A year after her husband had died of cancer, Nichelle Alderson, a sophomore at the University of Washington in 2005, found herself struggling to stay in school. “When things get rough, you just try to move forward, even when you don’t feel like it,” said Alderson. “A lot of my burdens were financial.”
With children in first and second grade, Alderson found out about Seattle Milk Fund through the childcare office at the university. “They were really receptive and they made the process really easy and nonthreatening, “ said Alderson. Although the mentorship program at Seattle Milk Fund was not yet in place, Alderson said the organization contacted her regularly to check in. “It was a good experience, looking back, to have something to be responsible to, in addition to my own standards and myself,” she said. “They wanted to make sure their investment was worthwhile.”
Alderson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in law, society and justice in 2006. She went to work for The Defender Association, and while working full-time, she earned her master’s degree in social work, completing the two-year program in one and a half years.
Proving to be more than a worthwhile investment for Seattle Milk Fund, Alderson recently earned a teaching certificate and will soon test to become certified as a licensed clinician in social work. She intends to teach and work in private practice, and eventually start a nonprofit organization that provides a holistic approach to social work for people of color.