Blind woman’s perserverance pays off in college degree

HAZARD, Ky. (WTVQ) – Shelia Ann Jacobs took one college class during each semester, starting in 2012, and she is now ready to graduate from Hazard Community and Technical College on May 8, 2021. She is especially proud that she accomplished her goal of being a college graduate because she is legally blind.

The 58-year-old Jacobs said she always had a passion for learning.

After graduating from Knott County Central in 1982, she dealt with health issues and her blindness.

She later started volunteering at a Head Start, then took care of children at Hindman Baptist Church. In 1989, she found a job as a tutor, and became certified. In 1996, she moved from volunteer status to paid employee; she quipped, “I worked myself into a job.”

 In Spring 2012, Jacobs took her first class at HCTC at the Knott County Branch with English Professor Tim Dunn.

Dunn’s Appalachian Studies class excited her and encouraged her to continue her education, and Jacobs realized that HCTC provided wonderful support services to assist her in her educational attainment goals.

She enrolled in both in-person and on-line classes throughout the years, and she appreciates Disability Coordinator Julie Caudill’s help with finding resources she could access despite her visual impairment. Her academic advisor, Mavis Clemons, was especially helpful. “I appreciate all the faculty and staff for assisting me on my journey,” she said.

Shelia Ann Jacobs’ cap and gown are ready, and she looks forward to her time slot on May 8, when she receives her associate degree in front of her mom, dad, brother, and other family members, who realize how important this milestone is in her life.

With a degree in human services, Jacobs said a dream job for her would be helping others with disabilities.

“I would want to show others that there is help and support out there; you just have to go find it. I am the example of what can be done, although I stress to others, I could not have done this without God,” she said.

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