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Michigan Works! Helps Small Town Girl Graduate Nearly Debt-Free Thanks to Support & Tuition Programs

Cienna grew up in a small town and as one of seven kids, her family didn’t have the money to help pay for her college. Throughout the summers she would work 50-70 hours to be able to make it through the school year. Upon graduation from high school she earned a few scholarships, but it wasn’t enough to cover tuition, books, rent, and other necessities.

Working with Michigan Works! Career Advisor Niki Chamberlain, Cienna was able to get assistance to ease her financial burden through her last three years of college. Michigan Works! was able to help with her rent and tuition, as well as cover mileage reimbursement for her commute to college and fieldwork. This assistance helped Cienna greatly and she was finally able to put some money into savings for emergencies instead of surviving paycheck to paycheck.

While attending Lake Superior State University, Cienna made the Dean’s List several times and graduated Cum Laude honors. She even accepted a job offer from Sault Ste Marie High School within one month of graduation.

Cienna says a lesson she learned from this experience is to always reach out for help when you need it. Thanks to the assistance Michigan Works! was able to provide, Cienna was able to complete her degree with just under $10k in student loan debt.

“Without Michigan Works! I would be in severe debt after my five years of college,” says Cienna. “Instead, I am financially stable and landed my dream job within one month of graduating! The programs provided to me helped me pay for rent, tuition, and gas with mileage reimbursement while in college. I am so thankful to the Michigan Works! staff for making this happen for me! I will forever be grateful, as I know how lucky I am to have completed my degree with only $10k in student loans.”


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