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Single Dad Praised For Graduating With His Master's Degree While Working 3 Jobs

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Desmond Durham

A single dad from New Jersey is being applauded for going back to school and getting an impressive degree while also balancing multiple jobs.

Desmond Durham explained that his decision to return to school was a tough one, but he wanted to "take a leap of faith." The father of a 9-year-old son, Desmond Jr., knew that he wanted to set a good example for his child.

Durham graduated with his master's degree while working three jobs.

In May 2023, Durham graduated from Montclair State University in New Jersey, securing his master's degree in arts and educational leadership. While an incredibly impressive feat, Durham opened up about the hardships of balancing school, his three jobs, and taking care of his son.

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“My schedule was very demanding, from waking up between 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. and ensuring that my son was fed, his homework was completed. I probably didn't go to bed until 12 a.m., maybe 1 a.m. every night, just to wake back up and do it all over again,” Durham told Good Morning America. “But I knew the dream was real."

Being the only sibling out of seven to graduate college, Durham had been working as an educator for the past 13 years. Between working his three jobs and being a single father to Desmond Jr., Durham was hesitant to return to school and secure his master's but knew that it would be inspiring to his son.

“It will ultimately change my life, my son's life, and I can be able to impact the kids on a greater scale,” he said. Durham did incredibly well in his program and was even asked to give the commencement speech to the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Science and Mathematics.

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During the commencement speech, Durham spoke about his challenging upbringing. 

While speaking with students at Montclair State, Durham spoke about his mother, who was a single parent to him and his seven siblings and was the first person to instill his love of learning.

He also opened up about his father's being murdered when he was only 11, and the toll it took on both his life and career.

"[My father’s] absence from my life has only motivated me to become the best father figure to my son and a role model to all of the students that I encounter in my teaching career,” Durham said during his speech.

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During his hard days while in school, Durham admitted that he would often think about his son, his mother, and the reason why he wanted to go back to get his master's.

"Every single day, I had to remind myself that it's a short-term sacrifice for a long-term goal,” he said. Durham even offered advice to other people who were thinking about going back to school but were scared to do so.

"Find something that you love that's going to help you ignite that flame to keep going,” Durham insisted. “You have to know why you do what you do and as long as you know your ‘why’ it's gonna drive you every single day.”

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Nia Tipton is a Brooklyn-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.