Reaching your life’s goals has as much to do with confidence as it does with talent. Talent can bring us to the brink of success, but it is confidence that gives us the strength to take that next step.
For me, Tyler Junior College was the confidence boost I needed when I was making the decisions that would impact the rest of my life.
Linda Zeigler was my journalism instructor. When I arrived with a Walden “Red” P. Little Journalism Presidential Scholarship, Mrs. Zeigler took me under her wing and quickly assessed where I was and what I wanted from my future. It was not long before I was assisting her in the computer lab teaching people the basics of typing and computer operation. I was helping new journalism students with how to write a news story, a headline, and a feature. I spent time editing, going over the intricacies of how to interview, and I was helping other students learn how to be journalists. This mentoring process lit a desire in me to help other people find their passions.
Gloria Peggram then came along and took the self-esteem I had gained in journalism and added creative writing to my aspirations. Her primary motivation to me was to never limit myself. She assured me I was capable of doing what I wanted to do, and she motivated me to figure out for myself exactly what that would be. She told me to make sure I was not living according to what others wanted of me, but to make sure I knew what I wanted and to strive for that.
I was soon running for office within Phi Theta Kappa, and then I applied for the USA Today Academic Team. Each campus is allowed to submit two names to the competition and Adam Daily and I each filled out the applications.
Weeks later we were both named to the All-Texas First Academic Team. It was a huge honor both for us, for Phi Theta Kappa, and for TJC to have both of us selected among the top 20 students of junior and community colleges within Texas.
We would soon discover that, in an incredibly rare honor, both of us had been selected to the USA Today All-American First Academic Team. We had both been selected among the top 20 junior and community college students from across the country!
Before we knew it, we were flown to California to accept the award. Our pictures were published in USA Today. Then Dr. William Crowe even allowed us each to give a commencement address at graduation.
I believe that the stepping stones of self-esteem started leading me to my destiny from that first letter I received from TJC offering me the Presidential Scholarship. Then, over the next two years, extraordinary people came into my life to mold me into the conqueror that I became.
With success in my back pocket, I married and transferred to Texas A&M University where I went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude with a double major in journalism and sociology with a minor in English. I was offered the first job I applied for and worked as an editor for a year after graduation.
Never leaving my spiritual upbringing behind, I resigned from that position and spent the next several years dabbling in ministries including church administration, pastoring children, and serving in missions.
Brent and I had three kids, and I chose to stay home, but I never let the desire to achieve greatness leave my heart. When my youngest started preschool, I opened my laptop and started typing again.
It would not be long before I realized that I still had the “it” that Gloria Peggram had told me would take me places if I let it. I have since had two essays sold to the Chicken Soup of the Soul series this year.
Striving for even more, I have started working on my first novel and have already gotten great feedback from well-known authors.
I believe that TJC gave me the confidence in myself and in my abilities to allow me to strive to reach my goals. And the relationships built there were incredible. Where else can you find professors, deans, and even a college president with such buy-in to your life that they attend your wedding?
In the last 11 years I have had many high school grads ask me if I regretted settling for a junior college, and my answer is always the same way. Tyler Junior College is not settling; it is the first step of many that can mold you to reach your potential. I have never regretted getting my start at TJC. The school, the teachers, the administration, the academics, and the opportunities presented there can and will change your life if you allow it to.
- TJC Hero and Friend Jamie Melton-Richardson and her husband, Brent, live outside Dallas where they raise three kids ages 3 to 7. Jamie is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer who is working on her first novel. Jamie’s latest story, “A Perfect 10,” will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Finding your Happiness releasing October 25, 2011. You can find her on the web at www.jamieannerichardson.com.