Congratulations to Jessica Leath, College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Student Achievement Award recipient for December 2020.
Leath is a busy single-mother juggling homeschooling for her two children and a full-time student herself. In late November, she started to feel sick with aches and pains. With three weeks left in the semester, her fears were confirmed when she tested positive for COVID-19.
Leath, a non-traditional student in the Secondary Education program, graduated from Meridian High School in 2002. She knew she was facing a challenge, especially since her mother was also battling COVID-19, and could not help watch her children. During her first-semester last spring, she made the President's List; now, she just hoped to make it through the semester.
"COVID-19 was, without a doubt, the biggest obstacle I have gone through,” she said. "It was awful. I have never been so sick in my life. The first week it was difficult to get out of bed and even the most basic task, such as taking a shower, was exhausting. I'm a mom, a single mom at that. I have a trophy in fighting through exhaustion, but this exhaustion couldn't be fought. With finals week approaching and large projects and papers looming over me, my future of passing my classes looked rather bleak."
Leath immediately reached out to her instructors, notifying them of her illness.
"Something I have noticed about all my professors is that they care about their students,” she said. "All the instructors I’ve had made an impact on my education. This semester though, Laura Bosch, Math Faculty, Scott Straub, Education Faculty, and Collin Hughes, Humanities Faculty, were amazing with communication, encouragement, and ongoing support. My advisor Josee Ward was absolutely fabulous also."
The faculty recognized her commitment at the College as a student.
"Jessica is one of the most dedicated students with whom I have ever had the privilege to work with,” said Bosch. "She wouldn't let anything stop her. Even when she was ill, she did all she could to keep making progress and learning. It was a joy to cheer her on and to help her reach her goals."
With the day's ticking off, Leath began to recover in the beginning of December.
"I finally started getting my energy back about a week before the end of the semester,” Leath said. “My instructors were kind about letting me get stuff done when I could, but by the time my energy came back, there was a huge mountain of work in front of me and less than a week to complete it all. Somehow - I really don't know how - I got it all done."
Leath plans to transfer to Boise State University after completing CWI. She will be the first person in her biological family to graduate from university and would like to teach in elementary school or special education.