Jennifer Davis was 15 years old when she dropped out of high school.
Now, more than a decade later, with the help of the Literacy Council of Tyler, she is on her way to becoming a registered nurse.
Ms. Davis, 27, of Tyler, found the Literacy Council through her search to earn her GED (General Educational Development test), and started classes there about a year ago. She began working to obtain her CNA (certified nursing assistant) license at the same time. It only took her about six months to get both, she said.
In August, Ms. Davis started studying at Tyler Junior College. Originally working toward her LVN (licensed vocational nurse) certification, she is now striving to become an RN (registered nurse).
But she doesn’t plan on stopping there. After studying at TJC for three years, Ms. Davis hopes to go on to The University of Texas at Tyler for two years to get her nurse practitioner license.
Ms. Davis grew up in Lindale and quit school in the 10th grade, she said. After 12 years, she decided to get her GED because of her four children — Alayna, 9, Savannah, 6, Mycah, 3, and Marleigh, who is almost 2.
“I didn’t want them growing up thinking it was OK to quit school,” she said. “One of the most important things you can do is finishing your education.”
Ms. Davis also wanted to continue her education for more gainful employment. She said she wasn’t making enough money working at gas stations and Wal-Mart. Now, she is a full-time student, and she said her boyfriend of four years, who is the father of her youngest children, is a big help when she needs to study.
She chose to pursue nursing because her mother is very young and ill and she wanted to know more about what is going on with her. She also wanted to help people. “As a mother to four children, I’m good at catering to people’s needs,” she said.
SPREADING THE WORD
“Chera Crawford has been there for me throughout this whole thing,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without her.”
When Ms. Davis couldn’t afford it, Ms. Crawford helped her get books for college and apply for financial aid. She helped her get into other programs offered by the Literacy Council, such as earning her CNA.
Ms. Crawford’s program allows students to complete a GED and another type of certification concurrently. The Literacy Council provides free classes and things such as Ms. Davis’ GED book to those who can’t afford it.
“Those teachers and those classes are amazing,” she said. Ms. Davis tries to spread the word about the Literacy Council whenever she can.
“I have quite a few friends who didn’t finish high school,” she said. Ms. Davis tells them they can do it and when they think they can’t, she says, “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”
Because of her experience, she thinks it’s a great program and anybody who is interested should give it a try. “It works if you want it to,” she said.
One of the Literacy Council’s many success stories, Ms. Davis’ photo is on one of the organization’s posters used as promotion tools to recruit other students.
January is Literacy Awareness Month.
“Over the past two decades, the Literacy Council of Tyler has made huge strides within our community, growing from a handful of 30 students to almost 2,400 in 2012,” Community Relations Coordinator Hallye Terrell said. “Illiteracy and under-education are real problems that have the power to impact every aspect of living, from the economy to unemployment rates and levels of crime. Thankfully, Tyler and its surrounding communities have remained among the best in the nation in this regard, in part because of organizations like LCOT.”
The Literacy Council began in 1990 as an adult basic literacy program and offers free basic education, GED and English as a second language classes. In partnership with TJC, the Literacy Council relies on more than 300 volunteers each year to carry out its mission in East Texas.
Ms. Terrell encouraged the community to recognize Literacy Awareness Month by becoming a volunteer, making a donation or sharing the Literacy Council with someone in need. For more, contact 903-533-0330 or visit www.lcotyler.org
If you know of a professional woman or business service in Tyler you think should be highlighted in this column, contact me at email@example.com or 903-596-6289.