Struggling mom hopes to inspire others

Vanessa Brideau says it’s difficult being a mom while working night shifts and multiple part-time jobs to pay the bills. Submitted Photo

Tara Jeffrey

A $1,000 scholarship will go a long way for Lambton College student Vanessa Brideau.

“It’s huge,” said the 26-year-old Sarnia woman and winner of a Working Parent Scholarship from Job-Applications.ca.

“Being a working mom, you don’t always get enough financial aid — even with OSAP — to cover expenses.”

Brideau, a second-year business student, applied last summer for the scholarship, which invited students from across Canada to submit an essay on ‘how to successfully balance parenthood, working and excelling in school.’

“Having my son at 20-years-old, I struggled to be a parent while being stuck at jobs that were either full-time night shifts or multiple part-time jobs to pay the bills, and give my son a good life,” Brideau wrote in her submission, adding a friend suggested she check out Lambton College.

Brideau, who did not complete high school, recalls the nerves and anxiety of applying for college.

“I remember regretting not going to school when the rest of my friends and people my age went.”

Brideau says her saving grace was landing a work-study position and connecting with the college’s financial aid office to learn about scholarships and bursaries.

Her essay offered advice for struggling parents: “Connect with family to express your passion to reach your goals… good budgeting and working hard when you can will help you stay ahead.”

Still, there are hard days.

“Since I’ve started school, I’ve had to rely on a lot of help — between subsidy for childcare and communicating with my son’s school on days he’s missed because of me being unable to get him to school,” she said. “Choosing between my college education and him going to Kindergarten that day… it hasn’t been easy.

“I remember the days I would get so depressed thinking about the impact on my family, being away from my son more than I was used to,” she added. “Also, I remember coming home being so tired from school and work and just wanting to quit.

“Being strong and remembering your passion is key.”

Brideau is set to graduate in April, and has already landed a job at TD Bank.

“I am so grateful for this,” she said, adding she hopes her story will inspire others who are struggling.

“You can’t sit back and say you can’t do it. There is always a way.”

To see her winning essay, visit https://www.job-applications.ca/scholarships/winners/