Amanda George doesn’t always remember the individual twists and turns of the roller coaster that was her life while addicted.
“I came to Hinds Community College in the early 2000s and was in Phi Theta Kappa,” George said. “We were flying to UCLA one weekend and then I was in jail the next. They really didn’t know what was going on with me.”
George, of Vicksburg, now 43, attributes two decades without a completed education to time spent in and out of jail for offenses committed while she was under the influence – trespassing, shoplifting and domestic incidents, to name a few.
“What got me in trouble was in 2000 when I started taking pills after surgery on my feet,” she said. “Back then, they didn’t know how addictive things like Suboxone were. Now, I wear a pain patch that helps with pain and with addiction.”
In 2021, a search for a way out of convenience store retail jobs led her back to Hinds. And with several helping hands, she is on track to graduate with credentials she didn’t think would ever materialize.
“I want to help other addicts who have had mental illness similar to me,” she said. “It could be depression. Maybe they feel lost or don’t know what’s wrong with them.”
This fall, she has earned two associate degrees, one in criminal justice and another reflecting general education credits earned during prior stints at Hinds. She is among those participating in three fall graduation ceremonies Dec. 15 at the Muse Center on the Rankin Campus.
“I would describe Amanda as courageous, truthful and hopeful,” said Shannon Anderson, instructor for her juvenile justice course online. “She is a true testament to how you can overcome obstacles in your life.”
George sought help from multiple sources of social service programs available at Hinds to all students. One was Single Stop, which works to remove barriers to a student’s education such as transportation, child care and legal assistance where applicable.
“At the time Amanda was referred to me, she didn’t know how to get back on track to finish her degree,” said Taheera Hoskins, coordinator of the program for the Vicksburg-Warren and Utica campuses. “I’ve worked to help her with computer and laptop assistance, understanding her financial aid status, employment search and many other referrals and student advocacy. She is the type of students that reminds me just how beneficial student support services and general advocacy is to the success of our students.”
George sees her past as the primary architect of her future now, which is social work.
“The best thing I can do is to give back and inspire teens and young adults that they have choices available in life,” she said.
“And I’d say to others that if they come here to Hinds, instructors will go above, beyond and out of their way to help you,” she said. “If they don’t have an answer to a question, they’ll find someone who has that answer.”