Erin Bishop of Layton, Utah, never thought of going to college. Raised by a single mom who was addicted to meth, Erin began, when she was eight years old, using her babysitting money to buy groceries, and then cook dinner. She asked neighbors for water when hers was shut off. She had no childhood, but stayed in school until she moved away from home at 17 and got a job. She had been a teaching assistant in Mr. Rudy Jones honors biology class, and when she dropped out, he tried hard to find her. Eventually she came to see him, and he arranged for her to finish high school a little ahead of schedule. "Mr. Jones saved me," she admits candidly. "He told me I could do hard things." But she was now a single teenage mom (failed marriage) and could not afford college tuition until she discovered Western Governors' University, an accredited, online university founded by 19 state governors for students like Erin.


Time Magazine calls WGU "the best relatively cheap university you've never heard of." Erin could afford WGU, where she earned two degrees -- a Bachelor's in Special Ed and a Master's in instructional design, and did it all as a single mom. How?  "I could work in the day, be a mom at night, and then in the middle of the night I could do my schoolwork," she explains. Because of the support she received from Mr. Jones during more than 10 years, she decided to be a teacher, and is now a behavior specialist for the Webster School District, rotating between 27 elementary schools, developing behavior plans for challenged students. "The ones that are known as troublemakers are the ones I've always been able to understand and click with," she says. Thanks to Mr. Jones, she knows she can do hard things. Recently she gave a commencement speech to 10,000 WGU graduates. It's only 10 minutes long and very inspiring. If you'd like to be uplifted, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHF-THISLm8