3 learners share how education is changing their lives

Carisa Lovorn talks on camera about her life and education

What do an 8th-grade dropout, an immigrant, and a heart failure survivor have in common? All three overcame tremendous obstacles, enrolled in community college, and have been accepted to Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for two-year college students.

I had the opportunity to meet these amazing learners, and many others, at Nerd Nation, Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention. They shared their stories with me and talked about how education is changing their lives and the lives of those around them. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Raised in a troubled home, Carisa Lovorn started living with family and friends at the age of nine. She dropped out of school in the eighth grade and had three children by the age of nineteen. But as her children grew, she longed for the chance to finish her education and follow her childhood dream to become a lawyer. She enrolled at Red Rocks Community College in Colorado, and earned her associate’s degree in criminal justice last spring. This month she will continue her studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she hopes to eventually attend law school so that she can work with troubled juveniles.  
  • Immigrating to the United States with her family, Katheryn Martinez struggled when she started school because she spoke no English.  But she was determined to learn the language so she read as many books as she could, looking up the words she did not know. After just a year, she graduated from her ESL class. Katheryn is currently studying computer information systems at Suffolk County Community College in New York, and she hopes to find a job developing computer programs to help English learners like herself succeed.
  • After suffering from heart failure, Jonathan Wigfall was forced to quit his job in the Sheriff’s office because he could no longer handle the physical requirements of his position. So he decided to enroll in Trident Technical College in South Carolina to pursue his passion for production and broadcasting.  In May 2015, he earned an associate’s degree in radio and broadcasting and in May 2016 he earned an associate’s degree in post production. He is currently working as an editor for WCIV, News 4, and is thrilled with his second career.

These remarkable stories are just a sample of the many we heard from Phi Theta Kappa members. For more inspirational stories from Nerd Nation, please visit our Learning Makes Us website.