It has been a long time. For 52 years, Bobbie Taylor had never experienced the thrill of graduation. No cap. No dress. No family in the stands to encourage him. No graduation photos. No graduation party. Nada.

The pain of missing that graduation has stung for years.

“I had to drop out of high school to take care of myself so I missed my degree with my classmates,” she said.

When she was 18, she got pregnant. Caring for two children one after the other prevented her from being able to study for GED. And even if she could prepare and take the test, she just didn’t have the money.

In early 2000, she finally realized her dream of graduating when she passed her GED, but there was no graduation celebration.

Four years ago, she felt her obligation to her adult children had been fulfilled and that she could focus on going back to school.

When she walked through the doors of Lone Star College-North Harris, she could never have foreseen the challenges she would face, but she did.

She lived in Florida for 24 years and arrived in Texas in 1992. Her marriage dissolved soon after and her ex returned to Florida, leaving her alone with the children.

“It was easier for me to find a job and raise my kids in Texas than in Florida,” she says.

She got her start in electrical work as a refinery assistant working for Brown & Root.

“At the time, there was a level 1, 2 and 3. I was a third-class assistant. I was the lowest of the lowest, ”she laughs. The change in income changed life.

“I moved past waiting tables and was making $ 2.01 plus tips at $ 17.75 an hour. I thought I was cotton top, ”she says.

She worked there for five years before moving to the city of Houston in 2006.

In 2017, she began her lifelong desire to go to college.

“When we grew up we were poor and didn’t have the ability to do some of the things that others had the ability to do,” she said.

She will be the first of her generation to attend college and complete an associate’s degree.

Her major was architectural design and she will return in the fall for the management aspect of the same major.

“By working for the city, I hope I can move on to management with my degree,” she said.

She did all of her work while keeping a job and working a rotating shift.

“I work seven days in a row, then two days off, then six in a row, and two days again, then another seven in a row and I end with four days off,” she said.

It took her four years to complete the two-year degree, but there was no way she would be able to complete the required work and keep her job.

She was the first to arrive. Not another soul was there when she stood in line.

When Taylor arrived, they checked her in at one station, and from there to the next where she would receive her equipment (diploma, goodies), the route was lined with people equipped with noise makers and party favors blowing horns.

“Everyone was wearing their cap and dress,” she said. It was impressive for the mother who had given up everything for her family.

“It was worth it,” she says.

“I didn’t even care if it was a drive-thru, I was just ecstatic to graduate and graduate,” she said.

The best news for her about her fall classes? More math. She will be one of the first to take architectural design as a bachelor’s degree at Lone Star.

“I won’t have to worry about transferring anything,” she says.

It’s music to the ears of Archie L. Blanson, president of the LSC-North Harris campus.

“We had two classes of students who missed the camaraderie in terms of walking on stage, people applauding them, so our student success department decided to hold the graduation behind the wheel,” he said. -he declares.

There were concerns about the number of people attending the celebration, but were surprised to see that 170 graduates were in attendance with 400 family members, all accompanied by around 50 or more faculty and staff.

There was a virtual graduation ceremony a few weeks earlier online for students and staff, but there was no graduation.

The students made the long drive around the campus and drove under the overhang.

“When the students came by car, we had a pre-made frame and we put it around them while they leaned out of the car, took pictures with the president, and then we gave them a bag of gifts and graduation, and an LSC-North Harris mug, “he said.

Members received a veteran’s pin and rope as well as a challenge coin.

“When I saw some of our graduates walking out with no one in the car with them, it warmed my heart to know that we were doing the right thing to celebrate these graduates,” he said.

Blanson said the event went so well that they were planning to do it again.

It was the first in-person event they had hosted since fall 2019.

The students were ready to celebrate with their decorated cars, some standing in front of their sunroofs.

“They were delighted to be there. All of our protocols ended on Friday so they could be uninhibited as much as they wanted, ”Blanson said.

The college president said it was good to see the students, many of them for the first time on campus in 19 months.

“It was great to see them celebrate!” he said.

It lasted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in dreary rain.

Meanwhile, their colleagues from the 2021 class of LSC-University Park will be celebrating their graduation behind the wheel on June 7 on the university campus.

“This has been an extraordinary journey and achievement for our graduates, especially in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic,” said Shah Ardalan, President of LSC-University Park, Ed.D.

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