"This event is our way of not only honoring single mothers but encouraging them as well," said Patricia Andrews-Keenan, a spokeswoman for the foundation. "There are four professional honorees and one student, which is great because it lets [students] know that they are not alone in their quest to advance their education while also being a mom."
The other four honorees are Dee Robinson Reed, president of Robinson Reed Hospitality Group; Norma Williams, founder and chief executive officer of NJW Consulting Services; Jacquelyn Tolliver, Chief Deputy Clerk Traffic/1st Municipal District of Cook County; and CSU student Deborah Wilborn.
The luncheon event, which is open to the public, is Sunday, May 19, from noon-3 p.m., at the school's Academic Library, 9500 S. King Drive. Tickets are $75 and proceeds will go toward awarding one scholarship to Wilborn and two more to Chicago State University students, who are single mothers, added Andrews-Keenan.
The last two events generated more than $20,000 for scholarships, according to foundation officials, who added that of the nearly 6,200 students attending CSU, more than 71 percent are women and 69 percent are single parents.
All the more reason why events, such as the Essence of an Angel, are needed, said Maurice Grant, chair of CSU foundation.
“CSU continues to support our students through innovative events like Essence of an Angel," Grant said in a statement. "These women are exceptional role models for our students and show them what is possible through education and hard work.”
Brown, a 2012 honoree, was a single mother for 17 years before getting married in 2009.
"It was difficult raising my daughter alone [from age 6]. So many single mothers are working and going to school and I applaud them because I know their struggles," said Brown, whose only daughter is now 32.
"And I would tell those women to never give up, always give your best and find time to mentor to someone else struggling harder than you," Brown said.
There were about 10 million single mothers in the U.S. in 2011, up from 3.5 million in 1970, according to the U.S. Census.