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Roseville single mother, student, breadwinner tackles challenges

Women’s Opportunity Award finalist hopes to be a nurse
By: Laura O'Brien, Press Tribune correspondent
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Soroptimist International of South Placer Women's Opportunity Award Celebration

When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 9

Where: City of Rocklin Parks & Recreation Meeting Room, 5460 5th St.

Cost: $20 per person, includes buffet brunch

RSVP: By March 1. Checks payable to SI South Placer, PO Box 2137, Rocklin CA 95677 or online at http://sispwoa.eventbrite.com.

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series profiling the finalists for the Soroptimist International of South Placer Women’s Opportunity Award. Read more next week.

For single mothers with no support system, the stress of job and family responsibilities can be overwhelming. When making arrangements for school drop-offs and pick-ups and dealing with family emergencies requiring time off work, such as a sick child, these moms fly solo.

In addition to juggling work and family, some intrepid women tackle the further challenge of an educational degree program. It’s these women who Soroptimist International honors with Women’s Opportunity Awards. The South Placer chapter of Soroptimist will recognize three finalists for the award at a public brunch next month. The $1,000 cash grant will be awarded to one of three finalists to help with educational expenses. Applicants serve as the primary wage earner for their family, have overcome adversity with a proven drive to succeed and are seeking educational assistance.

“You’d be surprised what we’re capable of when we don’t have a choice,” said Jodee Steinbrecher of Roseville, 32, one of three local finalists for the Women’s Opportunity Award.

Steinbrecher attends classes part-time at Sierra College at night while holding down a full-time job during the day that supports her and her two daughters, ages 11 and 17. After four years, she obtained her associate degree in arts and culture last May, the first college degree in her immediate family. She continues coursework at Sierra to fulfill necessary prerequisites for her dream of becoming a nurse.

“When we want to pursue something, we’re always going to encounter hurdles and obstacles that are going to get in our way,” Steinbrecher said. “It’s just remaining persistent and remembering your goal at the end. Being a single mother does not really allow for me to think about what I’m doing. I just do it.”

She acknowledges that attending school would not have been possible without the help of her elder daughter. Starting at age 12, Lexi Steinbrecher babysat her younger sister, including preparing dinner and helping her with her homework, while her mom went to class up to four nights a week. Often, the girls were in bed when Jodee Steinbrecher returned home.

“I’m very fortunate,” she said. “They’re very good kids. A lot could have went wrong with the fact that I was absent so much.”

Now a junior at Woodcreek High School, Lexi plans to attend college and culinary school after graduation.

“Having a nurse would be cool because she gets to save lives,” Lexi said. “It is a little hard, but I support it. I’m trying to help her out as much as help myself out, too. I try to bring my own income into the house so I’m trying to get jobs. It’s very hard to get jobs though, at this age.”

Jodee Steinbrecher said her employer, Golden Sierra Job Training Agency of Auburn, was instrumental in making night school possible. She was able to adjust her work schedule so she could arrive on time at classes that started in Rocklin at 5 or 5:30 pm.

Golden Sierra Job Training Agency receives federal grants for job-seeker services such as resume writing and interviewing. The agency also offers retraining scholarships for occupations that are in demand, said Executive Director Jason Buckingham.

"We work with people in various walks of life," Buckingham said. "We’re there to help them reach a new training plan.

"If I’m going to do that with the average person in the population, then I should be able to have that same philosophy for my own employees."

The Women’s Opportunity Award will be bestowed March 9 at a public event rather than a club meeting for the first time, said Latanya Johnson, event chair.

“If you saw (the finalists) face to face you would never know their story,” Johnson said. “You wouldn’t know what they’ve overcome or what they’re still going through to reach their goals.

“They’re tougher: The way they speak, the way they carry themselves. It takes a phenomenal woman to do what they’re doing. It takes extraordinary strength, too.”