Dawn Coker Derrick

Dawn Coker Derrick


Throughout my almost seventy years, I have met, observed and gotten to know a vast number of people. In the Human Resource and Organizational Development fields, a majority of them are women. One of the most extraordinary of all of those ladies is my niece Dawn. I was around when she was born and have watched her grow into a remarkable professional, mother and wife – despite the odds stacked against her. Whenever I think of her I feel the “Coker family pride” swell up inside of me.

Her life began with history repeating itself. In the same way both Mom and Dad’s dads deserted the family, her dad did also. Only her situation was probably worse – he left around the time of her birth. He wasn’t there for her at any time. I cannot imagine what goes through a father’s mind who knows he has a child on the way, only to make a decision to walk away from his own flesh and blood. Immaturity is all that I can assume because once a father looks at his child I cannot fathom how anyone could leave a helpless infant. But he did.

Fortunately, Theresa was committed to making sure Dawn was loved and cared for as best she could. And, she did what I believe was an amazing job. Knowing Dawn, I would imagine that if she could see some of the places she lived in and some of the conditions she lived under while my sister struggled through those years, she would cringe. But she made it and made the best of it!

Dawn excelled all through school. Always at the top of the class academically. Whenever I would talk with her mom I would get the latest updates on how well she was doing and how proud Teresa was of her. She performed because the expectations were high and she made up her mind that she would achieve those objectives and did so with diligence. While it is every parent’s right to complain from time to time, I never heard negative comments about Dawn – it was always about what she was doing and how she had attained the next objective and milestone in her life.

Dawn wasn’t satisfied with just graduating from High School. She finished college with spectacular grades and then went to graduate school. Before I knew it she was a Nurse Practitioner working in Cardiac Surgery. Each and every accomplishment made me prouder and prouder of her. What made it even more rewarding was knowing how my mom, the nurse, was basking in the joy of her achievements also. Family pride, family pride – in Dawn who was going beyond the norm.

Even though Dawn, like all of us, had some ups and downs in relationships, she settled on a man who impressed me almost as much as her. Brandon is a loving and caring father and shares the same commitment to excellence that Dawn does. You can see that their son Riley will grow up with high expectations that will be supported by two loving parents committed to his success. While that brings me great joy, also, he will have a support system that she did not have. He will have two parent’s love and attention that she did not have. It makes her life stand out that much more and forms even more respect (in my mind) for her.

Dawn is human and like all of us, carries imperfections. BUT Dawn beat the odds because of love and the timeless prayers that supported, intensified and multiplied that love. She is living proof that with her determination and prayer God honors his promises – especially when He repeats those promises over and over and over again. (Exodus 20:6, Deuteronomy 5:10, 7:9, 1 Chronicles 16:15 & Psalm 105:8)

Love Dad

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