Graduating senior Brianna Dugar overcomes grief to earn degree in three years

Brianna Dugar is on her way to becoming an Alcorn State University alumna, and it only took her three years to do it.

"Graduating from college in three years is and will forever be an unforgettable moment for myself and my family," said Dugar. "I graduated high school with 15 college credits. Also, I attended summer school every year until summer 2021. This accomplishment will motivate me to finish graduate school early too."

The Houston, Texas native will receive a bachelor's in general agriculture a year early during Alcorn's upcoming 2022 Spring Commencement Saturday, May 14. The milestone is a shining moment on Dugar's journey.

"This degree is important to me because I deserve it. I maintained all A's and B's during my time here while helping my peers succeed in their studies. Only God knows how hard I've worked to get to this point. This degree will help me find my dream job."

Dugar's road to success has not been without tragedy. In 2020, her grandparents, Mr. Gregory Charles Eakins Sr. and Mrs. Dejohnetten Powers Eakins, passed away in February and June.

"My grandfather passed away in the ICU while holding my hand. My grandmother was in the hospital for three months straight and was only allowed one visitor. The only way I communicated with her was through video calling."

Although hurt by the loss of her grandparents, who adopted Dugar as a baby and raised her in Fayette, Mississippi, she was determined to complete her college education. She remembered the teachings they left behind and applied them to her life.

"The passing of my grandparents tore me apart because they raised me my whole life. There were days when I was at my lowest while trying to make it through school. They taught me to be independent in times like those, so I picked myself up, became stronger, and trusted God to lead me the rest of the way."

Faith played a pivotal role in helping Dugar process the loss of her grandparents. She relied on her prayers and visions of her grandmother for strength to continue her studies.

"I knew that I was almost finished with school, so I couldn't give up so easily. I prayed day and night and continued to put God first. My grandmother always visits me in my dreams to tell me that she's proud of me and never to give up. My grandmother visiting my dreams was confirmation that I would reach this point."

Alcornites also rallied around Dugar to ensure that she made her grandparents proud. She's thankful for her Alcorn family.

"My Alcorn family played a major role in helping me get here. I thank all my professors who saw my potential more than I did. They pushed me to do my best and motivated me to do great things after college. I also thank my peers who said I impacted their lives."

Alcorn provided Dugar with a memorable experience that she would appreciate for life.

"My experience was short but sweet and fun. I will forever cherish making many friends and meeting professors that care about me. Alcorn is a school that I will always recommend to high school students searching for the right school."

As her journey ends, Dugar thinks of her grandparents and their pride in her accomplishments.

"My grandmother would smile and give me that 'You go, girl! I am so proud of you' type of look. She was a person who would have called the whole world to tell them that I was graduating and brag about me graduating early. My grandfather would say, 'That's alright there,' and brag at the neighborhood store."