By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV

MANCHESTER, NH (CBS) – It was a commencement speech 15 years in the making.

At 31-years-old, Trish Williams just graduated from college. Her long road began when she dropped out of high school at 16.

Trish Williams

Trish Williams

“I was just really struggling with depression and I felt really isolated,” says Williams.

After getting her GED, she tried community college and a 4-year school, but both ended in failure.

“Just kept you know withdrawing from classes or failing classes,” says Williams. “I was having a hard time again.”

From those wayward days to graduation day at Southern New Hampshire University, the Nashua mother was selected as the student speaker.

“Over the last two years, I have checked in on discussion boards while cuddling my newborn in the hospital,” Williams told the crowd. “Typed entire papers one-handed while holding my sleeping son, and read textbooks aloud to my kindergartner because she couldn’t fall asleep and I needed to study.”

Her speech was so inspiring that someone in the audience anonymously donated $10,000 to help pay her financial aid bills.

The university then matched the good deed.

“The financial part is one part of it, because that’s such a help to our family,” said Williams. “But also how it made me feel. It’s really validated a lot of the things that not only I’ve gone through in my life but also how hard I’ve had to work to get here. It feels incredible. I just feel so good about myself.”

Trish says having children motivated her to enroll in online classes.

“When I see them I really don’t want them to have the same path that I did,” says Williams.

Now she has an English degree and plans to go to graduate school to focus on becoming a teacher.


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