A mother's path to graduation

Kristin Gilbert Taylor may have taken a long and unconventional road to earning her degree, but as she entered Sun Devil Stadium wearing her cap and gown she was ecstatic to have her children watching from the distance.

A mom of two, with an 18-year-old and a toddler at home, Kristin works full time overseeing the Free and Reduced Lunch Program for the Amphitheater Unified School District in Tucson, Ariz. On top of that, she recently graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and minor in Women and Gender Studies.

However, there was once a time in her life where none of this seemed possible.

When Kristin became pregnant at the age of 16, she felt her only option was to drop out of high school, putting a halt on any plans she might have had for herself. However, due to her father’s insistence that she get her GED, Kristin was given the option of continuing on with school when she was ready.

“When I dropped out of high school, people counted me out. I became a teen mom and I could have become a statistic, my daughter could have been a statistic. But I wanted to prove that you can detour and still succeed,” said Kristin.

“For me, being a teen mom didn’t have to be the end of the road.”

Kristin’s first attempt at returning to school, when she was still a teenager, happened not long after she received her GED. While she made multiple attempts at the community college level, life once again got in the way and she gave up after her mother’s untimely death in 2005.

In 2010 however, Kristin came to the realization that she ignoring her future and that it was time to find a way to complete her education.

“I realized that the path I had been on was not honoring my mother and that I could no longer ignore my education if I wanted a successful future. So I once again registered at my local community college and after receiving my Associates Degree, I knew this was something I could finish.”

With her Associates Degree in hand, Kristin began researching university options and finally decided on Arizona State University because of the online platform and the fact that she would be able to reach her goals without setting foot in a traditional classroom. “Its not that I devalue the traditional classroom, however as a wife, mother and full time member of the workforce, I knew I needed flexibility in my education and ASU Online offered that and more.”

Once Kristin enrolled as a student, ASU’s online program allowed her the flexibility needed to add courses to her schedule one at a time until she felt confident and comfortable in her ability to keep herself on track. And even with balancing an already busy schedule, Kristin believes it was her commitment to making school a priority that allowed her to work towards that ultimate goal.

“My road to this degree was long and winding, and yet in the end I would not change a thing because when I walked out of Sun Devil Stadium after graduation, my teenage daughter ran up to me, hugged me, and told me she was proud of me. I got to kiss my baby girl and husband while wearing my cap and gown. I got to share this achievement with the ones I love most in this world and my girls got to see it is possible achieve your dreams.”

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