Cheila Dozier: Done with the Past

Cheila Dozier knows how difficult it is to kick the fears and insecurities of your past out of your future.

After being held back a grade in elementary school, Cheila began to shut down. “I was so embarrassed,” she remembers. “I believe that was the end of everything.”

Perhaps it was, but not forever.

Cheila realized that she needed — and wanted — her education back that she lost all those years ago. “I matured,” she says about her motivation. “I said, ‘Okay, there are some things I need to know.’”

For Cheila, regaining her education is a personal journey, one that involves reflection and growth.

“I want to learn,” she repeats with passion again and again. “It’s more than the GED to me. I want to be educated. Whatever I can know, I want to know it.”

The remarkable thing that comes through in talking with Cheila is that, for her, learning doesn’t mean just math and reading.

She wants to learn about herself. Her educational and personal growth are two paths of the same journey.

“I love to read. I always thought that I didn’t like to read because I struggle with reading, but once I started finding out about me, finding out who I was, I found out I like to read because I want to know things.”

Seeds of Literacy is helping Cheila continue to grow. “It’s comfortable [at Seeds]. It’s free, and what I mean by ‘free’ is that I feel like I have a space, like this is the time to set aside for me to work on what I need to work on.

“I believe [attending Seeds] helped me focus a little more, focus on me, and build my confidence up. It has helped me to see that nothing is impossible. I really can do it.”

She remembers what it felt like to be in school years ago. “I thought school was so hard. I didn’t understand how to learn. I was embarrassed as well. I was ashamed to ask for help because it seemed like no one else was asking, like they already knew.”

Deciding to get her GED credential, then, was a huge step. “I came in [to Seeds of Literacy] with an open mind and said, okay, let me just trust them, trust that they know how to help me. And I’m just going to follow their lead.”

Now she looks forward to being ready to take her GED Language Arts test.

Doing so would be a huge personal triumph for her, because she has a complicated relationship with language. “It’s challenging because I struggle in reading, but I love it,” she says.

She admires people who can communicate clearly, and strives to speak like they do. “That has always been my fear, my challenge, the thing that kept me from doing everything I wanted to do,” she explains about her insecurity.

But she loves to read, write, and talk. Her enthusiastic and positive attitude shines through in her words, and you would never guess that she thinks she has trouble expressing herself.

As long as what she says comes from the heart, Cheila knows she can help people. “I like to share information, encourage people, empower them in some kind of way.”

She hopes to write a book one day aimed at encouraging mothers and young women, to “let them see that you can,” just like she has.

“I’m that kind of person.”

You can give support to students like Cheila with a donation to Seeds of Literacy.