Go hard or go home

I started grad school this week. 

I’m still nervous.
I mean, really, I’m freaking out about being overwhelmed. I actually called my sister and told her to schedule a mental breakdown for me somewhere around the third week of the semester.
But regardless of my feelings, I’m going back to school because I want to show my kids that their goals are worth pursuing, no matter what obstacles may be in the way, or how hard they think it might be.
From the moment I came to terms with the fact that I was going to become a mommy, I decided that the value of a good education was going to drilled into my kids’ head every day. The more education you have, the better. No such thing as a useless degree. 
We brought my daughter home from the hospital to a college dorm room. That’s right – with freshmen. It was a tight fit and at times I was depressed from being surrounded by carefree 18-year-olds, whereas I had to rush to and from class to get my daughter from various babysitters.
But the biggest positive was the fact that we lived on campus, in an academic setting. She was a baby at the time, but I loved telling her how big her backyard was – all 1,200 acres of KSU’s campus. She would come with me to the library, or on the campus bus, or sometimes I had to pack her up and bring her to class.
As a journalism major who waited until the last possible semester to take my full reporting course, I had to take her with me to cover stories. I got an A.
My daughter made me focused. I couldn’t put off studying for the last minute or the night before because who knows if she’d wake up or have me up until four in the morning? I had to study when I could study, no excuses. And if I didn’t get good grades, then I wouldn’t get a good job and we would be living in cramped apartments the rest of our lives (or so I thought).
Having that little girl with the big brown eyes look up at me every day and depend on me for food, shelter, clothing, playtime, EVERYTHING was the biggest motivator I could have had. I pushed myself harder because I didn’t want my professors to think moms couldn’t be good students.
I got an 3.9 gpa my senior year and was able to graduate magna cum laude. As I slipped on my honors cords and carefully placed my graduation cap on my head on the morning of graduation, I snuck a peek at my baby girl giggling on the couch. I leaned over and kissed her goodbye before I hurried to get in line with the other graduates.
After I got my diploma, I scanned the crowd for my baby girl and somehow I spotted her. A tiny little thing in the midst of everyone else. I had stayed focused on her throughout my academic career and because of her role as my bite-size motivator, I was able to make it to the finish line.
As I gear up to do it again, I now have two kids looking up at me with big brown eyes and a husband who is my biggest cheerleader.
If I did it then, I can do it now. Grad school – here I come.


  1. Congrats! You will do great things in grad school! You’ll be super!

  2. Very inspirational story! I can’t wait to read about your next graduation ceremony! I am sure your little lady will have some words of wisdom for you then too.
    Keep pressing on, you can do this!

  3. You’re such an inspiring person. I’m so glad I found your blog months ago. It has helped me through my pregnancy knowing that all the inspirational stories you and the other moms share are coming from young moms like what I’m soon to become. I hope this community continues to grow. I know that you can do wonderful things for all the young moms, and even dads, who may be having trouble feeling like they belong in such a stereotypical society where young and unmarried parents may be looked down upon.

    Coming from a soon-to-be mom, who will also be a soon-to-be student, thanks for creating a community where I know I’m not alone and can be inspired by those who have traveled the path I’m about to take.

  4. You can absolutely do it, Tara. And this time, not only is your family cheering you on, but you have an entire online community cheering you on and encouraging you. You’re not alone! And we all know you can do it. Best of luck to you!!!

  5. did you go to Kennesaw State ? In Georgia. I got pregnant right before my senior year this year at KSU. It’s very inspirational and motivational to hear you pushed through everything and made it :)

    • @Megan – Nope, not Kennesaw (although I know a lot of students who go there). I went to Kent State, in Ohio. I know you can do it!!! :)

  6. Awww Tara,you’ve come a long way and you havent stopped. You are truly an inspiration. I really believe you either have to go hard or go home. There is no in between. Our kids dont deserve an in between. We want the best for our children, and therefore we have to lead by example. Even though they are young they are very aware and pick up on all that we do. I think its phenomenal you are going back to school. I’m struggling to finish my Bachelor’s with just one, so hats off to you! There are times when I want to give up, when I want to rest, but I’ll rest when I’m dead, for now I need to continue building a good life for myself and my daughter. Go Hard or Go Home. Xo
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Back at itAGAIN! =-.

    • @Alexandra – Honey, you are an inspiration all by yourself. And PLEASE don’t say you have “just one.” I always say that one kid expands to fit your time, just like two kids seem to fit into a 24-hour day. You are doing the damn thing and I’m so proud of you and every other mom who is pushing through school, never giving up and always thinking of giving their kids the best. Your kids are blessed!!!!

  7. LOVE this post! I started tearing up a little bit because I feel the same way about teaching my son about the importance of education, pressing on, and being diligent…I got pregnant senior year of college, did a year of grad school last year and I just started medical school two weeks ago. YOU CAN DO IT and you are AWESOME for doing it…be blessed and can’t wait to read more!
    .-= Jasmine´s last blog ..2 Weeks Down =-.

  8. I couldn’t read through this post without getting all teary eyed. Our situations are quite similar except for the fact that I have two little ones that depend on me for everything and my daughter is now a Pre-K student. It’s a constant struggle but as mothers, we press on. You truly are an inspiration. =)

  9. Go ‘head on girl!!! So proud of you. YES, you can do it, you will do it, and your babies will be so proud of you for setting a great example of just how to shake off impossibility.

    Your experience made me smile because I can relate so much. Taking baby to class, taking baby on the bus to and from campus, living on-campus (even though our student family housing was located off campus). Looking back, and looking at how wonderful my daughter is right now, I am very, very grateful to have been a student parent!! Not only did my daughter have a front row seat to me busting my booty in college, but she also had a taste of college life herself, attending preschool for 3 years at my college before heading off to Kindergarten =). Can we say Amen for a family friend campus. Our babies are definitely “college bound” as my daughter recently told me that she wants to go to Cal (my school), and asked what she has to do to get there. She’s 7!

    Keep pushing forward, and breaking down barriers, and being YOU Miss Tara =).

  10. I love to stop by and read your blog because i live vicariously through you. lol. i love that you share all your inspiring stories and wisdom. and best of all your a young mommy like me. kudos to you and keep doing your thang. lol.

  11. Iloveliness says:

    Enjoyed your story so because I am can totally related. I am a mom of 3 sons aged 4 and 5, and I returned to college in the Spring to pursue my MPA. I was so nervous. I was wondering if I even remembered how to write a good paper. I completed my undergrad 5 years ago, and became a mom the following year, then got twins the year after that. It is not fall, and I am in my third semester, I am doing great even made the Dean’s List. The journey might be though, but as a parent who wants her children to pursue higher education, it is my responsibility to let them learn from my example.

  12. all i can say is congrats and much success to you on your newest endeavor! hats off to the mommies of the world who continue to press on and build better lives for them and their families!!!!

  13. Tara,

    I LOVE your blog. I’m DELIGHTED to see black families like yours offer a healthy, functional, and positive image of us THANK YOU.

    As for juggling work, school, husband, and kids I can personally relate–although grad school is a whole new ball game. You are totally in my prayers.
    I encourage you accept things with grace when stress shows up!

    Soul Woman
    .-= Soul Woman´s last blog ..Whats up Next =-.

  14. Oh my God ,you go girl you are a true super woman.I went back to school recieved my degree Early Childhood Education AA 2006.My oldest son died unexpected death same year.My youngest son was suppose to graduate the same year he lack two credits.But went back and recieve his diplma. He didn’t want to march but I convince him and he did. There’s nothing to hard ,for our God ok lol

  15. This post is so inspiring. My daughter was four when I started school and although it took me five years to finish, I did and she was in the front row on that windy May day. However, my daughter struggled while I studied and had to repeat a grade. I felt like such a failure, like if I wasn’t in school I could have focused more on her needs instead of my own and she wouldn’t have had to stay back. But my baby has made tremendous leaps and bounds and is now a B student. I am very proud of her and continue to push education as one of the most important accomplishments in her life. However, I don’t feel like I am done yet. My new job gives $10K+ per year towards tuition and I want to take advantage of this to pursue my Masters, but I am a little scared about taking focus away from my daughter’s education. I want her to see that you can never give up, but know it will be hard. But after reading your blog and the comments, I feel like I can do it, like I should not give up and that I should focus on showing my daughter how to push, no matter what, to accomplish your dreams. I am her role model and need her to have an example of how much can be done when you go hard. Thank you.

  16. Your story is very inspirational. We found out I was pregnant two weeks before I graduated from community college with my associates degree. I am 27 weeks along this week and plan to go to a local 4 year college as soon as our baby boy is born. He is due in december and i will start back school in January. Thanks for blogging your story!!!!!