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Kern County scholarship winner inspires others to pursue their educations

"You [have to] keep putting one foot forward.”
Posted at 6:06 AM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 15:13:14-05

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — Toni Wingfield didn’t always know what she wanted to do.

“I had started off just taking any employment that I could get," she said.

But she saw an online ad for UEI College and today, she’s a recent medical assistant program graduate and full-ride scholarship winner.

The 2021 Be The Change Scholarship prompt was to write about overcoming poverty and adversity.

In 2020, Toni moved from Sacramento to Oildale with her teenage daughter due to decreasing affordability and increasing crime.

It was a challenge, and she wrote about it.

“I didn’t write in pencil, final draft, nothing. I wrote it from the heart and I submitted it," said Toni.

Toni said she was shocked and proud when she won.

“If you look at a map, I feel like I‘m no longer just a dot in [Sacramento]. I’m actually like a light bulb on the map," she said

Now she’s seeking her accreditation and wants to become a registered nurse. She hopes her story inspires others, including her daughter.

“It was years in between, being a single parent, feeling like I can’t do anything that I want to do other than parent and Lord knows, raising a teenage child is not easy, but now I’m her example," said Toni.

Earlier this month, Toni started a new job as a medical assistant at an urgent care in Bakersfield

“I’m so stoked. I even got my first pair of scrubs," she said. "I’m excited.”

Toni encourages everyone to go to school, even if you don’t know what you want to do

“Just go for it. Use little old me as an example, you know, I don’t care if you’re big, tall or small. Go for it," she said.

And Toni said she’s learned that as long as you don’t give up, you’ll be just fine.

“Just put one foot forward," she said. "You [have to] keep putting one foot forward.”

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