Janice Houston turns 38 this weekend, but for this Pearl River Community College Adult Education graduate, age is nothing but a number.
That’s because this proud single mother of four and grandmother of one recently earned her GED.
“This is what never giving up looks like,” said Houston, who dropped out of school in the ninth grade when she was pregnant with her oldest daughter.
“I finally did it,” she said. “I have to pinch myself. I am overly joyed. I am not ashamed of my accomplishment. My plan was simple enough. I wanted to better myself in life.”
Houston made the decision to get her GED because she knew it was important to have an education.
“This (GED) was important to me because education is essential to get further in life through employment and a career," said Houston. “I was stuck in a bubble.”
At times, Houston worked as many as three jobs to help raise her children and pay the bills. It was in 2018 while working as a cashier at a local dollar store that she decided to begin her pursuit of a nursing degree.
“A customer told me (the John Lennon line) ‘time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time’,” she said. “I procrastinated a lot. I got tired of living the way I was living.”
This fall, she will attend PRCC at the Forrest County Center to begin a general studies program with her goal of being a LPN one day. Later on, she can see herself in PRCC’s new LPN to RN bridge program at the FCC.
“I’m so proud of Janice earning her high school equivalency diploma,” said Christy Brady, PRCC Adult Ed counselor.
“In the time that I’ve known her, she has been such a hard worker. As a single parent, she is determined to push herself for higher and higher achievements, so she can show her children it pays to never give up. She is opening up so many opportunities for herself.”
Houston’s daughter, Alexis McGill, is especially proud of her mom.
“She worked on this as far back as I can remember,” said Alexis, 22, the mother of six-month-old Kyng Paige. “Every time she would go to get her GED, something would come up to stop her. She had to work three jobs at times to take care of us. It’s very surreal for me personally because of everything she went through to reach this point.”
Houston’s two-year path to gaining her diploma was not without challenges. While going to school, working and raising her children, she also managed to get certified through PRCC’s forklift program at the Woodall Advanced Technology Center.
She learned March 11 that she had passed the final test. It’s a day she won’t soon forget.
“I cried, but they were tears of joy,” she said. “My children are all excited for me. I finally completed as goals they I have always talked about.”
Houston wants to thank all the people at PRCC who helped her along. “All of the people here were very sweet, kind and helpful,” she said.
She has some advice for students like herself who did not finish high school.
“I would tell them to go ahead and receive your high school diploma,” she said. “It’s very important. It can open so many career doors. You can do anything if you put your mind to it. You have to try and never give up.”