My name is Amelia DuBois, and I am going to tell you about how I got here. About 4 years ago, I lost everything. I lost my home, belongings, car, and source of income. I was home-schooled in a very religious and sheltered environment. My mother did not think education was as important as prayer and religious books. So, I was very limited in what I could learn. Reading and writing came easy, but math and science were taught at an elementary level. All the other subjects barely received attention. As a young adult, I got involved with the wrong man. I had my first child when I was 21 and my second when I was 23. There was no need for me to work, so, I decided to be a stay at home mother.

Unfortunately, after about 8 years of being at home with my children, everything changed when their father was sent to prison. I left him, and because of this, his family took everything from me. I managed to find work doing house cleaning. But just as I started to get on my feet, I was diagnosed with cancer. I moved in with my sister, and she had a huge impact on me. She helped me understand how important getting an education is. I didn’t want to work as a house keeper my entire life. I wanted to have a career I loved. So, when my health permitted, I enrolled in GED classes and started my journey here. During my time attending Center for Adult learning in Loveland, I found a very good job. I was feeling like I finally had everything back on track, but then I was diagnosed a second time with cancer. I was not about to let that stop me, though. I had come a long way. I was doing it! I was making my life happen. I refused to let this get in my way. So, throughout my treatments, I still worked and came to class. When I was too sick to be in class, I made sure my teacher Marsha was informed, and she kept me on track. I would ask her for extra packets that I could complete at home. And she was always helpful in making sure my education goals were being met. And here I am. My journey is just beginning.

I am 31 years old, and I’m a single mother of two. I have learned SO much more in these last four years than I have in my entire life. And in the last two of those four years I discovered a love for science and math. And now I am pursuing a career in the EPA as a scientist. I will be a compliance officer for them, making sure major industries and corporations who pollute our earth are brought to justice. To do this, I need to go to college and get my Associates in Science. After that, I will be pursuing a bachelors degree in environmental health sciences and then my Masters. Isn’t it amazing how the subjects I knew so little about have become my passion? It just shows you, no matter what your circumstances are, you can make them change.

I have learned to follow my passion and trust myself. You must trust yourself. It is so important not to lose focus and let people change you. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it; they are jerks. How the heck do they know your future? You are the most important person in your life. You control your decisions and make things happen for yourself. Do not let others define you. Throw those road maps away and make your own.

When you find yourself being weighed down with all the problems that come your way, take it as a challenge and show it that you roll like a boss. You own your problems and face them. Kick their butt. Be persistent. And if you make a mistake or fail, accept it as a lesson and move on because you learn from your mistakes. You are a warrior. You are a winner. We are here today, all different circumstances, but the same outcome. We won!

I’ve learned to be present, in the here and now. Remind yourself that this is where you are. This is the reality. You did it, and you are going to do so much more. But you must take it one step at a time. The dream is good, but reality is reality. Focus on what you can do now in order to get to the big dream. Be creative and use your talents to better yourself. And remember, you don’t have to be perfect. I hate that word “perfect.” Who is perfect? I like the word “extraordinary.”

The last thing I want to say is continue to be brave. You have done an amazing thing. Take time for yourself and family. Listen to your instincts. Now your journey continues and you owe it to yourself to be happy. Don’t allow drama into your life. Kick it to the curb, and don’t let people misunderstand your dismissal of the drama as selfishness. You are allowed to dismiss dramas from your life. You are allowed to change your mind and opinion. It is your right. Don’t let distractions get you off track, no matter what they are. You are bigger than any problem that comes your way.