After ten years, Rhonda Reynolds made it to graduation

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Alyssa Wilkins / Staff Photo

Single mom, college student is grateful for the support of her children

It’s early morning when she arrives home from a long night of work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). For Rhonda Reynolds, sleep is almost an afterthought. She gets her four kids off to school, then herself off to classes at Pierce. Sleep comes later, after she has picked up the kids from school, made dinner and did some homework before heading off to work again.

This has been Reynolds’ daily routine for the last ten years as she has worked toward earning her Associate’s in Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice. She currently has certifications in phlebotomy and CNA, but this is her first degree completion.

Earning her degree in criminal justice was a deep personal goal. “I’ve always wanted to be somewhere in the criminal justice field [or] law enforcement, somewhere where I can help keep the community and my family safe,” said Reynolds. 

After graduation, Reynolds hopes to use her degree at Remann Hall either in corrections, court work or the juvenile system as a case worker. She wants to work with kids so that their adult lives do not have to be spent behind bars too.

It brought me to tears because you don’t realize how people see you [until] you see something like that, especially from your own kids”

— Rhonda Reynolds

Earning a college degree is something that is not easily accomplished, but Reynolds says that her kids have been a huge support. She remembers when, for her birthday, her children gave her a plaque that said, “She needed a hero, so that’s what she became.”

“It brought me to tears because you don’t realize how people see you [until] you see something like that, especially from your own kids,” she said.

Reynolds wants her children to be successful, and ideally, that includes them going to college, but she will support them no matter what route they choose to take. Especially since most jobs require a high school diploma or college degree, she tries to show them the importance of earning a degree.

Reynolds encouraged her oldest daughter, saying that if she chose to do Running Start, Pierce is a good college. She said to her daughter, “If you’re there, I can help you. I know the Puyallup campus, and the Fort Steilacoom campus. I’ve been to both, but if you want to continue just going to high school, I support that too.”

Reynold’s daughter ultimately decided to do Running Start, and she is one quarter away from earning her Associates’ in Business from Pierce College. “I’m very proud of her,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds’ seven-year-old has been inspired by the way his mom is always looking out for others in their community. He wants to be a police officer one day, so that when he’s older he can help people like his mom does. Reynold’s 16-year-old goes back and forth between criminal justice and the culinary arts. To that, Reynolds says, “Well, the options are there.”

Reynolds would encourage other single moms in college with this, “Don’t give up. Sometimes the road can be long, but there always is a finish line.”