Sojourner Watkins had a vision for her life. She would be a college graduate, a nurse, married, financially stable and a mother. “Life doesn’t always go as planned,” said Watkins. In 2012, she lost her apartment and became homeless, moving into a transitional housing program for two years. During those years, Watkins obtained and lost several jobs, and became pregnant.
“I wasn’t mad, angry or anything like that,” said Watkins. “I was shocked, and nervous.” She said she didn’t want to bring her child into the unstable situation she was facing. In 2013, while still homeless, Watkins gave birth to her daughter and worked 35 hours a week, making $8 an hour. “I tried looking for housing on my own, but I just couldn’t afford it,” she said.
In March of 2014, Watkins’ and her daughter’s time in transitional housing expired. “I was very frustrated because my daughter and I were still homeless, despite what I was doing to not let this happen,” she said. By April, Watkins was able to transition into another housing program, but still made less than $10 an hour and struggled to find higher paying employment.
Watkins spoke to her Minnesota Family Investment Program Employment Guidance Counselor Renee, and enrolled at Century College through a Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant, registering in continuing education in health care studies. Soon after, Watkins obtained her certified nursing assistant, trained medical assistant and cardiopulmonary resuscitation credentials, and then qualified for a certified nursing assistant position. “I was able to obtain, and now afford, permanent housing,” she said.
“Ramsey County played a big part in my success. I am so grateful for the opportunity,” she said. Watkins’ continued education was made possible by grants and services from Ramsey County, including course, testing and book costs. Through Minnesota Family Investment Program services, Watkins’ used resources for career coaching, counseling and guidance, job placement and retention, and individualized assessment services to reach her short and long-term goals. “Without help from Ramsey County, I would probably still be struggling with my server job, trying to make ends meet,” she said.
“Life will tend to knock you down, but just keep getting back up, try harder, stay positive and never give up,” she said.