From middle school dropout to college graduate sounds like the journey of a lifetime. It took just a few years for Angela Green, one of the more than 500 students who graduated from Ashland Community and Technical College this May.
I became a mother for the first time when I was in the eighth grade and only 14 years old, said Green, an Ashland resident. I did not have the privilege of attending high school because I could not afford child care and wasn't sure what to do to change my situation.
Then one night I attended a school function with my daughter. While the children worked on learning activities, the adults were offered the chance to take adult education classes. Sadly many turned down the opportunity, but I did not.
That night I met two very special women who would change my life forever: Joan Flanery, the Director of the Adult Learning Center and Carol Jackson, my mentor and someone I owe far more than I can ever repay. Joan gave me a practice GED test and told me something that changed the way I felt about myself. She told me that I was bright and that I needed to be in a college classroom.
I was terrified and just knew that math would be what stood between me and a better life. Kim Neal, a teacher with the Adult Learning Center worked tirelessly with me, and I earned my GED in February of 2006.
I am only the second person in my family to earn a high school diploma and the first to attend college. College can be stressful and because of that, I kept putting off enrolling.
I ran into Carol Jackson one night and she asked me how my college classes were going. I told her I had not enrolled because I was afraid that I was not going to be able to do the work. Carol hugged me, looked me in the eye and told me that she believed in me and that she expected an invitation to my college graduation.
I enrolled in college the next day, she said.
I returned to the Adult Learning Center for college prep classes and started at ACTC in January 2011. I felt out of place, because after all, most college students are the same age as my daughter is now. My mind was put at ease when I saw of many non-traditional students at ACTC.
ACTC Student Support Services played a huge role in my college success. Every time that I felt like giving up, Joy Shytle, would encourage me to keep going. I found support everywhere I turned at ACTC, from the American Association of Women in Community College to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
There is a place for everyone at ACTC. The tutors, the teachers, the students themselves are there to help one another be successful. I owe so much of my success to every one of them.
Math had always scared me, and then I did well enough to become a Supplemental Instruction Leader in math classes. It was a wonderful experience to work with students who were as scared of math as I once was.
There were other wonderful experiences at ACTC that I would never have imagined for myself. When I joined Phi Theta Kappa, I could not imagine that one person could make a difference in the world. But then I began to reach out to the community and volunteer in places that I did not even know existed.
I found myself at the Shelter of Hope and working under the direction of Candy Goldie, one of the most giving women I have ever known. It wasn't long until I became a part of the Shelter of Hope family.
I watched children who were tickled just to have a new pair of shoes and a backpack to take to school, mommies and daddies who got to experience the thrill of Camden Park with their children and I watched hope replace sadness on the faces of so many people.
My PTK family helped provide many necessary items for these families, and I am proud that because of a letter written by PTK, Candy Goldie was awarded the Steel Magnolia Award from AK Steel in January 2013. I had great advisers in PTK and I want to thank Dan Bailey, John Davis and Travis Koll for helping to make this year in PTK a success.
I focused on community service because I wanted to change the lives of others, but the truth is, these people and their stories are changing mine. I love the change that has come from within me, she said.
Those experiences combined with her own experiences have led Angela toward her career goal.
I will transfer to Morehead State University this fall to work toward a bachelors degree in Social Work., Green said. My life has been hard at times, but, it helped create the person that I am today. I was abandoned by my parents when I was a child, was a victim of childhood abuse, experienced teen pregnancy and endured and survived domestic violence. My experiences very easily could have left me a broken person, but, they made me stronger.
I want to make a difference in the world, and Social Work just feels right to me. I feel that I will be able to relate to my clients because I have endured some of the same things they may be going through.
College has made me want to be a more giving person as well, she said. In addition to serving as Vice President of Community services for the PTK, she volunteered at a homeless shelter and was an In2Books E-mentor. She founded A College Girls Heart, a group that helps a different organization each month.
I enjoyed every second that I spent at ACTC and would recommend it to others. The college is small enough that you will get one on one time with your professors and get help with learning the material. It is also big enough to give you the variety of classes you need for a degree and for transfer to a university. ACTC is affordable and a wonderful place to finish a two-year degree.
ACTC allowed me to finish my degree and still have time to spend with my family. My husband Mark and children Angel and Solomon mean everything to me, and I am so glad that they got to be a part of my journey. That baby that I had when I was 14 turned out to be one of the greatest people I have ever known. and she is an honor student herself at ACTC right now. My life has been so blessed.
Greens family watched her at graduation, where she received both Associate in Arts and Associate in Science Degrees. Her mentor Carol Jackson was also there to watch her walk across the stage as a graduate as promised.
While at ACTC, she was a member of both the Phi Theta Kappa and Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Societies. She received the fall 2011 scholarship from the Ashland-KY Chapter of the American Association of Women in Community Colleges. She also received the 2012-13 Community Commitment Award from ACTC Student Support Services.
I have worked very hard and I am proud to say that I graduated as an honor student, Green said. I now know that it is never too late to gain an education. I went from a middle school drop-out to a college graduate. I have accomplished so much, and I have managed to work my way off of public assistance. If I can do it, anyone can.