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Veteran's Voice: Local veteran overcomes adversity to inspire others

Posted at 9:47 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 09:26:22-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV)  — In this week's Veteran's Voice, meet a Navy veteran whose life has been full of adversity.

Kesha Westbrooks, 46, was College of Southern Nevada's 50th-anniversary student commencement speaker on Monday. A mother of two daughters, Westbrooks is a cancer and stroke survivor. But perhaps her biggest challenge came when she spent four years in prison for a financial crime.

She was released in 2019 and credits CSN's prison education program with giving her hope.

"It's been a tough road to get to this point," Westbrooks said.

She talked about the message of her commencement speech to CSN graduates, and why she felt it was important:

"I want to share with my fellow graduates that it is OK to fall down," Westbrooks said. "What's important is that you get back up. You learn lessons from that, and you try harder to do better the next time."

"We all make mistakes," she added. "We all fall short, but if you're willing to work hard you can reinvent yourself on the other side."

"Reinventing" herself is a concept Westbrooks is familiar with in many stages of her life, including her time in the U.S. Navy.

"My time in the military taught me how not to be afraid of hard work and how to be disciplined," she said. "The time at sea taught me about the value of my own company and not needing a lot of socialization with others."

To those out there who may be struggling or questioning whether they, like her, can turn their life around, Westbrooks had this message:

"Just hang on," she said. "I know it seems insurmountable today, but if you just hang on, you, too, will get through it on the other side."

After earning her Associate degree, Westbrooks said she plans to pursue her Bachelor's in social work at UNLV.