Katrina Gilbert Stewart: ‘Never Give Up. Fight For Your Dreams.’

Every parent wants what’s best for their family. I know I do.

I don’t want my children to just settle in life when they get older. If they have a dream — a goal — then I want them to fight for it. I had a dream of going to college, so, being a single mom of three small children, I set out to do so.

I was so happy when I registered and passed my placement exam. I thought everything was going to be great. I was wrong. Shortly after I got accepted, I found out that I couldn’t receive any financial aid. I was dumbfounded as to why I couldn’t receive any help as a single mom working full-time and making $9.49 an hour. I gave up on my dream in that moment, but in time that all changed.

Two years ago, my dream came to be. I received a full scholarship to Chattanooga State Community College. I was elated to find out that I was going to get to go to college — not just for myself, but for my children as well.

I started school the fall semester of 2014, and I went full force, taking four to five classes a semester while still working. Every day was a struggle. It wasn’t easy by any means, but I pushed and pushed. No matter how hard it got to be, I was determined to finish this journey. I knew I had three children watching me.

Those faces that I woke up to every morning kept me going. They watched mommy staying up late studying and doing homework. When they went to school in the mornings, they would see me grabbing my backpack along with them and all of us heading to school. When the stress got to be too much, they would be there to wipe my tears away. It helped to ease the stress from school, working, being a mom, and taking care of everything that any person in this world has to do.

My children watched my every move for two years. They saw their mom fighting to make a better life for them. On May 8, they got to see one of the most important milestones in not just my life, but our lives, when I graduated from college with honors.

As I stepped onto that stage and they called my name out, my children were screaming “Yay, that’s my mom. She did it!”

Yes, I did it.

It is, and was, so important to me to show my children all that they can do in life and how important it is to go to college. Now, I’m setting out to find a career so that we can rise up and out of living in poverty. I will show my children success and how to accomplish it all. Never give up. Fight for your dreams!


WATCH: The Trailer for HBO’s Award-Winning Documentary, Executive Produced by Maria Shriver: “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert”

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