A passion to create a desirable lifestyle for his family and motivation from educators pushed a Lebanon man to graduate from the Wilson County Adult Learning Center and open the doors to his future. 

Jay Scott, 24, is a Shreveport, La., native and recently received his high school equivalency diploma from the Learning Center after studying for one year. Although some might think of a high school diploma as an afterthought, Scott said he understands the significance of the achievement. 

Scott was raised in Shreveport and Bossier City in Louisiana with his brothers and mother. He said after the family moved to Bossier City from neighboring Shreveport, his life sped up and he grew up quickly. 

“It grew me up fast. Puberty and everything hit and it was just a big change. A little later after that, I met a girl and had a kid,” Scott said. “That pushed me and motivated me to really grind for everything, especially income-wise because I put school on hold.”

Scott said he worked at a casino bakery, which paid pretty good money, but about a year later, he had another son. 

“That’s when everything hit me. I’m like, ‘Man. I’m young and I have two sons.’ It was all new for everybody around me,” Scott said.

His older brother, Von, motivated Scott to move to Lebanon. Von had moved to the area with his wife and founded Donut Time on Hartmann Drive.

“A few months later after he got settled, he hit me up and was like, ‘Move out here, man. It’ll be a big change for you.’ So, I moved here and loved every bit of it,” Scott said.

“It was different,” Von Scott said. “When you come from a place when there’s no opportunity to here where all you see is ‘Now Hiring,’ all over the place, it was so much more opportunity. We were just getting into trouble down there and we’re good kids, so it’s not like we were just looking for trouble. That’s just how it was.”

Scott, now a manager at the donut shop, said he lived in Lebanon in small stints of about three months and a year, but decided about five years ago to make the move permanent. Their mother joined them shortly after that. 

“A lot of people are friendly here. It’s just the small-town feel. I love it. I wouldn’t say I’m from a big city, but I’m from a city where the opportunities are slim. Even just going through Nashville, I was looking around and amazed at all of the people just out downtown,” Scott said. “Where I’m from, there aren’t really people out downtown because it’s not that busy. The only busy place is really the casino.”

Adult Learning Center opens doors 

Scott said his sister-in-law introduced him to the Adult Learning Center and he said the move changed his life. 

“It’s been complete motivation from them. Everybody there is amazing. I love every one of them. They’re special,” Scott said. 

Adult Learning Center staff members said Scott is remembered for always having a smile on his face, caring attitude and motivation. They said whenever Scott was faced with a negative situation, he would turn it into a positive because of his attitude.

Scott said he would wake up around 3:30 a.m. to prepare the donut shop with his brother or go to his other job and then go to school. 

“It wasn’t the hardest thing in the world. I think the hardest thing was having two sons. (School) was kind of natural,” he said. “At one point, I wasn’t really taking school as seriously as I should have. So, I told myself, ‘Let me just give school my all and get out of here.’ That’s what I did, and four weeks later, I was out of there with flying colors.”

Scott said he knew his diploma was the key to the next phase of his life, regardless of what he decided to do with it. He said the drive to get his diploma taught him several lessons. 

“I learned that I could do anything I put my mind to,” he said. “I just want to have it, so my family can have it.”

“I feel good knowing he can do what he needs to do without an issue. He can handle his business with ease and not get in trouble. I love it,” Von Scott said. “He had kids before I did. So, what he was going through, I had no idea about it. I just knew at one point we had to get out of there. I’m proud of where he is.”

“If I would have stayed in Louisiana, I don’t think I would have got my diploma. There’s just so many distractions and it’s wild,” Scott said. “It’s not that everyone there is negative, but there’s a lot of negative energy there.”

Settling down

Scott said his journey to this point in his life has been a “rodeo.” 

Scott now has a two-month-old daughter while his sons remain in Louisiana with their mother, but visit every holiday and summer. 

“I’m still learning about myself every day, and what I really want to do with my life. I’m still researching and figuring it all out,” Scott said. 

“I have so many friends whose brothers are either dead or incarcerated that just made bad choices in life. So, to see both of mine good, I feel like I made a better choice, because you have to see it in order to believe it,” Von Scott said. 

A news release from the Learning Center said Scott plans to visit Volunteer State Community College with an interest in the school’s criminal justice program.

Scott said better opportunities for his children drove his push to achieve his diploma. 

“I can’t preach to my sons about getting their high school diploma and things like that when I don’t mine. It didn’t make sense,” he said. 

He said it was vital for his sons to see him graduate in person. 

“It was unexplainable. It was a blessing,” he said. 

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