Shemicka Monroe and her son Lameko York's journey to higher education has been anything but linear. Their story is a testament to resilience, determination, and triumph. Today, Monroe stands proud as a Sandhills Community College alumna, while her son, Lameko, will follow in her footsteps at graduation in May.

Monroe's decision to enroll at Sandhills Community College in 2002 was driven by a desire for a career in social work. During her first year, she found out she was pregnant. Due to a rough first trimester, Monroe decided to unenroll. When her son Lameko was three, she found herself working a physically demanding job in a factory. Determined to better their lives, she was ready to do whatever it took to graduate.

Monroe re-enrolled to pursue her degree in Human Services Technology and General Studies. "One of my biggest challenges was childcare," she recalls. "I qualified for childcare vouchers and gas cards, which made my education possible."

In 2006, Monroe graduated from Sandhills with her degree in Human Services Technology and General Studies. She then decided to transfer to UNC Pembroke for a degree in social work. Over the past twelve years, she has worked her way up and now serves as a qualified professional at RHA Health Services, taking any opportunities to obtain credentials and certifications through continuing education courses.

Throughout his childhood, York watched his mom stop at nothing to achieve her educational and career dreams. Monroe always encouraged York to pursue higher education as she saw their lives change as she progressed. York began his time at Sandhills in 2021, working towards a degree in Engineering. Their journey took an unexpected turn in 2022 when Monroe was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Determined not to let her illness deter her son from his studies, she kept her diagnosis hidden until August, wanting him to remain focused on his education. Through her strength and perseverance, Monroe is now cancer-free as of January 2023.

York's journey at Sandhills is equally remarkable. Overcoming challenges, including long transit rides to attend classes, York's dedication and perseverance mirrored his mother's. Now on the cusp of graduation, York reflects on their journey, "Work in silence and let your success make the noise. Keep God first." York plans to attend A&T to pursue a bachelor's in Engineering upon graduation.

Monroe advises aspiring students and those who may face adversity when working to achieve their education: "It's going to be tough; it's going to be hard. But never give up. The reward at the end will be worth it." Monroe adds, "Sandhills Community College has changed my life. To any adult learner, go back to school. They held my hand the whole way, and the resources are there." Reflecting on her son's journey, Monroe says, "The Engineering Department has become his family, and he has made lifelong friends."

Monroe leaves future students with these words of wisdom, "Through the tough journey, you are going to cry; all those tears are doing is fertilizing the seeds that you are sowing. In the end, it may be immediately, or down the road, your flower will blossom."