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A woman with long hair and dark glasses, wearing a graduation cap, gown and a black dress stands with one hand on her hip. She is wearing a medal on a black and gold ribbon around her neck.

Deanndra Pascal

Deanndra Pascal, a 24-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, graduated May 13, 2022 with an Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy. She is a military spouse and the mother of three children, ages 4 years, 2 years and 6 months old.

“I wanted to show my kids that you can achieve anything you want, no matter what obstacles you face. No matter if you have three kids, one kid, five kids. Or if I wasn’t doing this at 18, and I was doing this at 24.

“I dropped out of high school two months before I graduated. I got my GED because we were going through a rough patch back home. It was easier for me to do that because I didn’t have stability at that time. When I got to Florida, I tried to go to college, but I was out-of-state and hadn’t met my husband yet, so I would have had to pay a lot of money just to attend classes. I wouldn’t have been able to pay $600 with two jobs just for one class. I ended up just working.

“Then I met my husband and got married. When we moved to North Carolina, I said, ‘OK, this is the time. I want to start college.’

“I was pregnant, literally, half the time in my program, and it was extremely hard. But I had a really great support system, so I’m extremely grateful for that. The teachers were amazing. The students were amazing, so that was really great.”