately advocate for the women who were just like me, but were struggling to breastfeed because they lacked varying resources and/or support.
Very early in my journey of motherhood, I was required to learn that my success would be contingent upon time management. When my son was born, I was in the midst of preparing for midterms and was only allowed a two-week break from school. During the time that I was home with my son, I knew the importance of a consistent schedule, so that when I returned to school, I would be able to thrive. I would nurse my son every three hours and pump immediately after he was finished nursing to begin building a healthy reserve of breast milk for his sitter once I returned to school. I would schedule my homework and reading assignments for a set time and day for each night leaving only Saturday evenings and all day Sundays reserved should I want to spend time with family or even catch up with work. As my son aged, I realized that he needed his mother to be in the present when we were home, so I made the commitment to send him to daycare from 9am until 5:30 pm each day and during those hours, I am a student. Once 5 pm arrives, I am now a mother and I do not open books or attempt to do work at home until he goes to bed as I want to devote those three or four hours to him. As I have continued to law school, I have adjusted my schedule to include an occasional ear infection or common cold, which may prevent him from going to daycare. I read ahead one day for each class and schedule doctor’s appointments on Saturday mornings or during the evening hours they offer.
Becoming a mother at a young age and while in school allowed me to structure my life so that I can continue to reach my goals with grace and sensitivity, but also remembering that I am a mother. Learning compassion and sensitivity keeps my tangible to encourage other mothers that they too can achieve their goals even if they became a mother young or are low income. Becoming a mother young reminds me there is someone who is always looking up to me to do the right thing. Becoming a mother means that I must always be, figure out how to, or move towards being prepared for whatever infection, virus, or injury that comes along. No one tells you how to be a mother – they especially don’t tell you how to be a student as well as a mother. This is something that comes innately and I aim to always let other students who are mothers know all of this is within them also.
Laurie Hucks: Laurie is presently majoring in Emergency Medical Technology
<Being a mother is the most rewarding job I have ever had but who would have thought that my kids would be the one’s teaching me?
I pride myself in the fact that I am a very hard worker with very strong work ethics in whatever it is I am doing. I have been a single mother of two wonderful children since 2008. They are my fuel, my reason for everything I do. That is a very powerful title for two small children to have especially when I don’t think they even really realize the magnitude of this little secret. They have taught me so much as a person and to think…they are just kids.
My story really starts in 2009 when I heard the words everyone dreads to hear, “You have cancer”. The funny thing is I didn’t freak out nor did I cry, my first thought was I need to start making arrangements for my children to stay with my family so they can get back and forth to school while I go in for surgery. Losing the battle to cancer just was not an option. I teach my kids to never give up, to keep working towards their goals and one day it will pay off and I intended to listen to the same words I told them. I would fight, for me, but mostly for them. I immediately went in for surgery to remove the tumor but the surgery was unsuccessful and when I woke up I was informed by my orthopedic oncologist that he would not be able to remove the tumor because the risk involved were too great. I was sent back to Emory to meet with my radiation oncologist to start radiation treatment. I thought, I will breeze through these treatments, man was I wrong! I had to do six weeks of treatments every single say on my lunch break. Missing work was not an option. Towards the end of my treatments, my skin started to burn, literally! I was at my second to last treatment and I told them I could not continue. I was in so much pain from the 2nd degree burns I had on my back in my armpit. The nurses and doctors encouraged me that I had made it this far that I just needed to push through the last two treatments. I sat on the edge of the table in front of this monster of a machine that was literally burning my skin off, when my phone buzzed. It was picture from my mom, of my kids holding up drawings they made that said “Mom you are my Hero” and “We love you”. Well needless to say I lost it, and as the tears rolled down my face I laid back on the table to continue my treatments. Two more, I could do this with the two precious little soldiers I had on my side. An army of three would be all I needed to fight this battle.
Well two weeks after radiation was over I met with my Oncologist and got some shocking news. The tumor was not shrinking and in fact it had grown and that I would have to start chemotherapy and undergo treatments for a year. I schedule the surgery to have my port placed and went home to snuggle with my kids. The following Monday I had my port put in and received my first round of chemotherapy and even though I went home to take a nap after treatments, I actually made myself get up and go to school that evening because I didn’t want to miss a test. I continued to do this same routine for several months, take the kids to school, work, chemo, school until one day I blacked out driving. Everything had finally caught up with my body and I had to reduce my work to part time, withdraw from school, and move back in with my parents. Every Wednesday I would get chemo and then come home and get in the bed and every day when my kids would get home from school that would sneak in my room so quietly sometimes I would not even hear them, but when I did I would still pretend to be sleeping. They would each take turns kissing me on my forehead and telling me that that loved me before sneaking out again. They never stopped this routine, the entire time I went through treatments. They never gave up on me.
After my year of chemo was over I was informed that the tumor had not reduced in size enough and that I would have to start a more aggressive form of chemo. I made a life changing decision to become a vegetarian instead of taking more chemo treatments and I am happy to say that I am coming up on FIVE years tumor free!
I have recently bought my own home and started school back in August to become an EMT with the long term goal of being a flight medic for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. My past experiences have molded me into the person I am today but being a single mother of two, going to school, and working a full time job are my passion. I want my kids to be proud of me knowing that my job means something and they are the ones that helped me get there.