Tiffany Horton works two jobs and is raising a 12-year-old son while also taking classes at MU.
On Tuesday, she learned that she was also the lone winner of the fall 2021 Working Parent Scholarship from Job-Applications.com. She won the $1,000 award by writing an essay about what it’s like to balance those responsibilities.
“None of this would be possible without the support of my son,” she wrote in her essay. “I want to set a good example for him and to be able to eventually help shape policies that may directly impact his future.”
Horton is a senior getting her bachelor’s degree in social work with a minor in women and gender studies. She is most passionate about policy-focused social work.
“I want to focus on military mental health,” Horton said in an interview. “When a soldier breaks an ankle, he is immediately rushed to the doctor, but when he says he is having dark thoughts, he is usually made fun of.”
Before attending school, Horton was in the service. Many of her family members have also served.
Horton, 37, plans on graduating in December 2022. She said that her education was made possible by her previous boss, Joan Hermsen. While Hermsen works in MU’s sociology department now, in 2014, she was the department chair for women and gender studies.
“She asked why I didn’t have a degree,” Horton said. “I had to look this badass woman in the face and say ‘I was a bad student, so I quit.’”
Hermsen had the department help pay for Horton’s books for her first few semesters to ensure that she could go to class.
According to the Institution for College Access and Success, about 56% of recent college graduates in Missouri have student loan debt, with an average of $28,713 per person.
“The financial strain on working parents returning to school in Missouri and throughout the United States cannot be overstated, particularly during this terrible pandemic,” Doug Crawford, Job-Applications.com president, said in a press release. “Our national Working Parent Scholarship is our way to help reduce some of that pressure.”
In her scholarship essay, Horton said that, since she is timing out for her eligibility for Pell Grants, “I will be forced to take on a heavier load of student loan debt that I am afraid I may never be able to climb out from under.”
However, Horton ultimately says that she is in a privileged position compared to some other MU students.
“There are other students on this campus that also have full time jobs and 4-6 classes,” she said. “I want to acknowledge that I am very privileged that I only have to take two this semester.”