Meet Our Scholars

PSS scholars gain job skills, a career path, and new self-esteem on their way to becoming economically self-sufficient. They are the future leaders of Orange County! In 2019, PSS scholars received 9 bachelor’s degrees, 12 associate’s degrees, and 10 transfers to 4-year universities. Four PSS graduates enrolled in master’s programs, and 7 started their new careers. Get to know some of our PSS scholars below. If you are a PSS Alum, consider joining our alumni committee!

PSS Scholars Are

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Single Mothers

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Enrolled in College

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Single Fathers

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Full-Time Students

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Low Income

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Highly Motivated

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First Gen Students

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Domestic Violence Survivors

PSS Alumni Testimonials

Jenny, Class of 2023, BS in Speech Language Pathology, CSU San Marcos

Jenny is continuing her journey toward earning a Doctorate of Audiology at San Diego State University.

“I’m excited I’m living what I never thought I could accomplish and be the role model I always wanted to be for my kiddos…PSS has not only surprised us with gifts, but they have also offered emotional support and resources to improve our mental and physical health.”

Abbey, Class of 2021, BA in Psychology, Vanguard University

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Abbey went on to earn her MA in School Counseling and is now a full-time school counselor, in addition to being PSS’s 2023-2024 Student Parent Advisor.

“PSS has been a great support over the years as I’ve journeyed through my college education. They have given me tools and resources that will help me in the future as well as great financial assistance when needed along the way. I look at PSS as my trust fall. They trust in us that we can do this, and if we fall, they gently push us back up again, to keep going until we get across the finish line.”

Maria, Class of 2020, BS in Psychology, UC Irvine

While at UCI, Maria led research efforts to help domestic violence survivors. She is now pursuing her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her research focuses on domestic violence and sexual assault. Maria is a DACA recipient and is the proud mother of Eduardo.

“PSS has helped me by believing me and supporting me in my educational journey. I would not have been able to succeed academically and get so involved on campus to grow professionally if it were not for the motivation, financial and emotional support of this program. Most importantly, through PSS, I know that I am not alone and am surrounded by individuals that are strong and persistent parents to our children and by individuals who really care and do their best to be there for us.” – Maria

Luisa, Class of 2019, BA in Sociology, Biola University 

Luisa now works full-time in marketing and recently got a promotion. She joined the PSS board in 2024 and is our current Secretary.

“Becoming a single parent student was the hardest thing. I knew I had to provide for my children. Choosing to educate myself while making ends meet and offer my children emotional and psychological support made life that much harder. PSS helped me survive and believe I could thrive in education…they provided a community of scholars where I felt safe and seen – like I was not the only one doing this.”

Jamie, Class of 2018, BA in Biochemistry, CSU Long Beach

After earning her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, Jamie went on to earn her master’s of science in Biochemistry.

“Juggling the roles of a single mother and college student presents numerous challenges, of which childcare and rigorous coursework are the most daunting for me. Yet, PSS managed to assist with many overlooked details. They stepped in during the holidays when finals clashed with a lack of income for gifts. They cushioned unexpected expenses, like when I had to replace my worn-out tires. Their pantry was a lifeline, covering household essentials from cleaning supplies and hygiene items to food. Most importantly, they built a community of moms facing similar struggles, offering mutual support and camaraderie that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Since graduating, I have worked part-time as a chemistry professor at Orange Coast College. I’ve maintained this position while also working full-time as an R&D chemist in skincare for the past year. Recently, I’ve been promoted to clinical research coordinator and am managing clinical trials on advanced skincare technologies such as radiofrequency microneedling and exosome treatments.”

Ann Marie, Class of 2018, BA in Criminology, Law and Society, UC Irvine

Ann Marie is continuing her education at UC Irvine where she is pursuing a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning.

“PSS supported me with common occurring problems that single parents students face such as financial subsidies for dental assistance, automobile issues, housing assistance, rent, etc. Additionally, they helped me make the holidays for my daughter more enjoyable by making her and I feel looked over and provided for over the seasons.”

Ingrid, Class of 2017, BS in Health Science: Emphasis on Community Health, CSU Long Beach

A first-generation college student, Ingrid started at Orange Coast College and transferred to California State University, Long Beach. She graduated in December 2017 with honors. She now works in the counseling department at Fullerton College, encouraging other students, especially single parents, to continue their education. She plans to pursue a master’s in counseling.

“I found myself a homeless single teen parent. I grew up in the Inland Empire and at 16 became pregnant. After graduating high school, I moved to Orange County and decided to go back to school. PSS helped me find a place to live, they helped me build a community with other single moms and they helped me with financial assistance.”

Lauren, Class of 2017, AA in Paralegal Studies, Coastline College

After her time with PSS, Lauren opened her own legal document business where she prepares legal forms for self-represented clients in family law cases.

“PSS helped me reach my goals by providing financial assistance (scholarships) and a monthly pantry where my daughters and I could get basic necessities for our house (soap, toothpaste, etc.). They also provided diapers for my newborn baby, Christmas gifts for my daughters and a Thanksgiving meal for us. They made us feel so loved and wanted. I received valuable academic and life coaching skills. I was always encouraged to do better, to get “A”s and reach my goals. I graduated with honors with a 3.94 GPA and was the graduation speaker for the 2017 Coastline College Commencement Ceremony.”

Jessica, Class of 2017, BS in Dietetics and Food Administration, CSU Long Beach

Jessica went on to earn her Master’s degree in Nutritional Science and is now a registered dietitian and supervisor of nutrition services at a local school district. 

“PSS qualified me to receive stable, low-cost housing for four years. I won at least $15,000 in scholarships from PSS. They helped me purchase a used car and get it serviced at no cost. They provided holiday dinners and gifts for my son during the holidays and his birthday. They enabled priceless connections to other single moms to form friendships and swap babysitting at no cost. They gave me the confidence and support to persevere through hardships to achieve my goal.”

Jacque, Class of 2016, BA in Psychology & Social Behavior, UC Irvine

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Jacque went on to earn her Master’s in Social Work at USC. She is now a licensed clinical social worker in the medical field.

“I started with PSS as an older, single parent who was experiencing poverty and domestic violence, and my self-esteem was very low. PSS helped me reach my goals by believing in me when no one else had. This emotional support was as important as any financial support. PSS helped with my textbooks, childcare costs, and emergency rent assistance. PSS also connected me with other wonderful community organizations.  It was always a hand up, not a hand out. Each year my self-esteem and confidence grew. With my financial stress being reduced, I was able to focus on my studies and earned mostly A’s through my time at community college and university.

Linda, Class of 2010, ADN in Nursing, Golden West College

After completing her associate’s, Linda went on to complete her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Vanguard University in 2013, her Master’s of Science in Nursing from CSU Long Beach in 2017, and her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Grand Canyon University in 2023.

“PSS gave me a network and family to count on. My children got Christmas gifts. Gas cards and scholarships were extremely helpful. I absolutely loved our monthly meetings and workshops. I loved my mentors and knowing that we were cared for and not forgotten.

I work full time as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at a local hospital and part time as a Nurse Practitioner at a OB/GYN private practice. I recently started a part time faculty teaching as an OB Clinical Instructor for a community college.”

Barbara-Leigh, Class of 1996, BA in Sociology, UC Irvine

Barbara-Leigh started with PSS in 1991 after fleeing domestic violence.  She describes this time in her life as the Decade of 3: She had 3 kids, 3 jobs, and 3 hours of sleep for 10 years.  She worked as a receptionist, janitor, and at McDonald’s at night.  She attended night school at Golden West College to earn her associate’s degree and completed her bachelor’s degree at UC Irvine.  Beyond the financial assistance, Barbara-Leigh credits PSS with helping her feel “worthy” and that this support gave her a “reset”.  Barbara-Leigh went on to get her MBA and Ph.D., gave testimony at the state legislature to amend a domestic violence prevention law, and raised 3 successful children.  She is now a university professor, speaks at international conferences, and regularly gives back to the community.

Become a PSS Scholar

Are you a low-income single parent attending college? Do you live, work or go to school in Orange County? Are you highly motivated to succeed? You may qualify to become one of our PSS scholars.

Project Self-Sufficiency

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit

Tax ID #33-0597719

307 Placentia Ave, Suite 203 Newport Beach, CA 92663

Located inside the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living

949-478-1914