“Excited” and “appreciative,” latest mom receives Unplanned Movie Scholarship 

By Lisa Bourne 

Unplanned Movie lead actress Ashley Bratcher, Hollie, and Owen
Photo: Lisa Bourne

The life-affirming collaboration between the lead actress from the movie Unplanned and the world’s largest network of pregnancy help will assist another mom in following her educational dream.

Hollie is a single mom enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program to become a registered nurse. A client of the Hope Center in Greeneville, Tenn., Hollie hopes with her a nursing degree to be able to support her son Owen, 18 months. But having overcome significant difficulty and tragedy in her life, she also wants to become a nurse to help others in need. 

The Unplanned star surprised Hollie this week by personally awarding her the Unplanned Movie Scholarship at the Hope Center. Hollie had no idea of what was to come and arrived at the center on a routine matter.

“I’m here today to award you a scholarship to help pay for school because we heard some really amazing things about you,” Bratcher told Hollie, emerging with a group of Hope Center personnel and supporters from where they waited to surprise her.

“We’re all here to celebrate you,” Bratcher said. 

“I read your application and I heard all about your story, and I’m probably going to start crying just because I think you’re really incredible,” she said. “And I hope that this helps you alleviate a huge burden for school.”

Hollie was taken aback by the scholarship award and expressed gratitude. She is in her first semester of studies for the accelerated program in nursing and had worried about affording school ongoing. 

 “I’m excited and nervous and anxious and appreciative,” she said. “I didn’t know how I was going do it, because next semester was going be hard financially.”

Bratcher told Hollie the scholarship can be used for tuition and childcare needs. 

“I appreciate it more than you can imagine,” Hollie said.

It is a life-changing moment for moms when the Unplanned Movie Scholarship is awarded, said Heartbeat International Grant Program Specialist Sara Littlefield.

“We are so excited for Hollie’s Unplanned Movie Scholarship,” Littlefield said.

“It’s always so amazing to think that this mom is waking up this morning unaware of how her life is about to change,” she said. “It is truly inspiring to see.”

Having a hand in Hollie being awarded the scholarship is part of the work of pregnancy help, Hope Center Executive Director Pam Crank told Pregnancy Help News

“When know that when we’re investing in people like Holly, we’re making a difference,” Crank said.

The Hope Center is a ministry of Free Will Baptist (FWB) Family Ministries. FWB Executive Director and CEO Jim McComas lauded Hollie for her efforts immediately after the surprise. 

“We’re all here because you represent everything that this place was founded to do,” McComas said, praising Hollie’s determination. “You epitomize everything that are our hopes and dreams for the young ladies that come through here.”

“And I think we ought to give her round of applause,” he said, prompting and ovation from the group in attendance for Hollie.

Hollie has been working to pursue this education goal for years. Unplanned life events have put her plans on hold several times. 

Her life changed forever 10 years ago when she survived the 2012 Aurora, Colo. theater shooting. Shortly after she chose to live her life to honor those who lost theirs in the tragedy.

Hollie said in her application for the Unplanned Movie Scholarship, “I want to be a nurse to help people when the unplanned happens in life and use my compassion for others to help them in their time of need.”

The birth of her son was the happiest she has been in life, she said. However, shortly thereafter, the Veteran’s Administration decreased her husband’s disability benefits, and the couple had to give up their home. A newborn in the home exasperated her husband’s PTSD and their marriage became a casualty. Hollie found herself the single mother of a baby, relocated out of state, living with her parents.

“Becoming a single mother was not anything I had expected in 2021,” she said, “but the Lord works in mysterious ways and kept me and my son safe.”

The Hope Center and Hollie’s mentor there Linda came alongside Hollie. The Hope Center helped her with everything possible that it could materially, along with prayers for strength to carry on. Crank encouraged Hollie and shepherded her through the process to apply for the Unplanned Movie Scholarship.

“I’ve been trying to go back for nursing school for a while and it never happened,” said Hollie. “Either this happened or that happened, life happened – and then my greatest little gift of Owen happened. And then I decided, you know, I’m going to do this. I’m going to go back for nursing school and be the best nurse I can be.”

Bratcher noted Hollie’s tenacity.

“We get a lot of applications and yours stood out because of your story and how much you have overcome, the trauma that you’ve experienced, on top of just making really courageous decisions and choosing life,” the actress told Hollie. “It’s really inspiring and the fact that you still have a relationship here and you’re continuing to be the best mom that you can. It really inspired all of us and we wanted to honor you.”

Bratcher has continually had people reach out to her since the 2019 release of Unplanned, telling her their stories. She immediately saw a common theme of women feeling they had to turn to abortion because they were in school when they became pregnant.

This made Bratcher question her place in the pro-life movement. Without the capacity to be at a pregnancy center regularly and make a difference in that way, she said the idea came to her that if this was just one small problem that could solved, by relieving the financial burden, then that was something she wanted to do.

Bratcher reached out to Heartbeat International with the idea of partnering on the scholarship, which was established later in 2019.

Hollie is the fifth mom to be awarded the scholarship.

“The scholarship provides assistance for moms facing unplanned pregnancy so that they can continue pursuing their dreams while raising their children,” Littlefield explained. “This scholarship impacts not only the lives of these moms, but the lives of their little ones as well. When we encourage positive choices, we see families and communities benefitting.”

Bratcher shared with Hollie that her mom, sister, and grandmother have all been nurses and she knows the challenges that go along with the profession, as well as those of a mom attending school while caring for her children, as this was something her own mother did. 

Bratcher, herself having been a struggling young mother, said further that since doing the movie, one of the most fulfilling things that has come from it is being able to reach out to moms like Hollie. 

“I appreciate it,” Hollie said in response to all the kind words. 

She is up front about the challenges of being a single mom, moving back home with her parents, and undertaking a demanding nursing program.

“It’s a lot,” Hollie said. “It’s challenging, but we’re getting there.”

Owen is often with her while she studies, getting into her textbooks. He is her constant inspiration.

“So, whenever I sit for a test, and I open up my test booklet – You can write anything you want to on your test booklet,” Hollie told Pregnancy Help News. “So, on the top of my test booklet, I write, ‘You can do this mommy. Love, Owen.’”

Hollie said again how grateful she was for all the kindness that everyone has poured out to her, helping her to know that she can do this for Owen, reaffirming that pursuing nursing is where she is supposed to be. 

“I prayed and prayed and prayed for a scholarship, and it actually happened,” Hollie said. “So, I’m very, very thankful.”

Editor’s note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News where this first appeared. Reposted with permission.