Request accessible format

The accessibility of is extremely important to us! If you encounter any barriers and need assistance, please contact


A little help goes a long way

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 6, 2024
 Samantha Little
NIC student Samantha Little poses for a photo on Jan. 26 in front of the Meyer Health and Sciences Building at NIC’s Coeur d’Alene campus.

Single mom pursues nursing career with help from Center for New Directions

Going to college as a single mom may seem impossible but one Sandpoint resident is proof that anything is possible.

North Idaho College student Samantha Little worked in home health for years but said she was ready for something more. Like many looking for a new start, Little looked to enroll in college and pursue a new career path.

“I want a job that will provide for my family financially - and I love helping people, so I decided to go into nursing,” Little said.

While at school, Little ran into obstacles that made it difficult for her to support her family and keep up with classes. She was connected with the NIC Center for New Directions, a department that supports single parents, displaced homemakers and career pioneers. NIC employee Louisa Rogers runs the department and has worked with Little and many others attending the college.

“I like to say that we help students with things that arise in their personal life that could derail them from continuing their education,” Rogers said. “We’re always looking for ways to support our students so they can focus on what really matters.”

For Little, this support has taken various forms depending on the situation. Last spring, she needed a new windshield after hers became so cracked that it was dangerous to drive to and from classes and work.

“After looking at my insurance, I realized my deductible was going to be more than I could afford,” Little said.

Little said the inability to afford the repairs was stressful but The Center for New Directions was able to pay the deductible for a replacement windshield thanks to a student emergency fund grant received from the North Idaho College Foundation.

“I was so relieved and thankful,” Little said. “I was able to drive back and forth safely to school and work.” 

Last fall, Little was accepted into NIC’s LPN program. Students in the program get hands-on experience in classrooms and labs as well as working with regional healthcare providers in clinicals for experience in real-world situations. Little’s clinicals were in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, and she said the drive was causing stress financially.

Rogers said that scholarships and FAFSA money are a huge help for students when it comes to paying for school but that some students may need a little more assistance while enrolled in college.

“The nursing program is very intensive,” Rogers said. “There isn’t much time to work outside of classes and clinicals.”

Rogers worked with Equus, a company contracted by the state of Idaho to help administer the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant program that provides coaching and financial resources to job seekers who might otherwise not be able to afford a training program. Steven Saenz, a consultant with Equus, said his team covers the North Idaho region and looks to assist job seekers and students in training programs.

“We try to focus on rural communities by awarding WIOA grant funding for things like work boots, nursing scrubs and even gas vouchers,” Saenz said. 

Little qualified for WIOA funding, and said the help she received through Equus has been invaluable. WOIA funding covered all of Little’s books, supplies, and uniforms as well as a laptop. She was also assisted with gas expenses, making her commute from Sandpoint possible. Little said the time spent in clinicals and classes is more than a full-time job and has been grateful for all the support she’s received while juggling school, part-time work and parenthood.

“Equus has been a great asset to many of my students who qualify for their services,” Rogers said. “I’m always looking for resources that can help students get through their program.”

Rogers said that stories like Little’s aren’t uncommon and that hopefully, it proves to other Bonner and Boundary County residents that going back to school is possible.

“NIC has a campus in Sandpoint, with the kindest and most supportive staff,” Rogers said. “There are so many resources available to help students along their journey.”.

Return to Newsroom