For LaShawnda Clay, it’s always been about the kids. She works with them and has two of her own. She spent almost six years working toward a degree to teach children. But she had difficulty passing the licensing exam and school policy was that she could not take any senior year classes until she had. She couldn’t afford to keep taking unnecessary classes while waiting to pass the test. Her dream of becoming an elementary education teacher came to a halt.

“I didn’t know which direction to go”

After she left school, LaShawnda focused on raising her children and working for the Head Start program. But she still felt like something was missing. “I felt kinda empty. I went to school for so long, and still had nothing to show for it. It felt like there was a void in my life,” she explains.

She often thought about returning to complete her degree, for her own sense of accomplishment, and also to set a strong example for her kids. She had no idea what it would take to complete her degree, or even how to go about it.

LaShawnda discovers C2C

Encouraged by her husband, they contacted a C2C Coach at Jackson State University, Dr. Carlos Wilson. He introduced them to the C2C program and suggested it might be a good solution for LaShawnda. He looked at her transcripts, discussed her goals and ultimately discovered that she already had enough college credits to earn her degree in University Studies.

The University Studies degree is a perfect solution for LaShawnda since she had previously earned over the required number of credits for a degree. This bachelor’s degree program, developed exclusively for students like LaShawnda, gave her the flexibility to complete what she started. It allowed her to apply years of college credits to an area of concentration to secure a degree and enabling her to move closer toward her life goals.

“I am now able to check the box next to ‘College Graduate’ when prompted for education level,” says Clay excitedly. “It feels SO good! Best of all, I feel like a great role model for our kids. Their mom is a college graduate.”

A bright future

In May 2019, LaShawnda Clay walked across the stage at Jackson State University, accepted her degree, and became the first of her siblings to graduate college. With her new degree, she qualifies for a promotion and is confident that she will get a pay raise. Longer term, she envisions starting her own business. No matter what the future holds, she insists it will involve helping children.

You can do this

LaShawnda is quick to encourage others to look into the C2C program. “Step out on faith,” says Clay, “I know there are lots of other people like me who are sitting on all those credit hours, but still don’t have a degree. And I hope my story helps someone in a similar situation. Don’t let anything stop you. You can do this. Look into C2C. It’s so worth it.”

If you earned credits from a Mississippi community college or university in the past, but never completed your degree, take LaShawnda Clay’s advice. Contact Complete 2 Compete – the state program that works with all Mississippi public colleges and universities to help adults identify the clearest pathway to completing their degree. Just like LaShawnda, you’ll get the support of a C2C coach – who will help guide you through the process of earning your degree.