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A Sense of Purpose
BRCC Alumna of the Year also finds destiny

Baton Rouge, LA One of BRCC’s educational principles is to present students with a broad range of experiences and knowledge to enrich them both personally and professionally…in short, exposure equals education.  For BRCC graduate Leah Trammell, recipient of BRCC’s Alumnus of the Year award, it was exposure that also gave her a sense of purpose. 


“I can definitely say that I would not be where I am today if not for the experiences and opportunities I got while attending BRCC,” Trammell said.


The Baton Rouge native had obtained her GED and been out of school for 14 years before deciding to attend college – a move that was inspired by her daughter.


“I felt that my daughter was learning more than I knew, and I got tired of not being able to answer her questions and help her with her own schoolwork,” she confessed.  “It became a personal goal…I wanted to have more than just a high-school education.”


Trammell chose BRCC because of its standards for accommodating non-traditional students such as herself. “I would have never had the confidence to walk onto a four-year campus in my situation,” she said.


Nevertheless, she felt intimidated when she started her classes.  “I was extremely insecure,” she admitted.


However, Trammell quickly gained confidence, something she attributes directly to the smaller class sizes and personal attention from instructors at BRCC.


“With smaller classes, I was able to communicate better with my professors…I felt that I wasn’t just a number.  I actually was on a first name basis with several of my teachers,” Trammell recalled.


Initially, Trammell chose General Studies, with a concentration in Criminal Justice. 


“I chose that major because it just seemed interesting, and it had the least amount of math,” she chuckled.  


She had no way of knowing it at the time, but her choice would later prove to be decisive.   In the meantime, however, she still had hurdles to overcome with the math courses she was still required to take.  “That subject was the biggest issue with me; I’ve always struggled with it,” she confessed.  


She found her footing with the help of BRCC’s Center for Academic Success, but she also received assistance from sources she didn’t expect.


“Just having [the Center] available helped me tremendously, but also I had a lot of great teachers,” Trammell explained.   “I could even go back to my previous instructors to ask questions, and they would always help me.”


Trammell’s interest in the investigative aspects of Criminal Justice led her to stay with the program when BRCC transitioned it from a General Studies concentration into its own degree.   In the summer of 2010, before her last semester, she began looking for something to keep herself busy while out of school.   From various events she had attended, she found out about Trafficking Hope, a local outreach program designed to rescue victims of human trafficking and educate the public on the growing severity of the issue.  She opted to volunteer with them during the summer. 


The experience changed her life.


“When I saw the sheer magnitude of what was happening, it just pulled me in…I couldn’t stop myself,” Trammell recalls.  “Human trafficking and slavery is the third largest criminal industry in the world.  We tend to think, ‘This is the United States; that sort of thing doesn’t happen here,’ but I was astonished when I found out just how big and far-reaching of a problem it is.


“When I started to volunteer with them, everything fell into place:  why I had chosen criminal justice, why I had gone back to school, everything.  Everything just blossomed from there…I felt as if I had finally found my niche in life.”


Trammell received approval to work with the organization for her internship during the final semester in her Criminal Justice program.  When she graduated in December of 2010, it was gratifying.


“I was so happy about the fact that I had encountered obstacles and had been able to work and overcome them, but I was also happy because I felt as if I had found my purpose…what I had been born to do,” she said.


Trammell now serves as Assistant to the Executive Director of Trafficking Hope; one of her current projects is working with the organization’s planning committee to raise money to build housing for victims of trafficking in Louisiana.  “It will be the only one of its kind in the state, and among less than 100 beds for domestic adult victims nationally,” she noted. 


Trammell said she does plan to eventually continue her education – but for now, her destiny lies with Trafficking Hope. 


“There are so many people who are impacted by human trafficking,” she reflected.  “My biggest goal right now is to increase awareness about the seriousness of the problem…ultimately, that will broaden our organization’s capabilities for finding victims, rehabilitating them, and reintegrating them back into the community.  The more lives we can touch, the more we can save.”

Published :Monday, Apr 04 2011