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Washington overcomes teenage dropout to graduate, inspire with “Another Chance” prom

EDGARD — LaToya Washington believed for years that getting pregnant at 16 and subsequently dropping out of West St. John High School in 2006 limited her future career prospects.

Realizing it’s never too late to take charge of one’s life, Washington obtained her GED in 2010 and earned a safety technician certification from Baton Rouge Community College in 2016.

On Friday, her dreams will be fulfilled as she walks across the stage with an associate’s degree in process technology from Remington College in Baton Rouge.

The journey started with lots of tears and frustration, Washington said. Her next goal is to reach out to others in her situation, provide mentorship and replace their fears with renewed self-confidence.

“I’m here to help anyone or give insight into the process of going back to school,” Washington said. “I think a lot of people give up when they don’t feel they have support. I want to be the push and the drive people need to help them succeed.”

She plans to start a nonprofit organization in the near future to assist single mothers with pursuing higher education, lending a hand in each step from college applications to job searching. In the meantime, she welcomes those who want guidance or to share their experiences.

To connect with Washington, email mslatoyawashington@gmail.com.

Washington invites the community to attend her casual back to school prom, which presents a chance for her and others who never attended prom to experience the excitement.

The event, themed “Another Dance, Another Chance: Prom & graduation all over again,” lasts from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at 75 Dominican Drive, Suite 101 in LaPlace.

From 7 to 9 p.m., Washington will celebrate her graduation with family and friends at the same location.

Washington has years of experience in contract work for refineries, focusing in turnarounds. Her degree opens up opportunities for full-time positions at Shell.

She credits God, her two children, her grandmother, her mother Mabelene Washington and long-term partner Travis Narcisse as her motivators.

Narcisse watched Washington push through late-night school assignments and maintain consistent attendance, even when her car was inoperable.

“Some nights, she would be falling asleep on her laptop, but everything she did was always 100 percent,” Narcisse said. “She never made a bad grade. She’s a wonderful woman and a great example to any female who has kids.”

Narcisse describes Washington as outstanding and outgoing, with a heart large enough to help anyone in need.

“She’s someone you’d like to meet and get to know,” Narcisse said.

While working in process technology, Washington plans to build a savings and pursue cosmetology, a passion she’s held since she was 10 years old.

“I’m not stopping at one career,” Washington said. “I always want to accomplish more.”