Back when Patti Hansen was in high school, her guidance counselor told her she wasn’t “college material.” Now, the mother of three and York Electric Cooperative member is maintaining a 4.0 GPA and is on track to earn an associate’s degree in business management from York Technical College. In fact, Hansen recently earned one of two $2,500 Jenny Ballard Opportunity Scholarships awarded by Women Involved in Rural Electrification (WIRE), a community outreach group associated with electric co-ops in South Carolina.
WIRE awards Ballard Scholarships each year to women who want to continue their education. Recipients are often mothers like Hansen, who have been busy raising families for years.
“That’s a fantastic opportunity they offer,” says Hansen, a mother of three who leads by example. “I wanted to be a role model for my teenage daughters and to empower myself,” she says.
These days, the Fort Mill resident can offer her youngest daughter, 15, more positive guidance than she received in high school. And it’s paying off.
“She has written me some notes, sending me things, and saying how much she appreciates me. She sees that I put into all this extra effort,” Hansen says.
Her middle daughter, 17, is considering which college to attend. And her son, 23, followed in his mother’s footsteps by starting at York Tech this fall.
Hansen has set the academic bar high: “I am carrying a heavy credit load in order to graduate as soon as possible,” she says. “I stay up until midnight studying and working on assignments and juggle parenting, classes, and other responsibilities during the day.”
Having previously worked in an office, Hansen plans to seek a job in human resources. She originally sought a degree related to the medical field. Hansen even took an anatomy class at York Tech before realizing a medical degree would take longer and cost more.
Many students drop out of anatomy, but Hansen was determined: “I said, ‘I’m still going to get an A in this class even if I’m not going to continue in this field!'” She earned the A, too.
“Math was my biggest fear,” adds Hansen, who faced her fears, taking quantitative math and statistics. “Now,” she notes, “I’m being asked by the instructor of statistics if I will lead a class, doing student-led supplemental instruction.”
Talk about a confidence booster! “Absolutely,” she says. “It made a big difference.”
So was winning the WIRE scholarship, says Hansen. “That’s a huge chunk for me!”