Sarah Middlebrooks: Student, Inspiration, Friend

I met Sarah a few years ago when she was a student in my English composition class at Fort Lyon. Not long after the semester began, Sarah became seriously ill with a respiratory illness and was hospitalized. While she was in the hospital, she asked if I could bring her homework. As I handed Sarah her homework, I told her that she forever ruined any possible excuses that my students would ever have in the future. She finished her work—on time—and finished the semester. Sarah continued her coursework for two years and completed an associate’s degree this spring. The picture above was taken just before her graduation from OJC, class of 2019. She will be taking additional coursework this fall toward a counseling certificate.

Sarah’s road has not been easy. She has had challenges as she has rebuilt her life after being homeless, but she has never given up—not even when she was severely burned in an accident last year. While going to school, Sarah began her own jewelry business. Being a generous person, she donated a number of her jewelry pieces to the Women’s Expo a couple years ago. Although Sarah successfully completed her time at Fort Lyon,  she got her own place in La Junta. She continues to visit Fort Lyon when she can get a ride out there and teach residents there to make jewelry.  She told me, “It’s therapeutic. Women will make a connection with each bead as they’re making a piece of jewelry.”

Sarah is a giver in many ways. Sarah has a special place in her heart for our basketball boys and has taken them under her wing. She’s like a mom away from home and gives them love and advice. She made plates of food for them a few times last semester—one was for the Super Bowl because she wanted those kids to have some good home-cooked food.

Ever since she left Fort Lyon, Sarah has worked toward her education. She has also worked for the college as a work study and now as a summer employee. She told me the other day,“I just can’t believe the things that have happened. I have money. I even have credit cards!” …the rewards of hard work and determination.

Not everyone has the success that Sarah has achieved, but there are many who do. Fort Lyon offers hope and a chance at a new life. Sarah took that chance and stands as a role model for others. “That place saved me,” she once told me. I would agree with her, but Sarah has worked hard to be where she is.

Under any circumstances, Sarah would be an inspiration, but after considering what she has overcome in her life, she is even more so. She spreads joy, hopefulness, and insight wherever she goes. She is an amazing woman, and I am honored to be her friend.