Education has always been important to Tasha, but her pursuit of it was not always easy. When Tasha was 26, she moved to Maine with her new husband and their four children—and she knew that she wanted a better life for her family that she couldn’t provide with just her eighth grade education level.
Tasha shared, “I remember early on wanting to be somebody—to be successful was my dream. As a mother, it became even more important to me that I was successful. I wanted to model what success looked like for my children.” Growing up, the women in Tasha’s family measured their success through marriage.
“My children witnessed my defeats as well as my successes along the way. They watched as I studied, as I prepared for exams, as I modeled perseverance, patience, and resilience.
But Tasha believed success meant independence and education. She said, “Although adversity felt synonymous at times with my life, I knew it was up to me to break the cycle. I wanted my children to go to college so they could be successful. To me that meant they could become independent and provide for their own families. My life choices after having children were precise—with intent—as their mom I needed to be their teacher, their mentor, their role model.”
Tasha grew up poor and moved around a lot, which left gaps in her education even though she tried hard to keep up with her peers. Her freshman year of high school, her education ended when her school learned she was not living with a legal guardian. She tried multiple times to obtain her GED—at 14, at 20 during her first pregnancy, and again at 21 during her second pregnancy in a class of unruly teenage boys constantly disrupting her studies. “So I left—having tried multiple times to obtain my GED—always unsuccessful, repeatedly feeling defeated, and unable to find the right resources,” Tasha said.
So with “little skill set, but an overwhelming desire to succeed,” Tasha found an adult education center in Maine that was supported by the Barbara Bush Foundation to obtain her GED. There, she felt welcomed like she hadn’t ever before. She met two ladies there that encouraged Tasha to earn her GED and not stop there. They brought her to her first college fair, and helped her get a grant to become a CNA.
When Tasha and her family moved to Vermont for her husband’s work, the three stayed in touch and her teachers remained Tasha’s biggest cheerleaders. After a declined application to the University of Vermont, Tasha persevered and finally graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2009 from Norwich University’s nursing program. She then pursued her master’s degree, and passed her nurse practitioner board in 2014. She went on to work full-time in addiction medicine and planned to return for her psychiatric post-master’s certificate.
Tasha said, “My children witnessed my defeats as well as my successes along the way. They watched as I studied, as I prepared for exams, as I modeled perseverance, patience, and resilience.”
Because of her lead, Tasha’s children were all supported in their own educational pursuits and are working toward their own dreams and careers.
Through the family literacy programs funded by the Barbara Bush Foundation, Tasha and her children expanded their knowledge of the world around them. Tasha shared that before she went back to school, “I didn’t know anything about reading children’s books to my girls. I don’t have memories of my mother reading to me as a child; I’m not sure she ever did. It was not modeled for her when she was young and I never wanted my children to feel that emptiness. Growing up, I enjoyed reading books, knowing there was an adventure behind every cover. I wanted to share that gift of adventure with my children by reading with them.”
These literacy programs provided Tasha with the resources and support she needed to take control of her future and her children’s futures. But she also said that, “Sitting and reading to my children created precious memories—the giggles, the silly questions, the bonding, and the gift of bearing witness to their imaginations going wild.”
Tasha ended her story, “I would like to thank the Barbara Bush Foundation for your commitment and dedication to improving literacy in my family and our country’s families. I look forward to sharing the gift of literacy with my grandchildren.”
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