Despite many challenges, Melody Chandler drew upon her deep faith and her own determination to prove that where there is a will, there is a way to succeed. She recently graduated from Haywood Community College with a 4.0 grade point average in Associate in Arts and was also named the college’s 2013 Academic Excellence Award recipient. With the receipt of this honor, Chandler joined the ranks of an elite group of students--one from each of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges in the state to be recognized for their academic achievements.

But, even so, there was a time that she wasn’t so sure of herself. "I believed people like me were not college material," she said. “Being kidnapped at two, put in foster homes, and having a family riddled with drug and alcohol abuse didn't put me in the most likely to succeed category.  But thankfully it's never too late to try, and it’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

When Chandler got married, she encouraged her husband as he finished college and eventually obtained a Master’s degree. Watching her husband fulfill his educational goals inspired her to follow in his footsteps. She had a burning desire to get a college education. By then, she was in her thirties with the challenges of being a wife and a mother of four children, one of which was born blind. She also led a youth group and enjoyed assisting on the family’s farm, like helping to milk the cows. “Despite the obstacles, still I enrolled at Haywood Community College, and I gave my best effort to every assignment,” she said.

Chandler says going to school was not about proving she was smart but to better herself and cheering for her all the way was her husband and children. Juggling all the responsibilities often proved tricky. At HCC, after turning a paper in having gotten only 45 minutes of sleep all night, she knew there had to be a better way to manage her time. Chandler found herself applying time management skills to home life as well as college life. She devised ways that her children could pitch in and help with the work at home such as being responsible for folding and putting up their own laundry. She learned tips and tricks like looking at the syllabus and researching for a project a little at a time way before it was due. Even then, she was planning on continuing her education at a 4-year university.

“I participated in workshops in HCC’s Teaching and Learning Center.  I figured out my learning style and did not waste time studying in a way that was not beneficial to me,” she said. “Another thing that benefitted me was being able to take a combination of day and evening and face-to-face and online classes. I also took classes at HCC that would serve as dual credit classes when I went to Western Carolina University.”

While at HCC, Chandler tutored in the TLC. She says she always knew that helping others was something she would like to do for a living. “When I finish WCU, I would like to teach middle grades math or language arts. I have always loved teaching, and through youth groups and Sunday School classes, I have taught for years in a religious setting.”

Now, Chandler is a student at Western Carolina University in middle grades education. She plans to get a Master’s degree in the future.

Chandler hopes she has rubbed off on people, encouraging those who want to go back to school through her story.  While at HCC, she noticed people around her making the decision to also go back to school. “I wanted to see what I was made of,” she explains. “I stuck with it and that’s what I want my kids to see. You never learn anything if you don’t stick with it. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”