Scholarship program helps hundreds of single parents attend Education Week

Dana Pledgie attends for her second year at Education Week.

Dana Pledgie is a single mother of five children under age 14 who converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nine years ago.

The Virginia woman had never heard of BYU’s Education Week until last year, when members of her congregation talked about it at church. That was when she knew going to Education Week would benefit her family.

But it didn’t seem possible until she heard about the Maurine R. and Joseph A. Humphris Fund for Single Parents, an annual scholarship that helps single parents attend Education Week each year.

When Pledgie heard about the fund, she decided to apply, and to her surprise she was awarded the scholarship.

Pledgie wanted to attend Education Week because she realized that she and her children needed increased spiritual sustenance turning a time filled with detectives, police, lawyers and counselors related to her divorce. “It would have been a bleak situation without the Lord,” she said.

At Education Week, Pledgie attended classes on parenting and dealing with trauma. Advice from a session by an attorney who dealt with high-stakes custody cases proved invaluable for Pledgie.

“It was one of the most profound experiences of my life,” she said. “I came back and told everybody in my ward, ‘You guys are so silly for not going.’ It’s so useful and has information that you can apply to every aspect of your life. It’s life-transforming.”

Pledgie plans to attend again this year and is excited to listen to classes on deepening her understanding of the gospel.

The Humphris Fund started in 1989 when Maurine Robson Humphris, a longtime Education Week instructor, approached the Education Week administrators with the idea of helping single parents attend the program. She felt that single parents had a need to attend Education Week but often lacked the resources to do so.

When she presented her idea and the money for the scholarship, it was quickly accepted and since then several donors have kept the scholarship going.

In its first year in 1990, the fund helped nine single parents attend the week-long conference, and in 1991 it assisted 13 parents, according to Bruce Payne, an Education Week administrator.

The fund has grown to its 29th year, and to date has given 452 awards to 346 individuals. While Humphris passed away several years ago, the fund continues in her memory.

To apply for the fund, applicants must be single parents who have at least one child under the age of 14 and are able to demonstrate financial need.  Applicants must submit their paperwork by April to be considered for a scholarship.

“It has been a tremendous blessing to many who would otherwise not be able to attend,” Payne said. “They have a chance to get away from the daily demands (to focus on) their personal interests and development during the week.”

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