Less than a year ago, Nicole was working at a child care center living paycheck to paycheck. She was on the verge of losing her apartment, unable to pay bills, and struggling to provide for her two-year-old daughter, Journey. Nicole wanted a better career and a better life. She thought about working in health care for many years and even applied for jobs in doctors’ offices and hospitals, but lacked experience and formal training. She found herself questioning how she would ever find the time or money to get the skills she needed to move ahead.

Then a friend told her about Jeremiah’s Hope Academy (JHA), a program at St. Vincent’s Hospital made possible by funding from The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham. Nicole’s friend explained that JHA offers six different health care-related certifications, all of which could be completed in less than six months.

Nicole knew these were the credentials she needed to take her career to the next level, but she was nervous. She hadn’t been to school in a long time. Plus, she would have to juggle classes, homework, and child care—all as a single parent.

Eventually, Nicole took a leap of faith and enrolled in JHA’s Medical Office Assistant Program. Her teachers immediately recognized her aptitude as caregiver, and because of the investment from The Women’s Fund, offered her an academic scholarship and assistance with child care for Journey while she was in class.

Throughout the 12-week program, Nicole was an exceptional student. She excelled in all her classes and discovered she had a true heart for helping others. “I learned not to give up on myself,” said Nicole. “I used to say ‘I can’t’ a lot, but I learned that I can.”

Today, Nicole is employed as a front office associate at a medical clinic in Birmingham. The position is full-time with health insurance and other benefits. She can now pay all of her bills and help with her mom’s. Achieving her dream has also boosted Nicole’s self-confidence, allowing her to deliver a high-level of care to her patients. “When I hear people’s stories, or they call me crying, I have become more encouraging. I am more uplifting to my patients,” Nicole says.

Nicole’s tenacity and the training from Jeremiah’s Hope Academy through The Women’s Fund’s investment have propelled her and her daughter into a new phase life full of opportunities. She stays in touch with her network of classmates and continues to find joy in her work.


Tammy, a hard-working mother of four, grew up watching her father weld and was always fascinated by his work. She never knew there was a market for women welders until she found the Women in Welding program at Wallace State Community College made possible by funding from The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

Before beginning the welding program, Tammy was already a student at Wallace State as well as a volunteer firefighter and full-time EMT. She struggled with some of her classes and had difficulty balancing work, school, and parenting. “The hours of being on an ambulance is really hard for a single mom,” said Tammy.

When a fellow EMT told her about Women in Welding, Tammy leapt at the opportunity. “The scholarship gave me an opportunity to go to school without having to work full time so I could focus on my classes and still have time to spend with my children.”

Tammy thrived in the program. She made Dean’s List for two semesters and impressed instructors with her positivity and passion. Beyond the skills and knowledge she acquired in the classroom, Tammy is even prouder of the example that she is setting for her children.

“It has been an awesome experience for my children to see me learn to weld,” says Tammy. “My oldest son, Jackson, has shown a keen interest in welding and has tried his hand at it too. He has already told me that when he is old enough to go the career technical center, he will take welding. My youngest son is doing woodworking projects because he sees me working with my hands. My daughter, Lileigh, has shown great pride that Mommy is a welder.”

Tammy considers her classmates to be “lifelong friends” and has a new-found confidence in herself and her chosen profession. “Using my welding skills, I made a cargo basket for my truck that fit into the receiver hitch. Other people saw it and wanted one too. That’s when I realized that I could do this!”

Tammy will receive her associate’s degree in May 2019 and plans to be a welding entrepreneur. “I want to open up my own welding business. I envision a mobile welding service where I would go out on a farm or a job site and repair equipment or go to someone’s residence to build a metal fence.”


Terica received training for a new job in the healthcare field and now works at St. Vincent’s.

Read Terica’s Story


Kim made the difficult transition from homelessness to stable housing and enrolled in a certification program at a local community college.

Read Kim’s Story


Khalena thrived in her post-secondary certificate program and earned a national certification.

Read Khalena’s Story

Change That Multiplies: Meet Tori


Pamela developed a plan for vocational training and a better job.

Read Pamela’s Story


Tia received assistance with child care so she could continue working toward her bachelor’s degree and a higher paying job.

Read Tia’s Story

Prescription for Success: Meet JeVonne

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