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‘I’m just elated to be done’: NC mom reaches goal, goes back to school to finish her degree

Tanika Kelly is set to graduate from NC A&T State University on Mother’s Day.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — One North Carolina mother knows what it’s like to have determination, perseverance, and ambition after dropping out of college years ago but later deciding to return to finish her degree.

Tanika Kelly is set to graduate from NC A&T State University on Mother’s Day.

Kelly decided to return to the university to finish her bachelor’s degree after originally dropping out back in the early 2000’s.

“This is a feeling of relief. I’ve been working at this for so long,” she said. “To finally have gotten to this point is exciting.”

Kelly shared her story with WFMY News 2.

“I started college back when I was 17, with my twin sister, I really didn’t have any direction on what I wanted to do, I said ‘she’s going’, so I wanted to go,” she said. “It probably was the wrong decision at the time. I went to class here and there. I was eventually placed on academic probation and left.”

Although Kelly was faced with challenges, she didn’t let that stop her.

“I decided to come back to A&T in 2002 and still didn’t do anything,” she said. “My husband was in the military and I was more focused on raising a family than an education.”

Still faced with obstacles, Kelly tried many different avenues to finish her degree.

“I tried University of Phoenix, that didn’t work for me, and later tried Strayer, but left,” she said. “I always told my son, if you start something, you have to finish it.”

Kelly still chose to go back to A&T after multiple obstacles came her way.

“(Over the years) I’ve lost both my parents, my grandparents, twin sister and stepmom,” she said. “This degree is for my family; this degree is for my community.”

Kelly said she was inspired to return through the help of a mentor and the Aggies at the Goal Line program.

“Go back, it doesn’t matter what someone else is saying. Your education is something, someone can’t take away from you,” she said. “It may be scary but take that initiative and jump.”

Kelly said she will graduate with a liberal studies degree Sunday with a focus in Business Management, Business Administration, and Recreational Administration.

She has hopes of attending graduate school to pursue a masters in Sports Management and is currently in the application process.

“No matter what you may feel, take that leap of faith…hopefully this inspires someone’s life,” Kelly said. “I’m looking forward to walking across the stage, my son and husband both will be there, I’m just elated to be done.”

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