By Jana Carver

Sophia Hughes (Photo by Jana Carver)

Sophia Hughes dropped out of school at age 17 after her support system fell apart at home.

“I started hanging out with the wrong people instead of going to class, making friends with people I really shouldn’t have been around,” said Hughes, 31, of Greensboro.

After being on her own for around three years, sometimes sleeping on friends’ couches to get by, Hughes moved in with her grandparents in her early twenties.

“I had nowhere else to go,” she said.

It was while she was living with her grandparents that she started to reconsider her education.

“They encouraged me to go back to school,” Hughes explained. “They were the first people to really believe in me. They never judged me.”

It was the combination of that support and the birth of her son, Zalachi, which eventually led her to Guilford Technical Community College in 2010.

“I wanted to expand my vision.  I wanted a bigger picture,” she said.

Hughes said that the decision to enroll at GTCC had a huge impact on her life.

“They helped me find the motivation I needed. … If it wasn’t for them, I would probably still be trying to figure it all out,” she said.

But getting that bigger picture came with challenges. Juggling motherhood, school, and a job was no easy task, and a lack of reliable transportation only made things worse.

Then a neighbor told her about the Guilford Child Development’s Learning Together Family Literacy Program, which supports Guilford County parents in achieving their educational goals, while preparing their children for educational success. Hughes said that the Learning Together program not only helped her with childcare, transportation, and educational resources, but it also helped her with her confidence.

“I was lost until I found that program,” Hughes said. “It lifted so much weight off my shoulders.”

Through Learning Together, Hughes said she was able to attend Adult Basic Education classes and her GED classes at GTCC regularly, and get her closer to her goal.

Hughes said she still remembers how overwhelmed she was the first time she walked into a class, knowing that she was finally going to go for it without anything holding her back.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my god, I’m never going to get this done!’” she said. “I knew it was going to be hard.”

But she refused to give up, and in 2016, she achieved her goal by earning her GED—something she said she will always be proud of.

“When I got the email saying I finally passed my GED, I just broke down crying. I was so happy,” Hughes said.

Now, Hughes, who is newly a mother of two, has finished her first semester as a college student at GTCC, where she wants to explore accounting. For Hughes, going to college is about more than just earning her degree; it’s about showing herself and others that she can find success in education.

“It’s good to see myself put in the hard work and do it. That’s the best part, to see that hard work pays off,” she said.

As she looks toward her future, Hughes says she has one piece of advice for anyone and everyone: “Anything is possible as long as you try. … So never ever give up. Ever.”


July 11, 2017