Just steps away from finishing what she started, Michelle Wright pulled out her phone and went live on Facebook during North Carolina A&T State University’s Spring 2021 Commencement.
She told viewers she was getting ready to take that triumphant walk.
“I dreamt of that day so many years,” Wright said.
Unlike her classmates, her freshman year began in 1983.
Wright’s academic journey got off to a promising start. She was a talented music major who even earned a spot in the marching band.
Wright says she struggled with managing the freedom that came with college life, especially when it came to parties.
Being introduced to cocaine was the beginning of a downward spiral.
“I absolutely flunked out,” Wright said.
She spent years in a cycle of addiction. Wright is now 17 years clean. Despite hitting rock bottom, she never let go of wanting to earn her degree.
At 51, she went back returned to school through the Aggies at the Goal Line program, which is designed for former Aggies who didn’t complete their bachelor’s degrees.
Being back in the classroom was a triumph mirrored by tragedy. Wright’s son was killed less than two months before she started school.
Her first day of being back at NC A&T was on his birthday.
“[It] was just confirmation for me, dude, we got this, and when I go across that stage, I’m still taking you with me,” Wright said.
Wright graduated with a picture of the two of them on her cap. She feels relieved to finally have her undergraduate degree.
“That feeling of freedom. That feeling of accomplishment. The feeling of I did it. I finally did it,” she said.