Hi, my name is Sherese Bernard, and I have overcome many obstacles in my life. Teen pregnancy, High school dropout, and public assistance from the government.
I became a mother at 16 years old to a beautiful daughter who had both her mother and her father (we were in love). The thing was no one told me or us we had to support a baby. I had to forge documents (Not happy about it) so that I could lie so temp agencies would think I was 18 years old so I could work 4 to 8 hours a day. I am lucky that my daughter’s grandmother would watch her so that I could work. Every week I would cash a check for $100 from working 20 hours a week. The whole check went to transportation and my daughter’s needs. Which means I could not possibly go to school.
As my daughter got older (about four years old) I decided that I cannot enroll my daughter into kindergarten and watch her graduate and I have not graduated from high school (what type of mom would I be). So, I signed up for a mommy and me GED program in South Jamaica Queens Multi-Service Center. The program gave parenting advice, as well. They told me to sign up for public assistance and to stay on until I am done with getting my GED. I can then get a real job, so I applied. I was able to bring my daughter with me to school as they had board-certified baby sitters that stayed with the children while you went to class on the premises. As I went to class, there were only four rooms. One room was the main room for the children, the office, a reading room, and a math room.
Ms. Gail taught reading, and Ms. Zinoba taught Math (I will always remember them). They pushed me as the program was for teen moms, which meant that when I turned 21 if I did not receive my GED, I could not stay in the program. I worked so hard that I took the GED test twice. The first time I took the test, it was just a trial to see how much knowledge I retained. Keep in mind that the passing grade was 225. My first try I received a 222. I was upset, but I kept pushing. I knew exactly which area I needed help in science (can you believe that) so I worked hard for the next few months so that when I took the test the next time, I would be ready. Six months later, I took the test I was ready. I went to the testing location (I remember it like it was yesterday). I walked in with all the confidence in the world because I had Ms. Zinoba and Ms.Gail cheering me on. When I left the testing room, I knew that I passed. A few weeks later, my daughter comes home with a letter about her kindergarten graduation, and I received a letter in the mail. I was so scared to open it. I knew in an instant just looking at the envelope because the GED was attached to the results 232 (passing the envelope is blue failing the envelope is white). I Passed!
Our graduations were in days of each other. My daughter’s graduation was on Monday, and mine was on Wednesday. Everyone attended my daughter’s graduation, and afterward, we had lunch there we all talked about seeing me again at my graduation on Wednesday. I told everyone I had a surprise for them.
My graduation who would believe the day would come where I would be marching in with a cap and gown on. I did it! I was so excited, but what my family did not know, including my daughter that I was valedictorian class of 1995(Surprise). I had the highest GED score in my class. I had to give a speech. I was so scared my knees were knocking, my teeth were chattering, and my hands were sweaty. I walked across that stage, and I said my speech (I do not remember it). I read it from a paper. The only regret that I have is that I never looked up from the paper (I was too scared). Afterward, everyone in the room stood up, cheered, and clapped for me as I trembled across the stage back to my seat. I knew then what I had to work on next speaking in large groups.
So, Hi again, my name is Sherese Bernard, and I hold a Masters Degree in Information System, from Walden University Working toward my Doctoral Degree in Information System. There is no obstacle too big or too small that I will not get over. To all the people that said I could not do it, I wish they could see me now. My message to you is never to let any obstacle get in the way of bettering yourself.
Tell me about an obstacle that you faced?
Was the obstacle hard to overcome?
Sherese Bernard WWIT, President
Reading about your obstacles made me smile. I very much appreciate your tenacity in getting your degrees. You just have to just keep pushing forward eh?
One of my obstacles involved an English Professor in my Bachelor’s program. To keep this short and sweet, he told me I couldn’t write. There was no advice on how to improve. There were no resources or writing centers that he sent me to. He just left me with a feeling of inadequacy. So much so, that it took me a long time to attempt my masters degree, and even then, I searched for a program that did not have a thesis. I was scared to death about the 5-10 page papers due every week. However, in my very first class, my professor told us that we were IT people and probably hadn’t written a paper in a very long time, if ever. So, she was going to show how to write a basic paper. She laid it all out on the white board. A formula for writing a simple 5 paragraph paper. When simply put that way, it made complete sense to me. The lightbulb went off over my head and then, I could write a paper. Since then, I have written a dissertation and have published multiple times. Don’t tell me I can’t do something…..with tenacity, I will figure it out!!
Thanks for your story. I want to hear others too!
Thank You Dr.B, Who would have thought you could not write a 5-10 page paper? Well Look at you now! you are Dr. Burchell who teaches a Doctoral class. You persevered through and showed that English teacher that you can do anything you want.
Thank You for being you
Wow, this is very inspiring! I am encouraged by your story of resilience and perseverance.
It reminds me of a time about twelve years ago, when I lost my job, car, and apartment all within a few days. Since this loss was unexpected, I had no time to research or plan alternative options. At the time, I did not have any family in the area, and most of my friends stayed out of town. However, there was one friend that lived in the nearest county, about 50 miles away. So, I called her and asked if I could move with her until I was able to regain income and become stable. She said, “sure!”
The transition was not easy because I had to start from scratch. It took seven months to find a job, I took public transportation everywhere until I was able to afford another car (which took a year), and almost two years later, I was able to get my own apartment… again. I was able to get through this season of my life, with the support of my friend and community resources. Because I was determined to not be defeated, but keep pushing ahead!
Fast forward, I am now living in an area that I love and in a career that allows me to grow. All of this became possible because I did not give up and allow the hurdle of loss dictate moving forward.
Wow Valamere, this is a the true meaning of courage. When life knocks you down you get back up and claim what is yours. I am glad you had a friend that was able to share her home so that you could get back on your feet.
When life gave you lemons you made lemonade 🙂