Submitted by Beatrice Lovette
Asante I. Lovette and Yolanda Johnson-Hamza both graduated from college at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. They are son and mother, who could not attend each other’s graduation ceremony because they were both graduating at the same time and on the same day.
Lovette graduated from the University of Akron, with a B.A. in public relations. Johnson-Hamza graduated from Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati with a B.A. in social work.
Lovette is 24 and graduated from Schroeder in 2013. Johnson-Hamza is 45 and graduated from Western Hills High School in 1993.
They both write about the value of a higher education in the following commentaries:
Someone once told me, “The race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but he who endures until the end.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) This would come to me in times of struggle and in times of accomplishment.
I’ve always known the importance of an education. I’ve also believed that education was something that no one could take away from you. I first went to college right out of high school at North Carolina Central University and did not go back once I became pregnant with my oldest child. This did not stop me from constantly enduring to the end.
Through the years of having more kids, working and struggling, I never gave up on my goal and dream to gain a college degree. There were times when I took one or two classes here and there. There were times when I sat out of school for months and years at a time.
The ultimate goal and finish line seemed to vanish at times, but it was always there, because I had to show my children and also myself that finishing what you start is important even when it seems impossible.
This has been so much bigger than me. To graduate the same day as my oldest child meant so much. It was God that planned for it to happen this way. We did it!
As I reflect, I’m also thankful for those like Ida B. Wells, who broke barriers and moved mountains and did not give up on her dreams. I too was able to achieve my goal and dream by following in her footsteps.
The support of my husband, my children, family, friends, co-workers and mentors are what made the difference. I finished with my bachelor of arts degree majoring in social work from Mount St. Joseph University.
It’s about pushing through it all with hope and perseverance, even with tears in your eyes and what seems like the world on your back, not giving up or allowing “to quit” to be an option.
By Asante I. Lovette
Something that has always hindered me in the past was my lack of following through with the plans I made for myself. I’ve always had great aspirations and dreams, yet I lacked follow through. Or in the simplest way of saying, I never finished what I started. Not that I didn’t want to, I just had a tendency to start one thing, after another and then another never going back to the previous task I set out to complete.
My life could be compared to a bunch of unfinished jigsaw puzzles lying around with all the right pieces. I knew what the completed picture should look like. But because I wasn’t completing any task that I began, I — like the puzzle — remained incomplete. That’s how I lived my life for the longest time. I always had this urge to be great with the greatest intentions, but I never finished anything.
I decided to change that in my journey to get a degree. I had to do things differently. I had to do better because I felt like I was sending the wrong message, not only to myself, but to my family, my younger siblings and peers who looked up to me. So, I wanted to change the narrative and send a better message. It was never about the degree itself (although the degree definitely mattered), but the message behind the degree. A message that stated, if you’re going to start something you must finish it, no matter what.
Of course, there were times I wanted to give up; there were times where I truly had no idea why I was there or in school at all. There were even times when I didn’t go to class for days and just sat in my room depressed and contemplating life. But I reminded myself with that message and the idea that if I were to quit what would that say about me? What would that message say to my family? Would I be able to live with that regret?
So, I pushed myself even harder when I had no idea what I was doing half of the time and was just going through the motions. I can honestly say this is my greatest accomplishment to date, because I gave it my all, even when I was being pulled in every direction to give up. I realized that giving up is harder than it looks because when you give up you no longer have to deal with it anymore, but that’s completely false. You deal with it even more, and it hurts more on a different level.
I later found this new liking towards failing, because every time I failed, I learned from it and not to sound cliché, but it did indeed make me stronger. It made me a stronger person, a stronger student, a stronger role model and so much more.
Looking back, I’m not sure I’d go through the journey all over again, but I’m sure proud I finished, regardless of how long it took or how many times I failed.