By Bryce Chapman
Missouri Baptist University
Somewhere in the seemingly endless sea of black caps and gowns, a single mother waited to walk across the commencement stage.
Cynthia Grochowski’s husband died unexpectedly a month before their youngest son was born. It was that unforeseen tragedy that prompted the mother of three young boys to enroll at Missouri Baptist University’s Jefferson College Extension.
“My family is No. 1,” she explained. “I knew I had to do better for them. There wasn’t really a choice. No matter what happens, you can overcome through your faith.”
On April 29, Grochowski’s perseverance — and faith — paid off when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education. She’s hoping to find a position as a special education teacher next fall.
The road that brought her to graduation ceremonies at the Family Arena in St. Charles has been windy and, at times, rough. Earlier this year, her youngest son, now 10, was diagnosed with cancer. His prognosis is good with continued treatments.
While others may have opted to take a semester off or to drop out of school altogether, that challenge only affirmed Grochowski’s need for college education.
Grochowski’s degree was one of 715 conferred during the spring ceremony, the largest graduating class in MBU history. The number of degrees conferred was nearly 20 percent higher than last year’s record of 574.
This year’s graduating class was awarded degrees or certificates in nearly 50 academic areas, including the first in worship arts.
MBU also yielded its first graduating class from the master of arts degree in counseling. Thirty-seven MAC degrees were conferred.
As Grochowski’s name was read and she took a short stride across the commencement platform, screams of jubilation greeted her from the far end of the arena. They were from those who have watched their mother, daughter and friend reach a goal that she was determined to accomplish — no matter how windy or rough the road.
“No matter whatever happens in your lifetime, you can overcome with you faith,” she said. “God gives me the tools to handle anything that comes my way.”