Meet current SPSF NWA scholarship Brianna Baker and her 3(almost 4)-year-old daughter Bella. Brianna is enrolled at the American Public University seeking her bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. Brianna also has one semester remaining in nursing school and plans to get her Master’s in Health Informatics. She has her sights set on working in the field of nursing informatics. We asked Brianna to tell us about her time as an SPSF NWA scholar.

How did you choose your major?
I love the healthcare field and what the electronic health records system has done for it. Joining the two together with being in nursing informatics is the perfect career for me.

What made you decide to go back to school/go to school for the first time?
When I became a single mom, I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew I needed to show my daughter that when life knocks you down you get right back up and make the best out of it. I needed to show her that if you have a dream, you should do anything to make it happen, no matter what it takes.

What do you enjoy most as a parent?
I enjoy seeing the smile on my sweet little girl’s face. She doesn’t let anything get her down. On her first day of pre-K, I asked her how her day went and she said not good. I asked why, and she said that she asked a little boy if they could be friends and she said the little boy said, “No, go away!” She then smiled and said, “It’s okay. I try again tomorrow.” She inspires me every day.

What is something you wish someone had told you before you had kids?
I wish someone had told me that being sick does not exist in motherhood. If I am sick I must pick myself up mentally and continue the day. Honestly, it’s worth it because at the end of the day I know my baby is taken care of. Then when she knows I’m sick, she will cuddle up with me, ask me if I want her “blankie,” and tell me she loves me.

What is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge is juggling everything at once. I have endometriosis and PCOS, so I experience constant pain and I have had three surgeries in three years. Along with the chronic pain taking a toll on me, I also work full time, go to school full time, and am Bella’s classroom parent coordinator. I also take Bella to gymnastics and dance class once a week. My best friend is my monthly planner; I wouldn’t be able to get through the day without it!

What do you and Bella like to do for fun?
We like to go to U of A football games, Fast Lanes, and see shows at the Walton Arts Center. We also love to play games! Our favorites are playing Wii, Candyland, and Hungry-Hungry-Hippos. We also enjoy playing tea party, hanging out with Mimi and Papa, and getting our nails done together.

What do you find inspiration in?
I find inspiration in single parents who strive to do their best for their children. Single parents who don’t let challenges get them down and continue to work towards their dream degree inspire me. This proves their strength and ability in being a parent!

How did you hear about SPSF NWA?
In 2015 when Bella was two months old and I became a single mom, I applied for school and started to research scholarships online. I came across SPSF NWA and instantly applied.

What does Bella want to be when she grows up?
Bella has said she wants to be a doctor like Doc Mcstuffins and Mimi. She loves to pretend to take my blood pressure. I have even given her my old stethoscope, and she loves to listen to my heartbeat.

What has been your favorite parenting moment thus far?
When Bella turns to me while I’m doing homework and says, “’Momma, I’m proud of you and I love you!” This makes all the struggles of being a single parent worth it.

Other than financially, what impact has SPSF NWA had on your life?
SPSF NWA has showed me the support I needed when I felt so alone in this world. It has given me a second family with great people I can go to for advice. I recently had a bad interview. I left with people judging me for being a single mom. When they asked me what I do for child care I told them, and they said “Don’t you think that’s a little long for a three year old to be in school?” Immediately after the interview, I was able to go to the SPSF NWA office and not only vent, but to also get good advice. They give me the emotional support I need to get through hard times.

How will life be different for you and Bella after you graduate?
Most of all, we will be financially stable, not living paycheck to paycheck. We won’t have to live off government assistance. I will also be able to have a stable job with stable work hours so that I can have more time with Bella.

What would you like to say to SPSF NWA supporters?
Your support means so much to me and all of the recipients. It shows us that there are people out there who believe in us. Thank you for believing in us and giving us an opportunity to make a better life for our kids.