A hard road: A mother plans to graduate high school

After jumping many hurdles in life's journey, Laporsha Vinson will make graduating high school a piece of reality with her 5-year-old daughter by her side.

Like many Catawba County seniors, Vinson, 21, will walk across the Newton-Conover High School stage Friday to receive a diploma. But Vinson's high school diploma came at a high cost with many small battles for the young mother to overcome.

"This is my biggest accomplishment," Vinson said, smiling. "I am finally finishing high school."

Vinson, a former student at Hickory High School, dropped out of school when her daughter, Heaven, was 6 weeks old. Vinson had enough credits to almost be considered a junior at Hickory High.

However, being pregnant wasn't the first challenge Vinson faced while in school.

"I had a bad attitude," she said.

Vinson's past problem with following rules and respecting authority led
to many academic issues.

"I didn't care about anything, but myself," she said.

When Heaven was 3 years old, Vinson said she realized that she had to make changes for her daughter. These changes included going back to school to create a future for her and her daughter.

"You should never give up on what you want to do," Vinson said. "I didn't want my daughter to have a mother that dropped out (of high school) and didn't do anything for herself."

In 2009, Vinson and her mother, along with Heaven, moved to Newton, and Vinson enrolled at NCHS.

"She was extremely dedicated when she came to us," said Janis Bolick, a NCHS teacher in the occupational courses. "She struggled with controlling her anger and frustrations."

Caring for her daughter and going back to school became an obstacle for Vinson as she tried to earn an education. Among many struggles in Vinson's high school career, one opportunity came along that Vinson credits for her achievements today.

About two years ago, Vinson was asked to volunteer at Conover School to earn hours for her occupational courses, which, in turn, allows her to graduate high school. During her time at Conover School, Vinson said she's found her calling, while at the same time, she changed her view on life.

"Working there calmed me down," Vinson said. "My heart belongs over there (at Conover School). I've learned a lot from them."

Bolick agreed.

"She's grown up in the past years, and she's able to understand the need for rules and order," Bolick said. "She came full circle. She's now the rule-maker when she used to be the rule-breaker."

Vinson's change in attitude not only benefits herself, her teachers and students at Conover School, but has spread to a protective character over her classmates at NCHS.

"She helps other students in the program ... she's a leader in the program," Bolick said. "Her strength is in helping people."

As the 2010-11 school year comes to an end, Vinson watched Heaven graduate from the pre-kindergarten program at Thornton Elementary School. On Friday, the tables will turn, and Heaven will watch her mother set a high standard as she receives her high school diploma.

It's a standard many single, young parents, as well as students with behavioral problems, might see as out of reach.

"I feel proud," Vinson said. "I started crying when I saw her graduate. I think she'll do the same when I graduate."

Bolick said she's glad to see Vinson graduating from high school and overcoming so many obstacles placed in her way the past several years.

"She is very impressive as a person," Bolick said. "I am so proud she's going to be able to walk (across the stage)."

Vinson plans to continue living by her motto to "never give up" and is looking forward to a successful future for herself and Heaven. Vinson plans to attend Catawba Valley Community College to become a teacher assistant and work with special needs children.