Local mother of 4 receives Single Parent Scholarship Fund award
Carroll County resident Amanda Wambold is proof that it’s never too late to engineer your future.
Wambold, who will graduate from Northwest Arkansas Community College in December with associate’s degrees in applied science and business, was honored on Thursday, Oct. 19, at the Single Parent Scholarship Fund’s Scholarship Soiree, where she received a $2,000 scholarship sponsored by Entergy Corporation.
“My tuition fees for this semester were $2,312.50, so the scholarship covers almost all of my tuition,” Wambold said. “It’s a long time coming. I’ve been trying to do this for 20 years.”
Wambold described what a normal week looks like for her, saying she works at her hair salon all day Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Wambold said, she is in school from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. That’s when she returns home to her four children, Wambold said, to work on homework.
“After I get the kids to bed, I study and do my homework from 10 to midnight,” Wambold said. “The days are long, but I look at my kids and it’s so worth it, because now they’re going to go to college, too.”
Wambold has been trying to get her college degree since she graduated from high school. Throughout the years, Wambold said, she has gone back to school several times while caring for her growing family.
“Growing up for me, life was good. I had dreams like everybody else,” Wambold said. “But life just happens sometimes and it’s crazy and it’s not planned. It keeps going.”
Wambold always wanted to get a business degree, but one of her professors suggested something else.
“She said, ‘Have you ever really thought about mechanical engineering? You ask all the right questions and you think that way. You should check it out,’ ” Wambold said.
From that point on, she said, she began pursuing two degrees: one in business and one in mechanical engineering. She quickly realized, Wambold said, how much passion she has for engineering.
“I want to be an industrial engineer and improve processes, and honestly, I don’t really care what field it is in,” Wambold said. “I just want to be in production.”
She never lost her focus to go back to school, Wambold said, because she wanted to give her children a better life.
“I’m a single parent, and it’s not their choice for me to be that way. They don’t get to miss out on life because of my choices,” Wambold said. “I want to be able to provide for them as if I weren’t single.”
Another perk of getting a college degree, Wambold said, is how it inspires her children to do the same someday.
“When they’re struggling in school, they’re like, ‘Mom, how do you do this?’ ” Wambold said. “I tell them to keep trying, because nobody’s going to do this for you.”
Mark Martin, the customer service manager with Entergy Corporation, said Entergy is honored to help Wambold finish her studies. Entergy cares deeply about the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, Martin said.
“We recognize how hard it is on single parents to continue their education and also be a parent at the same time,” Martin said. “Basically, they’ve got two full-time jobs.”
He gets goosebumps every time he attends a Single Parent Scholarship Fund event, Martin said.
“You see the thrill in their eyes and the smile on their face. You know it means so much to them, and it’s amazing,” Martin said. “We’re trying to stay involved in our communities. We’re a huge sponsor for the Single Parent Scholarship Fund across Arkansas, and it’s an honor for us to honor [Wambold] tonight.”
Gina Gregson, who hosted the event at her home with husband John Gregson, said she has supported the Single Parent Scholarship Fund since moving to Carroll County. Gregson knows the power of having an education, she said, because getting a college degree changed her life. Her first job out of college, Gregson remembered, sent her on the adventure of a lifetime.
“I was flying to Athens, Greece, to do a software install. I had never been on a plane in my life,” Gregson said. “Before long, I had a passport full of stamps. Growing up on a tomato farm, that doesn’t sound like something that’s achievable, but it is.”
The Single Parent Scholarship Fund makes goals like that achievable, Gregson said.
“Working is hard, going to college is hard and being a parent is the hardest job you can have,” Gregson said. “When you look at someone like Amanda who does all those things together … I can’t think of a demographic that is more deserving of financial assistance than single parents.”
Tyler Clark, executive director of Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas, said the organization has given out 108 scholarships in Carroll County since 2009.
“That’s 108 families you are literally changing the lives of because of your stewardship and dedication to this mission,” Clark said.
Wambold thanked the scholarship fund, saying she appreciates all the support.
“What a great organization it is. It needs everybody’s support. It makes a big difference,” Wambold said. “It frees up time. It frees up money. It lets you not have to stress about the little things.”