A few years ago, I re-started a journey pursuing my Bachelors degree. I had tried several times before only to succumb to life's difficulties and ended up quitting. Something clicked this time around for me though. Not only did I know deep down that I would pursue this dream again but I knew I would finish.

The experience was not easy. There were many times I could have quit again and again. I thought single-parenting was hard, cumulate that with full-time college and working full-time - it was a intense precarious challenges. But I persevered! Even through the late nights into the early morning essay writings, to holding one child in one of my arms after she had puked and using the other arm to take an exam. I learned to strategize and be resourceful.

On Saturday, December 9th, I finally walked across stage at the Metropolitan State University 101st commencement with my Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies (focus on communications and marketing). I had technically graduated in August, but the ceremony wasn't until this past weekend. Last week was hectic as I prepared for an event I had been looking forward to my entire life. I frantically cleaned the house (stuffing things in the extra bedroom) so that the house would be presentable when my mom arrived from out of state. The kids and I were so excited to have her here.

Since I live in Rochester I am not super familiar with the cities. It took us a bit to navigate and get to the Minneapolis Event Center. I felt a sense of overwhelming awe at the fact that the commencement was in such a big auditorium to accommodate close to 1,000 students that would graduate with either a Masters or a Bachelors degree.

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My family/friends and I parted ways as I walked to one of the side rooms where other graduates were lining up. I kept to myself at first so that I could soak the moment in. Grabbing one of the index cards the school provided to write how I wanted my name announced and an email to send the professional photography to. When I completed this, I glanced around the room only to see it quickly fill up as the time neared the event start time. I saw some familiar faces and we gave each other hugs. My nervous energy dissipated and my excitement for this monumental moment skyrocketed. Right before we started to get into position a few of us graduates discussed what we felt was the most important lesson from college. Unanimously we agreed that learning to be an advocate for ourselves and for other people was the biggest takeaway. I know for myself this was more than true. The bubble around me has expanded and I am more vocal in my advocacy. I understand that there is a world beyond myself and it's up to me to contribute positively to it.

Now, for the best part, which dress did I pick to wear under my graduation gown? While I loved all of the previous dress I was pondering over, I fell in love with this gold glittered Micheal Kors dress. It was incredibly comfortable. Paired with some fleece tights and my low top black boots, the outfit was perfect for a commencement. Comfort and chic all in one!

Danielle Teal/TSM