“Don’t give up.”
“You’ll get it right.”
That was the message racing through the mind of Yolanda Slaughter as she found herself sitting in a classroom desk again. Slaughter, a Clarksdale native, had enrolled at Coahoma Community College before, but she never seemed to have the time to finish up her degree. However, in the fall of 2014, she knew that was about to change.
“Every time I would start school I didn’t finish, but this time I said it’s time for me to buckle down and see it through,” Slaughter said. “The first semester was nerve-wrecking. I was excited about it, but I guess I was really nervous too because one part of me was talking myself out it like, ‘I’m not ready for this’, but I just kept pushing through it anyway.”
Although it took Slaughter a little time to get on the right track, there’s no stopping her now.
The psychology major proudly finished her first semester with all “A”s and one “B” and is now finishing up her freshman year.
“It wasn’t easy, but I put my mind to it and focused on it and told myself
‘Ok, you can do this. You HAVE to do this,’” she said.
When she’s not in the classroom, Slaughter spends her time volunteering with the Clarksdale Youth Outreach Center through Delta State University’s AmeriCorps VISTA program. She currently oversees Healthy Futures, designed to implement positive fitness and wellness program within the Clarkdale community.
“VISTA is a great program to help me while I’m in school and also allows me to be of service to my community,” she said. “Some of the projects we have underway include a community garden and a farmer’s market… I’m working to help get these projects started and reaching out to create the partnerships and participants needed to make the programs successful.”
On top of juggling school and VISTA, Slaughter is also the mother to her 4-year-old son and is raising her 16-year-old niece as well.
“That was a big motivation for me to get my degree because I wanted to be a positive example and role model for my son and my niece,” she said.
Although she had a stable career working over six years as a captain in a correctional facility, Slaughter said she knew it was time to get back in school and follow her heart.
“I felt like I wanted to stay in that field, but sometimes you never know what path life will take you down,” she said.“My interest has always been in Psychology. I really want to work with troubled teens and offer marriage and family counseling—I think that’s where my heart is.”
Plus, she has a great support system to make sure she keeps pushing all the way to the graduation line.
“My family has been a big help. Also my supervisor, Benjamin Earnest, has been very understanding in allowing me to attend class and work towards my degree.”
Three years from now, Slaughter sees herself with an associate’s degree in hand pushing towards a bachelor’s degree. She also hopes for the opportunity to continue servicing her community.
“I love my work now … it just feels right,” she said. “Sometimes we focus on the money aspect but you have to love what you’re doing to be successful in it. I told myself that I wanted to do something that makes me happy, and I thank CCC for giving me the opportunity to do just that.”