Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Administrative Assistant Lolita Law has been through her fair share of challenges. She believes those challenges shaped her into the mother, wife, professional and woman she is today.
“I’ve had a lot of things happen to me that probably could have stopped me from getting where I am today, but I surrounded myself with people who could show me that there is another way,” Law said.
As part of Women’s History Month 2022, the Kansas City District is telling unique stories about female team members who have made a name for themselves and continue to make a difference in the world.
Law’s story started when she was in high school.
“I was a good student but not academically. I got into this college program… and I really wasn’t ready, so I ended up leaving,” Law said.
The next chapter of her life started soon after in Kentucky when she met her future husband, Michael. He was stationed at Fort Knox for the military. They got married in 1988 and began a whirlwind life of moving around the world, making it hard to focus on herself.
“I went to school here and there, but it was hard because there weren’t any online programs back then, so you had to go where you were stationed. That was hard because you would get started in school and then you’d get orders to go someplace else,” Law said.
After living in eight different places, her family settled in Fort Leavenworth in 2002, and she decided to go back to school.
By this time, the internet was growing and so were online college programs. Law enrolled in Kansas City Kansas Community College and completed one year there before transferring to Regent University.
She almost completed a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies by May 2016, but she got heartbreaking news instead of a degree. Her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer.
She had to step away from her studies to care for him. Unfortunately, his cancer progressed, and he passed away in October 2016.
“At the time, my head was just all over the place. I was going through severe depression—I even had thoughts of suicide,” Law said. “There was one night where I thought, OK, this is it, I don’t want to be here anymore, and at that moment God put visions of my kids in my head.”
Law is a spiritual woman—she has two daughters and volunteers as a youth leader at her church. The faces of her kids, both biological and spiritual, and her faith in God are what motivated her to push through those dark times.
Around December 2016, she decided to re-enroll in school but got overwhelmed and thought she couldn’t continue, until she started working for the Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2017.
The road to healing
“Having that job at that time was perfect for me because… the [USACE team] kind of took care of me. It was a way for me to actually get ahold of my grieving process and deal with my depression in an environment that wasn’t harmful to me,” Law said.
She went back to her studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biblical and Theological Studies in May 2017—she was 50 years old. Soon after graduating, she was inducted into the Leavenworth Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority—a lifelong dream for her.
Her accomplishments didn’t stop there.
After her husband passed, she started writing a blog to express her feelings, and she received messages about how inspiring her story was. This sparked her interest in writing and pushed her toward her next goal—a master’s degree.
Over the next five years, Law earned a Master of Arts in Professional Writing from Liberty University and is currently working on a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Liberty as well.
Law is hoping to use her degrees and personal experiences to change people’s lives.
“I want to help other people who are going through what I went through. I want them to know that they aren’t alone, and they have someone in me,” Law said.
In personal and professional settings, people see the difference her presence makes.
“Lolita is a caring and inspirational woman who is never satisfied with the status quo. I have known her for years, and she has always strived to better herself and all those around her,” Law’s co-worker, Ft. Leavenworth Resident Office, Office Engineer Mark Martinez said.
“Lolita is a hardworking and considerate member of the Resident Office team, who exceeds expectations on the variety of tasks assigned. Her positive attitude and candidness brighten the office,” Law’s supervisor, Ft. Leavenworth Resident Office, Resident Engineer Chris Teel said.
Looking to the future
As she continues to navigate life, her focus is being a good example for her daughters and continuing to move on.
“I want them to know, no matter what life throws at them, they can still move on, be successful and be happy,” Law said. “It was hard, but I could not let tragic events destroy the rest of my life and that is not what Michael would have wanted either.”
Law recently got a second chance at love with Sam, her partner of almost four years.
“I realized that God does heal the heart and allow it to find love again,” Law said. “Sam has been a supportive driving force in my life who loves and encourages me to reach my goals and dreams. He always tells me I can do anything I put my mind to.”
She is also writing a book about her life so others can learn from her experiences.
“Having a reason to do something is what I call a blessing in a storm. My storm was all the depression and grief but discovering my calling as a writer was the blessing in the storm,” Law said.
As she approaches the next period of her life, she is taking it one step at a time, and encourages other women to do the same.
“I don’t know how many years I have left, I could have many, so I have to do what I can to elevate myself,” Law said. “You don’t know what life is going to throw at you so we, as women, need to be prepared on all sides and build ourselves up.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, the national suicide hotline is a resource that will always be available to you. Call 1(800)-273-8825 if you are struggling.