Student Rises Out of Homelessness and Pursues a Degree: NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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NWACC Student Rises Out of Homelessness and Pursues an Associate Degree

simone nwacc student 

As a child growing up, NWACC student Simone Francis experienced the loss of her father and homelessness. College didn’t seem plausible, but something deep inside stirred her to apply at NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC).

“I lost my father at a very young age and was raised by my mother. At the age of 13, I was no longer living with my mother and began bouncing around homes. This continued for a large portion of my high school career. My senior year of high school, I was declared homeless by the principal,” she said. “I never thought that I would be able to attend college because I was working and helping my sister take care of her three children. I watched a toxic relationship with their mother tear at my nephews and nieces and decided that the best way I could help them was to continue my education and become the best version of myself I could be: a success. I chose to come to Arkansas and attend NorthWest Arkansas Community College with the hopes of continuing on to the University.”

Simone plans to transfer from NWACC to the University of Arkansas to obtain her Masters in Social Work and a minor in Non-profit Studies, and become either a public policy social worker or a community service manager for the northwest Arkansas area.

“Since returning to college, I have grown a tremendous amount as a person. I believe that the hardships that I have gone through throughout my life have allowed me to pursue my education and career goals even when it gets difficult. I have grown to value myself and my education more than I ever have through my time at NWACC,” she added.

Outside her studies, Simone works two part-time jobs – one is a work study position at NWACC’s Washington County location and the other is at a local restaurant – in order to support herself and rely more on scholarships rather than student loans.

In her role as a work-study student, Simone assists the Student Center front desk by providing customer service, answering phones and greeting visitors. She is often a student’s first impression of the college.

NWACC Enrollment Associate Kate Sosna speaks highly of Simone and her work ethic. “As a work-study at Washington County Center, she has set a high bar for her peers when it comes to customer service and job duties. Visitors are met with an enthusiastic and eager-to-serve employee. More than this, Simone has served, unofficially, as a role model for her work-study peers. I often observe her offering guidance and answering questions,” said Kate.

On top of her classes and work schedule, Simone finds it a priority to volunteer in her community. “Every year, I volunteer at my church to help get ready for Operation Christmas Child, and also volunteer at the drop-off location for Operation Christmas Child at Phillips Chapel Church,” she said. “I am also part of NWACC's Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM)…. In Fall 2017, I lead the BCM in putting together thirty boxes for Operation Christmas Child.”

Simone’s persistence to strengthen her education, personal development and leadership skills have led to her nomination for NWACC’s Golden Eagle Award. In November of 2018, Simone won the prestigious award.

NWACC students who are nominated for the Golden Eagle Award must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average and demonstrate a commitment to education, social awareness, and personal development and be involved in varied activities. Recipients receive a certificate of recognition and a $100 check from the NWACC Foundation at the NWACC Board of Trustees meetings.

Three NWACC staff members nominated Simone - Washington County Director Barbara Goodman and Enrollment Associates Kate Sosna and Michelle Cook. “Simone deserves the Golden Eagle Award because she embodies the award. She demonstrates an outstanding commitment to education, leadership, and service,” Kate said.

As a student, employee, volunteer, and now an award winner, Simone’s ambition is what has kept her achieving her personal, educational and career goals. “I never believed that I would rise above the life I was living as a child, but through hard work and persistent growth, I am happy to say that I am blessed at where I am at and will continue to use the knowledge that I am gaining through NWACC and soon the University to help those that I meet through my career and through my every day interactions,” she said.


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