Kathleen Graffeo had hoped her story would be one of being part of a strong, loving family. Her ex-husband shattered that dream when he abused her. Since then her story has become one of perseverance, self-reliance and being a role model for her two sons.
“A woman needs to have an education,” said Graffeo, 47. “You have to be able to count on yourself.”
Parenting her teenage boys alone with no other family and little help from child support, Graffeo earned her degree as a licensed practical nurse. She worked at a correctional facility for alcohol and drug offenders for four years. Once again, however, Graffeo chose safety when the facility began taking in more dangerous inmates. She quit, and for nearly a year was unable to find a permanent position.
“It seems that now most employers require only registered nurses,” she said.
Having completed the prerequisites for the RN program, Graffeo looks forward to completing the 23 credit hours she needs to graduate. She will use the $1,000 scholarship for tuition and books at Pima Community College.
“By continuing my education,” said Graffeo. “I will be able to support myself and my children, ensuring that once they are grown, I will not be a financial burden on them. I believe that I will also be a good role model for them to not only seek a college education, but to find education that gives back to society as does the field of health care.”