For Stacie Montague-Smith, a communication major, walking across the stage at the Breslin Center to receive her diploma will give her “a feeling of relief and gratitude.”
Getting to Dec. 18, the day of commencement, has been quite a journey for Montague-Smith.
“The entire duration of my college experience has been difficult to say the least, but this last half of my academic career with MSU has felt like I was constantly fighting for my life,” she said. “I know no other way to phrase it.”
Before she entered her junior year, she found out she was pregnant. She said her support system helped her continue with her studies. Toward the end of her pregnancy, she moved back home.
Things went well until her doctor became worried about her blood pressure and how it might affect the health of her unborn child.
“I could hardly focus on my online studies,” she said of the experiences she was going through.
After she had her son, the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“I can’t even begin to explain the impact of this pandemic on my studies, but again my village kept pushing forward,” she said. “Me returning to school while being in a pandemic forced some adjustments on my parenting, but my son’s father is remarkable. He supported me through this entire journey, and we have fought to find solutions for whatever circumstance we’ve come up against concerning our son.
“This graduation feels like a fulfilled promise to me, and thank you to God and my village for holding me up while in the mist.”
Samuel Cho, an academic advisor at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, marvels at Montague-Smith's perseverance.
Cho is Montague-Smith's advisor.
“Many life responsibilities could’ve prevented Stacie to continue her journey at MSU,” Cho said. “However, she stayed connected with her instructors and never gave up on her academic success.
“I’m astonished by Stacie’s time management skills between schoolwork, job, internship, and being a full-time mother.”
To others who may be facing adversity on the way to reaching their goals, Montague-Smith says to “lean in.”
“Lean into the pain, uncomfortability, and frustration,” she said. “Either you are being forced to grow or move but remember that all things work together for the good. Just keep going and maintain hope and faith in whatever it is you are looking to accomplish. It will be your incentive to continue on.”
Montague-Smith says she hopes to one start a non-profit for young Christian creatives.
“I also believe that one day people will be reading and watching my content.”
By Jennifer Trenkamp