A lifeline for single moms
The Turner Family Scholarship helps single mothers get their college degrees
Jennifer Muehlebach knows that with a college education, she’ll be able to provide better futures for Lucy, 12, and Sam, 6. She received the Turner Family Endowed Scholarship for two years at Wichita State.
A lot happened in Jennifer Muehlebach’s life five years ago. Her marriage of nine years ended in divorce, leaving her with two young children to raise. And she decided to go back to college.
“I knew my kids would be going to college someday, and I had no way to pay for that without a college education of my own,” she said. “I knew I would have a more fulfilling job and career by having a college degree.”
Rhonda Turner established the Turner Family Endowed Scholarship to help single mothers attend college.
Though nervous about the prospect of trying to get a degree while working and raising Lucy, now 12, and Sam, now 6, she took the plunge and enrolled at Wichita State. Last year, Muehlebach graduated
with a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders. Now she’s pursuing a clinical doctorate in audiology.
She’s certain she wouldn’t be where she is today without receiving the Turner Family Endowed Scholarship for two years in a row, established by Rhonda Turner to help single mothers attend college.
“I would say it changed the course of my education and my life,” Muehlebach says. “I didn’t have to work during those two years and I took out very few student loans. I was able to devote myself to the two most important
things in my life, my children and my education.”
That’s exactly the kind of difference Turner wanted to make when she established the scholarship in 2007. As a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, she sees the hardships single mothers often encounter.
“I’m very well aware that a single mother has a lot harder road to travel, especially having to juggle work, family, school,” says Turner, who provides counseling in her job at Pathway Church and as a volunteer at Grace Med Health Clinic. “Having a family is a wonderful thing, but the additional responsibility makes it so much harder for a young woman to attend college and really focus on her education.”
“ I'm very well aware that a single mother has a lot harder road to travel.”
Turner graduated cum laude from Wichita State in 1975, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She is married to Jeff Turner, CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, and she serves as a board member
for Wichita Children’s Home. She dedicated a portion of her salary to support the scholarship for single mothers.
“I value education and I especially see the need for single mothers to be able to provide for their families in a better way through education,” Turner says.
Muehlebach intends to seek a career as an audiologist after graduate school.
“I graduated with a 3.7 GPA after starting with a 2.1 GPA,” she says of her time as an undergraduate. “I was able to do that because I didn’t have to work. And because of my good grades, I was able to pursue my doctorate. Now, when I tell my kids that education is important, they know what I mean. They see it themselves.”
If you would like to establish a scholarship for deserving students, please contact Terre Johnson, WSU Foundation vice president for major gifts, at (316) 978-3808 or email@example.com.