Elizabeth Robinson is just 28, but she’s seen a lot of drama in those 28 years.
“Trust me,” she says. “I could have my own Lifetime movie marathon.”
Robinson, recipient of the Chancellor Kimberly Beatty Scholarship at Metropolitan Community College, was born in Kansas City but spent her first several years in Higginsville, Mo. She, her older brother and mother lost everything in a house fire there. They then moved to Albuquerque, N.M., to live with her mom’s fiance. That’s where Robinson attended middle school and high school.
She had a baby in her early 20s — daughter Allison is now 6. Robinson and the child’s father were together four years, but he’s had his own share of problems and is no longer in the picture.
Meanwhile, Robinson has worked since she was 18 — bookkeeping, call centers — and frequently moved from state to state in search of better opportunities.
What brought her back to Kansas City? As she tells it, she sold all of her belongings to pursue a relationship. When it ended, she says, she had few options. One was moving into a women’s and children’s shelter. Another was returning here to stay with her father and his family, a five-person household that includes two teenagers.
So, since February 2017, she has been living with her daughter in her dad’s basement in the Northland. The one-bathroom house is “pretty crammed,” she says, so her goal is to find a more stable place to live.
One reason Robinson moved here was to continue her education, so she can make better money and create a brighter future for Allison. She says she receives no government assistance and no child support.
After “topping out” at $36,000 annually, she has set her career sights on becoming a school special education counselor. She plans to teach first. After earning an associate in arts in teaching from MCC-Maple Woods, she will work on a bachelor’s in elementary education with an emphasis in special education. After she lands a job, she’d like to start on a master’s in counseling.
She has several friends with children who are part of the special education population. “Being around their kids is just so amazing,” she says. “It’s fascinating working with children who either have a disability or are on the spectrum. It’s a reward unlike any other.”
In the meantime, in addition to her MCC classes — nine credits this semester — and raising a child, Robinson is holding down a job. She works weekdays as office manager for a roofing company. Three days a week, she takes morning classes and goes in to work at 11:30 a.m.
In a recommendation letter for the Beatty scholarship, MCC-Maple Woods counselor Clayton Robinson said the award would “help ease her financial burden and (help her) be something she has longed to be, a college student and graduate.”
The MCC Foundation Board of Directors announced the one-time, $1,000 Dr. Kimberly Beatty Scholarship last summer after Dr. Beatty became MCC’s eighth chancellor. Dr. Beatty asked that the scholarship help a single parent, because she was raised by a single mother.
Robinson says the award allowed her to buy all her books and supplies. “I hadn’t been to school since 2008,” she says. She needed binders, pencils, paper, everything — her daughter’s crayons and wide-rule notebook paper wouldn’t cut it.
“It helped me prepare for my first semester and gave me the tools that I needed to be successful.”