Ada — John Gaines took perhaps the most unlikely path toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree from East Central University in 2011.
Gaines will share his story at 3 p.m. Monday, April 7, in the Parker Ethics Lecture in Foundation Hall of the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center on the ECU campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.
With faith, some loving family members and his ECU family, Gaines achieved academic success in 2011 by not only earning his business degree, but being selected as the outstanding general business student by the faculty and also receiving a special "character" award.
“John was an outstanding student known for his leadership, character, smile and effort. Many of us are just now learning of the obstacles he overcame in his journey to ECU and a bachelor’s degree,” said Dr. Pat Fountain, professor of business administration and director of the Parker Ethics Lecture.
Indeed the path had many obstacles as Gaines lived a turbulent and tumultuous life as a child.
In 1995, the 7-year-old Gaines found himself facing the darkest point of his life. His mother, a chronic, struggling drug addict, had just died of a massive stroke due to years of drug use. Then without a mother, Gaines lived in the Hilltop of Tacoma, Wash., which at the time had some of the highest drug and crime rates in America.
At the tender age of 7, he found himself surrounded by gangs, drugs and despair.
But in the years that followed, Gaines did receive love and support from his brother and sister-in-law, along with his grandmother, who all helped in rearing him. But some of the problems still persisted as he fought anger, learning disabilities and depression. He experienced most of these issues because his mother used drugs while he was in the womb.