Adopted from a press release by Anthony Tywman, Assistant to the President for Communications at Delaware County Community College
More than 1,500 students received associate degrees and certificates from Delaware County Community College in May 2018.
The event’s commencement speaker was also the Alumni Professional Achievement Award winner, Habibah Sulayman Smith, who graduated from Delaware County Community College in 2004. Smith is a project specialist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.
Nearly two decades ago, Smith, then a 26-year-old, single mother with three kids who was struggling not to become homeless a second time, came to Delaware County Community College seeking an education and a better life for her children. Today, Smith is married, no longer homeless and using her life experiences to encourage others – especially young women – to never give up and keep striving for their goals. She is an author, inspirational speaker and life coach who has served more than 17 years in the social service field working to better the lives of women and children.
Below are excerpts from Smith’s speech last year:
“Eighteen years ago, when I got off the Route 112 bus on my way to my first day of class at Delaware County Community College, I didn’t know anyone whose life looked like mine. I was a 26-year-old, single mom of three children, who was an inch away from being homeless again. I couldn’t find anyone whose story sounded like mine. All I knew was that I needed the lives of my children to be better than my life had been, so I started. I started writing the book that I so desperately needed to read, but couldn’t find. It was a story of redemption, second chances, and purpose being birthed from the most painful times in my life…
“My most impactful work didn’t come solely from my education, or credentials. It came when I was willing to share my story with other teenaged mothers as proof that they could make it. I’m not unique or special — each one of us has some gift that can be used to not only to make a living, but create a legacy that lasts long after you are gone.”
Smith is one example of the ways in which Pennsylvania community colleges support single parents as they strive to attain their educational goals and enhance their careers.