Meet Mo’Nique

I’ve never met anybody who’s judged me.

Grades

“I’ve never met anybody who’s judged me.”

When I was a junior, I was expelled.

Grades

“When I was a junior, I was expelled.”

I didn't know what I wanted to do.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I didn't know what I wanted to do.”

I don’t really put myself out there a lot.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I don’t really put myself out there a lot.”

I’m proud to say that I’m doing very well.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I’m very proud to say that I’m doing very well.”

I went to school for practically nothing.

Cost

“I went to school for practically nothing.”

Money is out there to help you—just look.

Cost

“Money is out there to help you—just look.”

It was stressful but rewarding in the end.

Cost

“It was stressful but rewarding in the end.”

I wanted to be a teacher.

Cost

“I wanted to be a teacher.”

I just assumed I wasn’t going to go.

Cost

“I just assumed I wasn’t going to go.”

It hits you at once.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“It hits you at once.”

I wasn’t sure what to do.

Cost

“I wasn’t sure what to do.”

Everything was in fine print.

Cost

“Everything was in fine print.”

I was a quiet freshman but now I'm outgoing.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I was a quiet freshman but now I'm outgoing.”

I had to deal with a lot all at once.

Responsibilities

“I had to deal with a lot all at once.”

I stayed close to home so my parents could visit.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I stayed close to home so my parents could visit.”

It pretty much gave me a full ride.

Cost

“It pretty much gave me a full ride.”

People are willing to help if you ask them.

Cost

“People are willing to help if you ask them.”

I was intimidated since I was undocumented.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I was intimidated since I was undocumented.”

My father did not want to help me.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“My father did not want to help me.”

I have a good chance of becoming more stable.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“I have a good chance of becoming more stable.”

Leaving the reservation is a huge step.

Feeling Overwhelmed

“Leaving the reservation is a huge step.”

Meet Mo’Nique

 

I have a lot of people behind me, helping me.
Find out how Mo’Nique manages college despite her obligations.
I had to deal with a lot all at once. (00:52)
Mo’Nique describes how her life changed when her mother was arrested.
I had to deal with a lot all at once.
Now Playing
I have to live my life. (01:12)
A mentor’s advice helped Mo’Nique change.
I have to live my life.
Now Playing
It didn't feel funny starting late. (00:16)
Mo’Nique didn’t worry about starting college late.
It didn't feel funny starting late.
Now Playing
I have a lot of people behind me, helping me. (01:07)
Find out how Mo’Nique manages college despite her obligations.
I have a lot of people behind me, helping me.
Now Playing
They don’t babysit you. (00:39)
Mo’Nique compares high school and college.
They don’t babysit you.
Now Playing

Snapshot

Year in college
Sophomore
Major
Premedicine
Family income
$20,000–$40,000
College
Public two-year college
Published yearly in-state tuition and fees
$3,108
Financial aid received
Federal Pell Grant, Federal subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford Loans
Favorite book
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
Current job
Caregiver for client with spina bifida
Dream job
Doctor
Serious family responsibilities and financial obstacles delayed Mo’Nique's high school graduation and endangered her chances of going to college.
Her obstacle 

During high school, Mo’Nique’s parents were divorced and she moved several times — she even had to switch schools. Through it all, as “the one who takes care of everybody,” her first instinct was to help her younger brother.

But there were bigger worries ahead. When Mo’Nique was 18, her mother was convicted of a crime and sent to prison. Mo’Nique now had to support herself, help care for her brother and finish school.

She got a job as a full-time nanny and managed to graduate from high school a year later. After graduation, Mo’Nique wanted to go to college, but she had no way to pay for it.

How she overcame it 

Mo’Nique took a more demanding job as a live-in caregiver for a college student with spina bifida (a paralyzing birth defect). It paid more and it gave her experience related to her career goal. But the job, coupled with family concerns, left no room for college. Her client’s mother noticed and pulled Mo'Nique aside.

“She told me that she sees there's a lot on me, [and that] I have to let go [of family responsibilities],” Mo’Nique says. “I took her advice ... I realized that I have to live my life and do what I need to do for my future.”

Mo’Nique enrolled in community college. To qualify for financial aid, she filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). At first, her father refused to help with the form, but Mo’Nique remained firm. “I had to let my dad know that this is my education, this is my future, and I feel strongly about it.”

Life at college 

Mo'Nique still works as a caregiver. She divides her time between caring for her client, cleaning house, accompanying her client to her classes, attending her own classes and studying. She gets weekends off.

Her schedule is hectic, but it has taught her time management skills and, she says, given her confidence that she can “get through any situation.”

Mo'Nique wants to continue her education at a state university. She hopes to someday be a physician assistant or, if she can earn the grades for medical school, a doctor.

She admits that she still struggles to balance work and school with her family’s needs. She’s learning, though. “I love my family, but ... I’m coming into my own now.”

Mo'nique's Monday

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Along with taking classes at community college, Mo'Nique has a full-time job as a live-in caregiver for an 18-year-old spina bifida patient. This is what an average Monday is like for her.

AM / PM

6am Wake Up: Mo’Nique gets herself and the woman she cares for ready for the day. This includes catheterizing her client, getting her dressed and helping with breakfast.

8am Go To Class: Mo’Nique’s classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays start. Her client spends time with her family while Mo’Nique is in class.

1pm Return to Work: Mo’Nique gets out of class and heads back to her job. She spends the rest of the day caring for her client, cleaning the house, doing laundry and studying.

6pm Eat Dinner: Mo’Nique eats dinner with her client’s family.

8pm Prepare for Tomorrow: Mo’Nique helps her client shower and prepare for school the next day. Her client takes classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Mo’Nique accompanies her.

10pm Go to Bed: Mo’Nique’s client goes to bed. Mo’Nique reads or studies, then goes to bed a short time later.

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