It Is Never Too Late

Ms. Sharonda Smith is a recent recipient of an award from the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF) of Miller County. Sharonda is the proud mother of one, Halston Gregory, who is a senior this year. 

The pandemic has been the catalyst for Sharonda pursuing higher education. She has been out of school for 31 years. Sharonda said she faced a very hard teen life and has been on her own since the age of 17 after becoming a teenage mother. 

Sharonda’s priorities changed after becoming a mother and she began working as a server for Red Lobster in Texarkana, Texas. She has been employed with the company for 28 years.

Like so many, the pandemic caused Sharonda to be furloughed, and she began to ponder the need for a career change. While shut in because of COVID-19, Sharonda received her GED within a couple of months and immediately enrolled in college classes at Texarkana College. She is majoring in Business Administration with the goal of working in an office setting. Since beginning classes, Sharonda has maintained a 4.0 GPA each semester.

Sharonda hopes her story of being a teen mom, high school drop-out and divorcee will inspire others to believe it is never too late to begin again, regardless of your circumstance or age.

Sharonda’s story is like that of thousands of single parent students across the state of Arkansas and Bowie County, Texas who are supported through scholarships from ASPSF. ASPSF impacts single parent students’ lives by enabling them to attain self-sufficiency through post-secondary education or skilled trade certification. Students graduate with strong job skills, prepared for work and able to create a more stable family life with increased family income.

Applicants for ASPSF scholarships are currently enrolled in a career focused college, university or skilled trade certificate program and meet ASPSF universal eligibility criteria.  Recipients commonly work full time or multiple part-time jobs, carry a full course load, and parent their children with little to no external family support. The scholarships awarded by ASPSF are not scholarships in the traditional sense, but important financial support for the family while the single parent is in school. Funds may be used for any combination of school and/or household expenses that removes a financial burden and helps the single parent student stay in school. 

ASPSF is currently sponsoring a Mother-Daughter Lookalike Photo Contest to help fund local scholarships. The winning duo will be awarded a prize package worth $250 to include: two tickets to “An Evening Under the Stars” featuring Grammy award winner Zach Williams, Mac Powell and the group Cain, to be held on May 11 in Texarkana; two gift cards to BJaxx Accessories in Texarkana; and dinner for two at Texas Roadhouse. 

Photo contest winners will be determined by the number of votes received. Votes will be one dollar each with a five-dollar minimum, and all proceeds will fund scholarships for single parent students. Voting will end on May 2, 2021. For contest rules, to enter and to vote, go to:

Through support of the Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, you have a direct impact on the lives of these students as they work to transform their future and the future of their children. Every dollar received for the Mother-Daughter Lookalike Photo Contest will go directly to and support services for single-parent students in Southern Arkansas and Bowie County, Texas.

To learn more about Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, go to or contact Wendy Stotts at 870/273-2059.


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