humans of the y

Our next #HumansoftheY are a mom and daughter, Ashley and Sierra, who are part of our Tri-Town YMCA community through the School Age Child Care program (learn more at ghymca.org/childcare). Sierra, who is 7, started the program in 2016, and has flourished, but it's her mom, Ashley, who has received 3 degrees as a single mom, whose story will inspire you to keep working towards your dreams!

Ashley: “In 2010 Sierra was born, and I became a single mom. That meant several challenges, but I decided to put my foot forward and go back to school. Since 2010, I have accomplished three degrees—my Associate’s in general studies, my Bachelor’s in English and elementary education, and I just finished my Master’s degree in special education this month. 

"As a single mom you’re often faced with some pretty tough challenges, but I accomplished my goals because of the drive Sierra gave me. Before her I was a little bit of a wild child, and after having her I decided that going back to school was the best thing for our future. Sierra has always given me the drive to keep going, even when I thought I was done after my Associate’s, and then after my Bachelor’s. And now I have my Master’s down. Perseverance and dedication have also been very important, as going to college is not instantaneous gratification by any means. It is hard work. So setting many goals for myself and for our family have definitely helped. I often think to “Finding Dory,” and when I really feel like I’m stuck I go “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” and I get there. 

"The other reason I have succeeded is all the support that I have, and I’m so grateful for the support I have received. I have a support system with my family, who have allowed me to finish my school and have supported Sierra and I through this process. I have friends, and now a fiancée. And also the community. When I did my undergrad degree, I was able to qualify for Care4Kids, and in that way I received subsidies to pay for child care. As a single mom, child care is very expensive. When I finished my undergrad degree, going into my Master’s, I had come to the realization that these classes only happen at night, so now what? There’s not daycare at night—aside from the After School Program at the YMCA. And that is where Sierra has made a little family after school. She spends a lot of her days there, and they’ve been extremely supportive with some of her needs; she has come out of her shell a lot. Last year was her first year and she struggled a lot of days and was nervous to be there. This year I can hardly get her out of the building. They provided the support system that we needed for me to finish this last part of my goals and my dreams.”

Sierra: “There are many reasons why I love the YMCA. I appreciate the people who work at the YMCA. I have made a lot of friends and made a handshake with Zachary. We do lots of fun activities. Thank you!”

Category: Tri-Town