Beating the odds, COM student graduates
For years Melanie Lauret followed in her family’s pattern of drugs, alcohol and addiction – a legacy she didn’t want.
In 2009 Lauret determined to break the cycle. She would do two things she’d long wanted to do – get clean and get the college education no one in her family had achieved.
To reach her goals, the Texas City mother of two joined Narcotics Anonymous, a 12-step program, and registered for classes at College of the Mainland.
“Being in school definitely helped my recovery process. It gave me focus,” said Lauret. “I would set my alarm for 7:30 a.m. and get up and work on online classes. In (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings I would talk about recovery and school.”
With the help of instructors in the COM math, reading and writing developmental classes and after passing placement tests, she enrolled in college-level courses.
One required course, Psychology for Success, transformed her.
“It really changed my life,” said Lauret. “It made me take a better look at myself to realize I’m not scared to speak my mind. It’s taught me learn to apologize for my actions. It taught me how to get along better with people.”
“I used to be a very angry person. It taught me how to calm myself down.”
Her Psychology for Success professor Lalanya Ennis presented strategies for success through group discussions, journals and activities. Ennis noticed the change in her over the semester.
“We had many class discussions about active listening and emotional intelligence. About half way through the semester, Melanie began to see how her words and actions were affecting those around her. She made a conscious effort to listen more, to hear the other person out and to have more empathy,” said Ennis. “Others in the class noticed her changing as well, and she soon became a “mother figure” to some of the younger students.
“By the end of the semester, Melanie was a different person. She had gained leadership qualities and was an encouragement to other students.”
They continued to meet even after the semester ended when Lauret asked Ennis to mentor her.
“Ms. Ennis and I didn’t just have a professional relationship. We had a personal relationship,” said Lauret. “If I was having a bad day, I’d go to her.”
In Lauret’s second year, Ennis approached her about beginning a So Psyched Club together to combine psychology discussions and volunteering.
First-year projects included hosting a 5K Color Course to raise money for the club and veterans, donating prom dresses to girls who couldn’t afford one, and visiting children at the University of Texas-Medical Branch.
“Seeing the joy and smiles on their faces having somebody come in and do artwork with them was inspiring,” remembered Lauret.
Eventually she became vice president of the SO Psyched Club and a Student Government Association representative.
She also was accepted into Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college honor society, an achievement she hardly believed at first.
“I got a call from Phi Theta Kappa, and they said, ‘You made it into PTK,’” remembered Lauret. “I said, ‘You have the wrong Melanie.’”
Besides involvement on campus and the community, Psychology for Success also inspired Lauret to change her major from health information management to psychology.
“Before I changed my career, Ms. Ennis was the first one I went and talked to,” said Lauret. “I’m a very passionate person. I want to work with kids or with Alzheimer’s (patients). My father had Alzheimer’s for ten years. I took care of him.”
With a new focus, she waltzed across the stage this May with her associate degree.
“My whole family was there. It was the most exciting day of my life other than having my kids and getting married to the man of my dreams,” said Lauret.
“Nobody in my family has ever had a degree. It’s an honor and a blessing to be able to say that.”
With her associate degree, she plans to look for a job while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology online.
“I’m not going to stop now,” said Lauret. “I’m going to love continuing my education. I’m living the life I never thought I could live before.”