GRAND CROSSING — Single mom Tiffani Topps would’ve been forced to take out a loan this year if it weren’t for a new scholarship, she said.
The Chicago State University nursing student has been named the first recipient of the Top Products Single Mother Scholarship. The New Jersey-based company helps customers find quality reviews online.
“Top Products is a strong advocate of both higher education and family values, and we recognize that single parents need help paying for school to create a secure future for their children," spokesman Scott Smith said. “Tiffani is a wonderful role model who despite her hardships, has been incredibly committed to balancing motherhood and maintaining a 3.31 GPA.”
Topps, the sole recipient of the $1,000 award, was chosen based on academic merit.
U.S. Census data shows that out of 12 million single-parent families, more than 80 percent in 2016 were headed by single moms.
Topps, 22, has kept her education a top priority despite an unexpected pregnancy, which she said triggered her lupus. She was diagnosed in 2015.
Staying in school while raising her daughter, now 2-year-old Madison Dominique, has been challenging, Topps said.
“It’s not easy,” she said. “I flare up every day. I have days I don’t want to get out of bed, but you have to push through.”
“You can't accept defeat because you have a disease,” Topps said. “My thing is, even if I lay in bed and don't do anything, it'll still be there, so I may as well keep going toward the goal.”
Most of the scholarship will help her cover expenses for her nursing program such as shoes and blood pressure cuffs.
“I’m blessed and humbled,” Topps said. “I would've had to take out a loan if hadn't gotten this.”
There aren’t enough scholarships specifically for single parents, she said.
“Most people shame single mothers,” she said.
Topps said she’s been in and out of several hospitals. One thing that has always stood out has been the “amazing” treatment.
“I’ve always had a good care team,” she said. “Even when I get home, they send me cards in the mail. Stuff like that makes all the difference.
“I want to give back. I want to be able to put that same smile on faces,” Topps said.
The scholarship is now open for the spring semester, and all single moms may apply here.