After a medical emergency in the fall of 2012, Liquinita Tabb wasn’t sure if she would ever walk again. Saturday morning, donning her black cap and gown, she walked across the stage, received her degree and graduated from Converse College.
Liquinita isn’t the only member of her family preparing for graduation, however. Her two daughters, Alysha and Alexis, are both preparing for their own graduation ceremonies. Alysha will graduate from Spartanburg High School on May 23, and Alexis will graduate from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind on May 29.
Liquinita, who suffers from glaucoma and Type 2 diabetes, originally began her collegiate career at Liberty University in Virginia. Soon after starting at Liberty, her glaucoma worsened and forced her to drop out of school.
“I’ve always wanted a college degree, but life kind of took me off track,” she said.
“I’ve always wanted a college degree, but life kind of took me off track”
Liquinita, Alysha and Alexis, originally from McCormick, were separated for two years after Alexis started at the School for the Deaf and the Blind.
Alexis said her experience at the school and getting to work with professionals who understood her condition, was a blessing.
“It was good for me to be around people trained to get me what I needed in school,” she said.
In 2006, Liquinita and Alysha joined Alexis in Spartanburg. Liquinita said the decision to move was made so her daughters weren’t raised apart.
“It was important to me that we be together,” she said.
The transition was tough for Liquinita, who said she didn’t know anybody and didn’t necessarily want to be here. She stayed strong and adapted to life in a new setting because she knew that Spartanburg was where she needed to be to keep her family together.
Eventually, the abundance of college campuses across Spartanburg County reawakened Liquinita’s desire for an education, and she enrolled at Converse to pursue a degree in psychology.
In the fall of 2012, Liquinita suffered a medical emergency that doctors, at first, thought was a stroke. After undergoing multiple CAT scans, she said doctors then informed her that what she had suffered was not a stroke. They still don’t have an explanation for her condition.
Her life became increasingly difficult, and she began suffering from seizures that would strike intermittently with varying degrees of severity. Because of her medical issues, Liquinita had to withdraw from Converse for the rest of the 2012 school year.
“I had to learn to walk, talk and speak again,” she said
“I had to learn to walk, talk and speak again”
At her lowest point, Liquinita said she lost the will to live. She said she had to fight since doctors couldn’t come up with a concrete explanation for her medical issues; some theorized that it had to be psychological.
“I did not want to live at all,” she said. “I didn’t want my kids to see me that way.”
Liquinita’s memory suffered. She said that she only really knows the things she was told by others.
“I feel like I missed a big chunk of my children’s life during that time,” she said.
Her vision also began to worsen. She credits Alysha for acting as an extra set of eyes for both her and Alexis.
Alysha, who plans to attend Erskine College after her graduation, said she was afraid when her mother became ill, but knew she had to be brave and overcome the fear.
“I knew I had to get myself together because that’s my mom,” she said.
Liquinita thanked her faith and her children for pulling her out of the darker times and encouraging her to get back on her feet and keep living.
“Even when I couldn’t remember, I felt their love for me. I didn’t want to let them down,” she said.
“Even when I couldn’t remember, I felt their love for me. I didn’t want to let them down”
After months of therapy, she finally regained her abilities, learning how to walk and talk again. Soon, she decided to restart her education, returning to Converse in the fall of 2013.
“I was just so close,” she said.
The transition back to college life was difficult, but became even harder when she decided to become a full-time student. For the first time, she took 12 hours of courses in hopes of graduating on time.
She thanked the professors and staff at Converse, saying they were always willing to help her once she returned to campus.
“The psychology department was very supportive,” she said. “They made sure I had the things I needed to be successful.”
Alysha said her mother’s trials and tribulations have made her strive that much harder in her education.
“It makes me want to go harder,” she said. “My mom’s my inspiration.”
Alexis added that her personal struggles with glaucoma have been eased by seeing her mother’s strength and determination, even in the toughest of circumstances.
“It shows me that if she can do it, I can,” she said.
“It shows me that if she can do it, I can”
Liquinita, a new college graduate, said she hopes her daughters learn from her journey and use the strength and perseverance she taught them to keep the long line of strong women in their family intact.
“I try to instill in them that they have to keep going, even when they think they can’t,” she said. “If I had to do it all over, I’d do it again.”
Article was written by Zach Fox of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
Photo Credit: John Byrum