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Blinn helped single mom discover path to higher education

Angela Allison of College Station hopes to inspire others after defying the odds

January 9, 2014

Angela AllisonAngela Allison was just another statistic when she became pregnant during her senior year of high school. Two months after graduating early from A&M Consolidated High School, Allison gave birth to her daughter, and three years later, her son.

“I was a single, teen mom. My kids and I didn’t have a very nice life for almost a decade,” Allison said. “We were living in public housing and using food stamps, Medicaid and WIC. I didn’t really have any direction for my life. I was just busy fulfilling these roles I had gotten myself into.”

When her son enrolled in College Station ISD’s Head Start program, a counselor encouraged Allison to pursue job training and higher education at Blinn College. For four consecutive semesters, Allison earned a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) at the Blinn College - Bryan campus while working seven nights a week delivering newspapers.

 “My kids would sleep in the car while I worked and then I had the daytime for school and errands,” she said. “I’d run on about two hours of sleep.”

A 25-year-old mother of two when she began her college journey, Allison said she often felt out of place and was tempted to give up on higher education. With time and several meetings with Blinn advisor, Brad Hall, Allison said her experience as a non-traditional student made her into a scholar.

“I told myself I was the ‘old lady.’ I had to set a good example for the younger students,” she said. “You might feel different, but it’s a good different. It might take you a while to realize how good that different is, but you’ll find that it’s awesome.”

Allison credits Mary Barnes-Tilley, Blinn division chair and social science professor, for piquing her interest in political science and encouraging her to transfer to a four-year university. Allison was accepted to Texas A&M University twice before she could afford to accept the admissions offer.

“I knew I belonged at Texas A&M, but I couldn’t figure out the financial logistics of getting there,” Allison said.

In 2011, Allison was one of 60 transfer students to be selected from more than 17,000 applicants nationwide for a scholarship through the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. The scholarship, which Allison learned about through Blinn’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society, awards students $60,000 over two years.

Allison earned a 4.0 GPA and a job as a research assistant for the university’s Project for Equity, Representation and Governance research group during her first semester. In May, she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with a 4.0 cumulative GPA and a distinction as an undergraduate research scholar. She is now working on her doctorate with the aid of a doctoral diversity fellowship award from Texas A&M and a graduate scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

“Once you find your first successes, it becomes addictive,” Allison said. “You become powerful when you find something you are successful at and develop a passion for it. You have the potential to make an impact.”

Though being a single mother hasn’t been easy, Allison said her daughter, 13, and son, 9, are the reason she’s now working on her doctorate.

“I would argue that they set the example for me,” she said. “They always brought home good grades despite the fact that we didn’t have a lot. It challenged me to explore my possibilities. Every day still feels like a fairy tale.”

Blinn enrolled a school-record 18,413 students this Fall and has experienced 31.1 percent growth since 2006. Founded in 1883, the College’s tuition and fees average about one-third the cost of the same classes at most four-year public universities in the state, and its transfer rate is unmatched by any community college in the state.

Registration for Blinn’s Spring semester remains open through Sunday, Jan. 12. For enrollment information and to learn about financial aid opportunities, visit: