College debt nearly cost a North Texas woman her calling to become a nun.
Nicole Ferko, 32, graduated college with $60,000 in debt. She worked around the clock for almost a decade after learning that those seeking to become nuns or priests must be debt-free.
"I was making rosaries and doing pottery and selling that, and I was working at UPS, and I was also working as a youth minister," she said.
Ferko said she has wanted to be a nun since the third grade.
"For me, it's an opportunity to lay my life down for other people whether I know them or not, and I think the world needs that," she said. "They need people to sacrifice, to give something of themselves and to love."
In November 2011, Ferko was officially debt-free. Since then, she has been helping others financially, saying student loan debt is a common problem for people graduating from college.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion. Twenty-seven percent of student loan borrowers are more than 30 days past due on a payment. Student loan defaults were at 8.8 percent in 2009.
Sister Mary Corona at the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who has been a nun for 70 years, said she never had to deal with any debt issues and felt sorry for this generation. She commended Ferko and the others for their perseverance.
She also said she hoped Ferko would continue to follow in her footsteps.
"I am praying for someone to replace me when I go, because that isn't too far from now," she said.
Ferko will become a novice next month, one step closer to fulfilling her dream.
"It's going to be an amazing, amazing thing because the realization of what I feel God has called me to is going to start taking place, and nothing is standing in the way," she said.