She did not finish high school. Her academics were good, but she lived in fear of gang violence in Gulf Port, Miss. and dropped out at the age of 16. She was ambitious, often working two jobs to make ends meet, but she longed for something better.
She and her husband survived Hurricane Katrina, but they lost all their property, and came to Marshall County to start over again near family.
"I decided to take a very bad thing (Katrina) and turn it into a very good thing," said Julie.
She began taking General Education Degree classes at the Adult Education Center in Lewisburg. She earned her GED and now Julie is enrolled in the nursing program at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski.
This summer the Tennessee Association for Adult and Community Education will formally recognize Julie as the Outstanding Martha Brown Adult Learner.
The award recognizes adults who carry significant responsibilities and overcome difficult circumstances to further their education and improve their life situations. They must demonstrate leadership qualities and be supportive of others. The Director of Marshall County's Adult Learning Center, Sarah Campbell, nominated Julie for the award.
"Julie is a standout young lady. Her attendance was also excellent, even with a full time job and family obligations," said Campbell.
Campbell said that although each student's story is unique they all share a common theme, like Julie, they want to further their education and improve their lives.
The Learning Center had contact with 353 adults in 2006 and expects to serve more students this year. The program averages 40 graduates a year, according to Campbell.
"We hold an orientation/ enrollment session so prospective students can be sure the program here meets their needs," said Campbell.
Morning and evening classes are available at the Center, located at 1771 Jason Maxwell Blvd. in Lewisburg. The Marshall County Board of Education provides the classroom space at the Spot Low Technology Center, near Marshall County High School.
Pre-testing is done to help students and instructors determine where academic strengths are and where more study is needed. Programs include GED instruction, basic skills training, English for speakers of other languages and basic computer skills. Class entry begins monthly.