SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Alisha Shelby is feeling proud of herself, and she should. It took her 10 years to get a two-year degree. She was able to share the moment with her fellow Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College classmate and daughter, Shaela Reid.
"I want to tell single parents, or even if you're married and you think it's too late, it's not too late," Shelby said. "If this is what you want to do in anything in life, do it."
She speaks from experience. Shelby began her journal in college before Hurricane Katrina. The 41-year-old, single mother had three children, and she took on her sister's three children after she died.
Then, a grandchild died. Then, she had thyroid surgery. Then, she had a stroke and had to relearn how to write and talk.
"I have a lot of illnesses, so it's been very hard. I've started and stopped at least four times, but I kept going back, going back, going back. And I finally finished," Shelby said.
It was tough fitting in.
"Some of my classes were hard, because my teacher would say something, and they (the younger students) automatically answered," she said. "I had to go and think. I had to really do homework, because I had been out of school so long."
She has been an inspiration to Reid.
"It's more like she had to encourage me," Reid said. "I knew my mom could do this. My mom is a strong person, and with her being so strong, that made me want to be as strong as her. I'm like, if my mom could go through all this and continue college and finish college, then why can't I?"
Reid went to the Perkinston campus and received a degree in office systems technology. Shelby, who works at Moore Community House, has her degree in early childhood education, but it's not the end of her journey.
She's currently enrolled at Jackson State University, pursuing a bachelor's degree, and then plans to get her masters.
"I just want people to know, don't give up," Shelby said. "I don't care how long it takes. Don't give up, because you can do it."