Social Work Graduate Leaves with more than Bachelor’s Degree

As the sole provider and single Mom to her son, Brady, Megan Francis is no stranger to adversity.  She fled an abusive relationship with her son’s biological father only months after learning she was pregnant.  Although she wouldn’t recognize it as domestic violence until years later, Megan was broken physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially.  Already overwhelmed to be raising her young child alone, Megan found herself completely devastated when, in her early 30s, she lost her job.  Despite the uncertainty she was living, Megan was strong in the certainty that she wanted to build a better life for her and Brady.

A Recommendation to Check out Marian

As a high school graduate, Megan immediately entered the work force and relied on her strong work ethic to make ends meet.  After losing her job at 31 years old, Megan recalls the day her dad asked her about the future.  It was during that conversation that Megan found the courage to admit she did lack the education and skillset she needed to change her future.  With Brady as her inspiration, Megan’s dreams of becoming more led her determined to invest in her future and advance her education.  During an impromptu visit with friends, Megan found Marian’s website, submitted an application and felt a renewed sense of hope with her big decision.

A few weeks after applying, Megan was accepted at Marian, declared a psychology major, signed up for part-time classes, and had “no clue” what she was getting herself into!  As an adult student returning to college, Megan was confident of one thing:  her lack of confidence.  She didn’t know how to write a paper or use a computer.  But what Megan lacked in skills, she overcame with sheer grit and determination.  Halfway through her first semester, Megan found herself having an “ah-ha moment” in a class mixed with both psychology and social work students.  She recognized that with her passion for helping people and problem-solving, a career in social work was a better fit and she changed her major.

As a recipient of the Wisconsin Tuition Grant (WTG) her freshman year, Megan was featured in an article.  True to its reputation for being a small school with big heart, Marian’s Financial Aid office saw the article and contacted the Working Families Program (WFP) Director.  Megan was contacted by Cheryl Hartwig, former Director of the WFP, applied, interviewed, and was accepted into the program.

Her saving grace. 

While she was successful during her freshman year, it wasn’t without intense struggles.  She didn’t think she could afford to continue her education without working, but working in addition to college courses, Megan felt overwhelmed and anxious about her ability to balance work and school while being the sole provider to her 9-year-old son.  Because of the Working Families Program, Megan received unparalleled academic, emotional, and financial support making it possible to enroll in full-time classes her sophomore year.  Able to devote sufficient time to her coursework, Megan also began to immerse herself into the Marian community which meant taking advantage of every opportunity she had to network, learn, meet with faculty, volunteer, participate in an internship experience, and she was also part of the Auxiliary Services team.

The Impact of Education

Graduating with her Bachelor’s in Social Work in 2013, Megan did achieve her goal to graduate in four years.  She credits Marian’s WFP with instilling many life-changing values such as the importance of networking and building relationships. Through her social work classes and WFP counseling sessions with Ellen Mercer, Megan began to work through pain and trauma from her past, increase her confidence, and rebuild her self-esteem.  She also made the discovery that she is a survivor of domestic violence.

Excited to have a job a couple months after graduation, Megan began working as the Director of Social Services at Fountain View Care Center in Ripon.  She found a love for case management and long-term care settings, and a couple years later, accepted a position at the St. Francis Home in Fond du Lac where she has worked the past six years.  She has returned to Marian as a guest speaker in Dr. Leslie Jaber-Wilson’s social work class and appreciates the opportunity to talk about her Marian experience and career.

Brady, now 20, is enrolled in the Auto Technician Program at MPTC in Fond du Lac.  Megan saw firsthand the positive ways WFP made a difference for her son.  Not only did Brady have access to excellent resources such as funding for an afterschool program, but he watched his mom throughout her journey at Marian where she found her strength and confidence, her truth and voice, and ultimately, the passion that led her to a very rewarding career.

Taking a quote from one of Megan’s favorite book series, Harry Potter, “It is our choices … that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  From her first semester’s grades that she proudly displayed on her parents’ refrigerator to walking across the stage on graduation day, Megan found herself at Marian.  She came for the degree, but what she accomplished during those four years transformed her life in ways far beyond what she imagined.

Marian University’s Working Families Program began in 2001 and supports single parents while earning their Bachelor’s degree.  Learn more about the Working Families Program.