Kathleen Converti always wanted to be a homemaker but she never knew that was going to mean learning how to lay the stone foundation for a wood stove or raising five girls as a single mother.
Nor did Converti realize that the skills she learned as a homemaker would give her the confidence to pursue a college degree and a career.
"Divorce was not in my vocabulary," she said, "but even though I was scared I knew I had to do something."
As she broke free from an abusive relationship with her husband, she said, the staff of the Time Out Shelter helped her understand the cycle of abuse through conversations and study.
She picked up books at the Christian bookstore when she needed training advice for her children as they grew and developed.
Bullied in public school herself, she decided to homeschool her children and, for a time, that worked well.
"But I was encouraged to return to college through the county's job training program," Converti said. "Here I was a stay-at-home mom with no job skills, but they gave me a job assessment test that showed me I could do anything I wanted to do."
Backed by scholarships and Pell grants she did not dream would be available to her, she started college with English 101.
Converti aced the first three classes she took and went on to graduate from the community college in Payson in 1999 with an associate's degree in office technology.
Trying to balance school, working part time for then dean Priscilla Zuber and time with her family, meant Converti missed a few band concerts and she could not get her children as involved in community activities as she would have liked.
"You have skills and abilities you can do that nobody else can. Some will come easier, some harder, but find out what those skills are and build on them," is her advice to mothers and young people.
"My daughters are my truest blessing," she said.
Converti's dream was that her daughters would go to college, so they would not face the same life challenges she experienced.
As her youngest child prepares to graduate high school and leave home for college, Converti faces an empty nest with only the family dog, Pico.
Since obtaining her degree she has continued to take classes and is now a Webmaster and also thoroughly enjoys designing brochures, advertisements and more for her graphics clients.
When she is not designing an ad, she plans to learn to play the piano, get involved in singing again and learn to dance.
Hometown: I was born in Missouri, but I consider Payson to be my hometown.
Occupation: Entrepreneur and Webmaster. I started an advertising and graphics company, Computer Creations -- www.computercreations.us
When did you move to Payson and what brought you here? I followed my husband to his job 13 years ago. It was a beautiful day in January and the snowflakes were as big as half dollars.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? "Take every computer class the college offers and more" was the advice my Dad gave me when I went back to school.
What is the biggest risk you have taken recently? Investing money in my advertising business.
Three things you want people to know about you: I did what I did not believe I could ever do -- Have five babies in four years and 10 days; Go through a divorce and raise five girls by myself; Get a college degree.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A wife, mother and homemaker like my mother and grandmother.
Author: Dr. James Dobson
Song: "One Day at a Time"
Movie: "The Sound of Music"
Recreational activities: Hiking on top of the Rim and camping.
Dream vacation spot: Yellowstone National Park.