Building A New Life

Allison ReevesAllison Reeves’ first try at college in 2005 didn’t go so well. She failed algebra and lost her scholarship so she could only afford to pay for one class that spring semester.


That spring she married and a few months later discovered she was pregnant.  Working became more important than studying and she left school.


Six years later the marriage ended. Reeves began to rethink her future.


“When you go through life changes you think ‘What do I do now?’” she said.


While she had a good job working for a bank, she found herself waitressing on weekends to pay for childcare during the week.


“Thank God for my mom, I couldn’t have made it without her,” she said.


As Reeves handled bank transactions and cleared tables, her thoughts turned again and again to college.


“I thought you have this chance, this opportunity, you need to take it,” she said. “It was something positive for me and it would set an example for my son.”


This time she thrived at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.


In her second year back, she received the Mollie Wilson Women’s Financial Series Scholarship. She had quit the banking job when she returned to school, but she still worked more than 40 hours a week waiting tables in addition to studying for her full load of classes and being a mother to her son, Zeke.


“I was 25, a single mom, trying to figure out who I was. That first year back was really tough for me,” she said. “Seeing that people care (by receiving the scholarship) got me out of my shell. It got me involved on campus because I saw that people do care.”


The scholarship also gave her another gift: time.


“I was able to cut back on the hours I worked and I was able to have a life with my son,” Reeves said.


She also basked in the warmth of strangers believing in her as she worked toward a bachelor’s degree in English while minoring in sociology.


“I don’t know if they really realize how much they influence, encourage and support us,” she said. “I’m so thankful for them being the example that we need and actually caring about us. Just knowing that they’re in my corner and they support me is a huge blessing. That is what has helped me get through this.”


After she gives birth to her daughter Emileigh in December, Reeves, with the support of her mother and sister, as well as the Financial Series Scholarship, will be ready to face her last 18 hours of class work so she can graduate in May 2015.


But that’s just another new beginning.


Reeves plans to pursue her master’s in sociology and eventually pursue her doctorate. She wants to research gender theory – how femininity and masculinity are perceived in society – and how it is taught or transmitted to children.


Reeves describes gender studies as a growing field of study.


“We should treat everyone with the respect they deserve and that’s where we need to get in our society,” she said. “It starts with our little ones.”


Attending UAFS with the help of the scholarship helped Reeves develop a plan for her life and find her passions.


“I know what I want to do now,” she said. “I know I can accomplish my plan. I’m not going to stop short of accomplishing my goals, making a difference for myself and other people.”