My struggles pushed me toward a bachelor’s degree and achieving something great.
- Mysticka Robinson
Bachelor of Social Work student Mysticka Robinson has faced numerous obstacles since graduating high school. Some may be unable to handle school, a full-time job, and taking care of family at the same time. But even though she has doubted herself at times, Robinson has overcome all the challenges that could have stopped her and will graduate this week with her Bachelor of Social Work degree.
Robinson started her undergraduate studies in 2014 at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina as a biochemistry major before switching to psychology. But she was only at Claflin for one year before moving back home to North Charleston, South Carolina to help care for her mom and two sisters, since her dad worked oversees. For the next two years, Robinson worked full-time at Community Options, a nonprofit to support people with disabilities, while simultaneously attending Trident Technical College in her hometown.
Two years after leaving Claflin, Robinson’s mom and one of her coworkers encouraged her to apply to the University of South Carolina. She was accepted and resumed her studies as a sophomore in 2017, this time as a special education major. She also continued working at Community Options Columbia location. But she was still nervous about returning to school.
“I did not have a good experience at Claflin, and I was nervous about going to a bigger school,” Robinson says. “I love learning, but large classes for my prerequisite classes were hard since I have social anxieties. Emailing questions to my professors instead of asking them in class was something I had to overcome, but it was so beneficial once I stepped out of my shell.”
But Robinson’s GPA suffered as she returned home every weekend during her first semester, and she was ready to leave school again.
“I didn't think I would be able to stay,” Robinson says. “One of my advisors encouraged me to stay because I had come so far, but at the same time it was still going to be hard for me to manage school, working full-time, and taking care of my family.”
Robinson managed to persevere and remain in school. The experience has been beneficial since she has learned to better manage her time. It was also helpful when her father returned home for the first time in a year-and-a-half this past December, which eased her burden of doing check-ins with her family.
“It wasn't just stressful for me but my entire family,” Robinson says. “I had a system where I went home every other weekend, so it didn’t take away from school and work. My mom was also very helpful, checking on me because she never wanted me to leave school again. She is proud of how I managed to take care of everyone else in addition to my responsibilities.”
Working at Community Options influenced Robinson to initially study special education. But in her junior year, she discovered social work and different ways to help others.
“While I was a special education major, I realized that I wanted to do more than special needs. I wanted to advocate for people with a disability,” Robinson says. “I finally knew what I wanted to do, and that’s how I ended up in social work.”
While Robinson may have felt her life was a constant seesaw between school, work and home, she was grateful for her professors who understood her situation. At the beginning of each semester, she explained her family and work dynamics to each professor, who understood her full caseload and offered as much help and support necessary. Last semester was especially difficult when Robinson’s life essentially stopped when she contracted COVID-19.
“I thought to myself, ‘What was there for me to do?' But my professors made sure I was okay, asked if I needed anything, gave me extensions on my work, and made sure my family was okay, since they knew the dynamics,” Robinson says. “It was hard for those two weeks, but the support of my family and professors really helped me.
I used to struggle with asking for help, but nobody truly knows your situation until you tell them. There are other people probably going through the same thing as me, and when I finally asked for help, everything changed for me.”
Robinson admits that it has been a bumpy ride towards achieving her educational goals. But she also believes that she would not have pushed herself or been as motivated without her struggles.
“I’m so thankful for the support and to be finally able to see the finish line. It’s something I will never take for granted,” Robinson says. “I would have been okay with an associate's degree, but my struggles pushed me toward a bachelor’s degree and achieving something great.”