Reporting Michael Rosenfield
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.
“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.