Tonya’s higher education adventure started when she graduated high school. Being a first generation college student, she did not have guidance when applying to schools or understanding financial aid, but that didn’t keep her from applying. She began at a local community college, then transferred to Arizona State in 1991. As a single mom to a six-month old baby, Tonya’s grades were suffering. She decided to leave ASU after a year of enrolling and began working full time to support her daughter.
Tonya attempted to continue her college degree, but faced many family crisis and health complications that set her back. She knew that she had to press on through the roadblocks and was determined to be an inspiration for her children. Tonya wanted to prove to herself and her family that anything can be achieved, no matter the obstacles or lack of support.
“If you have no other cheerleaders, be your biggest cheerleader” Tonya says.
Fortunately, she gained a key cheerleader along the way. Education is very important to her husband who has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is pursuing his doctorate. With his support, Tonya returned to pursue a college degree once more. This time she returned to ASU to complete her degree online.
“My husband graduated from ASU in 1994. His aunt was the first black woman to live in the dorms at ASU. Her two children graduate from there, then my husband; it’s a part of the family history. ASU has been a blessing in his family’s life. I’m proud to carry that legacy with my side of the family.”