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After nearly 30 years of setbacks, Roxbury mother graduates college

Boston mom graduates college after nearly 30 years of challenges
Boston mom graduates college after nearly 30 years of challenges 01:51

WELLESLEY - For Shelly Smith of Roxbury, graduating college has been a dream deferred, for nearly 30 years. "It means so much because it took me a long time to get here. I finally made it," Smith said.

It was 1994 when Smith took her first class at MassBay Community College. Then she had her daughter; two marriages fell apart. She worked nights and struggled from dyslexia. There was always something to take care of - getting in the way of her calling to take care of others.

"I have the gift of caring. It's not about the money. It's about passion for it. That's part of nursing, knowing it's not about you. It's about the patients. I have that gift and I want to share that gift," Shelly said.

Shelly Smith
Shelly Smith at the MassBay Community College graduation ceremony CBS Boston

Shelly says this hard-earned first step, a general sciences associate degree, is something no one can take away from her. But they also can't take away the kind of mother she's been. Thanks to her sacrifice, daughter Shelby is studying biomedical engineering.

Shelly "broke the cycle"

"I broke the cycle. I researched the schools; I went to PTAs. I made sure I showed up. She was not going to have the struggle like me in school. I'm changing my story and I'm changing her story," the mother said proudly.

With most of her prerequisites for the nursing program now complete, Shelly is preparing for the TEAS Test and Chemistry II, the final steps toward entering the MassBay nursing program. She works at Boston Children's Hospital as a nursing assistant. 

As Shelly keeps on climbing, she hopes her hard work inspires others to never give up on their own story.

"Start somewhere. Take one class. Do what makes you happy. It's about you. This is about me and my dream. I'm going to get there slowly but surely. I will get there," she promised herself.  

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