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Educate, Elevate...and Educate


Perhaps you are aware of the COABE and NCSDAE Education and Elevate Campaign. You may have been reading some of the inspiring stories of accomplished people who had left high school without graduating, and who are now state or national leaders. I have found particularly inspiring today's story of Mississippi's assistant state director for the Office of Adult Education, copied below. Dr. De Vaughn's career pathway has included attaining a high school equivalency, an undergraduate degree, and a doctorate, and began with a minimum wage job at McDonald's that led to her becoming a successful McDonald's restaurant manager with a family-supporting salary. These internal corporate pathways, that often begin with low-wage or low-salary jobs are an important, rarely mentioned part of many successful career pathways for low-income adults.

Many of the Educate and Elevate Campaign stories may be of interest to your colleagues and your students. Consider sharing them.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

Program Management CoP



Highlight: Dr Rachel De Vaughan - From GED to Ph.D.


For Educate & Elevate advocate Rachel De Vaughan, Ph.D., the power of adult education in reshaping one's career path is well known. Indeed, without support from educators at Mississippi Gulf Community College, she may have never made the transition from a respected McDonald's franchise manager, with no high school diploma, to a state education director with a higher-education-focused Ph.D. from William Carey University.


De Vaughan recalls how bleak her future looked in her teenage years as family financial hardships made it difficult to focus on her academic studies.


"At a very young age I was burdened with heavy responsibilities in caring for my younger siblings. I struggled in school because I was so tired I just wanted to sleep. My teachers were always frustrated with me because I never completed my homework," De Vaughan says. 


"Even if I did find a friend, we weren't able to do the normal things that friends do because I could never afford to go anywhere when I was invited. So, when my mom gave me the choice of quitting school to work full-time, I chose to quit. No longer did I have to worry about what I was going to wear or sit through another Algebra class that I had failed twice. I started working for McDonald's for $3.35 per hour and took advantage of every education and workforce program they offered while never looking back," she adds.


But her career in food service took a big detour in 1997 when a life-changing event inspired her to achieve education goals that had long gone unfulfilled. She obtained her high school diploma and put herself on an educational path that resulted in an associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and a successful and ongoing career stint in public education that has included the obtainment of a Ph.D.


"After almost 20 years working for McDonald's restaurants throughout the U.S., and even abroad, I was ready to try something different for my life. So, I pulled that forgotten dream out of that secret place deep inside of me, and I applied for a teacher's license. Wow! Here I was, teaching in a school, a real school, with real students. I was recognized both by my school and the district as a great educator several times," says De Vaughan, now assistant state director for the Office of Adult Education in Mississippi.