Kristin M. Hollabaugh, Ph.D.
Provost, Hanford Educational Center
She grew up in Stratford at her great grandfather's "Granddaddy" and great grandmother's "Grandmamma" house. Brenda Threadgill says it was in a "in a little green house out in the middle of nowhere."
She continued, "I grew up watching Granddaddy raising hogs, chickens, and a garden. ...Sometimes this strange man would back up this big truck up to the hog pin, and that's where he and Granddaddy would kill and cut up a hog. That's the food we would live off of throughout the month, right along with the food my Grandmamma picked from the garden."
Brenda smiles a bit when she talks of her past--a path that she wants to encourage other troubled teens not to take. Brenda said that her Mom would get so frustrated with her--as a youth, Brenda's goal was to get kicked out of class on Monday, so that she didn't have to go the rest of the week. Needless to say, she didn't like school. She knew better than the teacher--or so she thought.
When I was talking to her, I was surprised to learn that when Brenda graduated 8th grade, she was the only student to have ever graduated from the NAS Lemoore school who was not from a military family. She smiled and said, "There were not any other schools left. I had been to all the other local schools."
In 1986, Brenda completed the GED. Brenda's mom didn't give up on her. She always told Brenda that with hard work she could accomplish anything that she wanted to. This lesson Brenda didn't learn until later in life. In 2008, Brenda enrolled in a college, but she ended up not going because her mother became ill right before the semester began. Sadly, Brenda's mom passed away shortly thereafter.
In Spring 2011, Brenda came to COS Hanford. She remembered her Mom's words--about doing anything she set her mind to do--and that is just what she did! Because of a challenge with the school from when her mother passed away, Brenda was not eligible for financial aid. With little income but a lot of will to succeed, Brenda enrolled in two classes for the Spring semester at COS Hanford--Administration of Justice and English 251.
Brenda had challenges during the semester. She borrowed books, spent countless hours at COS Hanford studying, and we assisted her with getting some needed medical help. (A special thanks to Family Health Care Network of Hanford!) All the while, Brenda kept her eye on the goal--to be successful!
At COS Hanford over the last year, we have had a lot of great memories. One that will always stick with me, however, is the day that Brenda called (after getting to a phone because she does not have one)....to tell me that she received A grades in BOTH of her classes! I'm not sure who was happier--Brenda or us!
I asked her what was different this time around? She said, "All of you at the Hanford Center have a way of finding the students that need encouragement and support--and helping us. There were so many days that I wanted to give up, but I would talk to one of the staff or faculty members, and I knew I could do it!"
Still between households, still working on getting financial aid in place, still working on getting some basic needs met, one thing Brenda knows for sure--she is registered for the Fall 2011 semester. She will, after all, "graduate and become someone who works with troubled teens."
...and THIS is WHY we do what we do every day!
Congratulations Brenda! We are so proud of you!!!