Alumni Spotlight


Dequasia Timmons

Dequasia Timmons is a 2012 graduate of J.O. Johnson High School and Upward Bound Math Science Participant. Dequasia was actively involved in various activities while in high school including Varsity cheerleader, Made Pretty, 2011-2012 Debutante. Dequasia graduated with an advanced diploma and is currently in her first semester at the University of Alabama. While a participant in UBMS she participated in the homeless shelter meal service, Toys for Tots. We are extremely proud of her accomplishments.

Jerome Rymer, EOC Participant

I am currently in my second year at Calhoun Community College. My college career began with a unique experience.

I was previously employed as a financial analyst in banking. I had worked in banking for about 17 years. In 2002, I noticed that I was having intense headaches; however, I was dedicated to my job and did not take time off to see a doctor. My speech was often slurred and my tongue was occasionally numb. I thought I was under stress and planned to get a regular check-up when I had some spare time. I kept working. I woke up one morning and did not feel well. I went to the bathroom to wash my face and almost screamed. My face was severely twisted and one of my eyes was closed.

I went to the Emergency Room and found out that my blood pressure was 178/123. The doctor told me that I had had a stroke and was about to have a heart attack. I was treated and after about a week, I returned to work. During this time, I continued to sing at my local church and I continued to praise God. In about three months, my face returned to normal.

In 2004, I noticed that I began to feel cold all of the time. I had a portable heater under my desk that was on during the summer as well as the winter. My legs also felt heavy all of the time. When I walked, it felt as if I was dragging weights. My legs and arms also began to feel numb. I mentioned how I was feeling to my boss and he suggested that I go to the doctor. The doctor diagnosed me as having kidney failure. I was surprised because there is no history of kidney problems in my family.

In 2005, I had surgery and they implanted a stint in my abdomen. This allows me to perform dialysis at home. I have zero kidney function and have currently been on the UAB transplant list for about six years.

In 2007, I found that I could no longer work full time. However, I wanted to be able to do something. I also wanted to support my family. I decided that I should look into going back to school. I had never attended college and did not think that I could afford to attend. My wife worked previously at Job Corps and had heard about the North Alabama Center for Educational Excellence. I came to the Huntsville office and got the ball rolling.

I have been attending Calhoun Community for the last two years. I am majoring in Computer Information Systems and my GPA is 3.3. My goal is to obtain my Associates Degree and transfer to Alabama A&M University. My doctors have told me that once I get a kidney transplant that I should be able to go back to work.

I would love to obtain a degree and contribute to society. I feel that I have been blessed during all of my struggles. I also want to prove to myself that I can do this. I will be the first in my family to complete a college degree. This includes my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins. I am excited at the opportunities that lie ahead of me. I am blessed beyond measure and I continue to sing and praise God.

Racquel Walker

North Jackson Graduate Class of 2008
Racquel always had the desire to obtain a college education. However, as the first person in her family with the option of attending college, she was aware that she needed help in navigating all the steps necessary to achieving the goal of post-secondary enrollment.

Racquel became part of the Educational Talent Search program during her 8th grade year at Stevenson Middle school in Stevenson, Alabama. During her senior year at North Jackson High School, she worked diligently with the ETS Counselor to ensure her success at the college level. During counseling sessions, the pros and cons of attending a Northeast Alabama Community College, a local community college, were discussed since Racquel’s ultimate goal was to graduate from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. Racquel filled out a scholarship for Northeast and was awarded a Presidential Host scholarship.

In her own words, Racquel expanded on the benefits of a community college start. “I went to Northeast and was SO HAPPY I went straight there instead of straight to Bama because I WAS NOT READY to go off to a big school like UA. I LOVED my one year at Northeast because I could be so involved with the school and pretty much knew everyone there, teachers and staff included.”

Racquel completed one year at Northeast then transferred to the University of Alabama where she completed her B.A. in Communications. She completed her degree amongst the devastation of the 2011 Tornado that hit Tuscaloosa. At that point, Racquel was homeless and carless since she was a “graduate” and her car was totaled during the storms.

Through the efforts of family friends, she obtained a summer job with a very large private clinic in Hattiesburg, MS. While working with the Hattiesburg Clinic in their corporate development and marketing department, she fell in love with the world of business. Following her summer employment, Racquel returned to Tuscaloosa obtaining a job with the Tuscaloosa News and shortly thereafter landed a job at the Tuscaloosa YMCA as the PR and Marketing Director. However, she couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more for her to do.

On September 28, 2012, Racquel started a new job with Mississippi College School of Business. As part of the benefits of the job, Racquel will be pursuing her MBA with a focus in Finance and the college is going to pay for her education.

Racquel best summed her experience up as follows. “I remember sitting in your office determined to figure this college thing out, and I knew that I wanted to be a “big fish” one day, and I believe you guys saw that in me. If it had not have been for your help and encouragement, maybe I would have taken a different path. But I am glad it happened as it did because I am so happy! I am in that weird in between stage of life where you’re not in school full time anymore, but you’re not married with kids. It’s a funky little in between, but I like it. I am the girl from Jackson county who went to North Jackson High School who dates Jackson Ross and is about to move to Jackson MS. And that pretty much sums up me.

Kevin Brooks

Kevin Brooks is an outstanding Upward Bound Math & Science student. He has been involved with the program for several years and has participated in the program’s activities including tutorial sessions, the summer component, and the mentoring program. He considers himself to be a student/athlete; he plays varsity basketball, soccer and golf. He enjoys writing poetry and listening to friends and giving advice. He likes listening to music by artist such as R. Kelly and Musiq Soulchild. One of his favorite quotes is a poem entitled “Our Greatest Fear.” It states, “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure …..” His personal assessment of himself, “I am smart, trustworthy, fun, out-going, a leader, and a guy with many other  qualities besides these.” This year Kevin (the student/scholar) graduated from S.R. Butler High School as valedictorian of the senior class. He also graduated with an advance diploma and membership in the National Honor Society. He was one of four students who addressed his classmates and invited guests at the graduation ceremony. By all accounts his presentation was well prepared and exceptionally delivered. He made it known that students can be outstanding in both athletics and academics. His personal story is a testament to that.

He received numerous awards and scholarships for his outstanding accomplishments as a scholar and an athlete. He received the Wendy’s Heisman Award, the U.S. Army  Athlete/Scholar Award, the Distinguished Athlete Award- U.S. Marine Corps, Optimist Club of South Huntsville – Most Outstanding Senior Award, Compass Bank – Most
Outstanding Senior Award, and Leadership Award – Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals. He received scholarships from University of Alabama in Huntsville, Calhoun Community College, Stillman College, Buddy Sanford Memorial Math Scholarship, Alabama Association of Housing Redevelopment Authorities Scholarship, J.F. Drake Speed Up Scholarship, and Huntsville Rotary Club (STRIVE).

No doubt Kevin has big plans for his future. The staff of NACEE and the UBMS program wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

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