If you knew a little about my family history, you could probably guess where I would be going to college! I was so proud to be a “Belle Babe” when I was 8 years old! My beautiful grandma, Ivonda Williams, was an Apache Belle in 1978-79 while she studied to become a teacher. She was a great Belle and is a wonderful teacher now. I love the pictures of her, my mom and me in my little Belle uniform. My grandmother, by completing college herself, changed the future for her children and her grandchildren.
When I was a baby, my mother, Tikki Wideman, enrolled at TJC to study nursing. She had a job while she was in college, and she also studied hard and made time to be a great mom for me. Sometimes I wonder when she slept. After she got her TJC degree and her license as a registered nurse, she continued at UT Tyler to get her bachelor’s degree just as Grandma had done to get her teaching degree.
I have also been blessed with a wonderful dad, Hendrix Wideman. He’s a hard worker, a good man and an amazing chef! He has his own TJC connection working for the college’s food service provider, Aramark. Having two supportive parents meant they could give me the guidance I needed to be a strong student. They also gave each other encouragement to continue growing in their own professions.
All along, I thought I might like to be a teacher. I love engaging with children and have done a lot of volunteer work in the community with them, but I’ve decided to prepare for the nursing program at TJC. I’m so excited to be starting this fall in the Honors Program. My goal is to earn my Associate Degree in Nursing and be licensed as an RN. Then I plan to continue at a university to get my bachelor’s and master’s in nursing so I can become a nurse practitioner. With all the changes coming in medical care, nurse practitioners will be key to helping people live long, active and healthy lives.
Because of the tradition my grandmother started and my mother embodied, the expectations for me were high. My parents encouraged me to do well in all my classes in high school and sacrificed to make sure I could be active in extra-curricular activities.
With my family’s support of education and the grades I was able to earn, the NAACP selected me for a generous scholarship. TJC also awarded me a Presidential Honors Scholarship, so my first two years of college will be debt free.
TJC has nearly 300 other top students in its Honors Program and I’m excited to be a part of it. Honors students are very involved in student government and campus activities, so I’m looking forward to being involved. I’ll be working hard in my classes as well, and I’m proud to be representing the third generation of my family to attend TJC.
- TJC Hero and Friend, Jaela Wideman, was ranked #11 in her graduating class at John Tyler High School. She was active in the concert/marching band and also served as head drum major for two years. She was active with the Student Council and National Honor Society, the Texas Bank & Trust Student Board of Directors and the National Technical Honor Society, to name a few. She has volunteered to work with children at the Tyler Public Library, Junior Achievement, Respite Care, Dixie Elementary and St. Violet Baptist Church. She was the recipient of many honors and awards in high school and will be a great fit with the other elite students at TJC.