THOMASVILLE Ga– A record number of students at Thomas University are getting ready to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. But none of them made it this far without a few bumps in the road. Eyewitness News talked with one woman who said she still can’t believe this day is finally here.
As Kristel Avilus unwraps her cap and gown for the first time, She’s getting ready for a day she never thought would come.
“It’s amazing. I feel so accomplished. I just didn’t think I would be able to graduate and it just feels amazing,” Kristel explained.
Kristel is 29 years old. She is the definition of someone who has beat the odds to make it here. At just 15 years old, she became pregnant with her first child. When she started at Thomas University she was pregnant with her fifth. She said it took her awhile to realize failing wasn’t an option.
“I did it with five kids, and I’m severely dyslexic. I did it and I’m not that great in school. So I feel like if I can do it anybody can do it,” Kristel said.
Kristel’s getting her Bachelor of Science in social work. It’s something she said will help her give back and show young girls they can make it too.
“I was a PACE girl and they deal with at-risk youth. I am one of them and you can make it just like I did.”
Kristel’s story is just one of the hundreds that will walk across the stage Saturday morning. It’s also one that reminds professors and administrators like Jeff Edgens, why they do what they do.
“That’s the thing that really fuels all of us in education. To support students in fulfilling their dreams, and fulfilling what it is that they seek out to do. Part of Thomas University is transforming lives,” Edgens explained.
On Saturday, Kristel will step off that stage, to use her degree to transform the lives of others.