LEAVING A LEGACY
My name is Courtney Summers. I am 35 years of age and a single parent of two children, a daughter who is 16 and a son who is 12. I am a proud resident of West Virginia and live in a small area called Yuma Camp in Logan County.
Speaking of my childhood, I had a large and wonderful family growing up. I had two biological brothers and sister and two stepbrothers. My mother was a surgical nurse and an endoscopy specialist, and my stepfather is a doctor. My biological father is a retired coal miner. And, because of my mother and stepfather, I have always been interested in working in HealthCare. I wanted to make my parents proud of me, and I am sure my mother would be if she were still living.
Having 17 years of employment history, I worked in customer service, in-home care, and office management. I was good at any work I pursued. I was very competitive to be the best and do my best at anything I did. I won several contests and received promotions in customer service as I progressed quickly. But, this line of work was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was crucial that I learn more skills and earn a college degree to become self-sustainable in today’s economy. I wanted and needed to make better money for myself and my children. I thought to myself this is possible, and I am determined to do whatever it takes to get where I want to be.
In the meantime, I was diagnosed with lupus, so this wasn’t helping situations to say the least. However, I am a warrior at heart. I may lose a fight but not the battle. I have learned to choose the battles I fight and not to waste my time on things that I can’t change. I think this comes with life experience as we all get older. You might say it is a few words of wisdom to those who may not understand what I am saying.
Life is inevitable because we face many things every day, but my outlook about situations can and does make a difference in my perception of the outcome. I thought to myself I can sit down and give up and wallow in self-pity to cause others to feel sorry for me, or I could rise to the challenge and do something to help myself.
So, I enrolled at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Fall 2017. I completed my Board of Governors Degree in Fall 2018 and the HealthCare Professional Degree and the Medical Coding Specialist Certificate in Spring 2019. I attended Southern College for several reasons: high-quality education, low tuition cost, Logan Campus is local and close to my residence, and I found it was easy to schedule classes around my children’s schedules. Also, Southern has a wonderful TANF Program on each campus that assists students, such as I, that are low income. I plan to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Billing and Coding and work to ensure my children go to college.
I faced many barriers along my educational journey, especially financial hardship. I receive monthly benefits, so it allows me to count college hours for my community service hours of service. The TANF Program Student Services Specialist, Hattie Evans, is a blessing to me. She works with the DHHR staff to ensure the barriers were eliminated for me to move forward to meet my educational goals. Without her and the DHHR staff, I would not be receiving my two degrees and a certificate in May 2019. I needed the intrusive case management services to know how to deal with expenses or academic situations that came my way. I think this is one of the best services that DHHR has in place to help their clients receive the guidance, mentoring, and advising that is essential to succeed as a college student, especially, a first-generation college student as I am.
If I could leave a legacy, it would be that I was an example to my children to show them that they can do anything they set their minds to do. They saw me endure hardship and struggle along my academic path, but they saw I never gave up because I had a made up mind. Sometimes we are not dealt the best hand, but it is what we do with the hand we are dealt. Also, I hope that my siblings gain the initiative to take the first step in attending college to make their dreams come true. To sum it all up, I would say, “Love regardless and remember that nothing is impossible.”