Krystti Kim, a student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, always knew she wanted to go to college. But things definitely got more complicated when she found out she was pregnant, right after high school.
A program for welfare recipients called Bridge to Hope has helped her juggle her family, work and school responsibilities. And it is even having an impact on her 5-year-old daughter, Heizol.
“She sees me going to school, she sees me working, she feels that she can do the same,” explains Kim. “She feels that she wants to become what I become because she sees me doing it every day.“
The program helped Kim find work at the UH Mānoa Children’s Center, which works perfectly with her plan of becoming an early childhood educator.
“I love kids. It just seems like I fit,“ says Kim of her job in child care. “They get along with me well and I just kind of grew a passion for it.“
Bridge to Hope is helping her realize that passion, and she’s not the only one. Across the 10 UH campuses, the program has helped over 500 students pursue their college dreams.
“Students participating in Bridge to Hope are low income, often single parents, most of them are women–97 percent of our participants are women–and they are driven and excited about pursuing education as a way for them to be able to support their families,“ explains Bridge to Hope UH Systemwide Coordinator Teresa Bill.
With Bill at the helm, Bridge to Hope was established in 2000 to help people like Kim and the UH Commission on the Status of Women played a key role. They joined forces with community organizers and went to lawmakers to demand higher education opportunities for welfare recipients.
The result is a brighter economic future for hundreds of families.
“Without Bridge to Hope I think I really would be trying to shuffle school and work and my daughter and, I would be lost,“ says Kim.
Visit Bridge to Hope online at hawaii.edu/bridgetohope.