Graduation Never Stops

graduationpic May is a wonderful time on social media! I absolutely love seeing the beautiful tributes to good mothers, the senior prom pictures and the graduation announcements and photos. Graduation is an amazing time in one’s life because although they will walk across the stage in the same fashion, no two students took the same path to reach that point.

I graduated from high school after a very tragic domestic violence incident my sophomore year which left my father a quadriplegic. In the course of one day, my life changed. One morning, I had a father who could drive me to school and the next morning I had a father who couldn’t walk. I became angry and hostile those final high school years and slacked off in my classwork. Despite those odds and bad behavior, I did manage to graduate and go on to college. I remember crossing the stage and seeing my father in his wheelchair in a designated area. He was so proud of me. It’s one of my favorite memories.

My freshmen year of college, I was 3 hours away from home and my father passed away. It was one of the worst times of my life. I had to return back to school and finish out a semester when my mind and heart were elsewhere and empty. I found myself on academic probation which was no surprise because I really didn’t even want to be there. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, I found myself pregnant my second year with no hopes of marriage in sight.

I decided to withdraw from school for one year, move back home and have my daughter. As I took on part-time work with adults who were constantly complaining about their full-time pay at an hourly rate, I was motivated more than ever to return to school and finish. I wanted to provide for my child in the best way that I could and I never wanted to be a statistic. In fact, no one believed in me.

I was very fortunate that veterans’ benefits provided financial means for me to complete my education and I did graduate from The University of Houston Honors College with a BA in Radio-Television and minors in German Film and Women’s Studies. I did juggle several jobs to stay afloat as a single mom and crossing that graduation stage with my then 3-year old daughter in attendance was one of my proudest moments ever. I now realized the impact of that moment that my father must have felt.

So many people tried to discourage me from going back to school and people actually taunted my pregnancy by telling me that I would never graduate or come back. Sometimes the only inspiration you need is someone telling you what you can’t do! Wise people realize that they never stop learning. While a graduation symbolizes the successful completion of a formal educational curriculum, you can always graduate to the next level in your life and career. Once you stop learning and growing, you became stagnant. Once you become stagnant, you die.

Adopt a mindset of constant learning. Whether it’s a new language, a new skill or a new approach, open your mind to becoming a student and embracing knowledge that you don’t currently have. For me, learning is the constant pursuit of self-elevation. While I want to stay grounded, I also want to aim high. I guess I’ll always be a moody student.