This Saturday in Milton, FL, the University of West Florida will hold a graduation ceremony. Seated among the proud and relieved graduates is M, a determined woman who persisted at college when most people would long ago have run out the door screaming.
M has experienced homelessness with her children for more years than they'd care to count. To categorize the causes, which fail to do justice to the realities they've endured, I'd say poverty, lack of child support, and a repeated, relentless rash of bad luck, including Hurricane Ivan and myriad insane levels of a helping "system" run amok.
M and her 3 children are now the proud owners of a FEMA mobile home, their first home that they've owned. The downside is that FEMA seems to disown any responsibility for possible formaldehyde toxins that may have tainted these humble abodes.
Despite challenges, obstacles, set-backs and disasters too numerous to list, this incredibly focused mom, with a good deal of moral support and pride from her kids, will toss the tassel from one side to the other, hopefully signifying new opportunities for her to contribute her wisdom and common sense. I've seen her working to reach this goal, and she'd put most people, including me, to shame.
Seems to me that M, who managed to attain a college education (and repeatedly make the Dean's or President's list) while balancing family, poverty, hurricanes, homelessness, and bureaucratic obstacles, deserves deep respect of her college community. She sure has mine.