by Andrea Almoite

Growing up, Diantha Walker dreamed of being a teacher. However, after graduating high school, cosmetology was a greater draw than college, so she enrolled in beauty school and worked as a hairdresser for over 25 years. “I put my dreams and aspirations on hold to raise my son,” she said.

Five years ago, she reached a crossroads in her life. “I decided I needed a new plan, and a new career,” Walker said. Her thoughts returned to that little girl who dreamed of being a teacher, and she enrolled in Tyler’s early-childhood education program.

Walker recalls that there were moments where she was the oldest person in the classroom, including the teacher. “The thought of trying to keep up with my classmates and technology was not only intimidating, but very overwhelming,” she said. With help from her son, also a Tyler student, and from the tutoring staff in the ARC, she learned to navigate her computer and online coursework, and soon found herself succeeding.

After graduating cum laude with two early childhood education certifications in 2018 and getting a job with Richmond Public Schools, Walker thought she was done with school. She was only two classes away from earning her associate’s degree, but she was also exhausted. “One day, leaving class, my professor Dr. Hooper expressed to me that she knew how hard I had worked, and that I needed to complete my degree,” she said.

Hooper worked with Walker to find a path to complete the last two courses she needed, and Walker graduated May 2020 with her associate’s degree in early childhood development. She continues to work as a proud educator with Richmond Public Schools, as well as a part-time hairdresser.

“I’m grateful to my family, friends & Dr. Hooper for their support and for pushing me to go and get what God has for me,” she said.