“Don’t worry about a thing…cause every little thing is going to be alright”. My earliest childhood memories are of my mom playing this Bob Marley song. She would call us her “Three Little Birds” and we would dance around the house. Looking back, I realize my mom was trying to convince herself and us that we would be alright. The truth is, we were all scared about what the future was going to bring. I lost my father to suicide the week of my 3rd birthday. I had a younger sister who was only 3 months old and an older brother who was 5. My father’s death was sudden, unexpected and shocking. We had no life insurance, except the basic plan his company offered. My Mom was left with a mound of debt, unpaid bills and three little kids to take care of.
My parents had several “CDs” and investments they were planning to use to help us pay for college someday. We had to cash those out in order to keep our home. For as long as I can remember, we have essentially lived paycheck to paycheck. My Mom is a high school teacher and supporting 3 kids close in age has not been easy on a limited income. My Dad had been the main income and Mom taught school as a secondary income. To say everything changed, is an under-statement.
Hard work, accountability and education has been something though that was instilled in us from our extended family. I remember being told “You create your own destiny. Let’s keep beating the odds” and we were never allowed to play victim because of our situation.
I have maintained over a 4.0 throughout high school and will graduate with 24 college hours. I plan to go to Fairmont State University and major in Nursing. I plan to get my BSN and eventually a Family Nurse PR actioner. I currently work for a local doctor’s office part time during the week to save money for college. In the summers, I have worked as a city worker doing maintenance and trash pick-up around our community. My brother and I also started a side lawn business and have been mowing yards for money since we were 11 or 12. Our life situation made all of us grow up quickly and take on more responsibilities than many of my peers.
I hope to eventually be a Family Nurse Practitioner specializing in Mental Health Services. In rural West Virginia, so many mental health services are lacking. I feel a calling to contribute and give back to my home state in this arena. I realized at a very young age, that mental illness can be a silent killer. We have also lost several classmates at my school due to struggles with mental illness. My family has walked in American Federation for Suicide Prevention walks since 2011 raising thousands of dollars for outreach services in rural WV. Working in mental health as a FNP, would enable me to utilize my nursing in a field I am passionate about.
Thank you for taking the time to read a tiny portion of my life lessons story.