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

Teen fights odds and wins

By Chris Ramirez

Jamie Landers was supposed to be a statistic.

Her mother was hooked on drugs. Her father also was an abuser, only his vice was alcohol.

And, at one point it seemed like every few months, she was packing up and moving into a new home, all while holding down a full-time job.

Dropping out would have been an easier option.

But somehow she managed to keep it together.

The 18-year-old's resilience and eyes-on-the-prize attitude will be rewarded Friday when she joins 327 other Randall High School seniors in getting their diplomas.

"It's important to me, especially after all I've had to go through," she said.

She gets smiles and waves as she makes her way down the halls of the Craig Methodist Retirement Community, carrying trays and pushing food carts. Jamie has worked there for months, helping patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Only she's not squirreling away money for a new purse or a slick new ride like others in her graduating class. She's scrimping to pay the rent on her apartment and stock her refrigerator.

Jamie has had to grow up faster than most.

In Jamie's sophomore year, her parents divorced. She and her sister went to live with their mother. But, after a few months there, her mother's drug addiction began to take over. So, she moved in with her father, who she described as a heavy drinker.

Things were OK at first. Then Jamie says he became verbally abusive.

"After a track meet, me and my sister came home and ... dad started screaming at us," Jamie recalled. "I had no idea why."

The police were called, and her father was arrested. That led to months of moving from one friend's home to another, packing and unpacking.

Eventually she moved into an apartment. That meant freedom.

But it also meant supporting herself while going to school.

A Health Occupations Students of America class offered at Randall High caught her eye.

"My teacher told me about it ... and it just sparked my interest," Jamie said. "I knew then that I wanted to work in a field where I'm helping people."

Andrea Boatright, Jamie's student counselor, doesn't see the teenager failing at anything she sets her mind to.

"She's very determined, very goal-oriented," Boatright said. "When she sets a goal for herself, there's no doubt she's going to achieve it."

Her next plans involve books. Jamie said she wants to attend Amarillo College in the fall.

If history is any indicator, Jamie will be able to draw from a philosophy she learned when she played volleyball at Randall - control.

"I couldn't control what happened with my mother or what happened with my father ... but I knew I could control my grades and how I conducted myself, my own life," she said. "I control my own life."

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.

Celebrate Education is a yearlong community project to encourage lifelong learning and help raise the education level in the Texas Panhandle.

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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