Catching Up With Derkisha, Our 2019 Story Contest Winner
“When I think about the future, I feel strong and empowered.“
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Derkisha, our 2019 $5,000 Tax Time Grand Prize Winner. She had some big news to share! Here’s what she had to say:
When I think about the future, I feel strong and empowered. It wasn’t always this way though. I found myself feeling alone and overwhelmed throughout my life as a young single mom, like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Before I went back to school, there were times when I felt like I didn’t have any worth. I didn’t really have an identity, but being a student, I saw myself in a different light. It’s been so helpful for me feeling like I can do whatever I set my mind to. I’m so proud of myself for believing in my abilities. I’d like to think my children will be inspired to go to college because they saw me going to college.
Going back to college as a single parent in my 30s wasn’t always easy, especially as a non-traditional student (Chemistry almost took me out!). I thought I was going to lose my mind because here was this opportunity, and because of the COVID-19 lockdowns, now I had to decide whether I could keep going or stop because I had no way to make sure my children were taken care of. I knew I had to put on a brave face for my children, who were also struggling with this huge shift in all of our lives, but there’s nothing like knowing you can’t survive without school to keep you in school. My big kids really stepped up in helping me around the house and caring for their younger siblings. The support of all my family and friends made a big difference, too. I’m extremely grateful for my friends at SaverLife and will never forget the blessing I received through their support.
I can’t even describe what earning my degree means to me. I know it’s just an Associate’s degree, but this degree means that I can go out and continue to change the circumstances of my family. It means I can continue in my schooling, get a higher education degree, and become a better, productive person of society. I want to be able to take care of my needs and without having to rely on others to help me.
My next steps are to attend Texas A&M University of Commerce, complete my prerequisites, take the TEAS, and apply to their nursing program. For me, being a nurse is more than a paycheck — it’s a calling and a passion. Passion is the energy that keeps us going, that keeps us filled with meaning, and happiness, and excitement, and anticipation. Passion is a powerful force in accomplishing anything you set your mind to, and in experiencing work and life to the fullest extent possible. Ultimately, passion is the driving force behind success and happiness that allows us all to live better lives, and all those things are truly all the things I desire for myself and my children: a happy, meaningful, exciting and successful life. As Harriet Tubman once so simply, but profoundly, put it, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”