DiBrieka Miller, a 2013 graduate of Uplift Hampton Prep in southern Dallas, is the first person in her family to enroll in college. She attends Texas Woman’s University in Denton, and when you talk to her can see the determination in her eyes as she pursues a psychology degree so she can someday become a school counselor.
“My teachers, my counselors and my parents pushed me to work for what I wanted. They taught me how to motivate myself and were real about what was going to be required if I was going to reach my goals,” she says. DiBrieka fondly recalls the investment teachers like Sherri Holden, who taught several of DiBrieka’s AP classes. Ms. Holden may have given DiBrieka as much work as she could handle, but encouragement and study sessions came with it.
“Ms. Holden gave us a lot of reading and quizzes, but she taught us not to complain about reading since there would be chapters’ worth each week in college,” she said. Through her first semester now at TWU, she realizes how important that advice would turn out to be.
“I couldn’t believe all the reading we do here. It’s more than I expected, but I think I’ve been able to handle it,” she reflected.
Uplift Hampton’s college counseling staff did their share as well. DiBrieka earned a Presidential Scholarship at TWU, but the road to that full-ride award was rough. “We would get tired,” DiBrieka says, describing the life of a student, “My college counselors wouldn’t let us quit. When I received a couple of B’s on my report card, they pressed me to stay on top of my classes and improve those grades. They cared about me as an individual.”
DiBrieka says her parents are excited for her and happy she is following her dream. She still comes home two weekends a month, during which she continues to work at a part-time job to make ends meet, but even with the close contact with her family, she enjoys her new independence.
“One of the things I really like about college is the ability to be on my own. And fortunately, because TWU is a small school, just like at (Uplift) Hampton, my professors talk directly to me. It’s very personal here,” she says.
DiBrieka is scheduled to graduate in 2016, after which she plans to pursue her master’s degree.