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Christina Pinckard
Determination keeps Pinckard on path to degree
By Matt Vines

NATCHITOCHES – Christina Pinckard had plenty of reasons to quit.

Pinckard lost her husband James in 2015 after multiple lengthy battles with cancer, leaving her to raise two autistic children.

But the 45-year-old Pinckard will walk across the Northwestern State graduation stage Friday to receive her English degree, saying her husband is her inspiration.

“My husband battled (myxoid liposarcoma) cancer six times during a 13-year period,” said Christina, who added James went back to school and graduated from Northwestern State with an education degree in 2011 despite his bouts of cancer. “He had cancer twice while he was going to school, and he’d have surgery on spring break.

“He had another operation during spring break while he was student teaching. He taught at Bossier High School for two years, and he taught until the end of his life. He was our family’s driving force, and he still is mine.”

Pinckard, a Haughton resident, attended NSU online classes that fit with her busy schedule.

Son Matthew, 15, attends Haughton High School for half a day. Christina used her mornings to complete school assignments. Her oldest son Michael, 20, completed Bossier Parish Community College’s Program for Successful Employment which specializes in preparing students with cognitive disabilities or autism and is attempting to qualify for video editing classes.

She crafts and attends to other routine duties in the afternoon before she turns to writing at night.

“The challenge is raising the boys by myself, to raise these boys without their father,” Pinckard said. “You don’t have the backup at home to help discipline them when things go haywire.

“But I have lots of support from family and friends. My mom and brother live within 10 miles.”

Pinckard didn’t wait until she finished her degree to work on one of her lifelong projects – a young adult novel series.

Protagonist Meranda is a teenage girl who fights demons in Pinckard’s first two books – Arising From Darkness and Undetected Secrets, which are available on her website, on Amazon or in NSU’s Watson Library.

Pinckard is planning a 10-book series. She self-publishes after she said two traditional presses didn’t fulfill their portion of agreements, even stealing money from her.

“I realized there weren’t enough novels for young adults that are clean,” Pinckard said. “These kids are reading things like ‘Twilight,’ but I wanted to write something that’s clean for kids to read.

“My series is about young girls who fight demons. Kids are fighting different kinds of demons every day like peer pressure.”

Pinckard is promoting her series, going to different Comicons, including events in Kilgore, Texas, and Little Rock, Arkansas, later this month.

She’s developed a local fan base, including 11-year-old Harley who is hounding her for the third book.

“Kids don’t hold anything back. They are so honest,” Pinckard said. “Harley introduces me to everyone she sees as her favorite author. She’s my go-to person.”

Pinckard wants to eventually pursue elementary school teaching after the bond her husband James formed with the Bossier High School community in just two years.

“My mom was a teacher, and I didn’t want to teach at first because I saw the amount of time she spent grading and talking to parents,” Pinckard said. “But I realized the reward that’s involved when James and I interacted with his students and other teachers.

“Bossier High School really embraced us. We developed an especially close relationship with the basketball team, and we went to all of the Bearkats games.

Players like Devonte Hall, who is doing great at Northwestern State right now, have been very supportive of me and helped me cope with my loss. James passed away on August 20, 2015, at 2:35 p.m., just after school let out for the day. We say he was that dedicated of a teacher that he had to wait until school was out.”

The trek across Northwestern State’s graduation stage will be just a few small steps in Pinckard’s journey, but it’s a fulfillment of a promise made to her husband.

“I feel a lot of gratitude and satisfaction that I was able to finish,” Pinckard said. “My husband told me never to quit no matter what happens to him.

“Just don’t give up and don’t quit because if you do, you’ll never accomplish your dreams. James’ first group of high school students will graduate this year. They tell me they still miss him. He was an impactful teacher, and that’s what I want to be.”