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Graduate spotlight: Edwards overcame challenges to finish what she started

woman stands in cap and gown
Kieshia Edwards pursued her dream of working in the medical field by overcoming an injury and going back to college.

Kieshia Edwards has always dreamed of becoming a nurse. After her niece encouraged her to go to college and pursue her dream of working in the medical field, Kieshia enrolled at Pellissippi State in 2012 to get her nursing school prerequisites. Since she was also working part-time at a dialysis clinic and raising her family, Kieshia learned to balance life and school while taking only a few classes at a time.

When Kieshia experienced a major back injury while working at the dialysis clinic in 2016, she let go of her dream and thought that was the end of her plan to become a nurse.

For the next three years, Kieshia was in and out of school as she balanced family and life responsibilities while still recovering from her injury. Finally, in 2019, Kieshia decided it was time to go back to school and finish what she started.

“Every college credit I earned, every late night of writing, reading, math and hard work belonged to me,” says Kieshia. “So, I decided to go back to school and get what’s due to me.”

Before entering college, Kieshia had never written a paper or essay. She worked hard at her classes, putting in long nights of studying and spending a lot of time at the Pellissippi State tutoring center.

“I was at tutoring sometimes from when the doors opened to late at night,” recalls Kieshia, “but nobody ever said, ‘I’m so tired of this lady!’”

Kieshia was honest with her instructors so that they knew where she was starting and could help her be successful. “All of my professors have accepted it in love,” shares Kieshia. “The people in the English and writing classes have really made me feel like I can do it. It’s been a blessing.”

Kieshia is graduating from Pellissippi State this month with her Associate of Science. She plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree and eventually go into the medical field.

She credits her success to the support and encouragement she’s received from her professors at Pellissippi State. “I wrote to my teacher the other day,” says Kieshia, “and I told her that this journey I’m on to get my bachelor’s degree is because of her and her encouragement.”

Kieshia is proud that she is graduating with her associate degree from Pellissippi State, even if it’s taken longer than she thought it would.

“I have three boys and I’m showing them that it’s not how I started, but how I finish,” she shares. “I know it’s taken me awhile, but I didn’t give up. I’m showing my boys that life happens, but if you put in the work, that degree is yours. That education is something no one can take from you.

“I may not be where I want to be just yet,” laughs Kieshia, “but I tell you what, I’m sure not far from where I’m trying to go!”