The first time Tyra Muhammad entered Grambling State University as a freshman was in 1994. There, she met her husband and the two tied the knot when Muhammad was 19 and was at the end of her freshman year. Muhammad, an English major, then had to put college work on hold as she became pregnant.
Later moving on to become a certified nursing assistant, she attempted many times to finish her degree at Grambling State but failed due to family duties and motherhood.
“I kind of put myself on the back burner, which is generally what most mothers and women do,” 46-year-old Muhammad told Good Morning America. But later in 2018 when Muhammad and her husband divorced, she realized that she was prepared to go back to college. What’s more, her youngest child was then a teenager.
But before going back to Grambling State, where three of her five children were already enrolled, she had to sit them down and ask them if her decision was “awkward.”
“I always wanted my degree and also wanted to be an example to my children in terms of the importance of education.”
Her children, who are now aged 15, 19, 22, 23 and 26, gave her the go-ahead. Last month, she graduated from Grambling State University after almost 30 years of starting her undergraduate studies.
“I had the thought of, ‘I’m too old to do this. I’m too old to go back to school and be back on campus,’ but my kids encouraged me and were there for me,” Muhammad said, adding that her time in school with her children was “fun.”
She recounted that there were times she was mistaken for her children’s sister as she was often seen together with them, either in class or doing campus activities together.
One of Muhammad’s son, Elijah, couldn’t hide the joy of having been in college with his mom. “It was fun for me,” said 22-year-old Elijah, who is studying business management and marketing. “Every parent is curious as to what their child is doing on campus and she got to see what I was doing and what I was involved with. Our schedules were different but we would see each other quite often.”
Muhammad, with hopes of being a teacher, will be returning to Grambling State for her graduate degree. Her daughter will be doing the same while Elijah will remain at the university for a degree in marketing. There is also another sibling who is an undergraduate student at the same university, Good Morning America reported.
Muhammad considers her feat “a blessing” and hopes her story inspires others to pursue their dreams no matter the difficulties.