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MAKING A MARK: Former teacher turned life coach pays it forward

Chavon Thomas overcame adversity and accessed her potential. She attributes her success to the help she received in grade school. Now, she's inspiring others.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — "Be committed, be consistent, and be courageous." Chavon Thomas was a special education teacher at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach for six years. She said she constantly talked to her students about believing in themselves. 

"How can we incorporate whatever lesson that we're learning into everyday life," said Thomas, "to encourage them and motivate them to know that they can be great and know that they have something that they can offer the world?"

It's a poignant message for Thomas. Growing up, her family struggled financially and had to move often, creating obstacles in her education. 

"I am very used to moments where we did not have lights on, moments where we did not have water, also moments where I was definitely a student on free and reduced lunch, said Thomas. "My parents absolutely supported my education... but I always say, they could only get me to a certain point."

She credits ACCESS College Foundation with helping her stay on track. "My amazing ACCESS counselor, Ms. Adria Phillips, supported me, encouraged me," said Thomas. "She gave me all the tools that I needed to be successful."

Thomas contributed her story to the book, 'Undeterred: Success Stories of Female Leaders Who Pursued a Seat at the Table Despite Setbacks' (presented by Dr. Karen Hills Pruden), to inspire others to achieve their dreams. 

"No matter what your story is, no matter where you started-- you need to understand that if you are willing to persevere, be consistent and be intentional, that you really can set goals for your life and reach those goals," said Thomas.

Thomas said she reached her goal to impact students' lives, giving them the same push she needed and received. "I want to help the next generation of leaders take their place, take their position, boldly and confidently," she said.

Thomas is now working on her faith-based, empowerment organization called Purpose Unwrapped, LLC. She's also a life coach, speaker, and has a podcast and talk show. She said she's still mentoring and motivating people of all ages. To learn more about Thomas, visit www.chavonanette.com