University of Pennsylvania

Veterans Upward Bound

Alumni Profiles

Diana Kirkland

University of Pennsylvania

Veterans Upward Bound Alumi

Diana Kirkland

My name is Diana Delores Kirkland.  I have had an extremely tumultuous life.  I was raped at five years old and abused throughout my life by different family members and people in general.  However, I am a proud veteran of the United States Navy!  Before my entry into the Navy in 1988, I had three children and I was also addicted to drugs.  Upon entry, I stopped doing drugs, got married and had a fabulous career until I experienced marital abuse.  My husband was an alcoholic and very abusive.  I had to end my military career in 1991 because I could no longer endure a relationship in which I was being physically and sexually abused; my children were seeing me go through that and  they had been through enough with my addiction.  

After leaving the military, I moved from Long Beach California back to Philadelphia.  I became very depressed because I didn't want to leave my career in the military and in less than 6 months after returning, I was using drugs again!  In the midst of all of that, I had three more children. Because of them, I never gave up hope that I could get and stay clean.  I kept going to the Coatesville VA Medical Center for treatment, but it seemed like I could only stay clean for a year or less.  I entered the Coatesville VA Medical Center approximately eleven times from 1995 to 2010.  

In 2010, I had an awakening!  I began to apply to my life what I had learned all those years in going to inpatient treatment.  I began to love myself and knew I deserved to be happy. In the course of discovering this, I found out about Trio Veterans Upward Bound!  I was at Community College with my youngest daughter, Brittany, who was in high school at the time and she had enrolled in the Upward Bound Program at Community College of Pennsylvania.  I asked her counselor if there were any programs for veterans.  She told me about Trio Veterans Upward Bound!  I went to see Ms. Diane Sandefur and I immediately enrolled in the program.  I met my counselor Todd and he was so awesome, caring, and supportive!  Everyone at Upward Bound is like this.  I felt like I had found my long-lost family!

I had been out of high school since 1982, but always dreamed of going to college!  I was a little fearful at first because of all that I had taken myself through regarding drugs.  I wasn't sure of my mental capacity but I decided that it was worth it!  Everyone at Upward Bound encouraged me, especially Todd! I took my classes in Math, English, Computer and Writing and I was on my way!  I excelled in each one of these classes, earning A grades, with the help of my counselor, tutors, instructors and classmates.  My original goal was to earn my Master's Degree in Social Work.  However, VUB took all the veterans on a field trip to Peirce College.  Once I got to Peirce College, I didn't want to leave.  I knew I belonged there just like I belonged at VUB.  I decided to go for a degree in Paralegal Studies starting in January 2012.  

I have also excelled in this program by maintaining over a 3.9 GPA.  I am involved in various activities such as:  (1) I am a Peirce Ambassador; (2) I have been a work-study in the Peirce College Walker Center for Academic Excellence for three years and assist in providing students with the resources necessary to ensure successful completion of classes; (2)  have been a model student speaker at new student orientation also for the past three years; (4) I am the President of the Peirce College Student Paralegal Association; (5) I currently became a tutor for paralegal students.  I have consistently been on the Dean' List or President's List and I am involved with three paralegal associations including:  (1) Philadelphia Association of Paralegals; (2) South Jersey Paralegal Association; and (3) National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

I am two classes from receiving my Bachelor's Degree in Paralegal Studies, August 20, 2015 and I am also a part-time disability paralegal at Banks Law located at Two Logan Square, 100 N. 18th Street, Suite 1910, Philadelphia, PA 19103.  I just received a full-time job offer from Banks Law starting September 8, 2015.  I was chosen to receive the Peirce College Board of Trustee's scholarship and have won two major scholarships with the proceeds amounting to $3,000.00 for essays I've written.  I am currently applying for another one which is $3,000.00 by itself.  If I win, this scholarship will assist me financially in gaining my Juris Doctorate upon attending law school in June 2016.  I could go on and on about the many achievements which VUB has assisted me in achieving.  Without VUB, I wouldn't have gotten to Peirce College, my life would have taken a different turn.  I have been clean and sober from drugs and alcohol since November 22, 2010 and I am amazed at all the blessings God has bestowed upon me and my family.  I am now the proud grandmother of four grandchildren with one on the way in October and my children are doing great.  They did not become products of their environment and I am so grateful for that.

I can't say enough about Veterans Upward Bound!  They are a group of wonderful people who want to ensure that veterans receive a college education and that we excel in whatever area we choose.  I thank GOD for Trio Veterans Upward Bound and all who are apart of it!  Upon completion of my Bachelor's Degree, I will be volunteering and assisting VUB in anyway that I can.  It's about giving back what was so freely given to me!  That is my aim and my goal in life because I have been given my life back, starting with Trio Veterans Upward Bound!!!!!  Thank you VUB!