SKCTC puts three generations on the path to success

Published 4:28 pm Monday, June 12, 2023


They say the family who prays together stays together, but what about the family who takes classes together? Carrie Elliott, her daughter Amanda, and her granddaughter Aaliyah have tested that theory by pursuing their Southeast education — at the same time.

Carrie, who at 65 has seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, once aspired to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a nurse. She first enrolled in college in 1987 but put those plans on hold to start a family.

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“I got married and had four little kids,” she said. “Nursing couldn’t happen.”

“Life happens, and that changes your plans,” said Amanda.

Nevertheless, Carrie found it was not too late to pursue an education. For 13 years, she worked as a teacher’s aide and as a secretary for Harlan Independent Schools. Her love for children influenced her to earn an associate degree so that she could substitute-teach and continue to remain active in the lives of her grandchildren.

“I was happy and got along with the kids, both in elementary and middle school,” said Carrie. “Those middle school kids gave me a run for my money, but I became known as the lady with the candy.”

Amanda, who spent two decades battling substance addiction, enrolled at Southeast to earn her recovery coach certificate. She loved taking classes so much that she continued and will earn both her associate in arts and associate in science degrees this fall. Upon graduation, she hopes to work with youth who face significant obstacles so that she can make a difference in the lives of others.

Aaliyah, who is 18 and a 2022 high school graduate, loves to read and write. She wanted to take a break after high school, but her mother and grandmother would not hear of it. After she completes her associate degree next spring, she plans to transfer to a four-year institution and pursue bachelor’s degrees in English and psychology.

“I would like to be an author, but again, I like psychology. I want to be a counselor and help other people,” she said.

“She is a really good writer,” said Amanda.

“Yes, she is really good,” said Carrie.

According to Southeast’s Erica Farmer-Miller who advises the trio, “They are all overachievers. I see this in a lot of our adult students. This is their second chance at it and they’re going at it hard. This family especially—they really want to achieve. It means a lot to them. And I love that passion about them.”

Although Carrie is upbeat about her college experience, she does not sugarcoat the effort it has taken her and her daughter.

“We’ve been out of school for a long time,” said Carrie. “It’s taken me some time to adjust. Math has kicked my butt, and I am up from daylight to dark. It’s a lot of homework, videos, and lectures.”

Both mother and daughter emphasize the need for discipline, persistence, and prioritizing their classes.

“No matter how much I want to play my game, I know I need to study,” said Amanda.

“Sometimes you’ve got to let your housework go,” said Carrie. “You do what’s most important.”

All three women have the drive to help others. They study together and support each other, and they have taken many of the same classes together: math, psychology, and FYE – first year experience.

“Their story is remarkable. They’ve been through so much together, and now it’s time to do some celebrating,” said Farmer-Miller. “And that’s why I love their story. Elliotts are not quitters.”

Carrie graduated with her associate degree this May, but she was unable to walk in the commencement exercises because of an illness. Still, Amanda praises her mother’s milestone achievement:

“For so many years, Mom has had to do for everyone else, so seeing her finally get to do something that means so much to her is a blessing. To see her not give up on that is huge.”

Amanda intends to continue her education and pursue her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“A friend of mine put it to me like this: ‘In two years from now, you’ll either have your bachelor’s or you won’t. Two years after that, you will have your master’s, or you won’t,’ ” she said.

As for Carrie, she has discovered a love of lifelong learning and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“I might go back and do medical assisting because I like to use my brain,” she said. “I can substitute teach, take care of the babies, and take classes all at the same time.”

Carrie says she has convinced her youngest sister to return to school, and she encourages others, no matter their age, to follow their dreams, as well.

“Dreams are real, and goals are real,” said Amanda. “The only thing that separates the two are actions.”

Three generations of Elliotts are certainly a testament to that.

For more information about enrolling at Southeast, contact Erica Farmer-Miller at 606-248-2180.

Three generations of Elliotts — Carrie, Amanda and Aaliyah — are pursuing an education at SKCTC. SKCTC photo