In 2002 Dawn Rayburn had three kids, no job, and received food stamps. Now after graduating from Hazard Community and Technical College and Eastern Kentucky University through the University Center of the Mountains, she has a job she s always dreamed of having, and has an income that means she no longer qualifies for food stamps.
It is fabulous. I hated depending on the government. Now I have an education, I never will again need that assistance.
With her Criminal Justice degree, Rayburn was hired May 6 at the Buckhorn Children s Center as a Mental Health Associate. She loves a job where she can help young people. I remember when I had lost a job at Sykes in 2011, I prayed to God, asking him what direction I should take. When I woke up the next morning, it was made quite clear to me -- I need to work in a career where I work with youth.
Rayburn said her journey has not always been easy and she was tempted to quit along the way but she kept going. I needed to be a positive role model for my kids, she said. It warmed her heart when daughter Kaitlyn put a message on Facebook that she was proud of her Mom for graduating. I cried when I saw that, Rayburn said, with a smile.
After graduating from Buckhorn High School in 1993, Rayburn worked in restaurants for many years. I knew I would be stuck working in restaurants if I did not get an education. I wanted better for myself and for my kids.
She describes the education she received from HCTC as high quality and she appreciates the help she received. I was out of high school ten years when I came back. It was kind of hard to get into the swing of things but Student Support Services helped. Other students helped. The teachers helped. If I needed tutoring I could get help.
She praised EKU s Beverly Patterson and advisor Steven Kappeler for being there at every turn. Classes were small and we had the one-on-one with faculty, if we needed it. She appreciated EKU s faculty and staff.
Ms. Patterson noted, I'm really proud of Dawn's hard work and commitment to her education. I remember a few times when she wanted to quit--but she realized that if she wanted to see her dreams come true that she had to hang in there and keep moving forward.
Rayburn is appreciative of the University Center of the Mountains. If the UCM was not here, I would not have been able to go. I couldn t afford to drive to EKU each day.
Anyone else considering an education has a message from Rayburn. Anyone looking to go to school should consider HCTC and UCM. This is a great option and great opportunity for them. The future is education. Stay here and get a quality education, especially young people. UCM Director Dr. Deronda C. Mobelini commented on how impressed she is with Dawn's drive. "She would always arrive in the UCM, ready and excited for class, and ready to tackle the next challenge, and she did it! The UCM's EKU partner provided Dawn with an opportunity for herself and her family that she would not have had otherwise."
Rayburn lives in Krypton in Perry County with husband David and 16-year-old Kaitlyn and 13-year-old twins Kyle and Kameron. Her parents Irvin and Sue Neace live close as does her brother Derek Neace. They all are my support system and have helped every step of the way.