When Pashion Wofford was in her senior year of high school in 1995, most of her new classmates were trying out the new Windows 95 computer software or listening to “Waterfalls” by R&B trio TLC.
Wofford, on the other hand, was balancing being a single parent to her little sister, Michelle, who was in the fifth grade. She knew she didn’t have time to go to college then, so she set her dream of being an educator to the side and went straight to work, focused on raising her sister.
Now, 27 years later at the age of 46, Wofford is just a few months away from earning her bachelor’s degree in integrated studies from Middle Tennessee State University with a focus in education and leadership.
“I get emotional when I think about how far I’ve come,” said Wofford, who lives in Antioch, Tennessee, with her three girls and her baby niece, of whom she also has custody. “My journey to this point has been long and it never seemed like the right time. Now that time has come.”
She had plans to enlist in the Navy after high school, but that changed when she gained custody of her sister. She was a single parent her senior year of high school, going to parent-teacher conferences, riding the same bus, and making sure her sister was “able to soar.”
“Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for someone else, and it doesn’t feel good every time,” she said in an emotional video she posted to Facebook. “But I will never ever regret making sacrifices for my children and my sister. Because that’s what love does … love sacrifices.”
Wofford had always known she wanted to be an educator, something that she decided on when she was in second grade. She homeschooled her kids for several years and eventually decided to start a summer program, Brilliant Child Enrichment Center, in her home to help kids stop the summer slide.
“I started with four kids in my home,” she said. “I really enjoyed making lesson plans and creating a curriculum and finding a way to make their lessons connect with dance or music or art.”
She had to stop the program because of the pandemic and Wofford said that left a big void. That is when she decided to look at finishing her degree at MTSU through University College, which offers flexible programs attractive to working adults. She had her associate degree and had taken a few classes here and there beyond that, but it had been tough to find the time to finish.
Wofford thought she could get a degree in education to boost her business with the enrichment center. She was researching different universities and said MTSU “fit like a glove.”