Accelerating Success: Barbara’s Story

Barbara Merritt Certified Nurse Aide 2013 GED Graduate Picture courtesy of The Women’s Fund

Barbara Merritt
Certified Nurse Aide
2013 GED Graduate
Picture courtesy of The Women’s Fund

A single mom of two, Barbara Merritt, always put her kids’ needs first. Focusing on her education was never a priority, especially since she never had any trouble finding work. That was until the recession hit. She quickly found out that employers wanted people with at least a high school diploma or a GED. Barbara admits she wasn’t ready or even motivated to go back to school, but knew she had to make a change. She said with God leading her steps, she decided to tackle getting her GED.

When Barbara tested at Literacy Council of Tyler, her reading scores placed her in the Accelerated course. She worked hard. Although it was tough, she finished in six weeks. But like most of LCOT students, Barbara had a tough time with math. She had passed all of her subject areas on the GED but was one test away from finishing because of math. Math is not one of those subjects that with a little practice you pick up where you left off in high school. Barbara did not give up. She studied at home, came to tutoring and, in December of 2013, she passed her math, earning her GED.

While working on her GED, she also heard about the Dual Enrollment Program and applied for it. Through a grant Literacy Council of Tyler receives from one of its community partners, The Women’s Fund, Barbara was able to attend the 4-week nurse aide program and the interview training workshop. She never missed a day, and in one month she had her Certified Nurse Aide license. She was so excited and was able to find a job within days of completing the course. She expressed how grateful and blessed she is now to have her GED and CNA license. “I had wonderful and supportive instructors, and I am really inspired and motivated to strive for a better life for myself and my family.” Barbara is enjoying life and said she is in a comfortable place right now. She loves her job and what she is doing and is staying busy. “Life is good” she said. She doesn’t have plans to go back to school in the immediate future, but says, “There is peace in knowing that when I am ready, I know I can”.

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Dreaming and Succeeding: Tabatha Mullens’s Story

“The most important thing I could to tell anybody else is to not give up.” - Tabatha Mullens

“The most important thing I could to tell anybody else is to not give up.” – Tabatha Mullens

Thinking back to her high school days does not bring back fond memories of childhood friends, and supportive teachers for Tabatha Mullens.

Her family moved around a lot, and after having negative encounters with teachers, she decided to drop out in the 10th grade.  She soon started a family and by all accounts was doing fairly well.  She got married in 2005 and had five kids. But she wasn’t happy.  She yearned to get her high school diploma and train in the medical field and establish a career.  Before she could do this, she lost her mother to illness in 2009. She took on the responsibility of raising her 14 year old brother which left little time for herself.  And so for the next two years, getting her GED had to wait.

With much hesitation, she decided to call Literacy Council of Tyler in 2011.  With plans of just getting information, she was pleasantly surprised when she was met with a friendly voice on the other line who immediately signed her up for the next enrollment.  With the support of her family, she was able to start night classes in October.  Tabatha also took on the task of participating in the Dual Enrollment program in which she took Dental Assistant classes on the nights she was not in GED class. Tabatha excelled in both classes with almost perfect attendance.

Her experience of school was definitely changing.  “Mr. Jim and Mr. Leo are so nice and supportive,” she says. “I’ve learned so much from them”.

Tabatha received her Dental Assistance license in January 2013 and her GED in May 2013, right before her 29th birthday.  She currently works at a pediatric dental office in Tyler and loves what she does.  She is considering a career in dental hygiene and plans to continue her studies at Tyler Junior College in the Dental Hygiene program.  Now that she has her GED and Dental Assistant license, her job prospects are more promising.

She loves the fact that she can talk to her children about finishing school and going to college using herself as an example.

Her next goal is to get her husband back in school.