Cherise Wilson knows how it feels to be part of an unsuccessful marriage and more so, the angst of becoming a single parent while not being adequately educated.
It is the story of a broken dream, but for her translated to just a delayed opportunity.
“When I finished university, my passion is to pursue policing. I wanted to be in law enforcement since a teen but I had made a lot of choices which delayed that opportunity. One of them was becoming a single mom.
“My 8 year-old daughter was the blessing from a failed marriage,” Wilson said. “No woman desires to raise children on their own.”
Wilson was giving her acceptance speech at the SMILE Foundation 2016 Burgeon Fundraising Gala, held at the Holiday Inn Yorkdale, November 4, in Toronto, after collecting a bursary from the organisation, to help with her education.
She attends the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology; and is completing a degree in criminology and justice.
Wilson is one of 10 recipients, five in Canada and five in Jamaica, of $1000 bursaries that are made available for each academic year for single mothers, who are seeking a higher education. Other Canadian recipients were Lisa Hughes and Valenzuela Luzmira.
Karen Brown Campbell is the president and founder of SMILE- Single Mothers Inspiring Leadership in Education - a single mom of a son, Selassie, when she decided to start the organisation. It is now in its fourth year and has helped females in both countries by dispersing money to further their pursuit of becoming qualified academically.
“We are very excited with the support we’ve gained,” Campbell told The North American Gleaner.
“We have distributed almost $20,000 in bursaries to single moms in Canada and Jamaica. So, not just locally but internationally, helping them to further pursue their education. Encourage them despite obstacles and circumstances so that they can get a second chance and have a great impact on their children, community and the world.”
Passion for helping others
With over 20 years of teaching experience in the education sector and currently serving as vice-president of the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario, Campbell has a passion for helping others in need because she knows, firsthand, the challenges of furthering her education while being a single mother.
She believes that education is the equalizer and is one of the key tools to lifting women and children out of poverty.
Her desire is to plant seeds of hope in the lives of single mothers and with the support of SMILE; they can blossom to their full potential.
Guest speaker, Katie Zeppieri, entrepreneur, author, blogger and motivational speaker, said empowerment may comes from self but ultimately she believes it comes from serving others and “that’s what mothers do.”
“You matter. You are valued. And your dreams are still intact. Even on the days where you feel alone, scared and unprepared, just remember that God gives the toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. So hang in there soldier. Our world needs you,” Zeppieri said.
Jamaica’s consul general to Toronto, Lloyd Wilks and SMILE director, Jackie Samuels brought greetings.