Dallas Woman Graduates High School 20 Years Later

kianna-hawkinsKianna Hawkins failed the math portion of the Texas exam as an 18-year-old. After two decades of shame, the 38-year-old mom returned to her studies with the help of her teen daughter and earned a diploma from Roosevelt High School.

She got smart.

Twenty years after she flunked a state math exam and missed her graduation, a Dallas woman has earned her high school diploma.

Kianna Hawkins, 38, spent the past two decades trying to hide her shame, working low-paying jobs and raising her family, until a missed promotion finally spurred her to go back to her studies.

“It took a toll on me, so bad that I was ashamed of it,” Hawkins told the Dallas Morning News. “I didn’t have problems getting a job. But my pay never went past $13 an hour, and I know my skills and experience are more than that. Don’t give up like I did. It became my monster.”

Hawkins decided she wanted the full diploma that eluded her as a Roosevelt High School senior, not a GED. That meant tackling the math test that was her teenage enemy.

To prepare, she enlisted her 14-year-old daughter, Emiyah McCray, as a tutor.

“I just came and refreshed her memory on some stuff,” McCray told the Dallas Morning News. “I’m proud of her. This has been on her back for 20 years.”

The two spent two months working out the equations and algebra problems Hawkins could expect on the exam. She took the test in April, and the results arrived in May — Hawkins had passed.

“I said, ‘Thank you, Lord,’ and I’m dancing and shouting,” she told the Dallas Morning News. “When I told my daughter, she broke out in tears.”

Hawkins picked up the white cap and gown with the pale blue Roosevelt sash well ahead of Saturday’s Class of 2014 graduation.

She hopes kids see what she went through and decide to stay in school.

“Fight for what’s yours,” she told the Dallas Morning News. “Whatever you do, don’t give up.”



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