Janet Brukner - 2018 Blessons Award Recipient & First Generation Female Immigrant

I reside in Chicago, where I am a single mother with two sons: a twenty-three year old and a four year old. I graduated from Northwestern College in 2002, and I currently attend a four-year community college named Harold Washington.  I work as a Legal Assistant Contractor for CTA Headquarters. I think I see myself in the future as a successful woman who enjoys working in the legal field.

I am the first in my mom's family-who are in the Phillipines-to graduate from High School and College.  I take my role as daughter and mother very seriously, and I take care of my family no matter what the situation. I am a true survivor of physical and emotional abuse.  For a very long time I felt ashamed of what happened to me, but I had to act in order to take care of my family. My children and I moved from home to home to escape my abuser until we settled in with my mom in her one bedroom apartment.

My education was put on hold because of my low self-esteem that I had as a result of the abuse I endured throughout my lifetime.  I became severely depressed, and it took some time to learn how to control my depression. I was going to give up on my education because of the mental and physical costs, but then I got a temporary job and realized I needed and wanted to attend school.  I continued my education, attending a Business College to achieve a degree in the legal field. It took some time to get my Associates Degree as I was a single mother and was working a full time job, but I did it.

I stay and keep positive by focusing on my kids.  My children are my world, and they cannot and will not see me with a negative attitude because that is not how I want them to view their mother.  Even though I have been through hell and back, my oldest always tells me, "Mom, you are a strong willed woman because of what you’ve been through, you are definitely a survivor!"  

The advice that I’d like to give to other women is to not keep anything inside.  If you are suffering at the hands of an abuser, please seek help. I do relate to the mission of Blessons, empowering women through the education that we desire and deserve. We are worth it.