My story began twenty-eight years ago. My parents divorced when I was two, which started a messy custody battle. During the back-and-forth battle, my Daddy was murdered at work by a former employee, and by this time, my mother was a full-blown crack addict. So, at eight years old, I found myself parentless. I went to live with my seventy-five-year-old Grandfather, my “Papaw.” From the time I was born until his last breath, my grandfather was my best friend. There will never be anyone who loved me like he did. However, he did very little “parenting”. By the time I was in middle school I was up to things no 13-year-old should be up to. In my Papaw’s eyes, I could do no wrong and I knew that. Needless to say, I took full advantage of the situation.
By the time I hit high school I was a professional partier & it was not long before I found myself on the path to alcoholism. This behavior pattern continued well into my 20’s. My Papaw passed away when I was twenty-two & from there things got progressively worse. I let the devastating loss take over and began drinking more than I ever had. As a result, I flunked out of college and was drifting through life with no direction. Somehow, I always managed to keep a job, but I had no real plan for my future. It’s not that I didn’t want one. I just believed I couldn't do it, and at the time, I had no interest in putting forth the hard work it would take to get there.
By 2019 I had arrived at the place where I really didn’t have anyone or anywhere to run to. I had hit bottom and was scared to death. I knew if I did not make some true lifestyle changes, I would wake up one day and find myself in the same spot my mother ended up. So, I worked two jobs, sold furniture, whatever it took until I saved up enough money to be able to enroll back into classes at Calhoun Community College. I can still remember the excitement I felt as I walked into the office on campus to drop off my enrollment check. It was that day that I decided I would pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.
Although I felt all the love from my Papaw, I was ultimately saved by my 4th grade teacher. Mrs. Kozub was the first teacher who did not label me a “problem.” Instead, she met me where I was and took me further than I ever thought I could go. She loved me in spite of my anger and terrible attitude. She provided me with the accountability and structure that a ten-year-old girl desperately needed. While her love followed me into adulthood, she passed away in 2020. To this day, everything she poured into me, I count as my biggest blessing. Mrs. Kozub inspired me and is the reason I chose to become a teacher.
In April of 2024, I will earn a degree in Early Childhood Education. I could never have gotten through the last two years without the support the WEDC Foundation (WEDCF) has given to me. When I first got accepted into the program, I thought it was too good to be true. Most scholarship programs just hand you money and that’s the extent of it. The WEDC Foundation is so much more. It has poured into my dream, not only financially, but also by providing me with the tools I need to keep going. Since being involved with the WEDCF I have gained the confidence I never thought I could have. I have seen firsthand women taking action and doing whatever it takes to better their lives, all while supporting each other along the way.
It has been an honor to be a part of such an exquisite tribe. The WEDCF has equipped me with the skills necessary to live my life, reach my goals & help me see the strong woman I was always capable of becoming. I needed a little help to get there, but now I believe it for myself.