The last four years have not been easy for Darlene Pitts, of Norfolk, Virginia.
A hardworking woman in pursuit of higher education, Pitts earned an associate's degree from a community college in December 2011.
The next year, she enrolled in a program at Norfolk State University with the hopes of earning another degree.
During the course of the program, Pitts, who was working two jobs, was placed on academic probation. At one point, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to complete the coursework.
"I came to work in tears because I got a letter saying I was on academic probation,” Pitts told The Virginia-Pilot. "Some of the classes, they were really rough. I was ready to throw in the towel. I just wanted to call it quits, but I just hung in there."
But instead of giving up, Pitts quit her job at a Kroger grocery store and focused on her schoolwork and her job as a special education teaching assistant at a local high school. She started working with a tutor, too.
"It was a rough four years," Pitts said. "But I still hung in there."
This weekend, Pitts will graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She hopes to become a full-time special education teacher, but has no plans to end her career as a student. She wants to get a master's degree in special education.
"I love being in a classroom," she told the Virginia-Pilot. "I love being a student."
Until then, one of her granddaughters is practicing for how she'll cheer for her grandmother at Saturday's ceremony.
"It's a high-pitched scream," Pitts said. "It's a glass-shatterer."
Congrats to future NSU graduate Darlene Pitts. The NSU Commencement Ceremony will be held on Dec. 10. http://ow.ly/wjsm306PWQg #nsugrad16