Single mom shares her dream of using her new degree to help
others in crisis

Single mom shares her dream of using her new degree to help others in crisis

Last fall, Kristen Toner enrolled at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith with a long-term goal in mind: to become a domestic violence victim advocate.

“I am passionate about helping women, men, and children get out of abusive situations and educating them on cycles of domestic abuse,” she said. “I hope to bring awareness and educate society so that we can learn early warning signs and hopefully avoid repeating cycles of abuse.”

Kristen has maintained a 3.7 GPA in her first year of classes while raising four children by herself and working part-time. After she graduates with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in criminal justice, she plans to go to graduate school so she can become a professional counselor and work with her community to overcome crisis situations.  

To recognize Kristen’s incredible dedication to her school and family, Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund has named the Sebastian County resident the May 2024 Student of the Month.

“She manages her home life, classes, and work with great success,” said Program Manager Christi Brown. “Through tough times, she keeps a positive attitude and perseveres. I am so proud of Kristen and all she has achieved!”

Kristen said the biggest challenge as a single parent student is managing the family’s finances. It’s no easy feat supporting four growing kids between the ages of 6 and 13 and covering tuition, fees, and textbooks.

“Bills have been my biggest stressor as well as a determining factor on if I can continue to finish school or not,” she said. “The Single Parent Scholarship Fund has provided me with extra cushion so that I can keep attending school.”

Kristen said she has used her flexible scholarship to pay for car repairs, home essentials, and even new shoes for all her kids. The aid has helped her focus more on her class assignments.

“I am so grateful for this scholarship program as I feel single parents often get overlooked,” she said. “Thank you, Single Parent Scholarship Fund. You have not only relieved some stressors from my life but have also made me and my children feel seen!”

Photo caption: Kristen Toner (back right) is Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund’s May 2024 Student of the Month. She poses for a photo with her four kids and mom. 

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