celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news
McCartt always pursued a degree
Debra McCartt

Age: 58

Occupation: Mayor of Amarillo, senior director of community relations at Texas Tech School of Medicine.

Where did you receive your education?

Amarillo High School; University of Texas at Arlington; Southern Methodist University.

How has your education played a role in your life today?

I have been able to achieve a level of serving my community that I never dreamed possible. If I had not completed my education, I never would have had the opportunities afforded to me over the last several years.

What was your greatest educational challenge and how did you overcome it?

When I was in my 30s, I went back to school to become a nurse. I found out how very difficult and time consuming becoming a nurse actually is. I had a new baby at the time, so I couldn't devote the time to the clinical aspect that was required, so I had to give up this new career. I was finally hired as a patient advocate in a hospital - after much pleading with the administrator. Finally, my dream was coming true. I later went on to become a hospital administrator, and now I work at Texas Tech School of Medicine. All of this, because I never gave up.

What is the value of your education?

For me, it is the realization of the dreams I had set out for myself. My life is so full of meeting exceptional people in all walks of life, which never would have been possible if I had not set goals for myself that would lead to other opportunities - one after the other.

What would you say to someone who's undecided about continuing their education?

I have seen firsthand, in my own family, how very difficult it can be for young people who decide that an education is not for them. I do believe, however, that going to college may not be for everyone. Having some sort of vocation can also lead to self-fulfillment and development of a career that is critical to give a person self-esteem later in life and bring success to their own family in years to come.

When did you make education a priority?

When I was growing up, there really never was a question in my mind about getting a college degree.

What made you realize the importance of education in your life?

To begin with, I was able to get a teaching job right out of college, which certainly helped pay the bills. Having an income is certainly a big incentive for educational attainment, but also the feeling of independence and self-worth is critical.

Did you ever think about quitting? What made you keep going?

Of course there are days during those college years that are tough, when you have to study for an exam, write two term papers and of course have a little fun along the way. However, I never thought about quitting or giving up. I knew that I would just have to work harder.

2009 Stories
2008 Archive
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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