BRIGHAM CITY – After being married for 26 years as a stay-at-home mother with six children and no college education, Pam Olsen was not prepared for the day her husband asked for a divorce.”I’m the generation that was told you will get married after high school,” Olsen said. “We didn’t pursue school like it was important to us. High school was hard enough; I didn’t have the confidence to go to college.”Olsen had little work experience and a lack of computer skills at 48-years-old, and she was “emotionally unprepared” for the post-divorce situation. She moved home to Cache Valley from living in Chicago.”I was frightened of the whole thing, I felt worthless from the whirlwind of my divorce. Being an older person, the reality was it takes four or five years to get a degree, and it would be near time to retire.”No matter the time it took, Olsen decided building up her self-confidence was the key to success and happiness. She enrolled at Bridgerland Applied Technology College and graduated from the business program. Olsen now works as the receptionist and event coordinator at the college.”You can be happy as a single parent, you don’t have to wallow in the martyr mode,” Olsen said. “You are still in charge of you, and you can rise above it, but you have to want to. Forgiveness is the hardest part of the whole thing, but to get it behind you is a critical step.”Olsen will be sharing her story of hope, healing and forgiveness during the post-divorce process with single moms as the motivational, keynote speaker at the Single Mother Seminar at Bridgerland Applied Technology College in Brigham City on March 17.The free seminar is sponsored by LDS Employment, BATC and the Department of Resource Services and Workforce Services. Resources that are free to single-mothers are compiled and laid out so women are aware of the opportunities and help in employment, education and finances such as free legal services, college financial aid and state rehabilitation programs.Troy Christensen, vice president of BATC, said the seminar takes place every six months, rotating between the Logan and Brigham City campuses.”We really saw a need for single moms to regroup,” Christensen said. “They have been thrust into misfortune and we try to lift some of the burden so they can concentrate on building their skills and confidence.”According to Christensen, divorce is one of the most common reasons women return to school relative to the population of the school.Olsen said the purpose of the event is to help give single mothers hope.”Having these women see others in the same boat helps them identify,” Olsen said. “You feel really alone, like there is no support system and often these women are pretty well financially destitute. This seminar is good because it shows women how to identify options.”Everyone is welcome to the event, including parents of single mothers, religious leaders who want to learn how to help single mothers, the women who have lost a husband in death or a single mom who has never married, Christensen explains.According to BATC statistics, 54 percent of single mothers who attend the seminar end up getting training at BATC after the event, a hearteningly-high number, said Christensen.”I advise women to get an education while they can,” Olsen said. “It helps you to feel better about who you are, and it doesn’t matter if you’re in a good marriage or not.”Christensen said door prizes will be given out, including retail store gift cards, gas cards and tuition waivers to Utah State University and BATC.Registration is free and goes from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The seminar begins at 7 p.m. at the BATC in Brigham City (325 W 1100 South). For more information, call 750-3224 or 734-0623.
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