By Camille Myers, ABE/GED Student
My name is Camille Myers and I am a 52-year-old mother of one son and grandmother of three. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah but I was raised by a widowed mother in Nampa, Idaho with an old-fashioned Midwestern upbringing. My schooling was varied; I was diagnosed with seizures and was given a wide variety of drugs starting at 6. Because of the drugs, I was labeled mentally challenged and spent my first four years in a state school for people with severe mental retardation. In the fifth grade I went to a special school for mentally challenged students until I was 16.
At 16 I became a mom and quit school. At the time I quit school, my reading ability was at the 4th grade level. It was a struggle to be a single mom. It was very hard to get employment as I could not fill out the applications. I missed many opportunities for work even though I was a good worker. Because of the misdiagnosis on my educational abilities, I feel that I missed out on the opportunity to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse. Yet somehow, even though it was a struggle, I managed to raise my son and provide for us.
When I was 50, I realized that I wanted to work on the education that was denied me. I started going to an adult literacy program, Del Norte Reads in Crescent City, California. Much to my amazement, I was able to learn. I embraced learning and am working to get my GED. I love learning, and it has opened up so many opportunities and doors for me. What an exciting and fulfilling time of life because I took that first step. I am unemployed right now, but I have chosen to stay unemployed as I work to raise my educational level to enable me to get a better job. I struggle to make ends meet but I know it will be worth it in the end when I am able to get my dream job.
My son and grandchildren are so proud of me but mostly it has taught them the importance of education. I have shared with them that education is a lifelong commitment and worth every sacrifice. I made sure my son finished High School and he has since attended culinary school. His children, my grandchildren, are doing very well in school.
I feel that getting an education, even at my age, sets an example to my family and to other learners. My self-esteem has skyrocketed. I am able to fill out applications, read books and understand what I am reading. I can now balance my checkbook, and I even have the confidence to tutor others and counsel prospective learners to encourage them to pursue their educational goals. The most exciting thing is that I have found that the “labels” put on me as a child were not merited. I am a strong, intelligent woman who is capable of fulfilling anything I can dream.