Mom Turned Student Finds Success, Confidence | Broward College Office of Advancement and Broward College Foundation

Mom Turned Student Finds Success, Confidence

Sharon Leach


Sharon Leach’s teenage aspirations of earning higher education degrees with the goal of helping children were crushed by family members who told her she just didn’t have the smarts to get it done.

It took her 30 years, but she proved them wrong.

As a teen, Sharon internalized the negative comments of her family and gave up on her dreams. She married at 24 and held administrative positions and cleaned houses to help her husband, Skip, an auto parts salesman, make ends meet. They had two children, Lindsey and Donovan.


Sharon Leach with her children, Donavan and Lindsey

As a mother, she taught Lindsey and Donovan the opposite of what she learned – they were smart, they had potential, and they could make their dreams a reality. When they graduated from high school, there was no question they would attend college.

When Sharon’s son asked her to help him apply to Broward College, her hopes for going to school and establishing a career were rekindled. Sharon helped her son apply and then, still unsure and lacking confidence, secretly signed up herself.

“I didn’t tell anyone in case I wasn’t admitted,” she said. “Why would they want to admit a 45-year old, who was just average in high school, with nothing special to offer? But I decided I already felt like a failure, and not trying was making that a reality. I took the chance.”

Sharon’s gamble paid off: She was accepted into Broward College.

“I had a smile ear to ear and I couldn’t wait to tell everyone,” she said. “It was a new start.”

 Sharon Leach with Broward College President J. David Armstrong, Jr.

Sharon Leach with Broward College President J. David Armstrong, Jr.

The new start was full of support on all levels. Her husband stood by her at events and assemblies. Her children were impressed with her strength and tenacity. And her Broward College professors offered encouragement and opened doors to new opportunities.

As a stand-out student, Sharon joined the Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society, the Robert “Bob” Elmore Honors Institute and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, eventually serving as president of its MuMu Chapter. She also received the 2015 All Florida Academic First Team privilege and the Bronze Coca Cola Scholar.

“My achievements were noticed,” she said. “I started to not just hear the compliments but to believe them.”

Her confidence increased as she continued through her classes at Broward College, where she received her A.A. with honors this past May. Based on her stellar GPA, she was recruited by Harvard University, but chose to stay home with her family to attend Florida Atlantic University. She now is pursuing a B.S. in social work with a criminal justice minor. Her career goal is to work in child services to help kids believe in themselves.

“Children need to know they are important and their opinion matters,” she said. “This will help them be successful adults in the community and to pass on these values to their children. They don’t have to wait 30 years to realize their value like I did.”

“It’s all because of Broward College,” she added. “If Broward College hadn’t accepted me, I wouldn’t have known my value. I am happier and more confident … and genuinely appreciate life more.

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Growing up in a blue-collar home, Jennifer Hamilton learned the value of a strong work ethic, being honest and taking responsibility for her actions. Unfortunately, higher education wasn’t typically a topic of conversation, and as a result, Jennifer really didn’t consider pursuing a college degree. She just didn’t realize how it could open doors and increase opportunities. But that all changed … thanks to a Broward College scout who spotted her potential.