By Joe Wyatt

Tiffany Hammons holds dear an uplifting quote by renowned industrialist Henry Ford who said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

Hammons is no stranger to turbulent winds of change; she is a single mom driven to extensive homelessness by severe bouts of domestic violence. But thanks to ample support she received at Amarillo College, Hammons will graduate this month with an associate degree in aviation maintenance technology.
 
“This is where I turned my life around,” said Hammons, who is one of 1,130 summer and fall graduates eligible to participate in AC’s Fall Commencement ceremony on Friday, Dec. 17 at the Amarillo Civic Center. Masks, while not required, are recommended.
 
The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Civic Center Coliseum and will be live-steamed and available for repeat viewings at info.actx.edu/livestream.
 
The event represents a refreshing return to tradition for the College, which, due to the pandemic, has not conducted an in-person, indoor graduation since 2019. AC twice celebrated its graduating classes virtually in 2020, and last spring the College held Commencement at the open-air baseball stadium - Hodgetown.
 
For Hammons, graduation of any kind was no more than a pipe dream early in life. From infancy, she lived solely in the care of her great grandparents. They passed away when she was 12 and 14, respectively. She moved in with a grandfather, dropped out of high school at 17, and wound up in an untenable relationship marked by malevolence and despair.
 
She did find a way to complete high school in her 20s, and she gave birth to a son. But Hammons ultimately was compelled to flee her abusive relationship – doing so in possession of nothing more than a handful of clothes and an extra diaper for 2-year-old Jacob, who had been rendered non-verbal by the abuse.
 
“We had nothing to our name and no place to go,” Hammons said. “We wound up at Martha’s Home, thank goodness, a homeless shelter, and I tried working a few jobs, but daycare was a real challenge, especially weekends. And employers don’t like it when you have to stay home with a sick child.”
 
But what some employers did do for Hammons was encourage her to consider higher education as a means to an independent lifestyle; they felt she had potential. It led her to attend an event at AC’s East Campus, a career showcase called Women in Industry. AC periodically conducts these events to introduce women to technical-career opportunities long associated with the male gender.

“I fell in love with aviation at first glance and enrolled in it immediately,” said Hammons, now in her 30s, who is graduating from AC with honors. Additionally, she has been accepted into the online aviation science bachelor’s degree program at Eastern New Mexico University and begins classes this spring.
 
If Tiffany and Jacob found sanctuary at Martha’s Home, they discovered healing at Amarillo College – literally. In addition to scholarships, tutoring, counseling and food, books and gasoline allowances provided through AC’s Advocacy and Resource Center, Jacob was enrolled in AC’s Hagy Center for Young Children.
 
That not only gave his mother leeway to attend her classes, but AC’s expertise in early childhood development is arguably second to none. The Hagy Center participates in Texas School Ready, a kindergarten preparatory program that promotes literacy, and Jacob additionally received speech and occupational therapy.
Tiffany says Jacob, now 5, is adjusted, talkative, even garrulous.
 
“Everyone at AC has been so supportive,” Hammons said. “The instructors and all the staff I met understood my story, and Jacob’s, and were willing to do whatever it took to make us be successful. I’m so thankful.
 
“That’s why I love that quote by Henry Ford about taking off into the wind,” she said. “It means a lot to me because for a long time, well, everything seemed to be going against me. But it didn’t stop me from taking off, so to speak.
 
“I think I used that quote in every one of the papers I’ve written at AC. I cannot wait to give something back to the school that has given so much to me.”

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post