Graduation Day — and Mother’s Day, too — is looking pretty sweet for Tiffany Trevino-Jones.
That’s because, in addition to her own graduation May 12 from UofL’s College of Education and Human Development, three of her four children will also graduate this spring.
The graduates are her twin daughters, Danae and Denise, who will finish high school, and her son, Dustin, who has finished studies at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.
The quadruple celebration marks a big milestone for Trevino-Jones, who earned a master’s degree in human resources and organizational development, but she says that some of the obstacles during her academic journey were so monumental that she almost gave up hope.
“I returned to college as a divorced mother of four to get my graduate degree,” she says. “I knew it was not going to be easy, but I was excited and hopeful. Little did I know, I would be in the fight of my life.”
The first blow was when she learned that her father would need a kidney transplant. Trevino-Jones made the difficult decision to donate her own kidney to him. But, before the transplant was completed, the family was thrown for another loop when her mother was diagnosed with cancer on Easter Sunday, 2017, and passed away three weeks later.
Then, even as the family was still reeling from grief and shock, her father went to the hospital for a routine surgery and complications led to a six-week stay and concerns over whether he would ever be able to walk again.
Discouraged, Trevino-Jones wanted to drop out of college. She sought out her adviser, CEHD professor Denise Cumberland, but when Cumberland found out what was going on, she took swift action to help Trevino-Jones continue.
“Dr. Cumberland never gave up on me,” said Trevino-Jones. “When I could only manage enough faith for the day, she held my hand the whole way through it.”
“UofL has a great team of educators. I can’t say enough good things about them,” Trevino-Jones said.
Despite her difficulties, Trevino-Jones was able to complete her master’s level coursework in two years. Building on her human resources experience at Ireland Army Health Clinic at Fort Knox, she hopes to land a new job in the same field.
Looking back, Trevino-Jones said, “Replaying this year in my head has been hard. I just wanted others to know that we all have struggles and that when you are at your lowest in life — courage, strength and dedication doesn’t always come from within. It comes from those other great human beings around you.”