06/28/2013 04:14 pm ET

My Climb Out Of Poverty Wouldn't Be Possible Today


These days, when I open the newspaper or turn on the news, I see my past. The policy debates currently raging in this country -- about welfare and food stamps, affirmative action and students loans, take me back to a time when I was dependent on social programs to pull myself out of poverty. Given our current policy environment, I doubt that I’d be able to accomplish that today.

It was the 1970s. I was a young, single parent with no means of support. I’d been married, but it didn’t last. My son’s father was in no position or mindset to help. After high school, I’d taken a few secretarial courses but was hardly prepared for the job market. There was no college-going tradition in my family, but I knew that to provide for my son, I’d need much more education.