When I decided to go to law school as a single mom, a lot of people were excited for me and a lot of people thought I was making a huge mistake. I was told I was being irresponsible, that I was being selfish, that I should wait until the kids were older, and that I should continue to work my low paying job and receive food stamps until I could marry a guy who could take care of us. 

I went anyway because I dreamed of taking care of myself. The whole time I was in school I was scared of the people who said I couldn’t, or I shouldn’t, or that it was a mistake, or that I’d regret it. 

The people in my life who believed in me kept me alive and moving forward for those three years: my parents, my siblings, my extended family and relatives, my church, my professors, my classmates, my children, my friends. Very few single moms who start school are able to finish. I finished because the right people stepped in to help me every time I was about to fail. 

One day, shortly after graduation, I wore my law school t-shirt to the grocery store. My kids were with me and a man approached us. He pointed at my t-shirt and asked, “Did you go to law school?” 

I was pleased because usually I’m asked if my husband went to law school. I told the man, “Yes, I did.” 

He asked, “Was it expensive?” 


“Who’s going to help you pay for all those loans?” 

I was beginning to feel less flattered. I told him, “I don’t think anyone will.” 

“Good,” he said. Then, just before walking away, he shook his finger at me and said, “You need to learn responsibility.” 

I was too stunned to come up with a clever reply. My daughter looked confused and asked, “Why is that man so grumpy?” 

It’s been over a year now and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what transpired. 

It’s true I have huge loans. 

It’s also true that I have a good job and that I have not applied for or received government welfare since my graduation.

I wish I could go back in time and tell that man, and everyone else who wags their finger at me, “You’re welcome.”

Divorce is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in our country. Women are more likely than men to have bachelor’s degrees that lead to low paying jobs. In fact, most women will need a bachelor’s degree to earn the equivalent of a man with an associate degree.

I wanted to provide for my family and I dragged myself and my kids through three years of hell to get there. I was so deeply impoverished that I sold my children’s toys, our kitchen table, our pet dog, and more, until my children would start pointing to different things around the house and asking me what I was going to sell next. I donated plasma twice a week, praying that I wouldn’t throw up until after I’d left the donation center because, if phlebotomists saw me throw up, they would make me wait two weeks before letting me come back. I lived off three to four hours of sleep a night, made my children sit with me through months of night classes, and took them to the law school on weekends where they played quietly for hours so I could use the internet when our home internet was canceled for nonpayment.

Three years of living like that was hard on me and it was hard on my kids.

Then we graduated. I passed the bar exam. I got a great job. I will never shop with food stamps again. I am done applying for government assistance with housing, childcare, and Medicaid.

My sacrifices and hard work will save the state of Utah tens of thousands of dollars in public welfare spending. I also pay a heck of a lot more state and federal taxes. My contributions will increase as my experience increases. My legal skills and knowledge make me a valuable resource to individuals in my community. My children have learned the value of hard work, sacrifice, and an education. They are growing up knowing that they can do hard things.

So, yes, going to law school means I have student debt.

But, to that old man and to anyone else out there who feels tempted to criticize women like me, I say, “You’re welcome. And I hope you’ve learned something about responsibility.”


Author: Lisa Sledge 


ECMC Foundation

ECMC Foundation

At ECMC Foundation, we aim to increase the number of students from historically and presently underserved backgrounds who persist through and graduate from an institution of higher education with a bachelor’s degree. Understanding that many of our students begin their postsecondary pathways at community colleges, we actively engage in opportunities to invest in transfer success. College Success invests in postsecondary programs and initiatives that:

  • Improve and scale systemic reforms and supports to increase student success at postsecondary institutions.
  • Increase currently enrolled students’ persistence toward a degree.
  • Support on-time transfer from two-year to four-year institutions.
  • Enhance students’ pathways to graduation with career-ready skills.
  • Elevate new research findings and publications that promote student success outcomes.

Visit the site.

Helping Hands for Single Moms

Helping Hands for Single Moms

When a single mom first enrolls in college, her family situation often becomes worse before it gets better. In addition to midterms, finals and term papers, the single mom must attempt to live on inadequate financial resources while maintaining a household, managing transportation challenges, and nurturing her children. She is juggling school, family and work while facing loneliness, isolation, and low self-esteem. Together, these are significant challenges that often converge and can lead to dropping out of school. In order to facilitate success, Helping Hands for Single Moms provides a supportive program. Visit the site.

Program benefits for our moms

  • An unrestricted scholarship for $270 per month
  • AAA Towing
  • Assistance with auto repairs
  • Emergency funds
  • Tech assistance for computers and software
  • Limited dental, medical and eye care for mom
  • Hair cut and style
  • Holiday gifts
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Budget management
  • Optional mentoring and tutoring
  • Textbook purchase assistance, as available
  • Single Moms Network – monthly meetings
  • Professional counseling
  • Legal counsel
Forgotten Mom

Forgotten Mom

Forgotten Mom Inc. (FMI), is a registered (501(c)(3), non-profit initiative established to address, support, and find help for the dramatically underserved population of individuals struggling with the disease of addiction. By focusing primarily on the mothers in need of treatment and support, FMI can best serve the widest scope of families caught in the seemingly overwhelming addiction and behavioral health struggle.

Through years of work in the field of addiction treatment and wellness outreach, the FMI leadership recognized that mothers are more acutely engaged and involved with their communities than any other part of the population, and are therefore, the key to connecting with families in need of help. As a result, FMI has built a platform that focuses initially on the matriarch and builds a safety net for all those in need of support.

While the disease of addiction has become one of the most prolific destructive forces for humanity and the families defining our population, engaging and educating mom, her loved ones, and her community about issues pertaining to addiction and behavioral health and available treatment options, we will exponentially grow the numbers of families getting the help they need.

Whether a mother is on the receiving end of the much-needed treatment resources we coordinate or on the giving end by helping FMI find support for a loved one currently struggling, mothers are the key to healing families in need, which is why our focus starts with her. Mothers and their unconditional love is what connects each and every one of us together; despite differing cultural, religious, and political views, we can universally agree that all life and love begins with a mother. It is our privilege to celebrate all mothers while providing the healing resources their families need. Visit the site.

First Aid for Moms and Children

First Aid for Moms and Children

Providing hassle free and rapid response services to mothers in need.

Our vision is to ease the distress and uncertainty among single mothers caring for their children and prevent the risk of the development of reactive attachment disorder. Our mission is to provide diaper bags of necessities for the infant or toddler and conduct follow-ups to provide more necessities. Improper care may result in unintentional neglect. Neglect increases the risk of attachment issues. Visit the site.