Women make dreams come true with degrees from Liberty
Published 10:01 am Thursday, June 16, 2016
Laura Patterson-Gaston received a master of arts in health and human services counseling: addiction and recovery from Liberty University in May.
Her path from Central High School in 1983 to Liberty University class of 2016 was not easy.
After high school, Patterson-Gaston was in the Army Reserves, then a wife who had to put off her education because of all the travel.
“I lived in Spain and China for the first year of my marriage,” Patterson-Gaston said.
While in China, she was a guest lecturer teaching American culture at the University of Fushun, located in Fushun.
By the time she settled down in Roswell, Ga., for nine years, she had two children — Francine, 22, who attends Liberty University, and Zachary, 14, a rising ninth-grader in Nottoway.
After her divorce, she moved back to Blackstone in 2007.
“Through my struggles of being a single parent, I went back to school online at Ashford University for my bachelor of arts in health and human services and started working at Counseling and Advocacy Associates out of Midlothian as an in-home counselor working with all age groups who have mental disabilities,” she said.
“I wanted to spend more time with my children so I started working for Family Preservation Services as a Therapeutic Day Treatment (TDT) Counselor at Lunenburg Middle School.”
It was there that she met up with Roxanne Logan, who is the middle school’s part-time nurse.
Logan, who was a high school classmate, ended up a college classmate, too, when she graduated from Liberty with her master of arts in health and human services counseling: executive leadership.
After being an in-home and TDT counselor for the past four years, Patterson-Gaston wanted to explore the field a little further. She spoke with her brother Chet Patterson, who also graduated from Central and is still attending Liberty working toward his master’s in business.
She decided to get her master’s in health and human services and specialize in addiction and recovery.
“The only sacrifice I made while attending grad school was sleepless nights,” Patterson-Gaston said.
She continued to work two jobs “so I can provide for my children.”
“I am glad I am finished but may continue taking classes after a much needed break,” Patterson-Gaston said on graduating.
“I try to instill in my children that with God, hard work and dedication you can do anything you put your mind to. As for my future plans, I would love to make a difference for the people who suffer with mental disabilities by making changes to our system whether it be local, state or on a federal level.
“The advice I give to young people is, never give up no matter how difficult it may seem, just keep reaching for the stars.”