ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Sheri Perez-Segura walked the halls of Winthrop University one last time.
Her classes were complete and her journey on campus over.
"I'm done with all finals," Perez-Segura said. "I'm just waiting for grades."
Perez-Segura wasn't sure she would make it this far. Six years ago, she only had a 6th-grade education. At 35, she decided to get her GED. From there, she enrolled in York Technical College and then in 2013, she stepped foot on Winthrop's campus as a 37-year-old freshman with four children.
On Saturday, she crossed the stage to receive her Bachelor's degree.
"I was a middle school drop out and I graduated from a four-year college, it's unheard of," she declared. "I'm officially an alum," Perez-Segura said with a laugh.
Perez-Segura says she didn't do it alone.
"I told my mom she was my hero for what she does," said her 12-year-old daughter, Lillia
For the last four years, Segura-Perez would start her day at 3 a.m. That was the only time this single mother had to study. Then she would get her children up, drop them off to school and head to class and later her job. She says she often thought about giving up, but looking into her children's eyes gave her the will to push on.
"I wanted them to be better than me and I didn't want them to struggle the way I did," she said.
During her studies, the roles reversed. Children making sure mom does her homework.
"Having my 12-year-old and 10-year-old sit at the desk with me and say we're not getting up until this paper is done," she recalled. "They complained at times, but they never once stopped supporting me or pushing me to keep going."
She leaned on a community of support. Perez-Segura says professors allowed her to bring her children and grandchildren to campus. She is also a three-time recipient of the Answer Scholarship for mothers.
Answer has helped 44 moms get their college degrees in the greater Charlotte area and teams students up with mentors to help them get through school.
After four years of balancing motherhood, a full-time course load and work, Perez-Segura fought back tears as she became a college graduate.
"Walking across that stage and looking up seeing my kids and my brother, knowing that they pushed me and they supported me through all of it," she said. "It was our degree and if I would have my way about it, they would have walked across the stage with me."
Now she moves to the next journey and that is trying to find a job. Since her family was so supportive, she plans to pay it forward and make a career out of helping other families.
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