“I wanted to show them no matter how old you are, you can go to college,” said Gladys Jackson, a Hitchins resident who started at Ashland Community and Technical College not only to improve her own life but to influence her family to consider more education.
“I’ve had a long hard struggle in life,” she said. “I worked and wasn’t making enough in minimum wage jobs. I took care of my family and I helped care for my sister who had heart problems for many years. It was finally time to do something for myself as well as lead th3e way for others.”
She started out with a goal of Practical Nursing but had to find a less stressful field when she developed heart problems of her own. She tried several subjects before settling on a business major and is now taking courses at Morehead State University’s Ashland Campus.
Now on disability, she’s in college for the future. “I know that if I’m ever going to have anything, I have to get it myself,” Gladys said. “I have one more course to take for my Associate Degree at ACTC and two more years to go at Morehead. I just take it one day at a time, and I know I’ll get there.”
She set the example, and her family followed – even to her original choice of a health care field.
First was daughter Glenda Layne, also from Hitchins. She started with the Certified Nurse Assistant credential (CNA) and is now in ACTC’s Practical Nursing Program. She expects to graduate this May.
Daughter Valorie Jackson from Grayson was next. She now has the CNA and is taking ACTC classes to get ready for application to the Practical Nursing program. “I wanted to better myself, but it’s one of those things you put off. Mom has inspired us all to go back to school – and finish.”
Then it was granddaughter Autumn Clanin, Valorie’s daughter, now in her first semester at ACTC. “I really didn’t have any plans until they started telling me I should do something,” said Autumn, a Hitchins resident. “I was working in fast food and going nowhere. This was the best choice I’ve ever made, even if I had help making it.”
Autumn had dropped out of high school but was inspired to make up for lost time by getting her GED and CNA at the same time. She wants to become an RN.
Autumn may turn out to be the leader in aspiring for the Associate Degree in Nursing. After completing the practical nursing program, both her mother and aunt would like to eventually become registered nurses. They see ACTC’s Advanced Standing program for LPN’s as a way to transition into registered nursing.
Then there’s grandson Shandon Griffith, Glenda’s son, an Elliott County High School graduate now enrolled at ACTC. “He probably wouldn’t be in school if we hadn’t encouraged him,” said Glenda. “He wants to go into Radiation Technology and plans to transfer from ACTC to Morehead.”
And there another granddaughter, Gladis Jackson in East Carter High School, who already knows that’s she’s going to college next year.
Having parents, children, siblings, cousins, and other family members enrolled at the same time at ACTC is not uncommon, but Gladys and her family may be ACTC’s first three-generational family of students.
“Having many family members in class at the same time has advantages”, said Gladys. “We help each other with homework, and I’m the one they come to when they need help in basic math and English. We also encourage each other to keep going.”
“I think that my children and grandchildren have learned from my example that you can do anything if you’re determined,” Gladys said. “Going back to school is hard, especially when there’s so much to learn that I didn’t have in my original one-room school. There’s a lot of studying now, but I love it.”
Gladys was the first one is her family to attend college, but she will definitely not be the last.