Brianna Watts was stuck in a cycle. After growing up in foster homes then being adopted by an aunt as a teenager, she became pregnant at 17.

“I thought I knew what I was doing, and I didn’t,” she said. “I started partying and soon turned to drugs.”

Over the next seven years, she dealt with abuse “of every kind.” She became homeless, and she had more children who were taken from her.

“I wanted to get out, but I just didn’t have the resources and was extremely scared,” Watts said. “One night I wanted to quit partying and my fiancé didn’t. We got into a bad altercation, and he left me beat up in a hotel room with no money, no food and nowhere to go once again. I felt alone and helpless again.”

She cried out to God, and she felt Him prompt her to talk with someone who connected her with a rehab facility and drove her there.

“That next week I found out I was pregnant once again,” Watts said.

Getting clean

But this time, she had help. The rehab program — called Gateway of Hope — helped her get clean, and she took classes and graduated from Transformation Pathway Christian Women’s Job Corps of Dublin, Texas. She has custody of two of her children, joint custody of another two and is able to periodically see a son who was adopted by a family.

“I am doing so much better in life, and now I want to pursue college while I have two more years left at Gateway of Hope, so that way when I graduate there, I will have a career laid out for me and be able to provide for my family and finally gain some independence in life with a great support team for whenever I need them,” Watts said.

One way she’s able to do that is through the Faye Dove Scholarship recently awarded to her by the WMU Foundation.

Juanita Brawley, executive director of Transformation Pathway, called Watts a “dedicated, bright and pleasant young lady” and a “strong leader.”

“She came to class eager to learn and grow,” Brawley said. “Brianna always has a smile and is willing to help her classmates. I have witnessed her spiritual growth this semester as she has become dependent on God’s will for her future.”

Catalina’s story

Catalina Cormack, another Transformation Pathway graduate, also received the Faye Dove Scholarship.

Cormack migrated to the U.S. from Mexico at age 21 and raised her son, who is now a Marine. She’s still raising her two youngest children.

Her mother, who passed away in May 2021, saw the signs for Transformation Pathway and suggested she take classes.

“This fall I graduated from CWJC, and I know my mother would be proud of me,” Cormack said.

Now she is preparing to attend Ranger College.

“I know that my Creator has a plan for me,” she said. “I know education will prepare me.”

Barbara Yoder, an instructor at Transformation Pathway, said Cormack is a “hard worker” and a “team player.”

“Her verbal communication and testimony inspired us all,” Yoder said. “Everyone marvels at her work ethic and the amount of work she accomplishes.”

by Grace Thornton, writer for The Baptist Paper