This year’s recipient of the Jean O. Michael scholarship has overcome many obstacles in order to pursue a higher education.A single mother of three, Sarah - who asked her last name be withheld - is the sole support for her family and she works tirelessly to make ends meet and to provide her children with the opportunities they deserve.
One and a half years into the Paralegal program at Cerritos College , Sarah divides her time between school and being a mother. She loves to volunteer in her children’s classrooms at school.
A portrait of courage, Sarah has worked hard to build a life from nothing for both she and her children. Due to some of her own experiences Sarah now has a passion for the law and sees herself working in a courtroom in the near future. etting certified as a paralegal and receiving her associates degree will “make a tremendous difference” in the way she is able to support her children.
“I am trying to be a good example for my children to strive for a better life,” Sarah said. “I am showing them that a good education is the foundation for everything. It is important for me to help them understand this.”
Sarah also applauds the Cerritos College Paralegal program - which is one of the few community college Paralegal programs to be ABA accredited - and attributes much of her success to the encouragement of her professor and mentor Dr. Mary Pribble.
“When I first entered the program and was unsure if I was in the right place,” Sarah said, “Dr. Pribble told me I was in the perfect place because they wanted to train people who didn’t know anything to be able to use the correct methods. She encouraged me even though I didn’t have any skills.”
Dr. Pribble saw something special in Sarah from the beginning. “Sarah is a reentry single parent of three young children. As the sole support of her family, she has committed her discretionary time to completing the rigorous requirements of the American Bar approved Paralegal program. This semester she participated in our Work Experience program volunteering more than 180 hours to the community at the Norwalk Superior Court. Norwalk Superior Court evaluated her performance as outstanding. Sarah is a true role model for all individuals attempting to change the direction of their lives. Through her hard work and dedication, Sarah should easily transition into full-time employment in the legal field,” Dr. Pribble said.
The Jean O. Michael scholarship is annually awarded to a female re-entry student majoring in business, and has been established by the wife of former Cerritos College president, Dr. Wilford Michael. The scholarship is normally given in the amount of $1,000, but this year Cerritos College Foundation board member Richard Verches has generously offered to double all scholarships.
Sarah says she will use her $2,000 to purchase a computer so she can do her homework while being with her children at the same time.
Cerritos College, the Cerritos College Foundation, Mrs. Jean O. Michael and Verches all applaud Sarah for her efforts and encourage her to keep pursuing her passions.