Senior LecturerHuman Services, Management and LeadershipUNT Dallas
“I was one of those adults who had already been in the workforce when I got to Eastfield; I’d been working at Dallas Can! Academy since 1986, and that experience helped me to decide what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up.’ I worked my way up from receptionist to intake coordinator there and I wanted to get my LCDC certification, which prompted me to go back to school. At Eastfield in the TRIO program, I was paired up with a mentor who saw the potential in me and the career path I wanted to take.
“I was a single parent with two kids, and I needed a job. I worked down the hall from Dallas Can! Academy, where I started as a receptionist in 1986 and left in 1994 as intake coordinator. I completed my associate degree at Eastfield in 1995 and then transferred to UNT.
“I think that to be an effective leader, manager or educator, you have to have the heart to empower people. My experience at Eastfield was one of empowerment — it was the place I became informed and had my plans and dreams for the future recognized by someone of vision,
Gloria Jackson, who was just starting to coordinate the Social Work and Substance Abuse program. To be successful in social work, you have to have the heart to intervene and to know how to make a difference. As a result of working with at-risk youth at Dallas Can! Academy, I wanted to be an agent of change. I had the desire, the passion and the people skills — but what I didn’t have was the education to validate what I knew. I remember one of my Eastfield professors saying that higher education is all about confirming that you have the skills to do a job well; he was one of the first minority Ph.D.s I’d been in contact with, and it really made an impression on me.
“I love being here at the UNT Dallas Campus, touching people in the southern sector of the city who might not otherwise have the opportunity to go to college without a state-funded institution at their back door. Now I can be the person who helps guide and direct others in the way I was guided and directed first at Eastfield. The quality of the education I received there was exceptional — the telltale signs are how well it prepared me for the next level of earning my bachelor’s degree. I applied for and won the Ronald E. McNair Scholarship and then at the national level, the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. I was the first African-American in the history of UNT to win that award.
“Eastfield helped me combine what I learned in the workplace with what I learned in the classroom, as well as make sense of it all. At Eastfield I started my journey gathering foundational information I needed and tying it all together. I learned the skills I needed to engage the community and to advocate for people who need assistance. I also found a level of relationships and camaraderie among the faculty and students; I didn’t feel awkward at all as an adult returning to school because so many of my peers were in the same situation.
“I was told that if you don’t want to hit the glass ceiling, you have to keep going to school. So that’s what I did. The combination of the support from the TRIO program, the academics and the support I got at Eastfield were invaluable.
“When I started my associate degree at Eastfield, I was a single parent with two kids looking for a way to move forward in my life and my career. Eastfield helped me to do that. Who would have thought that 10 years later, I’d have a Ph.D. and be a university professor? Without the foundation I got at Eastfield, I wouldn’t be here.”
Dr. Constance Lacy has worked at the UNT Dallas Campus since 2006. She earned dual degrees in Social Work and Substance Abuse Counseling at Eastfield College in 1995 and transferred to the University of North Texas with the assistance of the college’s TRIO program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from UNT, as well as a master’s and doctoral degree in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Dr. Lacy holds credentials as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and served as an adjunct faculty member in Eastfield’s Social Work and Substance Abuse Counseling programs at Eastfield College from 2004 to 2008. She also teaches classes in UNT Dallas’ Human Services Enrichment and Management Leadership program, a bachelor’s degree program designed to help develop administrators and leaders in the nonprofit and social services settings.
Dallas Can! Academy provides a second chance for at-risk youth and their families to achieve economic independence and hope for a better life through relationship-based education and training.
TRIO programs at Eastfield and the six other colleges of DCCCD help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education from the community college associate degree through transfer to a four-institution to earn a bachelor’s degree. Services include tutoring; academic, career and personal counseling; financial aid and scholarship information and assistance; workshops and cultural activities; and field trips to area universities.