Sunday, March 18, 2012

Couple goes from living in their car to finding themselves on the road to success at Germanna

Germanna Community College students Brian and Kimberlie Morris (above) were living in their car, wondering how they were going to find their way out of a seemingly bottomless pit of despair.
"Seven or eight years ago, my husband and I were actually homeless," Kimberlie said. "Going from figuring out how to pick ourselves up to be making the grades that I'm making--it's very much not where I thought I'd be at this point."
The 33-year-old is on the President's List and joining the college's chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa international honorary society. She's on course to graduate with an associate's degree in business administration in December 2013.
"She actually inspired me to go back to school," her husband Brian said. "This is my first semester. To go from living in our car to this..."
"It was a pipe dream," Kimberlie said, finishing his sentence.
"It was less than that--it was a puff of smoke," Brian, who just turned 40, said. "When we were homeless, we were more concerned about living from day to day, trying to get back on our feet. Once we did, that pipe dream became a reality." The couple lives in Spotsylvania County.
Neither of Kimberlie's parents finished high school.
The Morrises said things turned around when someone was willing to rent them an apartment and allowed them to pay the deposit over time. Brian found a job and they were on their way. "You don't have a phone number," she said. "You don't have a permanent address. How do you find a job when you don't have those things?"
Having been through that, they now try to help others whenever they can, even though they have little money.
Because someone gave them a chance, she said, "It's been a complete, 360-degree turnaround. We didn't want a handout, we wanted a hand up. If we can do that for someone else, fantastic."

Kimberlie applied to Germanna, with support from the GCC Educational Foundation. "I thought, life starts over," she said. "Things happen and you can actually go. This time I'm just going to put my foot down and see what happens. To have my dad understand and say,'You went beyond what I though you could accomplish...' "
After a stint in the military, Brian also began taking classes at GCC.
"Every time I go to class, I'm early," Kimberly said. "Every time I sit down in my chair in class, I appreciate my professor's time. As soon as I get home, I do my homework. Maybe if younger students understood that... Every time I see a kid who's younger than me miss a class, I just see dollar signs. I think, 'You're just throwing your education down the toilet bowl.' Not that you don't have reasons to miss class. But it's just that I think I respect it more, having not gone directly from high school to college.
"Now I'm a college student my father can brag about."

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