Michaela Sheppard Williams


Michaela SheppardCompleting the Picture

When Michaela made the decision to go back to college after a 17-year gap, she was concerned that the college landscape might have changed too much for her.

“I’m older, friend,” she shares with a bright laugh. “And my priorities are different than those my first time around.”

Her concerns today — caring for her family while working full time as a certified nurse assistant — are a far cry from those she had when she first enrolled at SMC in the early 2000s. Back then, she was intent on becoming the first in her family to go to college and earn a degree. But when an undiagnosed learning disorder prevented her from completing graduation requirements, the resulting anxiety, Michaela says, led her to put her plans on hold indefinitely.

But Michaela was determined to complete what she had started. So when she returned to SMC in 2023, she made sure to tell counselors the kind of assistance she needed. Their response, she recalls, was incredible.

“I had a lot of support,” she says, noting how groups like Black Collegians and other SMC resources have been invaluable. “I’m not sure I would have had the same experience at any other school.”

Michaela is graduating today with Associate degrees in Liberal Arts and Film Studies. Her advice to others: Look past any bad beginnings you experience and see things through to the end.

“Don’t let how you started dictate how you finish,” she says. “Even if your progress is slow, keep at it.”