Education and Life Success

Maria Spencer:  Successful Washoe Native Temporary for Needy Families Program (WNTP) Participant

Maria came to WNTP nine years ago while living in a one-bedroom apartment with her husband and six children. The program she was working for had recently ended so it was the perfect time to start taking classes at Berkeley City College. With one car that was in poor condition, she worked out a schedule to get all the kids to daycare and school, take her husband to his various appointments, and attend classes.

After applying and being approved by TANF, Maria took full advantage of every supportive service she qualified for—transportation and car repair was on the top of her list. Additionally, clothing allowance for the school aged kids and education assistance for herself were provided.

Maria was determined to further her education and even talked to her husband about taking classes with her. She knew this was a great opportunity she was given and wanted to go for it. Which is what she did! Maria Graduated with her AA in Social Behavioral Sciences from Berkeley City College. She then decided to continue her education and was accepted to U.C. Davis. She worked hard and graduated with a BA in Sociology Law & Society with a minor in Native American Studies.

By this time, she was unstoppable and applied to the University of the Rockies where she graduated with her MA in Psychology with an emphasis on Mediation and Conflict Resolution. Finally, all the hard work of achieving her education goals paid off by earning her Ed.D in Education / Organizational Leadership.

Currently, Maria works for Peralta Colleges at the Merritt College location where she is the Associate Dean of Educational Success. Maria has a passion for working with Native American agencies in order to attract more Native students to Merritt College. She wants to make sure the Native American students attending the college feel welcome so she created the Intertribal Student Union.

When asked, what is something she can do now that she was not able to do before entering our program she smiled and replied, “buy a home, teach, help support her kids to go to college, and travel.”

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