Scholar Success Stories

Porshua McKoy used to earn $10 an hour. Then, with help from ANSWER Scholarship, she graduated from CPCC with a degree in dental hygiene.

The single mother of three saw her salary increase by 70% when she became an assistant hygienist. Now a full-time hygienist at University Dental in Waxhaw, she’s earning 90% more than she did prior to her graduation in July 2021. She loves her job and helping her patients. She feels she has a real career at last.

 Her youngest child attended clinicals with her and is intrigued with going to college herself. McKoy says her children are proud of her and get excited when they tell people their mom is a dental hygienist.

McKoy has stayed in touch with her ANSWER mentor and speaks to prospective scholars about the program. ANSWER gave her an outlet, she says, to connect with other moms experiencing the same situations and know she was not alone. She tells potential scholars to “ go for it!”

She did.  Her life and the lives of her children are better for it.

When her boss left, this ANSWER scholar was ready.

New job provided a big boost in pay at the right time 

“I woke up this morning, the last day of 2021, feeling incredibly grateful. Because of the work all of you do for ANSWER, I thought you might like to hear about how you’ve changed my life.

– Laurel Helms, in a letter to ANSWER Scholarship staff and volunteers

She landed a new job, raising her salary by more than $31,000 each year.

Then she was named Lincoln County Employee of the Year.

Laurel Helms earned her degree and transformed her career through her own strength and determination, with ANSWER as her partner.

The recent graduate of Belmont Abbey College and mother of three completed her first major technology project for her employer, Lincoln County government, in January 2021. She graduated from Belmont Abbey that May with a B.A. in Business Administration.

The week after graduation, her employer assigned her a significant project that would impact the financial operations of every county department. Many skills she learned in ANSWER’s Mentors for Mom workshops were invaluable, Helms said, including how to present herself confidently to others.

In November, her boss left. As Helms reviewed the job requirements, she was able to check them off, one by one.

Bachelor’s degree? Check. Project management experience? Check.

She proudly submitted a beautifully written resume, also courtesy of the Mentors for Mom workshops. A week later she accepted the position of deputy CIO for Lincoln County – her boss’s former job.

“I cannot begin to explain the range of emotions I have,” Helms wrote in her letter to ANSWER staff and volunteers. “This management position is significant because information technology tends to be a male-dominated profession. The mentoring I received from the strong women of ANSWER helped me get here.

“In one year, my annual salary has increased by over $31,000. What an enormous blessing for my family! My 11th grader wants to go to college and this money came just in time. Send a mom to college, and watch her children grow is an incredible truth!”

In mid-December 2021, Helms was named Lincoln County Employee of the Year. In the nomination, Helms’ employer described her as someone who “routinely goes above and beyond,” who “has demonstrated so much personal growth” over her career with the county, and who “has been known to motivate others, encouraging them to seek higher education.”

Helms credits ANSWER for walking with her through this journey. “If it sounds like I’m bragging, I am, but not about me. I’m bragging about you. All I’ve accomplished was made possible by the labor of love called ANSWER,” she wrote. “I’m beyond grateful and know that the only way I can repay you is to pay it forward so others can also see their dreams come true.”

Laurel Helms is just one success story; 101 women have received scholarships through ANSWER and each has a story of her own.  We are proud of the work we do, but even more proud of women like Laurel Helms who persist and succeed.