September 27, 2023

Rising Above

Story by: Sharnika McCormick, AAS Criminal Justice 2015
BS, Criminal Justice Administration, 2017
Edited by: Libby Reilly, CSU

Have you ever looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize who you were, what purpose you had, or who you wanted to be? For the longest time, it seemed like bad luck was my best friend and I just couldn’t get ahead in life. I can remember being as young as six years old and wondering what my life would be like, what I wanted to become, how I would be in college. I have always had a love for criminal justice. I would be the only one reading about it in elementary school when we were allowed to go to the library. Anything that dealt with the law captured my attention.

Fast forward a few years and I let life get the best of me. I went through some very rough hardships and by the time I was in the ninth grade, I had lost my love for school. I dropped out that year and thought I knew it all. I had a small job and was making it, or so I thought. At the age of seventeen, I became pregnant. I was now not only responsible for myself, but another life. I knew I needed to get a better job but, not all that surprisingly, no one wanted to hire me without a high school diploma.

I went years barely making ends meet, eventually becoming homeless with my son. There was no one to turn to; no one seemed to care. There were times I didn’t know where our next meal would come from and the dead-end jobs were not paying; I knew I had to do better.

By 2009, I had three sons, got married, and was pregnant again. I found myself with four sons, but still no high school diploma. My marriage was on the rocks after some years and I felt like I was losing my mind. I wanted to give up and felt like I was no good to anyone. I began thinking that my kids were better off without me. I just needed one person to believe in me.

I finally found a friend who did believe in me, who pushed me to be better. My friend, who we will call T, became my saving grace.

In 2012, I decided it was time to get out on my own. I obtained my G.E.D. while working full-time and taking care of my four boys and my mom. I knew I could do it and began feeling so proud of myself. After I achieved my GED, T asked me about college. She was an alumna of Columbia Southern University and wanted to help me get started on the path to further my education. It was then that I realized I was smarter and more capable then I previously realized. I enrolled at Columbia Southern University and graduated with an associate’s degree of Business in 2013. I conquered my fears and have never been more proud of myself. When I think about my college degree, I can’t help but shed a few tears. I did it. I beat the stereotypes. I accomplished a huge goal.

Throughout everything, I have found that it is possible to win, even when you have lost so many times.

I am now just two classes away from completing my bachelor’s degree, in a good job, and my sons are now 16, 12, 9 and 6 years old. They have made me a better person and truly are the biggest blessing.



  1. Sharon

    Thanks for sharing your story Sharnika. It was very inspirational. Good luck with your future endeavors. Keep moving forward.