Monday, October 20, 2014
Overcoming Serious Challenges: Gabrielle's Road to Vol State
Staton, who is originally from Charlotte, N.C., dropped out of high school during the last semester of her junior year. She was initially supposed to graduate from high school in 2008, but family circumstances forced her to make a tough decision.
"It was a matter of survival for me. You either work and live, or you go to school and know you're going to have it pretty rough. I didn't have a whole lot of support from my family other than my grandmother, but she was supporting me and 10 of my other cousins," she said.
Instead of finishing school right away, Staton focused on work and becoming a mother — she had her first son in 2009. Juggling both a full-time job and her family made going back to school even more difficult. But she never let anything get in the way of wanting to complete high school.
"I really felt like I had to finish school, because I knew eventually my options would be limited, and I didn't want to end up years from now not being able to take advantage of the opportunities put in front of me because of the limitations of my education," she said.
Staton took advantage of an adult education program in North Carolina and on her third attempt through the program, she finally graduated in 2011. Working in retail management, Staton was able to have a steady job, which helped her along the way.
All that changed in 2012 when she was robbed at gunpoint. While the experience was traumatic, it was an event that fueled her desire to go to college.
"Sometimes it takes trauma to push us into the path to prosper," Staton said.
Staton, who was about to have her second son, started a catering business and after it became fairly prosperous, she decided it was time to sign up for classes with the intent to study international business in order to create a non-profit business that would teach ethics to nurses before they go out into the field.
Before classes were to begin in August, Staton was the victim of domestic violence and came close to death. Not one to let things stop her, Staton once again overcame the adversity that stood in her way. In a very short timespan, she left North Carolina for Nashville with her children and enrolled at Vol State.
"No matter what is placed in front of you, there's no reason why you can't do anything you want to. There's nothing that should ever stop you," she said.
Arriving at Vol State was a blessing, because Staton felt like she was welcomed into the community and she became heavily involved with some of the school's clubs and organizations. If anyone takes away anything from her story, Staton said she wants make sure people realize that setting a goal and sticking to it is important to success.
"I never thought I would have the opportunity to go to school this late. Now, I feel like I actually have a chance. I can make it here, and I can make it anywhere," she said. "It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get to that goal as long as you're constantly working at it. That's the important part."