Graduating From College

If you have read my bio, I stated that I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology (also known as FIT). FIT is the #1 fashion school in the world with an acceptance rate of about 40% so graduating from this prestigious fashion school was a major accomplishment for this girl coming from the “hood” in Boynton Beach, Florida and moving to a small country town in Locust Grove, Georgia. My journey does not seem very practical seeing where I have come from, BUT GOD! I created this post to highlight and recall my time at the Fashion Institute of Technology in hopes that you will never give up on ANY dream that you may have because believe me when I tell you that IT WAS NOT EASY!! Here goes…

After graduating from high school in May 2013, I began my college career at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (also known as FIDM), and it was cool (I guess). Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was forced to pack up and leave two months into the school year. I was devastated but I had to pick myself up and keep moving. I applied to the Fashion Institute of Technology by the October 1st deadline the same year and was accepted in November to begin in January of 2014. Here is how my time at FIT went.

January 2014 – May 2014 (Semester #1):

When I first got to New York City, I only had about $40 to my name and coming from Georgia, I used a fare estimate website to determine how much my taxi would be from the airport to my dorm. Bad idea! The estimate website said $40 but going through so much traffic and trying to detour due to the snow that was on the road, my taxi ended up being $60! Only having $40, I went into the Residential Life Office to check in and broke down crying in front of the receptionist and she “just so happened” to have a $20 bill in her purse (angel). So I paid for my taxi, got up to my room, and I can’t even tell you what I ate for dinner that night. I had nothing but my suitcase with clothes, a comforter set, and a pillow. A few days later, I found out that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It seemed as if moving to New York City was such a bad idea, I cried every night in the shower for the first week. I had a box sent to New York from home that never even arrived until March! I had nothing but my faith in God to bring me through such a tough time for me. My grandmother continuously told me that “bad starts usually have good endings”, and I believed in that. Being the angel that she is, she called a distant relative that lived in the Bronx, NY and he and his wife bought me everythingggg for my dorm (including medicine because during this time I was also sick!).

After surviving the week that seemed hell sent, I went to visit my school (which I had never visited prior), and met the SVCS coordinator and she granted me the opportunity to help her with the new student extravaganza so that I could get first dibs on all of the fashion week sign up opportunities (angel). I got chosen as a volunteer for Venexiana which meant that I was on my way to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week! Working in her showroom, I felt like I was in a real life Devil Wears Prada, except the designer was the sweetest. Working extremely hard and taking heed to all instruction, she allowed me to go with them to MBFW and work backstage helping with check in. I assisted in the checking in all of the reporters and magazine representatives and gave them their credentials which would grant them backstage access. She loved me so much that she told me that every season I could come and help her anytime!

All of the classes in fashion school were three hours long so I had to balance staying focused in classes with the thoughts that it was freezing cold in New York City, my mother had breast cancer, and I was 18 and all alone in the big city “where dreams are made of”, but I made it through! Did I mention that I also got my first real modeling job on a payroll as an e-commerce model for the apparel store Rainbow. My bad start had began to look up.

August 2014 – December 2014 (Semester #2):

Being that I was pretty accustomed to New York City at this point, I came back to school in the fall very prepared! I returned to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week with Venexiana and I was back at school ready to tackle another semester (or at least I thought I was ready). By this point, my mother had gotten her double mastectomy but she had to have expanders in her chest for months before she could get her breast implants. It was extremely hard for me to focus knowing that my mother was all alone in Georgia, going through a divorce, and having to sleep in a recliner chair every night for about six months but I tried my best to just get by everyday. I was there but I wasn’t really there. Academically, this semester was the toughest. To top things off, it was also football season so it was extremely hard for me to stay focused constantly getting calls (from some no good boy lol) early in the mornings, during the day, before practice, before games, after games, just 24/7. My time was consumed with the things that I was going through and also trying to cater to him. (I wasn’t even his girlfriend, but I was 19 and dumb). In October, my mother had her final breast cancer reconstructive surgery and got her impants without ever having to go through chemotherapy or radiation!

January – May 2015 (Semester #3):

This spring semester was the highlight of my (modeling) life! I received so many opportunities to practice and perfect my craft. I was meeting so many individuals aspiring to pursue careers in the same field that I was aspiring to be in as well and we all came together to create magic! It seemed as if I was shooting every week. Coming up with creative ideas, getting everything that I needed and building networking relationships and friendships with the photographers that could bring my ideas to life! I was also building an even greater social media presence. Thanks to the Black Out on Tumblr, I was past 5,000 followers and all of my photos were going viral!

In school, I was steadily trying to stay focused and pass all of my classes. The Fashion Institute of Technology is not a ‘cake walk’ school, you have to work for everything that you want. Balancing 6 three hour classes, a rising modeling career, and extremely cold weather, it was very hard to remain focused but I made it through!

August – December (Semester 4):

My final fall semester at this Fashion Institute of Technology was extremely life changing for me. After desiring to have this huge social media presence and becoming “Tumblr popular”, the pressure of trying to constantly be someone that I wasn’t (outside of the modeling pictures) and always feeling like I had to take selfies and pictures to stay current was eating me alive. I hated the very thing that I THOUGHT I wanted. I deleted all of my social media accounts a few days before Halloween and instantly felt relieved. I was hired as a Community Assistant in the Residential Life Office at my college (which was like a step above the RA’s – is how I described it lol) and I was also hired as event staff for a major private company and was blessed to travel to multiple charity auctions where we helped the companies raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for their charitable organizations!

I was balancing 2 jobs and 6 three hour classes beautifully. I was also invited as 1 of 3 students to be on the President’s Diversity Council at my college. Imagine attending meetings with all of the chair and board members (and sometimes the President of the college herself) where they are all looking to you for your opinion as a student! Pretty cool, huh? I thought that I had finally arrived after going through so much!

Without social media, I just wanted to get closer and closer to God because there was nothing that anything or anyone else could offer me that could be greater than all of the things that He had done for me. To test my strength, my faith, and my love for God, I decided to do a 3 day fast not eating or drinking anything for 3 days and 3 nights. It was tough but just as Philippians 4:13 states, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and I did it!

On the last day of the fall semester, I was in my bed all day struggling with a full body ache + headache. It seemed like the flu but I know it wasn’t. As I struggled to walk the 10 minute journey to my final 6:30 class for two exams, I held back the tears from the pain that I was feeling. I knew that I was suffering from exhaustion. As my grandma described, I had the adrenaline to pursue and achieve everything that God needed me to complete but once it was over, it was over. I felt as if I couldn’t even move anymore.

The next day was a nightmare, I was supposed to leave for the airport around 9am for a 12pm flight, but it did not happen like that.  I had to return a book to the Barnes & Noble on campus, which was supposed to open at 8am and did not open until 9am! So as I was walking back to my dorm, I decided to order the Lyft car to take me to the airport figuring that we would both arrive at the dorm at the same time. Well, we did and I met him but he refused to wait for me to go upstairs and get my suitcase (two minutes) and pulled off! Having flashbacks of my first college experience in semester #1, I tried to stay calm and keep it together. I calmly ordered a new Lyft car and waited for him to arrive. Once he arrived it took foreverrrrrrr for us to get to the airport. Once I got checked in, my flight was taking off in 45 minutes, but when the representative called the pilot he refused to wait and I had to pay over $15o for another flight that was about 4 hours later! Trying to just keep it together and get checked in the representative told me that I could not get checked in and go to the back until 2 hours before my flight. What??? What was I supposed to do for two hours in the front of the airport?! I took my suitcase off of the scale, walked into a bathroom stall, sat on my suitcase and cried my eyes out desperately praying and asking God “why is this happening to me again?”. My mother advised me not to question God and told me that there was a reason why this was happening. “God could be saving you from a plane crash or a trap from the enemy so just pray, stay calm, go sit down and just wait for your time.”

After finally arriving to Florida for Christmas break, I woke up with those exhaustion symptoms again. I was floored, I felt like I was on my deathbed. To top things off, I woke up with a growing fever blister that both my grandmother and great Aunt tried to provide remedies for. Their advices must have created some kind of chemical reaction because that growing fever blister swelled up SOOOO BIG on my lip. I was crying so bad because I was ugly and in so much pain from exhaustion. It was so bad that my grandma thought I had the flu or pneumonia.

January – May 2016 (Semester #5):

Finally, I had made it to my final semester of college with no desire to ever go to college again (after this roller coaster ride that life had taken me through), I was determined to do this one completely right. I dropped the zero football player (haha), and did everything that was best for me and my relationship with God. I stopped working with the charitable organization and focused on my one job in the Residential Life Office. Being off of social media was very liberating for me. Not to mention that in January I completely shattered my iPhone and went an entire month without it. Having to solely rely on God to wake me up in the mornings because I had no phone to set an alarm, taught me that God was truly all I needed. My sense of direction increased and I learned how to read an analog clock properly. I did not want to get a new phone but I needed my family to be able to contact me. This semester was the calmest for me, I just went to school, went to work, went to sleep, and repeated. I did not concern myself with anything else. Mid-semester I created a frozen natural juice bites business and sold my products to my customers! Still a member of the diversity council, I built networking relationships with many individuals and professors at the college very excited to be graduating.

Then, it finally happened, I graduated!!! After, I made it! I received all A’s and 1 B my final semester and I had the money to pay for my grandmother to fly to New York for the first time to join my mother and sister in watching me grace that glorious stage with my presence!

I wrote all of this to say that if you are faced with tough times, pray and push through them! God will never give you more than YOU can bare. If He didn’t think that you were the right person for the job or the journey, you would not be there so NEVER EVER GIVE UP!  In the words of Coach Gregory Shook, “tough times don’t last, tough people do”.

Stay Positive,




8 thoughts on “Graduating From College

  1. You know Mrs. Shook and me are so proud of you! You are living proof of what God can do for those who wait upon him. Now you see the meaning of the saying.
    We both love you Rontiera!


  2. Loved your story and was very inspired by it, you are an awesome young lady. Continue to keep God first and all the best at your new College. God Bless:)


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