NATCHITOCHES, Louisiana, March 16, 2014Northwest Louisiana Technical College’s Natchitoches campus recently had 34 students complete degree, diploma and certificate programs. Among those graduates was Stella Dimgba and she completed the Cosmetology program with honors. But the real story is the journey Stella travelled to get to graduation.

Stella Dimgba, 22 years old, was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the United States in 2011 to live with her grandmother and brother Charles. Stella’s life adjustments were challenging because of the culture, food, and people; however, these things did not stop her from achieving her first goal—receiving her General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Mrs. Ethel Blake, Adult Education Instructor, welcomed her and assisted her throughout her educational journey. “The GED program was very educational and I remember crying for other students who did not take the program seriously,” Stella recalls, “With all the ups and downs, it was the words of encouragement from Mrs. Blake and other staff that helped me earn my GED.”

While working on her GED, Stella would regularly visit with cosmetology instructor Mrs. Petula Holden. Since her dream was to become a cosmetologist, she asked lots of questions about the program. Stella said, “Mrs. Holden was very nice to me and answered all of my questions. I remember getting my cosmo acceptance letter in the mail and screaming my life out, jumping up and down on the bed, crazy with excitement.” Stella said school was hard but she met wonderful classmates, and she made long-lasting friendships. Mrs. Blake and Mrs. Holden were two of her inspirations to never give up. At one point, Stella recalls wanting to give up after several attempts at finger waves, and she started crying. Mrs. Blake brought her some tissues and encouraged her to continue and not to give up. Simple encouragement like that is just what she needed.

Throughout her educational journey, Stella’s grandmother and brother were her greatest support, and without them, she doesn’t know how she would have succeeded. They were her strength and joy through the ups and downs. Sadly, Stella’s grandmother passed away before Stella graduated, but Stella believes she is with her in spirit. “She was a very hardworking and inspirational woman, and she had words of wisdom she shared with me.” Stella continues, “I wished she would have been there to witness my graduation.” Stella graduated with honors and she has an employment opportunity waiting once she receives her cosmetology license.

Founded in 1936, Northwest Louisiana Technical College is a member of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. The main campus is located in Minden and other campuses operate in Mansfield, Many, Natchitoches, and Shreveport. Northwest LTC was recently recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges. For more information about Northwest LTC and its programs, visit www.nwltc.edu or contact Dr. Rick Bateman, Jr. at: rickbateman@nwltc.edu.

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Photo: Laurie Morrow (Campus Dean) and Stella Dimgba