Michelle’s life began as an overwhelming surprise, being one of two in an unexpected twin birth to a single mom and a father struggling with addiction. Her first 10 years were marred by abuse and chaos. As a child Michelle floundered in school with undiagnosed learning disabilities. Without adequate interventions, those inadequacies and deficits, eventually morph into behaviors, attaching another negative label on Michelle’s already long lists of “why I am not good enough” Michelle finds herself on the fast track to self-destruction, becoming a pregnant, emancipated minor by 16.
Michelle’s quickly realized that her happy ever after did not unfold as she had envisioned. At age 17, Michelle’s son David was born 3 months premature. As a result of David’s prematurity, David has been diagnosed with Epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, Broncho-Pulmonary Dysplasia, Hydrocephalus, and visual and hearing impairments. To date David has smiled his way through 31 brain surgeries
Education became a life line. After working up the courage to divorce her incarcerated husband, Michelle was inspired to attempt her first degree. In 2008, Michelle applied for, and received, a scholarship from Helping Hands for Single Moms. Though the monthly unrestricted scholarship check for $270 was helpful, Michelle was most impacted by the encouragement and support she received from their other services such as: meeting other moms at the monthly Single Mom College Community meetings (some lifelong friendships built); fun family outings; and the inspirational Holiday Happiness event.
With inspiration from David’s strength, courage and love; the support of Helping Hands for Single Moms; and a lot of hard work and perseverance, Michelle completed two degrees culminating in an M.A. in Non-profit Leadership in 2010.
Michelle is a first generation graduate and the only one of 9 siblings to obtain a college degree. Obtaining a higher education provided Michelle the opportunity to achieve excellence, breaking cycles, and offering a new hope, for those who come behind her.
For the last 6 years Michelle has been gainfully employed as a Special Educator in a title 1 school. In addition to her full time job, Michelle is a motivational speaker and is working on completing her first book. Michelle says she has been able to find strength and healing by giving back to her community.