Nichole Lincoln’s path to SPEA hasn’t been an easy one. She worked on her degree off-and-on for years, but didn’t commit to finishing her education until she became a mother in 2012.
“I needed to give my daughters something to strive for in this life and to teach them a life lesson: always finish what you start,” she says.
Lincoln’s story started in Gary, Indiana, where she attended IU Northwest. During that time, she had the opportunity to mentor young people involved in the juvenile justice system. She also participated in a ride-along with the Gary Police Department. Lincoln says that ride-along changed her life.
“There were several calls, but one was to a former high school classmate,” she recalls. “It was a domestic violence situation. When I learned there would be little to no action against the suspect after police filed the report, I knew I had to stay in this field and work to change that.”
Lincoln later moved to Indianapolis in 2004, intent on helping those involved in the criminal justice system. She began working for the Department of Child Services, but left that position to fulfill her dream of becoming a mother.
Lincoln adopted three young sisters and now works as a juvenile probation officer with the Marion County Superior Courts. Despite the demands of being a working, single mother with three young children, Lincoln says motherhood motivated her to take on one more challenge: completing her degree.
“Getting to graduation has been a long, long road,” Lincoln says. “I stopped and restarted my education several times during the past few years. I finally made the decision to finish my master’s when I became a mother.”
But Lincoln says there were many challenges to consider. Like many students, she worried about how she would pay for her courses. That’s when she began looking for financial assistance.
“I didn’t want to take additional and unnecessary classes just so I could qualify for financial aid,” Lincoln says. “I began setting aside money to pay for my final class, but that meant making other sacrifices in our family.”
Lincoln logged onto SPEA’s website and found the help she was seeking in a SPEA Alumni Association Scholarship.
“I saw the SPEA Alumni Association Scholarship and knew that it would make the difference in reducing the loan debt for my final class,” she recalls. “This scholarship is made possible by people who were once in my shoes. Thankfully, those people recognized students need financial assistance and decided to donate.”
Lincoln filled out the forms, submitted the application, and waited for an answer. She found out she had received the scholarship as she was about to make her second payment for school.
“I thanked the Lord and the Alumni Association,” she says. “This was truly a blessing. Receiving this scholarship relieved some of the sacrifice my family was making so that I could achieve my dream. It was a burden lifted off our shoulders. That was priceless.”
With generous support from SPEA alumni, Lincoln finished her final class and earned her Master of Science in Criminal Justice and Public Safety degree in December 2017. She’ll walk across the stage with other SPEA graduates in May.
“This scholarship helped me achieve my goal of completing school,” she says. “It allowed me to see that there are still good people in this world and that anything and everything is possible.”
To donate to the SPEA Alumni Association fund, visit https://iufoundation.fundly.com/support-spea-scholarships.