Friends revel in hard-earned degrees
Judging by the smiles of Sharee Block and Olivia Davis, the satisfaction of graduating from Southeast Arkansas College was well deserved.
But the road to Friday’s fall graduation party was anything but easy for the friends, who call themselves “sister.”
âThe devil tried to get us,â said Davis, a 30-year-old mother of six who took seven classes this semester, âand it was the tough classes because they’re transferring to our BSN. [bachelor of science in nursing]. It is as if each trial and tribulation keeps knocking us down. When I fall short, she picks up. When she runs out, I pick up. It means more to me than anything. “
Block, a 38-year-old grandmother from Lansing, Michigan, endured personal tragedy long before she enrolled in Pine Bluff College. His brother John Woodard was murdered at the age of 16 in 1996, while he and Block were still living in the north.
Shortly after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Block’s father died of the disease and she “walked away” from her studies with “a few” classes remaining.
Over the past two weeks, Block has also lost a 2-month-old great-niece and a 3-year-old grand-nephew. The grandnephew’s vigil was held concurrently with the graduation ceremony, and the funeral is taking place today.
âThese have been the toughest two weeks of my life,â Block said. âIt’s been ups and downs. I had to deal with it all during the finals, but it’s all in my head, passing and pushing through to my finals.â
His friend Davis can relate to the struggle.
Davis finished school in one semester when she gave birth to a premature baby from October 20 to 39 days before the baby’s expected arrival.
âOn my dad’s side, I had a grandmother who always pushed me and I was in school,â Davis said. âThen my mom got really sick and I took a break from school. She passed away two years ago. “
Davis returned to school to finish up for his mother, Rebecca Motsinger.
“That’s all I wanted her to do was see me finish,” she said.
Block and Davis remembered loved ones lost on mortars designed during graduation at the [emailÂ protected] Recreation center.
What was the power of the moment?
âYou haven’t a clue,â Davis said. âI know my mom isn’t here, but if she was it would be the highlight of my life. And that alone means more to me than anything. And then, it also helps my grandmother get along. relax a bit. “
The hybrid ceremony was videotaped in front of a live audience of faculty members and students who chose to receive their degrees in person. A full video honoring all graduates will be posted on SEARK’s website at a later date, President Steven Bloomberg said.
The fall class included 260 university students receiving diplomas or certificates and 12 high school graduates.
âWhat’s really extraordinary is the students who graduate from high school,â Bloomberg said. âIt’s so emotional for me because you get people walking across the stage. We don’t make a difference. We just celebrate. That’s the part I love.â
Haleigh Reichen, 22, is a graduate of Watson Chapel High School who earned an Associate of Arts degree and will use her prerequisites to earn a bachelor’s degree in business analysis.
âAfter my business analyzes I’m going to get into broadcasting,â said the mother of a 2-year-old son. âAfter that I’m going to get a bachelor’s degree in computer animation so I can have a lot of choices as to a career I could go to. I could go into broadcasting. I could go into computer animation. is going to be that person. “
Gallery: Southeast Arkansas College Fall Diploma