WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Graduation is the day every college student dreams of from the moment they step foot on a college campus, and for students at Midwestern State University, that moment is just a few days away.

For some, it’s been a long, hard road to get to the finish line.

Upcoming MSU graduate Rikki Schenkel said though she faced many obstacles during her time in her masters program, those challenges are what pushed her to find the strength to keep going and pursue her dreams.

Schenkel said her journey through MSU’s Clinical Mental Health Master’s program has been everything but easy.

From juggling the roles of mom, student and working three jobs on top of living through a pandemic, she said finally reaching graduation is a moment she thought she’d never see.

“Every time I turn around, I’m doing something I thought I wouldn’t be able to,” Schenkel said. “I’m like, I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but then it gets done, and I’m like, I don’t know how that worked, so let’s just keep going.”

And keep going she did, even at times when she felt the odds in her life were stacked against her.

“If I think about it too hard, I have to stop trying to cry because I really didn’t see myself ever getting to this point,” Schenkel said. “My oldest child I had when I was seventeen, so I was forced to go to alternative school, and the teachers’ opinion was basically that I was done. That was it for me, that was what I was going to be, and that was what I was always going to be.”

Schenkel quickly proved those around her wrong. After obtaining her Associates and Bachelor degrees, she began working at the North Texas state hospital, and that’s where she said she found her true passion was in mental health counseling.

Counseling is a career where she can serve others and a career that she said will serve her future and the future of her children.

“The level of excitement is absolutely immeasurable, especially with having my kids get to watch me walk across the stage and be like ‘you can do this,'” Schenkel said. “If this is what you want, this is doable.”

Schenkel hopes her story inspires many others out there to follow their own dreams and start walking their path to success.

“It really doesn’t matter where you came from, pick a place to go – pick a place to go and go,” Schenkel said.

Schenkel’s success proves no matter what life throws your way, you’re always able to come out on top.

The Fall 2021 MSU Texas Commencement is set for Saturday, December 11, at 10 a.m. at Kay Yeager Coliseum.