Amandria Hartnett said she always knew she would go back and get her G.E.D., but she never dreamed she would get her associate’s degree, or, with the support and encouragement of her family, friends and instructors, be on her way to standing in front of her very own classroom. But Hartnett said it wasn’t easy, especially with a 5-year-old daughter to care for.
“In the back of my mind, I always wanted to go back and finish and get my G.E.D.,” she said. “It just didn’t seem approachable at the time because I had to maintain an income to provide for my daughter.”
Hartnett said she dropped out of Liberal High School in 2005, and had her daughter Addison later that same year.
“You know, I was 18. At the time, there were more important things than school, basically,” she said. “I look back on my journey, right now, and I honestly don’t regret doing it because I do not think I would be where I am at today if I had not led that journey that I was on.”
Hartnett said she got married and was a stay-at-home-mom for four years after dropping out – until she got divorced.
“I thought I had it made as an 18-year-old who was married and had a family, and then that tragedy struck me and I kind of had a wakeup call,” she said.
Hartnett then worked at a convenience store in Liberal for two years until her current husband, Nathan, who is a veteran of the Iraq war, encouraged her to go back to school.
“One day he came up to me at my job and said, ‘I want you to quit, and I want you to go back to school’, and I did not say no to that opportunity,” she said.
Next, Hartnett enrolled in classes at the Colvin Adult Learning Center at Seward County Community College. After completing her G.E.D. in 2013, she said she was encouraged by her instructor, Travis Combs, to continue on to college.
“Travis really pushed me to go to college,” she said. “If it wasn’t for him I probably would not have enrolled.”
Last May, Hartnett received her associate’s degree from Seward County, and she decided to just keep going. She is currently enrolled at Newman University and is studying for a bachelor’s degree in elementary education through the Western Kansas Outreach Program.
“I really liked the Newman program. For one, it was an accelerated program and I liked that the education program was 16 months and I’d be done,” she said. Hartnett said she also liked the interactive TV technology that Newman utilizes in its outreach programs, which allows students to take classes with professors via in-classroom television monitors that live-stream between professors and students. “I really enjoyed being able to see my instructors and get immediate feedback from them on the ITVs, that’s really why I chose to go to Newman,” she said. “And, to be completely honest, the scholarships are amazing. I have really not had to take out many student loans. It really did pay for a lot of my education.”
Hartnett will begin student teaching 6th grade English and language arts this month, and will be able to apply for teaching jobs in January, she said. Though she said she plans on slowing down and grading some papers instead of writing them for awhile, this is not the end of her educational journey.
“I would like to teach for a couple years and then go back and get my master’s in psychology,” she said, “because I would really like to do student counseling within the schools.”
Hartnett said she enjoyed the behavioral science and psychology classes she took in college and she thinks she could help kids someday.
“You know, I had a hard time growing up … I struggled. My dad passed away when I was 13, so I dealt with that when I was growing up. And I didn’t lead a kosher lifestyle. I did do things I probably shouldn’t have in high school, and I think with my experiences I could help some kids who may be going through the same things. Let them see from my experiences that even though it was hard for me that you can still come out on top,” she said.
Through it all, Hartnett said she has had the support of her husband, mother, grandmother, friends and instructors to keep her going and that none of it would have been possible without her now 11-year-old daughter, Addison, and her back rubs.
“I look at her and I want better things for her,” Hartnett said. “Everything I have done was for her.”