Rashida Robbins saw something on a t-shirt that resonated with her. The words “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams” were written in plain text. This sentiment has personal significance for Robbins. Her grandparents never made it to high school let alone college. “I thought about how proud they would be of me,” said Robbins. “I can’t even process it right now because I’d be a puddle.”
In June Rashida Robbins graduates with a degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing. “My dad has been walking around the house with a little grin on his face, saying things like ‘we’re better than average’ and ‘one hundred percent of my children are college graduates,’” said Robbins. Rashida’s brother recently finished a law degree at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
Education has always been important to Robbins but the timing hasn’t always been right. After high school Robbins moved down to Southern California. “I was having a lot of fun,” she said. “It was like ‘oh glittery thing over here, glittery thing over there. School just wasn’t a priority.”
Robbins moved back to the Tacoma area two years later. She got a job as a cocktail waitress at a local casino and eventually became a card dealer. The pay was good and Robbins had two small children to consider. She stayed for ten years but over time she found the work to be unfulfilling. “I really started thinking about who I was and what kind of example I was setting for my kids,” she said. “I also felt I was selling myself short, that I had more to offer.”
Robbins enrolled at Tacoma Community College (TCC) and planned to pursue a degree in communications. She based this decision less on actual interest and more on perceived limitations. “I told myself that I wasn’t good at math,” she said. An instructor at TCC saw her potential and encouraged Robbins to reconsider. “Once I realized that math wasn’t an obstacle for me I started considering other career paths.”
Three years after she started at TCC, Robbins transferred to UW Tacoma and the Milgard School of Business. Throughout her time in school Robbins has had to manage being a student and being a parent. “My boys have been with me throughout this entire journey,” she said. “I tried not to miss a beat as far as they are concerned but still keep my goals in sight. They’ve been wonderful.”
Robbins’ success has been a family affair. Her parents have helped with encouragement and her kids. Robbins’ mother is one of her biggest influences. “She wasn’t able to get a formal degree but she’s taken every opportunity to expand her knowledge and that’s lead to long term success in her professional life,” said Robbins.
Commencement marks the end of one phase and the beginning of another. Robbins is ready. She believes the ceremony will be emotional, that she’ll think of her parents, grandparents, and children. Afterwards she’ll wipe away the tears and get down to business. “I’m excited,” she said. “What’s my next challenge?”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org