Born as a Native of The Great State of Texas, I relocated to Wyoming at the age of two for my dad’s oilfield job. Growing up in Wyoming I spent countless hours hunting and fishing with my dad, horseback riding, and raising and showing animals through FFA. I had a happy childhood not really knowing that my parents hardly made ends meet by my mom shopping for discounted items and my dad working a second job at the stockyards. My mom worked as a school secretary and saw the difference that a college education could make, so she engrained into me the importance of obtaining a college education. The discussions around my kitchen table revolved around where I would go to college and what I would major in. Thanks to many community scholarships and a Federal Pell Grant, I started my Freshman year at the University of Wyoming. Unfortunately, my father passed away as a result of a tragic work accident during my first semester. However, because of the worker’s compensation settlement my mom received, the money was needed for bills and to help raise my younger brother. I was no longer eligible for the government’s financial assistance. I would not let the loss of my father or the loss of financial assistance keep me from realizing my educational pursuits, and the better life that my mom and dad wanted for me. I remained at university working extra jobs during the school year and the summers to complete my Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Educational Sciences to become the first college graduate of my family.
Life after college and starting a family
After completing my undergraduate degree, I moved to Haiti to begin my teaching career. I was hired on at a college prep school where the children of foreign government’s ambassadors attended along with other prominent families. The school was inside a secured compound but outside the gates was the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Inside the compound, I taught students who spoke multiple languages, had chauffeurs, and yet, were having to practice “assassination drills.” These drills were designed to teach the students where to go, what to do, and how to behave in the event of a shooter. I remember during my time at the school thinking to myself, “This is something that would never happen back home in the States.” Outside the compound, I lived, shopped, conversed, and laughed with the people of Haiti. People who were happy despite their dire living conditions, who spoke multiple languages, and valued their families the same as my students. I left Haiti to move back to Midland, TX and marry my husband, Clay, of 29 years, and resumed teaching. We had three children Meggan, Jacob, and Jennifer. My children are all now adults, Meggan is a courtesy clerk, Jacob is a diesel mechanic and married to his wife Kimberly, and Jennifer is in medical school at Baylor College of Medicine. Our family has also grown, Jacob and Kimberly gave us our first grandson in April, and we now have two dogs (Macs and Penny), a cat (Linus), many chickens, and thousands of bees.
Working while raising a family
When our children were small, in order to manage Meggan’s many medical needs that arose from a genetic defect, I left teaching and helped Clay with his small business in the HVAC trade which took us across the United States. Through this opportunity, I was able to travel to every corner of this country and experience blue collar work. While the kids were in school for the year, I was at home raising a family and helping Clay. During summer break or any school break, I would load the kids up into our camper and travel to wherever it was that my husband was working at the time. This allowed my children to see different cultures, experiences, and the beauty that is America. Once our children were all of school age, I once again went back to my roots of teaching, this time at Midland College. While teaching at Midland, I realized the importance of being a lifelong learner. Between working and raising children, I completed a Master’s in Biology, a Master’s in Cell Physiology and Molecular Biophysics, and my Ph.D. in Reproductive Physiology.
Life as a foster parent
Even though we were extremely busy raising children, working, and attending college, Clay and I felt compelled to share our good fortune with children who are the most vulnerable. We fostered several children over the years. Having had fostered children, raised my own, taught in one of the poorest countries of the world, and continued to teach at different levels of education within the state, I have seen first-hand that life does not grant an equal hand to all, that there is suffering in this world. Having worked my way through a Ph.D., I know with hard work and determination, people can achieve amazing things. But I also know that there are circumstances that exist in this country, in our very own community, that limit possibilities.