Becoming The First College Graduate In My Family

As I sit down to write this, I can’t help but feel a surge of pride and accomplishment. Today, I’m not just celebrating the completion of a college degree; I’m celebrating a journey of determination, perseverance, and unwavering support from my loved ones.

Over 30 years ago, I set a goal to be the first college graduate in my family. But life, like so many of us, had other plans. My college career hinged many times on working to support myself or continuing my studies. I attempted to go back many times, spanning 30 years and 5 different colleges, but work remained the priority. It wasn’t until Covid hit and the pandemic slowed life down for all of us that the opportunity presented itself, yet again, and I made the leap.

I knew the journey would have its challenges. Balancing full-time coursework with my family and work commitments tested my time management skills like never before. My schoolwork averaged 5-6 hours per day. I woke up early to tackle 1-2 hours of schoolwork before the sun came up. After working all day, I would take 30 minutes to visit with my family, then head upstairs for the evening to settle in for hours of homework. Dan took over all the cooking and evening chores, often bringing food upstairs to keep me working while Jack snuggled in my chair next to me to complete his homework. There were moments of self-doubt, exhaustion, and burnout, but somehow we made it work. It would have been an impossible feat if not for Dan and Jack. Their belief in me never wavered and they were my biggest cheerleaders.

I don’t know if it’s fully hit me yet. After 32 years of trying to accomplish a goal, you start accepting defeat as part of your norm. But that’s not the case today. Today I can say proudly that I am a college graduate AND that I graduated with honors- summa cum laude. At the end of the day, it’s not just about the degree—it’s about proving to myself that no goal is ever out of reach, no matter my age or circumstances. It’s about never giving up on myself and having the courage to chase my dreams no matter what. Today, I get to show my son the importance of perseverance, the power of resilience, and what it means to not make excuses. Anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

In 2 months I will complete my graduation journey when I have the opportunity to walk across the stage as an honors graduate at Central Washington University. The next month will be filled with graduation planning, festivities, and school celebrations and I plan on attending every single one. I’ve waited a long time for this and don’t want to miss a second.

Cheers to accomplishing your goals with perseverance and fortitude. Cheers to the strength to create the life we want for ourselves. If there is one piece of advice I can give as this journey comes to an end is to never settle. Take each day one step at a time and never give up on yourself. I know sometimes obstacles seem insurmountable, but never accept defeat. Surround yourself with those who support you and keep pushing. Although it may seem like you’re moving backward, each step you take will get you to where you are going, sometimes it just takes a little longer than we hoped.

I want to say a special thank you to my husband, Dan, and my son, Jack. There is no way I could have done any of this without you both. You are truly my superheroes, I so appreciate you taking every step alongside me.

Congratulations to Central Washington University’s class of 2024! Go Wildcats!

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