Member Spotlight: KRFDC and the Eastern Scholar House

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Yadira ESH

Ensuring access to higher education in Appalachia is crucial. In 2017, as a part of our commitment to education in Appalachia, Fahe collaborated with Member Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, Inc. to establish the Eastern Scholar House. The Eastern Scholar House provides support for single parents pursuing higher education. In the three years since its grand opening, the Eastern Scholar House has been removing barriers for their program participants by offering both affordable housing and child care. The program has been instrumental in helping these parents, and students, become increasingly self-sufficient and break up the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Below is Yadira and her daughter Ariana’s success story, who were one of the first program participants of the Eastern Scholar House.

MAKING HIGHER EDUCATION ATTAINABLE
Eastern Scholar House Program

When Yadira got pregnant in high school, she felt like her whole world was crashing down on her.  “I was so scared and afraid of disappointing my mom if I didn’t go to college,” admitted Yadira.  “I remember the day I sat down with her,” said Yadira.  “My mom knew what it was about before I said a word.  We cried and talked a lot and at the end of the conversation she told me she would do everything she could to help me raise my baby.”  Yadira walked away from that hard conversation relieved and hopeful.  Later that year she graduated with honors from Scott County High School.   All summer Yadira contemplated going to college.  “I knew I wanted to further my education but didn’t know how.  “I kept asking myself, will this be worth it and will I be successful?”, she said.  She found a great solution by looking into taking online classes. 

Two weeks after Ariana, her beautiful and healthy baby girl, was born, Yadira started those online classes at Eastern Kentucky University.  She finished her freshman year with a 4.0.  During that time, she selected accounting as her major and realized she had to start taking classes on EKU’s main campus.  ‘How am I going to do this?’, she thought.  Her college advisor encouraged her to look into the Eastern Scholar House Program.  “It was perfect timing!” exclaimed Yadira.  She applied and was accepted into the program.  “I was one of the first program participants,” she said.  “Can you believe that?”  Through the program Yadira was provided the opportunity to give Ariana a safe home while attending college.  

In July of 2017 they moved in and started walking down their own path to self-sufficiency.    “I realized that we were on our own for the first time in our lives,” said Yadira.  “It was scary, but exciting!”.  Yadira admits that the first year was tough.  Her GPA went down slightly and she had trouble finding time to balance motherhood, attending classes, doing homework, and work.  Over the course of that first year, Yadira found her rhythm.  She’s also been able to bring her GPA back up.  Today, Yadira is concentrating on finishing her degree and being the best mom she can.  Ariana’s father is a huge part of their lives.  They visit with him nearly every weekend.  Yadira anticipates graduating in May of 2020 with a double major in Accounting and Spanish.  She’s striving to be a forensic accountant.  But more than anything, she just wants a good job to support herself and Ariana.  “I can’t wait to graduate,” said Yadira.  She wants to make her mom proud of her achievements and say thank you for everything she’s done for her along the way.  “It’s very emotional to think about,” said Yadira.  “I also want Ariana to be proud of me,” she said.  “I can’t thank Foothills enough for this opportunity.  This has been a great experience for me and Ariana.”  

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The Eastern Scholar House Program opened in September 2017.  The program provides single-parent households in eastern Kentucky access to services, child-care and housing while they pursue a college degree.  The program is open to eligible full-time students enrolled in an approved post-secondary institution such as Eastern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community & Technical College, Morehead State University, and others.  This comprehensive program includes counseling, workshops, support from neighbors and staff, and special activities.  There are 39 two-bedroom apartments that include a washer/dryer, dishwasher, storage space, and a designated parking lot.  Housing and childcare are income based.  Once accepted, clients must maintain a 2.0 GPA, pay a portion of their rent, meet regularly with a case manager, participate in life skills workshops, and agree to either work or participate in an approved volunteer experience. 

To learn more about the Eastern Scholar House and Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, Inc., follow the links below:

Creating Opportunity for Education through the Eastern Scholar House

Construction of Eastern Scholar House on EKU’s Campus to Provide Educational Opportunities, Housing, and Child Care

Eastern Scholar House Program

Kentucky River Foothills

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