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My name is Alex Lere, and I have the honor of giving a testimony on behalf of The Village, in which I volunteer. I am currently a student of California University of Pennsylvania, obtaining my Bachelor of Science in biology, with a concentration of pre-medicine. My end goal is to attend Chatham University to attain my PA-C, with a specialization in OB/GYN practice.
Although fascinated with pregnancy and prenatal health, I was not prepared for the summer of my sophomore year, the week before classes would start, when I would find that I was pregnant. “Your test came back positive,” my nurse said. Suddenly, I had a high pitched ringing in my ears, and the edges of my vision were now black and fuzzy. My heart was sinking in my chest. Although my vision was not clear to me in my state of shock, the one thing that was explicit was that I would not be able to finish my undergraduate degree and pursue my dream of being an OB/GYN care provider.
I am the aunt of a very sweet and intelligent girl by the name of Lauren. Her mother, Heather, had gotten pregnant and had Lauren at the age of eighteen. Heather, also a very strong, ambitious, and independent woman with a heart of gold, who was and still is my role model from being a student, to a healthcare provider, to a mother, was going to attend college so that she could work in the medical field, and nothing was going to stop her. She finished college with her Bachelor of Science as a licensed registered nurse, and is now almost completed with the education necessary in becoming a professor. She was the woman I needed to talk to. She provided me with contact information for Cherie Sears, who was the one who helped her in getting situated at The Village, giving her the opportunity to accomplish her dreams while also being a single mother.
I reached out to Cherie, who told me about an amazing scholarship that The Village provides for full-time students who maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and volunteer 4 hours per week at The Village. She aided me in preparing for my son to be enrolled and provided emotional support that I needed as I was making the transition into motherhood.
On April 26, 2019, I finally got to meet Owen. By the time the fall semester was beginning to start, my separation anxiety from Owen was increasing by what seemed to be the minute. The first morning of classes came. I woke up early, got Owen and myself ready, and drove toward The Village. Breathe in, breathe out. Once I arrived, I walked my four-month-old down the hallway, gave the morning report on when he was last fed and changed, I kissed him goodbye, and by the time I was down the hall, tears were already streaming down my face. I buckled up, and drove to my parking spot, which is less than a two-minute drive from The Village. As I was sitting in my car, wiping up my tears, my phone dinged. I looked down to see a notification from The Village. “Oh, no,” I thought. “What did I forget for him?” With my stomach in my throat, I opened the Brightwheel childcare app, and there was a photo of Owen, laying back with a slight grin on his face, with the caption, “Have a great first day mama!” My heart melted.
The Village is more than childcare because though they are unmatched in promoting the academic, adventurous, and emotional growth of children, they allow those of us who would never have the ability to turn our dreams into goals while also raising a family, to pursue our ambitions, and make them a reality.