MACON—Locust Grove resident Leah Falls has had far from the "typical" college experience. After deferring her education for more than a decade, Falls decided to attend Mercer University to earn her bachelor of arts in education degree.
And this was no small task. While carrying a full course load at Mercer, Falls cared for four children, regularly traveled 50 miles from her Locust Grove home to the University and helped her husband recover from an injury and unemployment.
On May 11, the 39-year-old mother of four realized a dream when she earned her bachelor of arts degree in education from Mercer University. "I thought this day would never come," she said standing in the Macon Coliseum in her cap and gown.
After completing a semester at Gordon College more than a decade ago, Falls put her education on hold to care for her children. Then when she decided to return to college to get her degree in education from Mercer University, she went at it full force. She graduated with a 3.8 grade point average.
Falls said juggling her children's activities and her school work posed some challenges. But her children were supportive and even learned a few lessons in responsibility along the way.
"The kids learned how to make tacos. The twins learned how to do their own laundry," she said with a laugh.
And with the support network of her professors, family and friends, she was nearing completion of her degree. Then her husband Roy was badly injured in a fall from a ladder. On top of her already heavy load, Falls had to find room in her schedule to get her husband to his doctor's appointments. He was out of work for seven months and then a month after he returned to work, he was laid off.
At that point, Falls thought it was time to put off her education again. But her husband wouldn't hear it. "He said you've come too far. You're not going to quit now," she said.
And she did it. Sporting honors cords and a shiny red apple pin, Falls accepted her diploma from Mercer's Tift College of Education as her family cheered from the front row of the Macon Coliseum May 11. Beginning in August, she will teach third grade at Locust Grove Elementary.