Zelma

Strayer University Gave Zelma a Second Chance to be a “First Generation” Graduate

At Strayer, we have unconventional students with as varied backgrounds as our degree and certificate programs. Each student brings a unique story to the table, and it is our mission to make sure it continues forward.

When Zelma found Strayer, she enrolled with years of passion behind her. When life stopped her from going to school when she was younger, the fire to one day earn her degree never fizzled. Zelma acted on her lifelong dream for her family, but most of all, just to prove to herself that she could.

Zelma would stop at nothing to be “first generation.” Working hard and having already succeeded in business with her sister, life threw her a curveball when her sister suddenly passed away and she was forced to close up shop, “You want to be sure to leave something back as a legacy,” she recalled thinking to herself, “I could’ve left more. I could’ve done more.” Until one day it hit her “I stopped and said, okay, look at all you did with just a high school degree….”

She had a beautiful family and had already known the taste of success. Still, one thing continued to weigh on her, “We put our children through school.” With several competed Master’s programs and a PhD in her family, Zelma refused to let the honor of “first generation” go to her kids. “I didn’t want my children to be “first generation.” I was “first generation.” And that’s where the pain and hurt [came] for me.” A pain that drove her to a decision 70 years in the making, “I got to the point where, [my education would be] a gift I would give to myself, and I started school. And I plan on graduating from Strayer with a 4.0 GPA.”

Having always wanted to attend college, she wanted to claim “first generation” for herself. With 70 years-worth of drive behind an initial desire to go to college when she was younger, Zelma did just that. “70 years later I see what I missed.”

But, her mission doesn’t end there. Having achieved her dream of going to college, she hopes others like her will follow in her footsteps. She hopes her message of empowerment reaches “another little girl somewhere, 17 years old, that wants to go to college.” She wants her to know, “Times are different. Yes, you can.” As a legacy, she wants her ambition to continue on.

After all, she explains, “If I can just reach [young girl], and make their life easier, that’s the definition of success, isn’t it?”

For Zelma, the first step in achieving a lifelong dream started with Strayer. Check out our degree and certificate programs to see who Strayer can help you reach your full potential today. Possible starts now.

Possible starts now.

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