Hard work pays off for new MSU Texas graduate

Perry balanced motherhood, work, school to earn her trip across stage

Hard work pays off for new MSU Texas graduate

Angela Perry had tried college before, not long after her 2007 graduation from Iowa Park High School. Between her full-time job and being a single mother with two children under age 3, it was too much. She had a job at Albertson's grocery store, later Cash Saver, but as she looked five to 10 years into the future that she wanted for herself and her children, it was not where she wanted to be. She wanted to raise her family with her own means, without relying on help from the state or being dependent on government help with housing.

In 2014, Perry went back to college. The road she has been on the past five years hasn't been easy, but with a little help from family and professors, Perry will walk the stage Saturday to receive her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Midwestern State University.

At the grocery store, Perry had worked a few shifts with the bookkeeper, and realized she enjoyed working with numbers. She majored in accounting with a minor in management information systems.

Perry says that the passion her professors, including Drs. Susan Anders, Terry Patton, and Ronald Young in the Dillard College of Business Administration's accounting department, have for seeing their students succeed drove her, even when she wasn't sure how she was going to make it. "If you work hard and show you're determined, they'll guide you to where you need to be," she said.

Patton knew Perry struggled as she juggled work, school, and parenthood, but credited her hard work and dedication for her success. "She's had trials but one of our goals is to help students better their lives. We want them to be successful not only as students or in their professional lives, but also in their personal lives. When you see a student who is so determined, as Angela was, we want to help them."

That concern was evident when Perry's Pell Grant ran out with two semesters left. Because her professors knew of her need, she was able to apply for, and receive, a scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board that allowed her to finish.

More than her professors, Perry credits her mother, Jana Thompson, for inspiring her at times when she wanted to give up. In spite of having a stroke in 2018, and caring for her husband after he suffered a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery, Thompson was also scheduled to graduate May 11 with a master's degree in nursing from the University of Phoenix. But Thompson will put off her walk until September. She wanted to be with her daughter. "Angela has fought so hard to earn her degree," Thompson said. "She deserves to have this special moment all for her and to celebrate. Seeing Angela graduate will be such a proud-mom moment for me."

Thompson said that when her husband was sick, and when she had her stroke, she didn't want to finish her degree but her daughter encouraged her in her own journey. "Having support from Angela and other family and friends gave me the strength to complete my degree," she said.

Just as Perry's mom was an inspiration for her, she hopes that in spite of the sacrifices, her son and daughter will see that anything is possible. "They are definitely my biggest fans and supporters since they see what I've had to do day in and day out to accomplish this. They have been a big help around the house in getting chores done and at entertaining themselves so I can study," Perry said.

Her son Braycen, now 12, told Perry that he knew it had been hard for her, but already he is talking about his own future, school, and what he wants to be when he grows up. Daughter Haygen, now 10, is excited and proud of her mom that she has succeeded and will get the job that she has wanted.

That job is at MWH Group, a Wichita Falls accounting firm, where Perry spent a semester as an intern, and was offered a job that she will start immediately after graduation.

In spite of the hardships, Perry hopes her children remember this time in their lives. "If they learn just one thing from this, I hope it's that you can be or do anything you want in this life - you just have to be willing to put in the work. It's not just dreaming it but doing what is needed to be able to achieve it," Perry said.

Thompson said she knew that many single parent women feel as her daughter did five years ago -thinking of all the reasons they can't go to college and feeling stuck where they are. "Angela has demonstrated that it can be done," Thompson said. "It's not easy and requires sacrifice, but it can be done. What a great example she has set for others."