"I decided after the kids are grown and successful, it was moms turn," Godfrey-Wess said.
She one of three in Illinois to win an AARP Foundation Woman's Scholarship.
She won $1,500 and is using it for a computer, tuition and text books for classes at ISU. Earning a low income is just one of her challenges.
"I'm legally blind in my right eye, partial vision in my left eye," Godfrey-Wess said.
Godfrey-Wess has overcome more than money trouble and disability. Recently she's dealt with death of her father and sister. Her sister's picture sits in her living room and is a constant reminder to keep pushing.
"My sister took care of me when my mother was murdered. And my mother was murdered when I was three. So I knew I had to do something different in my life. I didn't want to just not do anything and not have an impact on somebody else's life. And so I'm really missing my dad, really missing my sister, they were my backbone. The people who said, Angel, you can do it, you can do it," she said.
Now Godfrey-Wess has to be the backbone. She's a mother of five and has 12 grandchildren.
"I want them to know that education is important. You can do anything you want to do."
And she's not letting anything stop her, no matter how long it takes.
"I'm going all the way. I'm going for my doctorate, so probably another eight years," Godfrey-Wess said.
She said she's going to keep looking for scholarships. One day she wants to open her own social services agency so that she can help others.