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'I'm flourishing' | Single moms get free tuition to build careers in cybersecurity

Women in Technology puts single moms through the technology cyber security certificate program at Emory, covering everything from tuition, food, rides and childcare.

ATLANTA — When the pandemic hit, more than 3.5 million moms lost or left their jobs, according to US Census Bureau data

Now, a local nonprofit called Women in Technology (WIT) is putting single moms through the technology cybersecurity certificate program at Emory, covering everything from tuition and food, to rides and childcare.

"The single mothers program was fostered out of truly just a love for women and not leaving any woman behind," said WIT President and CEO Penny Collins. "It should not be so hard for women that are on their own to try to succeed and make it in this life."

Twenty moms are selected per semester.  

Kelly Gilbert was one of them. She had to step away from her job as a first responder to care for her daughter during the pandemic. 

"It was really hard trying to find proper childcare for her," Gilbert said. "She's my priority. She's my life now, so I have to maneuver my life around her."

Gilbert recently graduated from the program, and promptly landed a job with Equifax.  

Kaminski Ivory was in the same graduating class. 

"During the pandemic, I was actually slap in the middle of a divorce, becoming a single mother, going through postpartum depression and just trying to figure out how I was going to navigate life now," Ivory said. "It was very frightening. I was really at a point where I was at an all time low."

When she got the call and was accepted into the program, Ivory said she burst into tears.

"They basically told us 'if you get through this program, we assure you that you will find a job, we will help you find a job,'" she said.

According to Collins, the program has a 100% job placement success rate.

“Just in Georgia, there's 20.000 jobs available at entry level roles for cybersecurity," she said. "There's over 500,000 globally and there is a huge need.” 

Yet even with childcare and transport provided for free, a 15 week commitment to a prestigious program is no easy thing. But, these moms don't need easy. 

"Moms do it all," Ivory laughed. "We run the world!"

They just needed someone to take a chance on them.

"All of our corporate partners that have hired these single moms come back and say they're the best workers they've ever had because they're hungry, they're dedicated, they want to prove something," Collins said.

The graduates added they, too, feel a long-awaited sense of stability and fulfilment. 

“For the first time, I actually feel like I love my job," Gilbert said.

“I'm flourishing, and I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay my bills anymore," Ivory added. "And my son, he's happy because I'm happier.”

You can learn more about the program and how to apply here. The deadline to apply for the upcoming semester is June 5.

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