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Kianna Hawkins (pictured) is one woman who was determined — come hell or high water — to get her high school diploma, even if it took her 20 years to do so.  Now, the single Mom is fully relishing the long-awaited moment of finally having obtained her high school diploma and has her 14-year-old daughter, Emiyah McCray, to thank, according to the Dallas Morning News.

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The Dallas resident and temp data clerk has spent the last 20 years beating herself up for flunking a math exam that resulted in her not being able to graduate with her class. Therefore, all these years Hawkins was ashamed of the fact that she lacked a high school diploma and had to toil away at menial jobs over the years because of it.  A spot opened up at Hawkins’ place of employment at the Frank Crowley Courts Building, which meant a permanent position, more money, and prestige — but it required a candidate who graduated high school.

The determined 38-year-old set her sights on obtaining the pigskin that got away from her 20 years prior, but she did not want to go the GED route. The main barrier that terrified Hawkins the most, though, was the dreaded math course that she would have to face again.

Knowing that she could not tackle math without the help of someone more knowledgeable on the subject, she enlisted the help of Emiyah. The duo then spent two months working hard at trying to tackle the math problems that once totally baffled Hawkins, but with the help of Emiyah, there was light a the end of her tunnel.

Finally April arrived and Hawkins felt prepared enough to face her math demons, so she took the exam for her diploma.

May rolled around with good news for Hawkins: she passed the math exam and was eligible to receive her high school diploma!  “I said, Thank you, Lord, and I’m dancing and shouting,” she told the Dallas Morning News, “When I told my daughter, she broke out in tears.”

Hawkins finally got to sport her cap and gown this past Saturday and felt an immeasurable amount of pride at what she had accomplished.  The woman who could never find a job that would pay her more than $13 an hour had some sound advice for those who shared the fate that she had managed to change, telling the Dallas Morning News, “It’s never too late!  Fight for what’s yours.  Whatever you do, don’t give up.”

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