Let’s face it; parents face unique challenges when they decide to earn their degree. They not only have to deal with the demands of caring for children and supporting their family, they also have to stay on top of their studies and juggle attending classes and completing school work. Theresa A. Holland was one of the many parents that attended Peirce College, and she felt compelled to share her story with others.
“…I had to share my story because my experience at Peirce taught me so many things about myself and helped me [become] the woman I am today,” Theresa said. “It gave me hope and made me broaden my horizons.”
Theresa first attended Peirce during its junior college days in the fall of 1991. When she enrolled she was married with a two year old daughter and had her G.E.D. She had her second daughter in 1992, and made the decision to stop attending school. By the time the end of 1993 rolled around, Theresa welcomed another child into the world and was a full-fledged stay at home wife and mother. After spending time enjoying raising her children and caring for her family, Theresa made the decision to go back to school.
“My youngest daughter was about to enter kindergarten so I decided to go back to school,” Theresa explained. “I went back to Peirce in the fall of 1997 to finish my degree. Peirce had so many activities and functions at that time, it was a ‘real college’ atmosphere. I met so many people and gained long lasting friendships. It was a really fun time at Peirce…The faculty, staff, and students were family.”
She graduated in 1999 and had twin sons in 2001. Theresa was a busy mother, and spent much of her time looking after her growing family. Not long after welcoming her sons into the world, she ran into some hardships.
“I divorced in 2004 and moved on once again. I went bankrupt. I was in an abusive relationship for 5 years which [caused] my partner to be convicted of a felony for assaulting me. I had no job, no car, no money, or family besides my children. I moved into a shelter, [and] sent my kids to New York with my family.”
Theresa had to do what was best for her children, and did whatever she could to support her family. Luckily for her, she met some compassionate and helpful people when she started to work for the Philadelphia Water Department in 2008. She received the help she needed, but still faced some challenges.
“With the help of my coworkers and agencies I was able to get a place to live. [My] kids came back and I was raising twin sons alone. My daughters were pretty much grown and getting ready for high school graduation and college. I struggled financially for so many years as well as emotionally trying to put the pieces together.”
Going back and Moving Forward
Slowly but surely, circumstances started to improve, and Theresa’s thoughts started to turn to advancing her education. She was ready to go back to school, but was concerned about money. Luckily she found a school that was willing to work with her.
“Throughout all this I always thought about going back to Peirce and finishing what I started. I owed money to Peirce,” Theresa stated. “I attempted to pay it a few times and make arrangements, but to no avail. Finally I got myself somewhat together and figured ‘let me try this again.’ I called Peirce and made arrangements to pay my debt and see what I needed to finish my degree.”
By spring 2014 Theresa became a college student, and she finished her degree requirements in fall 2016. Completing her degree wasn’t easy. She had to change shifts at work, and took a mix of online and traditional classes to keep her schedule flexible. Theresa spent all of her free time writing papers and doing homework, but her hard work and determination paid off.
“I had so many obstacles, struggles, and let downs over these years. But I knew that finishing school, finishing what I started 25 years ago, would be an accomplishment that I couldn’t even begin to explain,” Theresa said. “I finally did something right for me. Not only do I have a college degree, I [learned] a valuable lesson: never give up. I know now for certain there is nothing I can’t do. When I realized I was actually going to graduate, my dream became a reality.”
Congratulations on your graduation, Theresa!
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