Getting off government assistance

Government aid has helped these folks become self-sufficient.

Public assistance leads to college degree
Public assistance leads to college degree
Melissa Johnson-Camacho and her family.
Name: Melissa Johnson-Camacho
Age: 35
Hometown: Davis, Calif.

I started receiving aid in 2000. I was single and wasn't making the best decisions. I ended up getting pregnant and had to figure out a plan to make ends meet long-term.

As soon as I got on, my first instinct was to use it an opportunity to go to college. I was getting $500 a month from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. I also received Section 8 housing [vouchers], food stamps and subsidized childcare. And we got on Medi-Cal for health insurance.

I went to Woodland Community College in 2001. I helped a friend have her baby and something clicked. I said now I'm going to be a nurse.

I went to Sacramento State University and graduated in 2008 with my bachelor's in nursing. Now I make over $75,000 as an oncology nurse at UC Davis Medical Center.

I got off all government programs when I graduated. I don't qualify for anything at all. I appreciate what I got, but it feels really good to be done with that chapter.

I pay so much in taxes now and it never bothers me. I picture another mom like me out there and I say "This is for you. Go to school."

By Tami Luhby @CNNMoney - Last updated March 23 2012: 11:32 AM ET

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