New York — Tabatha Bush of Fine, New York, was chosen as a 2007 Outstanding NYACCE — New York Association for Continuing/Community Education Student of the Year — for overcoming great obstacles to achieve her high school diploma. This NEDP graduate’s story is a profound example of how the NEDP program empowers students to pursue their dreams and make a difference in their community.
Bush’s journey has not been an easy one. After struggling in school, Tabatha dropped out of ninth grade just after her sixteenth birthday. She found a job working as a childcare provider and home aide. She was living a happily married life with one son — then the birth of her second son Travis in 2005 set her life on an entirely new course and helped her find her calling.
When Travis was born he was not able to breathe, experienced two major seizures soon after his arrival, and had no working bodily functions. He was diagnosed with eight major birth defects, and doctors told Tabatha he would never run or walk. After months of tests, the doctors diagnosed him with subcutaneous fat necrosis, a condition in which fat deposits form under the skin, swell, and break open causing extreme pain and requiring constant care and limited exposure to the sun. Hypercalacmia deteriorates bones, teeth, and impairs bodily functions. Travis is significantly paralyzed on his right side, has limited function on both sides of his heart, and has extensive brain damage. Doctors suggested that Tabatha put Travis in an institution where he could receive constant care.
Tabatha’s determination and love for her son inspired her to choose another path. She received special training at the hospital so she could bring her son home. She directed his physical and occupational therapy and maintained a schedule of monthly blood work and screenings. She did research and found groups like West Coast Therapy and early Intervention to help support her. After three years, Tabatha is proud to say that, with her constant care, Travis has been able to defy doctors’ predictions. He is running and walking and will soon start a special needs program at a local school and is predicted to continue toward a degree of independence.
Through this struggle with her son, Tabatha found her passion. She realized her skill at researching, collaborating with professionals, implementing medical solutions, and advocating for the needs of her son. She quickly became a parent-to-parent advocate answering question and providing support for other parents. Tabatha set a goal to become a pediatric nurse.
Driven with this new conviction, in April of 2007, Tabatha enrolled at Gouveneur Learning Center. The GED was not an option for her because the preparation required frequent trips to the learning center and the testing would require a day and a half trip to the nearest site. She decided to complete the National External Diploma program because she could work at her own pace and still maintain her son’s care, completing most of the work independently at home. NEDP also gave her the chance to get credit for her recently expanded life skills which she was using with her advocacy and care efforts; such as budgeting, writing communicative letters to business and government, doing a resume and job application, and analyzing the news and information on the Internet. Starting the program in May 2007, she was so focused and organized that she was able to complete most of the requirements by July 2007 and was awarded her diploma in September 2007.
Since receiving her diploma in September 2007, Tabatha has already started giving back to her community. Recognizing her own skills as a mentor, she became a Literacy Volunteer tutor. She will begin her certified nurse aid training program in September 2008. With her passion and determination, it won’t be long before she reaches her goal of becoming a pediatric registered nurse.
Completing her NEDP high school diploma was the first stepping stone toward making Tabatha’s dreams become a reality. The NEDP was the perfect fit because it allowed her to complete the program at her own pace and still maintain the care of her son.
As Tabatha stated: “The NEDP program made it easier for me to achieve my diploma the way that I work best. I am glad that I found this program so I can show my children that you can always do what you set your mind to.”
Tabatha is the perfect example of how the NEDP diploma can help an individual improve life, pursue dreams, and benefit the entire community. Thank you, Tabatha, for being an inspiration to all of us!