A 4-Year Degree Taught Me to Live on My Own Terms

Writer | Entrepreneur | Business & Personal Development

I finished college in December 2013. 

The following January I walked across the stage and felt the proudest I’d felt in a long time. I did it for my parents more than anything.

They didn’t have the chance to sit at my high school graduation because I finished 6 months after the rest of my class.

The resulting feeling of failure weighed heavy on me.

When I finished high school the district shipped my diploma in the mail. There was no celebration, no cheers, no walking across the stage or shaking the school principal’s hand.

It was just me and my diploma. I was 6 months pregnant when I received it and no one said too much about it,

“Oh okay, good job Aleesha…”

Because “Duh, that’s a given. You’re supposed to finish high school.”

I don’t think my parents realized, but I was more disappointed than they could have ever been.

I had let them down and I had to make it up.

There was a shaky time in 2007 where I attempted to attend a university for two months. I was on track to become a psychologist. No one was too thrilled with my underwhelming career choice. Aside from that, the person who offered to help out with my child while I was in school, canceled midway through the semester.

Discouraged, I dropped out and lost all the grants I had been given.

After dropping out, I moved from a part-time department store position to a “grown-up” job and started working 40 hours a week. In the back of my mind, I had to finish school. I still felt strongly that I had something to prove.

Two years later, I re-enrolled. This time I chose a “safe” degree. My father is a CPA, so I choose accounting. Four years later, I walked across the stage and my parents, my grandfather, my siblings and my 6-year-old were in the crowd.

They called my name, everyone cheered and I walked across the stage and shook the Dean’s hand.

“Aleesha Lauray- B.S. in Accounting”


That’s what my diploma read.

Back then, it was the proudest moment of my life… and now?…

Well… I’m still proud of how driven I was and I am glad my parents had the chance to see my graduate. But I kind of chuckle because I’m like, did I really run around for 6 years trying to prove something to everyone else?

“I can finish college.

I can pick a good career.

I can raise a child at the same time.”

None of those things were ever a doubt in my mind.

 I knew I was capable, but I wanted so much for everyone else to see it too.

The thing I had to realize was, no one had a greater stake in my future than me. No one had to live with my career choices or bear the brunt of my failures.

I lived with them…

 I bore them….

 and I wound up unhappy because I chose based off what I thought everyone else wanted from me.

I’m no longer working as an accountant. Two years ago, I changed my mind and I decided to go live my life.

 I wouldn’t say my 4-year-degree was a waste. Though I retained little of what I “learned” in college, the degree enabled me to obtain a job where I did learn some valuable business skills. Also, the whole experience taught me a valuable lesson:

The most important person I need to prove something to… is myself. The most important person to believe in me… is me. And no one’s expectations are more important than my own. This is my life and I must live it on my own terms.


Thank you for reading. ❤



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *