Written by NEMCC New Albany student, Catina Carter
My name is Catina Carter, and I have recently obtained my high school equivalency diploma (HSE) from Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC). It has been a long journey to get to where I am today, but it has been well worth the time and sacrifice. When I was younger, I made myself a promise that once my children finished high school, I would go back and get my diploma. Life kept getting in my way as it often does for most people, and I kept putting it off. One night I was sitting in my living room and looked up at the mantel over the fireplace. I became sad when I realized everyone had a diploma up there but me. That really got to me and lit a fire in my heart. This is the point at which my journey began. It was 2015, and I had gotten laid off from my job. I had no more excuses to keep putting off my education. I started in Mr. Chad Nolan’s very first Smart Start class. After finishing his class, I had to stop coming because I had to have surgery on both of my hands. That slowed me down, but I didn’t let it stop me! In the meantime, I had also become the youth director at my church. I couldn’t face those young men and women every week and tell them how important their education is and not reflect that in my own life. There is a saying that we should lead by example, and that is exactly what I intended to do!
To tell you it was hard is an understatement. I had been out of school for more than 25 years at this point! So many things had changed. There were letters in MATH, and I was used to a typewriter class instead of computer class! I started Mrs. Shanna Cole’s class in the fall of 2015. You just don’t know the level of respect and love I have for this young lady. She would call every time you missed a class! She went out of her way to help me in any way that she could and had a way of explaining things so that I could understand it. When the test-taking process began, I was nervous and had no confidence that I could pass these hard tests, but Mrs. Shanna kept lifting me up, telling me she knew that I could do it. If I didn’t pass a test, she would give me a day or two to pout and worry about it and then it was BACK TO WORK! In 2018 I was down to my last test: Math. On my third try, I failed it by one point. I wanted to quit. I knew I would never be able to pass this test. A diploma just wasn’t in my cards. I turned to my grandmother for some words of encouragement. She told me to hold on to these words: “You will get this because you are determined, so GO UNTIL YOU GET IT!” And that is just what I did!
While working on my HSE Mrs. Shanna recommended me for the Second Chance program. I was accepted, and that program helped me by paying for me to take the CNA classes in Ripley. They paid for my class, my scrubs, even my supplies. I was so grateful and honored they chose me. Without that program, I would have never been able to get that training! I also attended the Career Pathway Training offered at night in New Albany. I completed both my Medical Office and Business Office pathway courses. Mrs. Shanna also recommended me for the MI-BEST program. This program allowed me to take English and Psychology at NEMCC while working on my HSE. I am very proud today that I finished that program with a 3.5 GPA! I had been working so hard for four years and had obtained so many certifications but still had not achieved my main goal, my High School Equivalency diploma. Finally, on April 3, 2019, I passed my final HiSet test in Math and became an official High School graduate!
I feel ready for anything life has to offer me because of the things I received while going to Northeast. I have a High School Equivalency diploma, certifications in Business Office Assisting, Medical Terminology, Keyboarding, Medical Business Practices, Business Communications, Computer Applications, State Approved Nurse Aid Training, Professional Development, and Medical Office Procedures, college credit, and a newfound confidence in my abilities. I will forever be grateful to Northeast Mississippi Community College and the people who work there, for giving me the opportunity for a bright and limitless future! Praise God!