Meet Audra

Following Family Footsteps into the Classroom

For Audra Mayhew, the daughter of a school teacher, becoming a teacher herself was never something she saw herself doing.

Audra aspired to be independent and discover something new, but she wasn’t sure what that something was. She considered culinary school, modeling – she even had the paperwork squared away to enroll as an aesthetician. But no matter how hard she looked elsewhere, she was driven to work with children.

“I signed all the paperwork, had everything filled out, but at the last minute I went back to the drawing board to figure things out,” she said. “I always said I didn’t want to be a teacher, but you know what? I just really love kids and once I really thought about it, it was the obvious choice for me.”

Audra grew up as the middle child in a larger family, and with four younger siblings, she inherited a knack early on for caring for them. At an early age, she left home and enrolled in a business administration program at her local college. After a year, she realized the program wasn’t a fit. She picked her education back up when she was 20, enrolling in the Early Childhood Education program at Patrick Henry Community College, where she’s currently working towards earning her associates degree.

Like many college students, Audra had the passion and desire to pursue her education, but funding her educational pursuits was a hurdle for her to work through.

“I haven’t lived at home since I was 16. I’m financially independent, but lots of federal financial aid still factors in parental income until you reach a certain age,” she said. “They make too much for me to receive assistance, so I had to pause my associate degree coursework because I didn’t qualify for financial aid.”

But thanks to the faculty at Patrick Henry, Audra paid very little out of pocket thanks to additional funding and resources her advisor found for her.

“I wouldn’t have been able to go to school without it,” she said. “I am essentially earning a free degree, and on top of that, the amount of information you learn in the program is amazing.”

Audra will receive her associates degree in spring 2019. She plans on pursuing her bachelor’s degree and ultimately earning her licensure in pre-k to third grade.