Veteran trucker enrolled in college

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2010

With nearly 4 million miles behind her and decades of supporting three families, Dixie Turner now finds it possible for something she’s always dreamed of doing for herself – going to college.

After a 40-year, accident-free career as a long-haul tractor-trailer truck driver, she’s turned in the wheel of a truck for books and classes and has just completed her first semester of college at LBW Comm-unity College in Andalusia.
“Starting over is nothing new,” said the North Carolina native who moved to Andalusia three years ago after her Opp home burned to the ground.

“I lost everything in the house fire, and I lived in a hotel for six weeks,” she said, a challenge at best.

However, meeting challenges is a life-long accomplishment for this new college student. Her driving career started at the young age of 18 when she obtained a chauffeur’s license (now called commercial driver’s license).

“My mother and step-father drove a truck, and he taught me to drive,” she said. With new license in hand, she became a commercial driver and the miles began to accumulate as she continued to cross the country from coast to coast.

“I would be gone anywhere from two to six weeks” at a time, she said. “I took my son on the truck with me when he was 8 and home-schooled him.”

Through the years, she supported herself and child, as well as two extended families. Finally, 40 years later, she retired from driving in February.

“I no longer have the desire to drive a truck,” she said. With the current economy, though, she said jobs aren’t that easy to find.

“I wasn’t getting anywhere finding a job. I thought I might as well try and improve myself and possibly change my line of work,” she said.

Although now in college pursuing a business administration degree with a minor in psychology, she intends to put her years of driving to good use and plans to test for a passenger endorsement to make it possible to drive a school bus.

“That would keep my hours open for class,” she said. “I’m already enrolled for spring term.”

“Her plans include obtaining a two-year associate’s degree, with hopes of continuing on for a four-year degree if possible.