celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Degree worth effort

Disabled laborer gets new lease on learning

By Brad Newman

Since she was 18, Tina Monfort worked in manual-labor jobs.

But when the 41-year-old of Dumas developed back problems four years ago, she decided it was time to try something different.

"There was no way I could go back to what I was doing," Monfort said. "That's when I started thinking about school."

Monfort, who has since earned an associate's degree in education, will walk with fellow graduates at tonight's Amarillo College graduation ceremony.

Monfort started taking classes at AC's Moore County Campus in 2005. It was her first time back in the classroom in two decades.

She graduated from Dumas High School in 1984 but never pursued a college degree.

"I wanted to (go to college) as a kid, but I didn't," she said.

"So, the thought of going back to school scared me to death. I didn't think I'd be able to do it. I doubted myself."

But Monfort didn't need to be concerned. She's been on the dean's list, and she will graduate with honors.

"I've aced it," Monfort said.

Monfort finished her course work in December, ending a two-year pursuit that involved Moore County Campus classes, Web courses and some instruction in Amarillo.

"We were happy she was going to pursue something that she wanted to do," said Monfort's daughter, Victoria Uresti, 16. "Just to see her doing something she loves means everything to us."

In January, Monfort began teaching full time in the Life Skills department at Dumas Junior High School.

"I love my job," she said. "I've always been drawn to education, and I've substituted a lot, so now I've just fallen in love with it."

Monfort, a mother of four, including two stepchildren, and a grandmother of three, credits her success to the support from her family and God.

"I finally feel like I truly accomplished something," she said. "It was a lot of hard work, but I know it's worth it."

Uresti, a junior at Cornerstone Christian Academy in Dumas, said her mother's educational journey has motivated her.

"She has really influenced me to go on to college, finish my education and find a career," she said. "I've learned that as long as you're determined, you can do it."

Monfort said she plans to begin classes at West Texas A&M University in January.

She wants to complete a bachelor's degree in special education.

"I want to be an example to my children, to show them education is important," Monfort said. "I hope they'll know it's possible no matter what."

Amarillo College's graduation ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Amarillo Civic Center's Cal Farley Coliseum, 400 S. Buchanan St.

Graduates will include about 1,145 students who have completed graduation requirements.

A reception will follow in the Civic Center's North Concourse.

Editor's Note: The Amarillo Globe-News is profiling a student a day from May 9-29 as part of its 2008 graduation coverage. Students were nominated by Globe-News readers.

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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