by Madison Doise
Have you ever wondered about who you are in class with? Have you thought about what they do outside of class, or what kind of life they live? I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with a fellow Reynolds student and find out just that.
Ms. Cynthia Dixon has lived an extraordinary life. She grew up in Manhattan, New York City; a place most people dream of visiting. However, she didn’t have that dream.
“Ever since I was 10 years old, I wanted to leave New York,” Cynthia said. “I don’t like a lot of crowd.” She loved the diversity of the city, but the congested area was not worth it. Richmond (where she lives now) is more fitting for her liking, and it even brought her to Reynolds.
Though Cynthia ended up leaving the Big Apple, she spent her childhood there. As a student, she attended the all-girls school Washington Irving High School. Here, Cynthia participated in the glee club.
“I still remember all of the songs,” Cynthia said cheerfully. Singing was a passion of hers, seeing that she sang in her church choir as well.
After high school, Cynthia went straight to work. She became a secretary at a veteran’s hospital in New York. “Out of 100 applicants,” Cynthia said, “I was the first one they picked to work there.”
After working in the veteran’s hospital for a while, Cynthia was ready to move. She and her four daughters moved to North Carolina where Cynthia became a cosmetologist.
“They were going to pay for my uniforms, but I made my own!” Cynthia told me as she talked about her experience as a cosmetologist. “They still let me keep the money, and it went to daycare for my daughters and any of my other needs.”
Cynthia’s cosmetology career was really taking off. She was the only person to finish the whole program. Talk about hard work! Though she successfully earned her cosmetology license, she kept on working.
Cynthia attended a charm school in order to stay, as she put it, “lady-like.” Along with schooling, Cynthia had a full-time job working at another veteran’s hospital. She loved working at the hospital before, so she decided to go back.
Even if you enjoy having something to do, this is a huge commitment for anyone.
“It took me almost two years to learn how to sleep over four hours each night,” Cynthia told me. “I just got used to running on four hours of sleep.” For someone who gets angry when I don’t get a full eight hours of sleep, that blew me away.
Being the determined woman she is, Cynthia fought some rough, emotional and physical battles. As a single mother, she raised four daughters.
“I was on my own,” she said. “But I worked hard.” I was again amazed by the inspirational words Cynthia said. She is a prime example that in order to succeed, you have got to work for it.
Those battles aside, Cynthia also dealt with major health problems. At 60 years-old, she became physically disabled. “I underwent five operations: shoulder, a knee replacement, a brace for my spine, and more.” It was a heartbreaking story, and I could tell by her face that the memories still brought back pain. However, like every other struggle she faced, she overcame it.
“I was determined not to be stuck,” she stated proudly. “I had to show my grandchildren that you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it.”
She was told not to go through with the surgeries and to give up many times because it was too much of a risk. Her simple response was, “No, I have to keep going.” That’s exactly what she did.
However, it wasn’t easy. She still had to undergo the surgeries along with the many fears that overcame her. Even so, she continued to be hopeful. “My faith in God is what helped me the most,” Cynthia said. It was her strength and faith that brought her to the place she is today.
Now, Cynthia is able to walk completely on her own. If you’re looking for a woman who beats all odds, you’ve found her! With her family always as her first priority, she decided to go back to college so she could help with her daughters’ businesses.
“My main reason I went back to school was for my daughters,” she said. “I enjoy that the government is allowing people to go back to school. I like learning and I love meeting people.”
Cynthia’s love for people is evident from the minute you meet her. I don’t think there was one student who walked by us that she didn’t know! She enjoys being a mentor to a lot of the students.
When I asked how her experience at Reynolds has been so far, she told me, “I love it here. I like the atmosphere, and it gets better each year.” She is currently majoring in small business management and has 44 credits completed. “I will be 71 years-old when I graduate,” she told me proudly. Hard work really does pay off!
I wrapped up our conversation with one last question: “What is one thing you would want students to take away from your experience?”
Cynthia responded with, “Never give up. Keep pushing and striving for better to achieve in your life, and don’t forget to give back to others. Do not let anything get you down. Most importantly, have faith in God that he will see you through. That’s what helped me.”
So, fellow Reynolds students and staff, I say we take Cynthia’s wise advice and put it to good use. Cynthia did it, and look at how much she accomplished!
Madison Doise is a senior at Grace Christian School and is dually enrolled at Reynolds Community College. She has always enjoyed creative writing and plans to further her passion at Liberty University in the fall of 2017.