How can college change your life? Check out these inspiring stories
Does the name Shaquille O'Neal ring a bell? Sure, he's a basketball legend and probably has the biggest feet in the business, but behind his gigantic sneakers and jersey, O'Neal is an education junkie. During his decorated career as a professional athlete, O'Neal scored more than just free-throw shots: He scored college degrees. This past spring, he joined the rest of the class of 2012 and earned a doctorate degree in education.
Soon after receiving his diploma, O'Neal spoke to reporters and underlined the importance of higher education - not because it'll help him make more money with another career (because let's face it, he's already got a lot of dough ), but rather that it'll open the doors to another chapter in his life.
"I realized that some of the techniques that [educators] apply were techniques that I was already using to become the great leader while I was in sports," he said during a press conference. "When you cross into someone's field, one thing you must have is their respect."
In an interview with ABC News, O'Neal said his reasons for continuing his education after retiring from basketball included a promise he made to his parents and his own motivation to continually challenge himself.
College success doesn't stop with megastars, and sometimes those under-the-radar stories resonate deeper. Stephanie Milam of eastern Texas, 26, wrote an essay to the Victoria Advocate outlining her reasons for pursuing a degree. Stuck in a cycle of poverty, abuse and violence, Milam needed a positive change in her life. After giving birth to her first child at the age of 17, Milam realized that the best way she could influence her daughter was to raise her in a safe environment. Her first step was going to college.
"As of today, I have started a new chapter in my life," she wrote. "It's only my first semester at [school], but I know I'm headed somewhere and the journey is going to be great. I'm ecstatic. I'm someone I never thought I'd be: a college student."
Currently pursuing an Associate's degree in Nursing, Milam plans on getting a Bachelor's degree so she can become a surgical nurse.