Congratulations Elisha St. Laurent, class of 2018!
I joined WANDA cohort 8 in 2015. My story is one filled with many hurdles, but victory has always been my goal. I had my son at 16 years old, just a junior in high school. As any young teen I was not prepared for a baby because I was still “a baby” myself. Yet, my new purpose and destiny were birthed through my son. My parents never spoke about finances and they themselves were struggling to raise me and my brother. When I was seven months pregnant, a school instructor told me how proud she was of me for continuing to work hard, and advised me to go to college, so I continued to stay in school while pregnant. My parents never graduated high school and life, as I knew it, was a make up of having children, and being exposed to drugs and violence. I did not aspire to become anything more than a retail worker and a mother.
Fast-forward to today. I have obtained an AA degree in criminal justice, two Bachelor’s degrees and now I am working on finishing my Masters at San Jose State University. Prior to joining WANDA, I was familiar with the idea of building wealth but never had the opportunity to save, understand how to manage money or how to start a savings plan for my son’s future – a plan I never had.
Through WANDA, I have gained skills, insight and encouragement as a single mother. Although, I am a “single” mother, I say I am a “whole” mother, raising a young boy that will beat every odd – just as I did. WANDA afforded me the opportunity to go back to college to get my Masters and invest $1,000 into a 529 Savings plan for my son. I am building wealth opportunities for me and my son’s future. It is my aspiration to be the first in my family to become a homeowner. I have savings, though not enough for a down payment (yet!), but soon I will accomplish my goals with the tools WANDA has given me.
My current job is helping homeless families regain their self-sufficiency by obtaining housing through transitional housing programs. I have also encouraged my clients to join WANDA, because I know that WANDA can provide them with the necessary tools to gain financial literacy and develop stability in their life.
WANDA is a tribe of families – empowered to change their future and create a legacy that inspires the next generation.
Thank you WANDA!
–Elisha St. Laurent