MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (WGHP) — Meagan Puckett remembers questioning if she would even walk at her college graduation.

Puckett was feeling anxious and embarrassed that a goal she started pursuing at 17 years old didn’t happen as quickly as she thought.

She was 17 when she started taking classes at Surry Community College.

“Met a boy, dropped out, and just life happened,” Puckett said.

Years would go by when Puckett says she found herself in a cycle of starting and stopping school.

Failed relationships, including one where she was a victim of domestic violence, made it difficult to focus on her own needs.

“I tried several times to go back throughout those five, six years…it was too much. It was a struggle of trying to maintain my mental health honestly,” she said.

Once Puckett focused on the well-being of herself and her children, the single mom of three, who was also working full time, returned to Surry Community College in Dec. 2020.

“No more stopping. No more quitting. You don’t want your kids to quit like in their sports when they say, ‘I don’t want to go to practice or I don’t want to do this.’ I don’t let them quit,” she said.

In May of 2022, Puckett graduated with an Associate in Applied Science degree in the Medical Office Administration program at 36 years old. She finished what she started 19 years earlier.

She did walk at the ceremony thanks to encouragement from her mother and other supporters reminding her that she deserved recognition for her work and that her story would inspire others.

“No matter what bumps you have, whether it be a horrible relationship or a teen pregnancy or a death, a parent or somebody dies, and you just feel like you can’t go on, I felt like I had to show them that no matter what, you can finish what you put your mind to,” she said.

Puckett is in the process of earning her bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration through Purdue University Global.

She’s expected to graduate in June.