For most, dropping out of high school, becoming a mother at 15, working three part-time jobs and obtaining a college degree would be impossible. For Kristina White, Moraine Park Technical College’s 2011-12 student ambassador, it’s her inspiration. White’s past struggles, present perseverance and future goals made her the top candidate for Moraine Park Student Ambassador, selected by a committee of college administrators and community leaders.
When White had her son Ethan, she was a 15-year-old high school sophomore, had little family support and dropped out of high school as a result. She worked hard to obtain her High School Equivalency Diploma, completing it several months before she would have originally graduated. Two years later, at 17, White enrolled in Moraine Park’s accounting program but after a series of medical problems and new baby Ayreanna, she decided making money to support her family would need to take priority over her education.
However, it didn’t take long for White to realize she needed a college degree to truly support her family. “I had one dead-end job after another and it came to a point where my hard work wasn’t paying off — I never received a raise and my managers always had an excuse not to promote me,” said White. “It finally hit me that I needed to go back to school so I could obtain a degree and support my family.”
Three years after first enrolling Moraine Park, White was motivated, inspired and in it for the long haul when she enrolled in the associate of applied science Corrections program. She was offered a position as a chemistry and math tutor in Moraine Park’s Student Services department, which was only the start of White’s involvement at Moraine Park.
“I started networking and being more involved with the college community, joining the Corrections Club and attending Student Life events,” said White. “I found myself becoming more confident and outgoing as I helped my peers through tutoring and met other students though campus events.”
White has a work study position in the TRiO Student Support Services office on campus and started in March with the Wisconsin Early Autism Project, working with families of autistic children. With three part-time jobs and a college degree in progress, the 21-year old wife and mother of three young children (White’s daughter Nevaeh was born in 2009), is more motivated than ever.
“Receiving the nomination and honor of Student Ambassador gave me a new outlook on life,” said White. “I realized that my hard work and dedication to my studies and college community were not going unnoticed. I feel completely supported by my peers and instructors; and unstoppable.”
“Kristina is an excellent role model and ambassador for Moraine Park,” said Brenda Raad, a counselor at Moraine Park, and Kristina’s nominator. “She is intelligent, well spoken, responsible and appreciative of education and the power it can have to transform one’s life. Even though Kristina has had a difficult life path that has led her back to college, she has quickly emerged as a student leader.”
White credits her great-grandfather, Robert; husband Lamont, and grandmother Sandy, for their endless support and encouragement. “Though my grandmother Sandy is currently battling stage-four terminal lung cancer, she knows how much I appreciated her just being there for me during the hard times in my life,” said White.
White has worked through many barriers that could have prevented her from continuing her education, but she has prevailed, putting her family and education first. With three semesters left at Moraine Park, White looks forward to continuing her involvement and education. “I plan to become more engaged with recruitment efforts, community events and campus activities,” said White. For more information on Moraine Park, visit morainepark.edu.