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2012 May 28 - 12:00 am

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: NM Woman Overcomes Addiction, Pursues College

CLOVIS, N.M. (AP) — Misty Maldonado has gone from being addicted to heroin and cocaine for 10 years and being incarcerated for more than two to earning straight A’s at Clovis Community College.

Maldonado, 32, spoke humbly as she described her near-death experiences on the streets of north Texas. She said she lived through a drug overdose and a vicious beating and stabbing on the streets near Denton, Texas.

“I’ve always lived a rough life, the life of the streets,” Maldonado said. “The drug world and everything. It took me to go to prison to change my life.”

Maldonado said she was surprised to learn prisoners were some of the most intelligent people she had ever met. She said women who were never getting out of prison advised her to change. Seeing wisdom in people who society viewed as criminals positively made Maldonado want to improve her life.

She was released from prison in August 2011 and enrolled in college in January. Maldonado said another trip to prison would mean seven more years of incarceration. She knew school was her path to salvation.

“It was like nothing I have ever known,” Maldonado said. “All I knew was the streets of Gainesville, Texas, Colorado Springs and Clovis. I lived in a rough world, never thinking I was going to turn my life around.”

Maldonado’s class schedule this semester consists of two writing classes, one reading class and a freshman seminar.

Maldonado said when she first started school she was nervous and did not know how to adapt to an academic environment. She said with support from her new friends, instructors and family that changed.

“I really like Clovis Community College,” said Maldonado, a single mother of three who also works part-time. “Everybody is so friendly. Everybody has helped me.”

Lisa Spencer, Clovis Community College marketing director and Maldonado’s instructor of her freshman seminar class, learned of Maldonado’s past by reading her class journals.

Spencer said Maldonado is a prime example of how education can transform a person’s life.

“I believe, as Misty puts it, if she can improve her life and see a future for herself anyone can do it,” said Spencer, who saw Maldonado’s potential when grading her assignments.

Maldonado hopes to earn an associate degree by May 2013 and continue working toward her goal of becoming a paramedic.

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