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Education helped 'get my mind back'

Jeanine Hegwood credits education for her mental health recovery and nonprofit ambitions

Education is about more than learning facts and figures. Jeanine Hegwood is a perfect example of that.

The former real estate agent has spent the last few years working her way back up from a low point in life. She is now close to achieving a big dream thanks to her pursuit of learning, which allowed her to reclaim her mind.

“I want to start a nonprofit to help women in recovery,” Hegwood said. “I know real estate, and I know how to move property. I helped people to acquire such an important asset in their life, but I never associated having that asset with mental health until I had a mental health problem for real.”

Janine Hegwood-NAWIC volunteer photo

Hegwood completed several career programs at Francis Tuttle Technology Center to achieve her nonprofit goal. It started with Broadcast and Video Production, then 3-D Animation, Programming, and Software Development, and more recently, she completed Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CAD).

Currently, she is working on a certification as a Full Charge Bookkeeper in the Accounting program. Hegwood said she is amazed at the knowledge she has gained. 

“This school has expanded my capacity in many ways,” she said. “By saving my mind, it expanded it. This school has the confidence that even someone like me can learn the components of things and become more rounded.”

Houzz — an online platform that connects homeowners with home designers —  awarded her their annual scholarship based on Hegwood’s submission of her CAD capstone project.

“This took a year and a half,” she said about the project. “I sold real estate, but that was from a different perspective. [CAD] completely changed my perspective, and I realized how much I actually do not know.”

When she was 21, Hegwood began her career as a real estate agent. She held this job for about eight years before suffering a severe mental breakdown.

“After those eight years, I kind of just crashed,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what happened.”

The life she knew was wiped away, and she went to the City Rescue Mission for help. They provided her with shelter, safety and a path forward.

“I was just thinking, how can I get my mind back?” Hegwood said. “City Rescue Mission didn’t allow me to do nothing. I love them because I’m not a break person. They have a school and work program, so they let me go to work and go to Francis Tuttle, which was perfect.”

As her education progressed, Hegwood got more involved with the organizations that matched her career ambitions. She has worked with Habitat for Humanity and developed relationships with people who can help her start a nonprofit.

She also received scholarships from the National Association of Women in Construction and Executive Women International. She is also studying construction management at Ashworth College and plans to add psychology so she can help people who went through similar mental health experiences.

“My battlefield of the mind was fought right here, and I spent 7 years holding onto my mind here,” Hegwood said. “And Francis Tuttle, all of the companies and organizations and people who helped me, they let me stay here to work this thing out so that I could get back to the professional that I was.”

by Adam Troxtell - October 25, 2022