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Two struggling moms given honors, help by Soroptimists
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Nicole Johnson of Ceres (right) talks about her plans for the future after being presented the Live Your Dreams award from Kris Nagle of the Gustine-Newman Soroptimist Club Thursday evening at the Ceres clubs recognition night. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Two single moms living in Ceres and struggling to improve their lives and economic standing were honored Thursday evening with the "Live Your Dream Awards."

Carol Perry, a member of the Soroptimist International of Ceres, introduced the two recipients of the $1,000 "Live Your Dream" award scholarships designed to give monetary assistance to single women who are seeking to better their lives by continuing their education. It was formerly called the Women's Opportunity Award program started in 1972.

Vannessa Camacho was unable to be present, said Perry, because of a rigorous education schedule at Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts as she works toward a vocational nurse certificate. Vannessa also wants to earn her bachelor's degree in Nursing Science from Chapman University after she graduates in December from Gurnick.

Jilmirria Roberts, who is training for the medical profession at Modesto Junior College, also has a young child. She is working with Doctors Medical Center preparing her to become a registered nurse.

Originally from the Bay Area but now in Ceres, Roberts explained that she gave birth to premature twins. She witnessed the medical team at Lucille Packard Hospital which inspired her to become a nurse. Sadly, however, her daughter died at four months old.

"I decided that nursing was going to be what I'm going do and I immediately went to school," Roberts told the gathering. "After that I got my prereqs and I'm on my way to graduating in December from MJC and to hopefully transfer immediately to Stan State ... but my eventual plan is to get my master's so I can work in acute (care) so I can help parents and be that help that I received. This award today is definitely going to help me with that. I am a single mom."

Nicole Johnson of Ceres was given a "Live Your Dream" scholarship by the Gustine-Newman club, which had no applicants. Kris Kessler-Nagle explained that her small club raised enough money to help one mom but Ceres passed on the name of Nicole Johnson. Nicole is working on her nursing certificate also through Gurnick. Johnson said she wanted to become an oncology nurse.

"This is very important to me. I've had a lot of struggles. I am a single mom. My mother passed away from breast cancer - that's where the whole oncology thing comes from. I'm very passionate about that. She had no other children. She was not married so I had to take care of her through her journey. I placed her in Hospice, took care of her through the end. It took a toll on me but I'm not letting it affect me negatively. I'm taking my passion and everything that I went through with my mother and turning it into something positive."