Bainbridge native rises to success after humble beginnings

Published 4:04 pm Friday, May 4, 2018

When Phyllis Freeman-Solomon was one of six children growing up with a single mother in the Bishop’s Bottom section of Bainbridge, she couldn’t have guessed how far she would go from those humble beginnings.

They lived in a house without indoor plumbing and were recipients of public assistance. Her mother Gloria Freeman always struggled to keep the family together after the father left, and the kids all picked up odd jobs whenever and wherever they could to make an extra buck.

She remembers Sylvia Perry who allowed her to perform different odd jobs around her home. She also took an interest in her education. “I remember she drove me and a few other kids to Albany to take our SATs. More so, she reminded me that I was somebody and treated me with kindness,”

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Phyllis said she was inspired by her mother who always pushed education. “I knew it was my only out.”

All through her Bainbridge school days she also had friends and teachers who recognized her abilities and encouraged her to be all she could be.

She attended Elcan King Elementary and Hutto Middle School before going on to Bainbridge High School, where she graduated in 1994. Several teachers from those years stand out in her mind. Mrs. Dale Farmer is referred to as the best 3rd grade teacher a kid could ever have. Mr. Marvin Thomas was her middle school Georgia history teacher. “He fostered my love of history and always walked with integrity.” Mr. Chris Hill was her 10th grade Physical Science teacher whom all the kids sought out because he was “cool.” “We could always talk to him about our lives without judgment.”

Mr. Pascal Ward was her high school band teacher. She calls him a no non-sense kind of guy; but he cared deeply for all of his band students. “Our band was a family and he was at the center of it.”

From high school she moved on to Georgia Southern University where she earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing in 2000. She had to work at part-time jobs and depend on scholarships while in college. She was fortunate to have a wonderful church family who helped a lot. She is also thankful for the friendship of Mrs. Almisha Stewart-Zander who helped her find her way during her transition from high school to college. “She taught me what it meant to be a young person of faith and how to walk that out in a world that shies away from religion.” She goes on to say as her family had no car, Almisha drove her from Bainbridge to Statesboro to attend college orientation. “In addition, she and her family hosted me for two weeks during that terrible flood in 1994.”

After receiving her nursing degree she worked in Statesboro for eight years in local hospitals. She has been married to her husband, Rev. Solomon, for 17 years and is the mother to three children. You might think she should be satisfied with her life at that point. But she wanted more.

In 2012 she decided to get her Master’s in nursing and wondered how she would ever be able to do that while she maintained her full-time job, cared for her family and also her commitments to The Body of Christ Church where she assists her minister husband. Then a co-worker told her about Walden University where she could advance her studies on-line.

She graduated with her Masters in Nursing and last week she passed the certification boards to become a Nurse Practitioner, able to work in the State of Georgia.

She is currently employed with Children’s Medical Health Services of Southeastern District of Children’s Services in Statesboro, and really enjoys working in pediatrics.

She also helps her husband in the church activities, which include a church camp called “Ready 2000,” that works with children who are economically disadvantaged.

But, she still isn’t done. Her goal is to open up a clinic for low income families in Statesboro.

Her mother would be proud. Unfortunately she passed away when Phyllis was 26, but she did live long enough to see her daughter graduate with a nursing degree.

“My mother taught us well by example. She said it was important to have a good name and to carry yourself well and with pride.” That is certainly something Phyllis has accomplished in her life, and now she is leading others by example.

The Post Searchlight is pleased and thankful to a co-worker of Mrs. Freeman-Solomon, who knew she had a story worth sharing ‘back home.’