My name is La’Qunika Tillman and I am from Crystal Springs, Mississippi, where I live with my grandmother. I started attending the Mississippi Job Corps Center Co-enrolled program with Crystal Springs High School at the age of 16. Job Corps started off as just something to put on my schedule. As time went by, I realized this course in CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) could help me in more than one way.
I made it almost to the end of my senior year and really realized that the idea of being a certified nurse assistant as a trade could help me in my future because I really want to be an OB/GYN. A few months before graduation, I made a decision to serve in the National Guard and let that be a part of the way that I support myself in college. But my life took a turn when I found I was pregnant! I felt as if my life was over and that I would have to put my dreams on hold for my baby. Then I got the news that I could possibly have a scholarship through the College Pathways Program.
I was so happy because I thought this has to be God telling me to keep going with my dreams. When I started college in the summer, it was hard but I had someone that was going to be depending me on soon. At the end of the summer, I had a 3.8 GPA and felt that things were looking up for me. So when the fall semester started, that’s when my grades started to decline because I had to miss so many days of schools. In my mind, I knew I was going to get kicked out of school, but my GPA was still high enough for me to continue college. The worst day of my life had yet to come.
My baby was born in October 2017 and died in December 2017. This took such an emotional toll on me. The loss of my son took me on an emotional roller coaster that I was in no way prepared for. I didn’t feel the need to attend school any more. I wanted to give up, but my mentor and friend I met through the College Pathways Program helped me get back on the right path. My friend and mentor were there for me through all the tears, all the good days and the bad. Through the help of them and the people around me, it helped me come to the conclusion that I had to complete college and be successful for my son and to show others that we all have things that happen in our lives, but we have to keep pushing on.
The College Pathways Program gave me an opportunity to be better than the mistakes I made and put people in my life that helped me get through my worst days. This program has given me a chance to make my dreams come true. Without the College Pathways Program, I would probably be another young, struggling black woman. But that’s just the opposite of what I wanted for my life and my confidence builds daily with the help of the College Pathways Program and everyone involved. I would like to thank Tom Joyner and the Mississippi Job Corps Center for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime.