Looking back ten years, many wouldn’t expect Tori to be where she is today, but this Rose State alum prospered despite her odds.
Tori’s plans to further her education were temporarily derailed when a personal relationship evolved into something volatile and dangerous. In 2005, Tori found herself mentally and physically abused. She realized she needed to get herself and her two-year-old daughter out of the situation.
Without a steady job, she and her daughter were homeless from 2005 to 2008, utilizing non-profit organizations like Catholic Charities, Bethel Foundation, and Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma to stay afloat during those trying years.
Tori’s situation was not ideal, but she remained steadfast in her dream to go to school and make a better life for herself and her daughter. Rose State College was Tori’s answer.
Tori knew of Rose State because both of her sisters had attended, and she hoped to follow in their footsteps.
Her Rose State advisor, Monique, served as a vital support system for Tori throughout the years. She was with Tori through it all: the late nights, the doubts, and the struggles.
Tori recalls her second to last semester before graduation as her most difficult. She had a particularly challenging course and didn’t know if she could pass. Tori remembers her professor recognizing her discouragement and telling her, “Just breathe Tori, you’re going to get through this.”
Tori faced her challenges head-on and inched closer and closer to completing her degree. At times, she almost lost faith, but she gives thanks to God and all of her supporters who pushed her.
“It happened through the grace of God,” says Tori. “He didn’t let go of my hand and kept me sane. I look at young girls and hope they know how important it is to set dreams for themselves and to dream bigger.”
As a single parent raising her child, Tori took most all of her classes online. Rose State’s online course options helped Tori achieve her dreams.
Tori earned her degree in enterprise development and graduated on the vice president’s honor roll. She also made the dean’s list one year. “I wanted my daughter to see me graduate,” says Tori. “She remembers those times when it got rough.”
Tori had a young child to care for while she faced depression, anxiety, hunger, and homelessness. Yet, she prevailed.
While it’s immediately apparent that Tori’s will and inner strength played a huge part in her success, she remembers many blessings along the way that helped her achieve her dream. Support often came from unlikely places. “When you think things are going in a tailspin, God always calms the storm for you,” says Tori.
In 2009, Tori and her daughter were able to leave Catholic Charities and get a place of their own. The landlord was very helpful and gave Tori a run-down Mercedes. Tori says the car never gave her any trouble and miraculously lasted until she was able to buy her own.
Tori also faced the challenge of completing college courses without a computer. She didn’t let it stop her and wrote essays and papers from her phone until she unexpectedly received two donated computers from friends within a single week.
Tori’s professors and advisors at Rose State were also very helpful. Monique encouraged Tori to come back to Rose after she took a few semesters off. “Monique was so amazing to me,” says Tori. “They were all absolutely amazing. They pushed me when I wanted to give up.”
If anything, Tori is extremely grateful. She recognizes she was dealt a tough hand, but she doesn’t let that serve as an excuse. “If I didn’t stick to my guns, or have those professors, I couldn’t have gotten here,” says Tori.
Tori fiercely believes in giving back and helping others. She volunteers at Bethel Foundation once a week, among many other contributions.
Tori recognizes that her story has helped so many other people and she wants to continue to inspire people. She laughs, saying that she will be the next Oprah someday. Today, Tori works in document management at Novad Management Consulting and looks forward to the opportunities ahead of her.
“You don’t realize for a while that you have become a strong person,” says Tori. “Well I made it — I’m still going and I’m not going to stop.”
At Rose State, we understand that life isn’t always easy, and we’re here to guide you through completing your college degree in spite of your circumstances. Reach out to us today and let us answer any questions you may have.