Hello and thank you for taking the time to read this. My name is Monica and I am a single mother of two college age children, a life long educator, and now an Assistant Principal at an amazing High School in Lee County Florida.
My journey in to education and being a mother is a very intertwined story. At the age of 17 I became the Mom of my first born. She was a miracle baby to say the least, born with a rare heart condition – Single Left Ventricle. My purpose in life changed forever that day I laid eyes on her. I had always known my path in life was to become an educator, but at that moment, I knew I wanted to pursue that path not just to enrich the lives of young minds, but to set a good example for my daughter. For the next three years, while I pursued my passion for the classroom; my daughter also endured two open heart surgeries. That is when I began tapping in to a source of loans I knew I had to pay back at some point, but I had no choice.
While my daughter and I had each other during those first three years; we did yearn to have her father in our lives. I truly felt he was afraid of taking on the responsibility of caring for both of us, but in time, he did return. I can not say it was an easy relationship. We were both so young.
Despite what was going on in my personal life, I never lost sight of my goal of becoming an educator. As a family of three; however, the need to take on more student loans, was my reality. I was not supported like I thought I would be by my husband.
My second child was born as I was preparing to cross the stage for the first time. I earned an Associates Degree in Elementary Education and Child Development in June of 2000. I was then accepted in to Barry University in order to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Education. The program was targeted towards adult learners who worked full time. It was costly, but it worked for me and my family. I was able to work in a child development center during the day, where my children could attend for free, and study in the evenings. I have to give an honorable mention to my then 72 year old grandmother, who took care of my children in the evenings so I could attend classes. I could not have done it without her!
I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in June of 2002 and quickly began teaching in a Dade County Fl. Elementary School. I was excited to earn a paycheck that would allow me to buy a good amount of groceries for my family and to afford rent without counting pennies, but when I received my first student loan notice, my heart sank. I wondered for a long time of I had made the right choice, but I knew then and I still know today, it was.
For the next twelve years, I did my best to balance all my debts and providing for my family. My husband remained inconsistent with his support. I was forced, many times, to place the loans on forbearance. The result was an incredible amount of accrued interest. To make matters worse, in 2011, I found myself in a situation where a divorce was necessary. Just when I thought I would never get out of student loan debt, I found myself struggling so severely, that I filed for bankruptcy. I did what I could to disguise the heavy debt and despair I felt from my children. I worked as a full time teacher in a Lee County Fl. School, tutored in the afternoons, and babysat on the weekends. The extra money was still not enough to pay my student loan debt. My own children were both college bound at that point, and I swore I would never allow them to take out loans.
I have supported my two children in their very different paths. My son is an almost Masters Graduate in International Business, and my daughter, although it took her a while to find her path, is a Law Student. I ended up earning a Masters Degree in School Administration in 2017. The three of us were in school at the same time, which brings a smile to my face when I think about it. My hope was that the bump in pay would allow me to pay down debt at a reasonable rate. I recently communicated with the Department of Education and have found out the amount I will be expected to pay per month beginning in October of 2021, would probably leave me on the verge of homelessness.
My passion for helping students and the love and admiration I have for my two children is unmeasurable. I am; however, in a very desperate situation with student loan debt. I am in desperate need of some relief. I feel as if I have been a support to many. I am the one in need of some support at this time.
Thank you again for your consideration.