Grad Stories (2014)
Life wasn’t ideal, but for Tabitha Johnson, married at 19, it was her reality. Still, the bills were paid. Sons Alex, Christian and Nathaniel were healthy. Her husband, David, however, was permanently disabled, the result of an on-the-job injury. Johnson carried on for 17 years…until she lost her job as a property manager in 2009. Things spiraled quickly out of control.
“I had a hard time finding a new position, especially having no education beyond high school,” Johnson said. “Like most others, we lived month to month. It wasn’t long before we had our utilities shut off and started to lose everything including our house.”
Eventually her family became homeless, living at a Corona shelter.
“The burden was on my shoulders being the sole provider, and when I couldn’t find another job, we became very discouraged, especially when we had to let go of all the things we had accumulated. Emotionally, this was the most devastating for my husband who was not able to provide for his family,” she said.
Although homeless, Johnson still had dreams. To make the dreams a reality, the family would need to start over.
“We established temporary residence with my in-laws and we resorted to signing up for public assistance,” Johnson said. “Soon after, I enrolled in college and am on my path to pursuing my goal of becoming a registered nurse.”
Johnson, 41, holds a GPA of 3.8 and is on the Dean’s List. She will graduate on June 12 from Norco College and continue to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.
“I am confident on my academic path and feel that it is what I am supposed to be doing right now,” she said. “I am very humbled as a result of my life experiences, yet more determined than ever to serve as a positive example to my children and community through positive actions.”
"I'm very fortunate to have a very strong support system in my life right now--my church, family, and the CalWORKS family at Norco College provided me with such positive encouragement. We continue to struggle financially, yet somehow make ends meet. My boss/CalWORKS Coordinator, Daniela (McCarson) pushed me and reminded me that the end goal was near."
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