My Two Beads Worth

My Two Beads Worth is an online, American Indian/Indigenous news ezine that has been online since 2000. Due to illness, I have found it a little easier to use a blog than to create a webpage due to my inability to keep long hours. So, for the time being, I will be using the blog and later on, all the information will be transferred to the website. Thank you for your understanding.

My Photo
Location: Hiram, Maine, United States

I am 55 years old and have been married for 31 years. We have one son, Michael who is 24 - 3 dogs, our two little Pomeranians, Frankie and Tommy and our old lovable Beagle, Buddy. We live in a very rural area on a small mountain in the foothills of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I am physically disabled due to several health issues and so I created My Two Beads Worth so I can remain active and involved in native issues. It is strictly non-profit, I do all the work myself and cover all expenses involved in getting the publication out online. I also have my own personal website which I enjoy working on too - when I have time, which there isn't much of that left over. I love life and want to live it as fully as I possibly can.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mack Johnson, Truckee Meadows Community College student sits by his web site in the graphics lab Wednesday at TMCC. Johnson will graduate today with an associate of applied science degree in graphic communication. (LIZ MARGERUM/RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL)

Adversity can't stop some students
Lenita Powers (LPOWERS@RGJ.COM)

People give a lot of reasons for not earning a college degree, but no obstacle seemed great enough to keep Stacey Murray and Mack Johnson from realizing that dream today.

Murray was just a senior in high school when she became pregnant and her family was evicted from its Reno home. Then, just before she graduated in 2001, her stepmother died of cancer.

Johnson was driving drunk when his car plunged off a 300-foot cliff, paralyzing him from the neck down.
But today, Murray and Johnson will receive their associate of applied science degrees in graphic communications during graduation at Truckee Meadows Community College.

Murray, 23, said the birth of her now 5-year-old son Trevor and getting the state-funded $10,000 Millennium Scholarship motivated her to go to college.

"I have a tattoo on my back that I got when I was 18 after my stepmother died," she said. "It says, 'Today,' to remind me that every day is what we make it."

Going to college at nights and studying for classes while holding several part-time jobs wasn't easy, Murray admits. Nor was growing up in a household where drugs and alcohol caused turmoil.

"There are times when you just want to give up," she said. "Everybody goes through it, but I did a lot of what I had to for my son because I knew our lives wouldn't get better otherwise."

Paralyzed when he was 23, Johnson went through a Reno rehabilitation program several years after his accident to overcome an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He started starting taking classes at TMCC in 1996.
"I always thought the worst part is not just when you give up on yourself, but that when you give up on yourself, it affects your family and society as well," said Johnson, 45, the divorced father of two grown children and grandfather of two.

"We can't have enough good people in this world, educated people, smart people," he said.

Lee Geldmacher, manager of TMCC's disability resource center, got to know Johnson as a student who used the services at the center and Murray as a student worker who helped fellow disabled students by taking notes in class for them.

"Mack is a very special man, and his artwork is phenomenal," she said of his watercolors and pastels depicting American Indians, landscapes and other subjects. "He does it by using a brush in his mouth."

Johnson also is an advocate for people with disabilities and speaks to high school students and other groups about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, Geldmacher said.

"He's just a wonderful man and a true inspiration to others that you can reach your goals if you just try," she said. "I have no doubt he'll find a satisfying career and make a contribution to the world."

Murray makes raku ceramic pieces, paints in oils and pastels and is a photographer.

She won the regional Student Gold ADDY award from the American Advertising Federation for the computer illustrations she designed as part of her course work at TMCC. She'll be competing in the national competition next month in San Francisco.

"Stacey is equally talented, and she's another example of somebody who is tenacious and refuses to give up," Geldmacher said. "She's a single parent, and she has had some real barriers to overcome to graduate.
"We've been touched by both of them," she said of Murray and Johnson. "I'm so proud that they're graduating."


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home