BY ANDREAS BUTLER
There is a new program at Daytona State College that could help many get into school and succeed.
The College Access Retention and Enrichment (CARE) program is designed to assist non-traditional college students such as single parents, low-income residents and public housing tenants get an education.
The program is an initiative of three women employees at Daytona State College who earned their degrees under difficult circumstances.
Natalie Wilcox is an academic advisor, Olivia Maultsby a financial aid counselor, and Yolaunda Harrison a financial aid specialist at the college.
“We established this program because we were inspired by our experiences in education,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox is a Daytona native and 2003 Mainland High School graduate. She has a bachelor’s degree in gerontology from the University of South Florida and is pursuing a master’s degree in Leadership and Education at Nova Southeastern University.
Almost gave up
During her first semester of school, Wilcox almost dropped out.
Wilcox recalls, “My first college experience was bad. I didn’t know what resources were available. I got lost and almost gave up. I was able to get help and succeed.”
Harrison is another Daytona native and a 1997 Mainland High graduate. She has an associate’s degree in psychology and is pursuing a bachelor’s at the University of Central Florida. Pregnancy slowed her educational process.
“I was basically a teen parent. I had a child my senior year of high school. I tried college for a year, but I got pregnant again. I had a high-risk pregnancy and had to be on bedrest. I had to drop out. It really affected my self-esteem,” Harrison told the Daytona Times.
“I suffered depression and had to get counseling. I was a single parent with three kids and no income. I often cried. I tried again and again but obstacles remained. I moved back to Daytona in Caroline Village. I went to Daytona State and spoke with Admissions. I got started. I got help, which gave me the strength and motivation to go to college. It took 10 years for me to get a degree,” Harrison added.
Lots of excuses
Maultsby was a single parent and working when she decided to get her education. She now has an associate’s degree in elementary education, a bachelor’s in organizational management and leadership and master’s in business administration.
She recalls, “I’m from Polk County, and we didn’t have as many single parents as I see here. When I was 25 years old, I had two kids, lived with my father and was working at Polk Community College. I actually had two jobs at the time. My bosses, Debra Daniels and Michelle Wompler, told me that I was too smart not to get a degree. I made excuses after excuse, especially in regards to taking care of my kids. I ended up getting my AA degree and then was encouraged to get more.”
Access and support
CARE will allow people to pursue education rather a high school diploma, GED, certificate or two-year degree.
“One of the main goals is to provide college access to the community. Those looking to go to college can have access and get enrolled,” Harrison said.
The program also will assist students with finding child care, academic advising, financial aid and scholarships.
“We will track their progress. We will look at their situation and help them get a strong base and the right resources that they need to succeed,” commented Wilcox.
Another service the program will aim to provide is mentoring.
Maultsby added, “We will also be mentoring our students. I will do some mentoring. When I was in school I secured a job but I had good mentors. Many people just need some encouragement.”
Public housing targeted
Public housing tenants also are eligible for the CARE program.
Wilcox stated, “We are meeting with the (Daytona Beach Housing Authority) board of directors and with the Residential Initiative Councils in each complex. We plan on going door to door in all the complexes including Palmetto Park, Caroline Village, Maley, Windsor, Northwood Village, Pine Haven, Daytona Garden and etc. In addition we hope to reach out to girls who attend the Chiles Academy teen parent school.”
The response in the housing units has been good thus far.
“Many people are highly motivated and enthusiastic but many are afraid of the process,” Wilcox noted.
The program is in its final building stages and will up by the fall semester 2013. There is no cap on the number of students that the program can enroll.
“We will reach out over these next two summers and really try to get people in,” added Wilcox.