LOUISVILLE, Ky.(WHAS 11)--Cap and gown ready - students here in Kentuckiana and across the country are preparing to receive their diploma this weekend.
Graduating from college is a milestone making any parent proud.
For one mother, it’s an achievement and sacrifice she knows will pay off even if her daughter doesn't realize it yet.
25-year-old Victoria Sledge is graduating from the University of Louisville this Saturday just as her 5-year-old daughter prepares to enroll in kindergarten this fall.
Sledge says she always planned to go to college but after having Levi she knew she couldn’t put it off.
Five years ago, Sledge moved from Memphis, TN shortly after having her daughter to Louisville. Sledge had family support but knew college was the answer for a better and independent future.
That’s where the University of Louisville’s Family Scholar House comes in. The program helps single parents get a degree by providing financial assistance and child services.
“Any type of need that any student would have they fulfill that but they also fulfill the need that a single parent would have,” Sledge said.
However, Sledge worried a felony conviction on her record from when she was 16 would prevent her from getting into the program.
“So, when I found out that I had gotten in it was like you know that just breath that you can take and you know that okay everything is going to be okay for me and her,” Sledge said.
Sledge says you're accepted first into the non-residential program. She says if you prove yourself, you can qualify to get housing assistance to be able to live steps from childcare.
“I could go to school full time and still have time to spend time with my daughter,” Sledge said.
During her time at UofL, she worked in the university library. She made the dean’s list. She was a homecoming queen candidate.
Four years later, Victoria is one of 64 single parents graduating this semester, bringing the total to degrees earned through the Scholar House Program since its start in 2008 to 371.
She says it’s hard but doable.
“Its commitment you wake up every day, you wake up every day knowing that you, like this constantly looming over your head. I hate to make it sound like that but that's how it is and you have to be dedicated to it and you have to really want to get it done,” Sledge said.
Victoria is the first in her family to get a college degree so she says a lot of family will be there for her cheering her on Saturday.
After graduation, Victoria plans to move to Chicago and start a paid internship with Chicago Public Schools. Her mission is to change the mindset of those who don't think earning a degree is possible. She says if she's made it this far she knows she can help others especially minorities go to college. She also wants to keep studying, eventually earning her Masters and then PhD.
Since 2008, Family Scholar House has provided housing and support for 453 single-parent families. There are currently 215 single-parent college students with 322 children living at Family Scholar House.
If you’d like to apply for the program, volunteer, or donate you can head to http://familyscholarhouse.org/ for more information.