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Faydene Alston grew up in Pittsboro with four brothers and sisters and looked forward to starting a big happy family of her own when she got married at the age of 31.

“I was determined to be a mom,” Alston said, but the babies never came.

“The doctor said, ‘There’s no reason why you can’t get pregnant, but I never did. I was 41 when I decided to just go and adopt. It took two years of heartache and a lot of crying, but it finally happened.”

She got a baby girl, not quite a month old, and gave her a name that matched the way she felt about her the first time she held her in her arms.

“I named her Precious,” Alston said. That was 12 years ago, “and that little girl changed my life. I wanted her so bad that when I got her she became my life.”

The marriage did not survive, but Alston committed herself to becoming the best mother she knew how to be.

That commitment, she said, led her back to the classroom to earn her GED in 2005, about the time Precious turned 2. Alston didn’t want her daughter to make the mistake she had when she dropped out of high school in the 10th grade.

She would end up pursuing that degree with the same steely determination it had taken to become a mother.

“I was in class for so many years. I passed all the other tests without any problem. Math was my holdup.”

Time after time, she took the math test. And time after time, she failed. Finally, in 2013, she discovered she would have to start all over again if she failed once more.

This time, she passed. And in January of 2014, she enrolled at Durham Technical Community College to pursue a degree in early childhood development and has amassed more than 20 credit hours toward that goal.

Alston said she wants to get the degree because she loves babies so much she would like to one day work in a daycare center. But going to school is another way of letting Precious know that education is important, and that hard work pays off.

Precious started 7th grade this year, and even though she had developed a mind of her own, she thinks much like her mother: She wants a kid brother or sister.

“We talk about it and I am seriously thinking about becoming a foster parent,” Alston said. “If I don’t do it, she is going to keep reminding me.”

Faydene Alston

Home: Chapel Hill

Job: Housekeeper at Kenan-Flagler Business School

UNC employee since: 2001

Excerpts from nominations:

Patrick Turner, a research technician for the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, came to know Alston between 2010 and 2013 while teaching GED classes for the Orange County Literacy Council. “Faye stands out as by far the most determined and inspiring student I taught,” Turner said, noting how she had begun working on her GED in 2005 and had attempted to pass the math test several times before he met her in 2010.

“Most people either pass the GED tests in their first few tries or give up on their goal altogether,” Turner wrote. “Faye worked so hard for three more years, enduring the disappointment of 11 unsuccessful attempts before she passed on the 12th try. Now she’s attending college classes!”

Betty Wilson, an administrative assistant at the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, spoke of how Alston was “always willing to go the extra mile to help someone” even as she pursues her career goal to become a preschool teacher while raising her daughter as a single parent.

Tracy Triggs-Matthews, assistant director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, talked about Alston’s leadership ability and her capability of taking care of everyday details while planning for the future.

“Faydene also has tremendous intellectual curiosity and frequently asks questions to advance her own knowledge,” Triggs-
Matthews said.

What it meant to receive a Massey: “I was speechless. I couldn’t say anything when my boss told me. I thanked God first of all. It was so unbelievable.”

By Gary Moss, University Gazette
Originally published by University Gazette: October 27, 2015 – 11:22 am

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