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Single mother makes hard work pay off with Paralegal Studies degree in hand

Posted: 05/02/2012

Mia Verrett of Chicago is living proof that success is possible, even when the odds seem monumental.

Verrett will become the first in her family to receive a college degree when she walks across the stage of the Auditorium Theatre on Friday.

The single mother of three children, ages 4, 5 and 7, will achieve that distinction despite the fact that she was kicked out of the Chicago Public Schools as a teenager and later had to get a GED in order to move forward with her life.

“She’s a source of inspiration for her classmates and the entire Roosevelt community,” said Cheryle Kettler, an instructor in Roosevelt’s Paralegal Studies Program and one of Verrett’s mentors. “She’s had to overcome a lot of challenges, and yet, she never complains about the hurdles that she’s faced.”

As a teen, the Calumet Heights resident saw her father shoot her mother, an unnerving incident that took her off track with her schooling and her life. However, after earning her associate’s degree from Olive Harvey Community College in 2007, Verrett began working as a housekeeper at Chicago’s Trump Tower where she is now a supervisor.

Because of her children, Verrett decided she needed to be an example for them so she coupled hard work with study for a college degree.
“I want my kids to know about hard work and going to school. I want them to grow up thinking that it’s normal and I want them to see that all things are possible,” the Roosevelt graduate said.

While at the University, Verrett has gone through both good and bad experiences. She lost her grandmother to cancer in 2011, and then had to accompany her grandfather to court to help him fight a nursing home’s request to charge her grandfather, who had no resources, for his wife’s care.  Along the way, the nursing home’s complaint was thrown out of court.

Meanwhile, at Trump Tower, Verrett was selected to teach Donald Trump how to clean rooms for the Oprah Winfrey Show. “He was down to Earth,” recalled Verrett of Trump. “I remember telling him about his gloves (needed for cleaning),” she said, “And he thought I asked him for a hug.”

After graduating, Verrett hopes to land a job as a paralegal, and may one day go on to law school. “I am living proof that people can change,” she said. “I gave up everything, including all of my free time, to get this degree and I can truly say to anyone who is having trouble that it’s never too late. You can make mistakes and still turn things around and get ahead in your life,” she said.