When Vicki DeVore fell in love with her high school sweetheart and became pregnant, it was a given that she would put her children first and drop out of school. She dedicated her life to her two children and put her own goals on pause, holding her breath as the ghosts from her past began to creep into her feelings of self-worth and value. These ghosts led her to SAFE-T, an organization specializing in providing resources for survivors of sexual assault and family violence. Through SAFE-T, she met two women who changed her life.
A psychologist and social worker helped to guide her using success planning, encouraging her to set one small goal at a time. Vickie surprised herself as she achieved one goal after the next. Finally, on one especially difficult day for Vickie, her social worker asked, “What is the one thing you really want to do?”
Go back to school. It was the obvious answer for her, but also the most difficult as a 40-something mom of two who never graduated from high school. The more she thought about it, the more her goal took a firm shape.
She would go to the Lamar County Literacy Council (LCLC) at Paris Junior College and study to get her GED. Then, she would go on to become a psychologist, just like her mentor at SAFE-T and start giving back, helping women and children who need a strong advocate and a kind guide through troubled times, like she had found at SAFE-T.
The small steps toward success were not without pitfalls, namely the Adult Education face-to-face tutoring programs ending classes in May 2016. But, they re-opened in the fall of 2016 and Vickie returned, just as determined as ever. The dedicated staff from the PJC Adult Education department and LCLC encouraged her along the way, assuring her that she was ready to achieve great things from the moment she walked in the door on her first day.
On Tuesday, May 9th, Vickie Devore walked the stage to receive her GED diploma at Paris Junior College. She was met though by the United Way of Lamar County Board member Neta Painter, who then awarded Vickie a scholarship, not only for her hard work, but for attaining the highest GED score for the class. "GED Graduation is one of the highlights of working in the adult education field. I love seeing our students succeed, whether walking a graduation stage, walking from class to class on the PJC campus or working at a job they enjoy! Lamar County Literacy Council is proud to be a part of a student’s dream to improve their life,” said Susan Sanchez, Director of PJC Adult Education and Family Literacy.
Vickie now plans to return to college and continue on her path. She has also inspired her stepson and niece to pursue their own GED’s.
Shay Bills of SAFE-T said in response to the goals and accomplishments of Ms. DeVore, “She is a classic example of someone taking advantage of the support available in Lamar County. Her success echoes the success of SAFE-T Crisis Center, and we couldn’t be more proud of her and others like her embracing a brighter future.”
At the United Way of Lamar County, we, too, would like to congratulate Vickie DeVore. We hope to stay with her along this journey of growth, education and paying kindness forward.