At the age of nineteen, Belinda was a pregnant college student. Her daughter was born with special needs and often hospitalized due to a rare heart condition. As young parents, Belinda and her daughter’s father’s relationship became strained and took a turn for the worse when she became the victim of domestic abuse. As the sole provider, he walked out on his family, leaving her to fend for herself and her newborn. Although she did her best to stay afloat, minimum wage jobs didn’t pay her enough to afford her rent. She was forced to move into a homeless shelter until she found affordable housing. After a fifteen-year hiatus, Belinda returned to college. Belinda enrolled at Long Island University to pursue a degree in Nursing.

“I’ve started college again and my journey is bittersweet but I’m a firm believer that education transforms lives.”