BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “I thought about it for a long time, about actually walking in to the college because I had no idea what I wanted to do, I didn’t know what was out there,” said Donna Kates of Lewiston.

When Donna Kates, a single mother of two boys with special needs, decided to go back to school she didn’t know what to expect.

“Well I went back to school in the medical field which was totally not in my experience,” said Kates.

That’s where a special program called ‘Moms: From Education to Employment’ offered right at Niagara County Community College came into play.

“It’s really helping moms get the support they need to get through college. They’re paired with an achievement coach and a career coach. The achievement coach helps with the day to day helps them to work through the issues that come up in life,” said Kristen Luppino-Gholston, WNY Women’s Foundation Coordinator of Community Initiatives and Investments.

“The very first thing that it did for me is calm my fears about being an older and single mother because I had doubts,” said Kates.

Donna chose the Surgical Technology program, but was worried she would have a hard time finding a job. Through the MOMs program she was able to pursue a certificate program that helped her gain experience.

“My future employer saw that I had that experience which they really appreciated and I think I was hired because of that,” said Kates.

Donna graduated with an Associate’s degree and now works as an Eye and Tissue Recovery Technician for Unyts. She says the program gave her confidence and helped her set a good example for her kids.

“They saw me studying and working hard and preparing for tests and projects,” said Kates.

After 7 semesters, more than 270 single moms have enrolled in the program and 75 of them have graduated. The WNY Women’s Foundation also plans to expand the MOMs program to Erie Community College within the next few months.