Rochelle Riorden

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“Parents as Scholars (PaS) is an invaluable program that enables individuals an opportunity to be self-supporting. I’m living-proof. I am a PaS graduate and for the last seven years I have had NO government assistance.”

Rochelle is a single mom living in Androscoggin County who worked her way through college with the help of the Parents as Scholars program. Parents as Scholarshas had documented success in helping people with low-income to obtain a college degree and improve their lives. It should be noted that Pas does not pay college tuition.  Rochelle now works as a project manager for a small business.

Rochelle agrees that one of the most proven pathways to opportunity and out of poverty is access to higher education.  A Maine adult with a college degree can be expected to earn twice the income of a Maine adult who has not graduated from high school. This fact is also well-understood by the majority of Maine people, both those with low incomes and the general public.  Approximately four out of five of both groups think that increasing access to college would help reduce poverty. 

According to Rochelle, access to higher education is only part of the solution to poverty. After gaining her degree, her income went up significantly, but things were not necessarily easy as she lost her rent subsidy and had to move. She also was faced with paying for child-care which was $125 per week for before and after school care and much more during the summer and school breaks. Rochelle was better off than before, but she was still struggling. 

For this reason, Rochelle believes that we need to increase access to affordable child care for working parents and create more jobs that pay an adequate wage so working parents can support their families.  She believes that creating these bridges to opportunity will improve the lives of Maine people who are struggling, our communities and our state as a whole.