"Until I began serving with AmeriCorps VISTA, poverty did not directly affect my life. But it indirectly affected me through my mother's experience with it. I'm not actually certain whether she ever lived at or below the poverty line, but she did grow up poor. Neither of her parents went to college. Neither of them gave her encouragement to do so, much less the financial support. Her only goals after graduating high school were to get a stable job. She decided on nursing, a field which only required an associate's degree at the time. Though there was a waiting list to get in the program at the local community college, she was given a spot because of her excellent grades. Being completely independent from her parents and having to pay for everything herself, she worked full time while also going to school full time. She graduated in two years, passed her licensing exam, and has been working as a nurse for 30+ years now. Because of her tireless work ethic, my sister and I never experienced poverty, even when my mom went through other financial hardships.
To be fair, I didn't grow up in a single parent household. But I did rely on my mom for many financial matters. When it was time for my sister and I to go to college, she made it clear she would help pay. There was no question. We didn't have to take out as many loans because of her support. We didn't have to work full time to put ourselves through school. That's why I serve for an organization that focuses on education as a means to lift individuals out of poverty. I believe in the impact of education because I'm a product of it."